Two pin outlets - how safe they are ?


Old 02-06-13, 02:32 AM
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Two pin outlets - how safe they are ?

Home i have purchased is +70 years and has most of the out lets are of 2 pin - how safe they are ?
How easy to change from 2 pin to 3 pin ?? What i need to do ?

Home has circuit breaker
about 200-250 amps in total
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Old 02-06-13, 03:01 AM
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Older receptacles as you have, naturally don't have the safety feature of having a grounding conductor present. There is no way to introduce that grounding feature unless one is run throughout your house, which, when done, could have rewired the entire house. However there is a safety solution. You will need to determine the first receptacle in a run from each breaker in your panel. Replace that receptacle with a GFCI receptacle, connecting the incoming (hot/neutral) to the LINE terminals and the outgoing cable to the LOAD side. THEN you can replace your two pronged receptacles with three pronged ones, BUT you will need to use the stickers provided in the GFCI package (blue) and place one on each receptacle controlled by that circuit breaker. One sticker will say "GFCI Protected" and the other will say "No Equipment Ground". You will, then, have a safer environment being protected by GFCI receptacles.

You can do the same for every circuit in the house by installing GFCI or AFCI breakers in your panel, but that will be quite expensive depending on the brand of your panel.
Old 02-06-13, 05:39 AM
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Larry has given you a very good explanation but the fly in the ointment may be how your receptacles are wired. In very old housed the receptacles are not always daisy chained. They may "spider out" from a ceiling light fixture. In that case you have to replace each receptacle with a GFCI or put the whole circuit on a GFCI breaker.

Open your receptacles and if each only has one cable coming in, only two wires connected to the receptacle, then they are not daisy chained and one GFCI can't protect the whole circuit. Of course just to make it more difficult for you older receptacles may be "spidered out" with some newer ones daisy chained.
Old 02-07-13, 12:45 AM
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As you say, its old. It was quite safe in the old days, the risk increases when you have more electric equipment to touch at the same time. The Idea of that time was, if you cant touch anything grounding you at same time you are touching a live part (a faulty unit) its no risk.

It still works, be sure your equipment are in condition, and it will be as safe as before. If your fuse-box has been upgraded it may have GFCI protection it reduses the risk considerably without rewiring the entire house.

If it was my house, I would not worry, but as soon as I see a cord with damaged insulation, or a plug with lack of strain relief I would fix it at once.

I live in Norway, where we use 230V (2 live wires with no neutral) and it was commonly used 2 pin outlets until 15 year ago, its still very common, and causes nearly no problems.

One of the most common problems here will be the TV plugged into a common grounded antenna system, but no ground on the TV, this is solved by using a special plug on the antenna cable.


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