More about ungrounded 3-prong outlets

In 1962, house builders started installing outlets with ground wires attached. Grounded 120-volt receptacles in the United States have a small, round ground slot centered below two vertical hot and neutral slots, and it provides an alternate path for electricity that may stray from an appliance. (In Canada, the round is above the two slots. If I told you why, you wouldn’t believe me.) Older homes often have ungrounded, two-slot receptacles that are outdated and potentially dangerous. Under normal conditions, the ground wire doesn’t actually deliver current. It’s like and emergency off ramp for stray voltage. A lot of plugs only use two wires anyway, like lamps and small fans.

Some folks use adapters, AKA “cheater plugs”, that have 3 holes on one side and only 2 on the other. Other folks break off the ground pin. Don’t do that. You could accidentally put the plug in upside down, which is dangerous in another way.

You could replace the outlet, and properly ground it yourself.

Or you could replace the outlet with a GFCI one, which makes it safer. If you do that, remember to attach the little sticker that says “no equipment ground” That’s because it still isn’t as safe as a properly grounded GFCI outlet.

Thing is, if you’ve learned anything at all so far, you’re probably not qualified to do any wiring by yourself.

Want to know what INTER-Nachi has to say? Okay.

“Homeowners and non-qualified professionals should never attempt to modify a building’s electrical components. Misguided attempts to ground receptacles to a metallic water line or ground rod may be dangerous. InterNACHI inspectors may recommend that a qualified electrician evaluate electrical receptacles and wiring.

In summary, adjustments should be made by qualified electricians — not homeowners — to an electrical system to upgrade ungrounded receptacles to meet modern safety standards and the requirements of today’s typical household appliances.”