Homes wired prior to the 1960’s were commonly wired with a two-wired system with non-grounded outlets, unlike today’s modern wiring code which uses a three wire grounded system. What electrical devises can be plugged into a ungrounded outlet?
• Small kitchen appliance
• Devises that do not have a three prong cord
What electrical equipment should not be plugged into non-grounded outlet?
• Most high end electronics
• Larger kitchen appliances
• Devises having a three pronged cord
Older homes with existing two-wire system generally will have two slot outlets; a dangerous mistake would be to cover a two-wired outlet with a three-slot outlet. Unfortunately, there are many two slotted outlets that have been upgraded to three-slot outlets without providing a ground wire. This has no benefit, and may be misleading when plugging a three-pronged device into an upgraded but ungrounded outlet. This is called an open ground and can be devastating to your high-end electronics, equipment, and personal safety.
There are a couple of things that can be done if your outlets are not grounded.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) allows the following methods to update an ungrounded outlet
• Replace the 2-wire outlet with a GFCI-type outlet and mark the outlet with the words “No Equipment Ground”
• Install a GFI breaker in the panel marked “GFCI Protected” and “No Equipment Ground.
• Replace the existing three-slot outlet with a two-slot ungrounded outlet
• Replace two wired system with updated three wired system
Plugging your high-end electronics into a ungrounded outlet could cause damage to your equipment from static electricity as well as, a sudden spike in voltage such as a lighting strike. Most importantly never, plug an appliance or devise that has a three pronged cord into a ungrounded outlet, as this could cause serious electrocution if you are in contact with the device and a good ground simultaneously.
Finally, if you are unsure about your homes wiring and its safety, it is recommended that you contact a licensed electrician to inspect your homes electrical wiring system.
By Richard Schmitz
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