Do you have an old house and a new TV? Consider a simple upgrade to protect expensive electrical components.

I was at a home inspection in Red Wing. Many of the outlets were three-prong. (That means there were three wires to the outlet; Black, white and green. The green wire is “ground”, and is only used as an emergency off-ramp for stray electricity.)

Many, however, were only two-prong. No ground.

No worries. A lot of plugs only have two wires, such as vacuum cleaners, phone chargers and lamps. As a home inspector, I know that this is common, because it’s hard to snake new wires to some of the outlets.

But I did want the buyers to be informed, so I warned them not to use “cheater” plugs, especially for devices such as surge protectors.

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“Without a ground wire, surge protectors don’t work. An expensive TV or computer could get damaged as a result of a power surge or spike.”

Later, the realtor told me that I frightened the buyers. She then did a little homework on her own, and learned some comforting news.

But first some more UN-comforting news; You know the surge protectors that also are a multi-outlet strip? They don’t work very well. Most of them offer protection for very small surges. And they don’t last a forever.

And they don’t protect the things that don’t have regular outlets, like AC units and furnaces.

This is a whole house surge protector from Eaton. It costs about $110 at Lowe’s

As it turns out, there are whole house protectors that are affordable and easy to install, right in your circuit panel. Not by you – If you learned anything from this blog, you are not qualified to do any work in an electrical panel. They cost from $80 to around $150, and might be able help lower your insurance rates as well.

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About the author

Joe has many years of experience as a Home Inspector. Joe is a proud member of ASHI, MAHI, WAHI & SAAR. He follows the Best Practices as described by the American Association of Home Inspectors and the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors. He is licensed in Wisconsin and is Radon Certified. Joe also complies with ASHI's Code of Ethics.

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