2 posts / 0 new
Last post
Grounding Electrical Outlets

My wife and I bought a house that was built in the mid 50's. None of the electrical plugs are grounded. The Breaker box was updated sometime before we bought the house and it is grounded.
The house is a single story pier and beam construction.
My question is how do I ground the plugs?

Re: Grounding Electrical Outlets

It kind of depends on the type of wiring. If it's wired in conduit, AND the conduit is electrically continuous back to the panel, you can simply replace the two-prong outlets with three-prong outlets. Wire a jumper between the grounding screw of the outlet and a screw in the back of the box.

If that's not the case, I'm afraid there's not much you can do short of rewiring the whole house.

You CAN get by with installing GFI outlets to provide shock protection. It's acceptable to install a 3-prong GFI and leave the ground unconnected. However, this does not provide a ground path for such things as surge protectors. Surge protectors should ALWAYS be plugged into a true, grounded outlet; the ground is necessary to provide a "drain" for the surge current.

You may want to rewire outlets providing power to electronic equipment where you will plug in a surge protector -- such as your computer and your home entertainment center. In the bathroom and bedrooms you can probably just put in GFIs -- although even there if you have a TV you might want that outlet grounded, too.

(In many places now AFIs are required in bedrooms. "Arc Fault Interrupters" operate much like GFIs, except that they will detect arcing that may not trip a GFI or normal breaker. A GFI works by detecting an imbalance in the current between the hot and neutral.)

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.