By AJ Danboise
A household contains many different types of electrical outlets. Some outlets are modern, while some are outdated. Besides age, outlets vary on the amp, model, and features. Outlets such as GFCI and AFCI protect from shock, while switched and smart outlets easily turn off the power with the press of a button. It’s good to know the types of outlets that are in your home, as you may find two-prong outlets are not up to code.
As the name suggests, the two-prong outlet is one in which each socket only has two openings (prongs). This model has been outdated for some time, and for good reason. Two prongs only have two wires: neutral and hot, meaning no ground wire. Without a ground wire, there is no protection from short circuits and high voltage. A ground wire allows a high current to return safely to the ground and avoid serious damage and injury. Although modern homes have adapted to the new outlet standard, many older homes still have antiquated (and hazardous) two-prong designs. Two-prong outlets become increasingly dangerous as we venture further into the electronic age.
Are Two Prong Outlets Legal?
According to the National Electric Code, two-prong outlets are allowed in homes as long as they are properly working. If you choose to replace your two-prong outlet, you do not have to upgrade to a newer model. If the two-prong outlet is properly functioning and tested, you may keep it in your home. However, this is not recommended as they are not grounded – and not always compatible with new appliances and electronics.
Why Three-Prong Outlets are Safer Than Two-Prong Outlets
Three-prong outlets are the norm for modern homes. As a straight upgrade to two-prong outlets, three-prong outlets come equipped with the ability to attach ground wires to the outlet, providing safety to the homeowner and allowing adequate current flow. Three prong outlets were created to adapt to modern electrical standards. Since modern electronics and appliances require higher energy usage, more precautions must be set in place. Merely replacing a two-prong outlet with a three-prong outlet is not enough however, as there is still no ground wire.
Keeping Your Outlets Safe & Up to Code
With no ground wire in place, additional steps must be taken to keep your outlet safe and up to code. Remember to consult with AJ Danboise Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical before proceeding, as our electricians will determine the best cost-effective electrical outlet option to take. With that said, below are options for your electrical outlet.
Upgrade to GFCI
- If there is no ground wire to be found, then your three-prong outlet must be GFCI to comply with the National Electric Code.
- If there is no GFCI or ground wire, then the outlet is violating code.
- These outlets must be 5.5 ft. above the ground and labeled as “GFCI Protected” and “No Equipment Ground.”
Rewire Your Box
- Older homes that have two prong outlets may have a ground wire or armored cable, but probably encased in sheetrock or other materials.
- Have an electrician determine if this is in your home.
- If you manage to find an encased ground wire, an electrician will be able to rewire your box to have a ground.
Rewire Your Panel
- If neither of these options are present, then you must rewire your panel to have ground wire connected to the box where the two-prong outlet was located.
- Consult with AJ Danboise Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical, as we provide affordable electrical outlet installation services.
If you have two prong outlets in your home and are looking to replace them, contact (248) 453-2337! For over nine decades, our electricians have adapted homes to comply with current electrical standards. Our licensed electricians provide premier electrical outlet services or electrical repairs to all Michigan homeowners. Give us a call at (248) 600-5048 to schedule an appointment and meet your trusted electricians!