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1950 Tract Home, few 3 prong outlets, but...

I inherited my parents' home in the San Fernando Valley, a 2 bedroom, 1 bath 1000 sq feet with unattached garage. My father had 3 prong outlets installed in the kitchen and living room about 20 years ago.

The City Inspector who came out to review a recent replumbing of the house said that there was an electrical ground to one of the pipes under the house. LA DWP came out and said everything was grandfathered as far as the electrical panel (four panel switches) and the riser although "code" would be to raise it and reboard the riser.

The refrigerator is almost 35 years old, and running still on a two prong outlet. I've had no flickering or any kind of problems knock on wood. However, it's a 60 year old house.

Attached is a photo of the riser. I'm told that if I get a new one put in "per 2011" code I have to rip out the electrical panel as well to replace it. But it's working great. What do I REALLY need to be checking for at this point if my home is grandfathered in to the present upgrade?


Scared to Hire An Electrician in CA that will take me to the cleaners...*sigh*

Re: 1950 Tract Home, few 3 prong outlets, but...

Sounds like you may be a candidate for a new meter, service entrance panel and receptacles. They've all served you well but are really dangerous if considered as a system.

The 2011 Code now requires: two ground rods, GFCI protected receptacles in all damp or wet locations and AFCI protected receptacles in most of the others.
Two of the four breaker spaces would be needed for the kitchen countertops and another for the bathroom. You've really outgrown that panel.

Receptacles installed 20 years ago are probably brittle and dangerous. Wiring is only designed for 40 years and really needs a ground wire.

You could argue "Grandfather" but the new Code is for your safety and really is the minimal protection one should have.

Questions you've raised are further addressed on my website by the article "What you should do before you call an electrician".

Good Luck from Wilsonville, Alabama
Maurice Turgeon,http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

Re: 1950 Tract Home, few 3 prong outlets, but...

I am guessing that Dad didn't do much remodeling while he owned the home. If that is the case, what you will run into is re-wiring the house as you remodel each room, especially the kitchen, the laundry, the HVAC, .... you get the idea. Develop a plan on your future use / development of this house. If it involves remodeling, consider how you are going to go about that; room by room or system by system (Doing all the plumbing at once for example) There are some basics like upgrading the amperage to the house and a new panel to start with even if you are going room by room.

Re: 1950 Tract Home, few 3 prong outlets, but...

Thank you for the advice given so far!

I do have three prong receptacles installed since the original building of the house, so the wiring was checked by an electrician within the last 20 years. And the meter IS new, believe it or not: LA DWP installed it less than a year ago, and ran 240 volts through the house; they declared that the panel was still good unless I was going to remodel (no, I am not remodeling, no new additions at all).

Maurice, hello! You were very helpful before in sending me information, btw, regarding my home:

The 3 prong update you describe is a major step-up because it means you have grounded receptacles. The next major advances are:

1) Ground fault protection (GFCI) in the bath and kitchen counter tops. This involves replacing those 3 prong receptacles with GFCI receptacles that cost about $16 each and take about 15 min. each.

2) Installing an additional ground rod near your meter, total material $25, and about 1 hour labor.

3 If you have children under 7 years old you may want to have tamper resistant (TR) receptacles installed in place of the 3 prong receptacles. They prevent children from being shocked by inserting metal objects into a receptacle. They cost $1.50 each and take about 15 min. to install.

The new board would cost about $ 10 and the ceramic bushing $6 , and take about 1 hour. Either the electrician or the power company could transfer the strain relief to the new support.

If you count up the items above and ask what a prospective electrician whould charge to do them, I believe you will be able to select a good one, very easily.

There are other major upgrades such as AFCI breakers in place of standard breakers but they cost $40 each and 20 min. labor and may not work, depending on how your house was wired. Many electricians claim they have limited value.

Good Luck

Maurice Turgeon, thesemi-retiredelectrician.com


Yes it does Pam, the metal water (and gas lines) should be connected into your electrical system ground/bonding.

Glad to help!

Maurice Turgeon, thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

-------Original Message-------

From: Stockbarger, Pam
Date: 2/24/2011 10:32:17 AM
To: Maurice Turgeon
Subject: RE: Los Angeles Electrician?

PS: The city inspector who came out to check my water heater installation took the time to check under the house and said there was a electrical “ground” to one of the pipes under the house. He indicated that was good. Does that sound correct? Thanks again for your time!

Maurice, do you still believe I should have the entire panel replaced considering this information; is the house a fire hazard per what you are saying above? I consulted here as I was hoping to get a local electrician recommended; sad that you are clear across the US from me. And of course it's like trying to diagnosis an illness when the doctor can't see you, ha.

Thank you,


Re: 1950 Tract Home, few 3 prong outlets, but...

Hi Pam,sadly once you start improving the service entrance or wiring on a home or facility and get the inspectors inolved, you get on a "slippery slope".

If you improve one area it's hard to do just a little to stay within your budget. Generally speaking, if I enter a box I try to bring it up to the latest Code. If it's a receptacle, cost is minimal. If it's the main panel it could cost hundreds.

As a minimum if you're not having any problems you might want to have an electrician install GFCI receptacles in the sink areas and check that the ground rod is OK, which should not cost more than $200.

Good luck from Wilsonville, Alabama
Maurice Turgeon http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.comhttp://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com[/URL

Re: 1950 Tract Home, few 3 prong outlets, but...

Our inspectors require the total upgrade of the house wiring to the current code if any part of the service is upgraded. This typically costs 5-10k dollars depending on the house, it can go a lot higher. Only one ground rod is required as long as it is tested to 25 ohms or less resistance. Homeowners are not allowed to work on a service also.

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