Should I Change a Two-Prong Outlet to a Three-Prong?

2017 Jul 18
Posted in: Electrical

Yes, if you have a two-prong outlet it’s an “ungrounded” outlet and is unsafe. A 3-prong outlet, on the other hand, is a “grounded” outlet and is a much safer upgrade for your home and family.

In fact, in 1962 the NEC (National Electric Code) began requiring that all new houses be built with 3-prong outlets (instead of 2-prong) because they protect against:

  • Electric shock
  • Electrical fires
  • Damaged electronics/appliances

We’ll explain why your two-prong outlet is a danger to your family and home and what you can do to upgrade your two-prong outlets to a three-prong.

Need a Phoenix electrician to update your two-prong outlets ASAP? Just contact us and we’ll send one over right away.

Why two-prong outlets are a safety hazard

Two-prong outlets are unsafe because they’re “ungrounded”. An ungrounded outlet is one that doesn’t provide a safe route for stray electricity to be diverted into the ground.

You see, both two-prong and three-prong outlets have a hot and neutral wire. The hot wire carries electricity from your electrical panel to the outlet. The neutral wire carries electricity from the outlet back to the electrical panel.

But here’s where they differ: a 3-prong outlet has an additional, 3rd “ground” wire whereas a 2-prong outlet doesn’t.

That ground wire is incredibly important because it provides a safe “exit” route for any extra voltage that the outlet might receive.

You see, most residential outlets are designed to handle up to 120 volts of electricity. But sometimes, the wires in your outlet receive more electricity than they can handle.This overload can be caused by static electricity, lightning strikes, plugging in too many appliances into one outlet, etc.

Related: Why Is My Outlet Hot to the Touch?

Whatever the cause, when your outlet receives more electricity than it should, your ground wire is there to absorb the excess electricity and safely carry it into the ground. Diverting that extra voltage helps prevent electric shock, electrical fires or damaged electronics.

Have a 2-prong outlet? Here are your options

Option #1: Add a ground wire

Upgrading to a 3-prong “grounded” outlet is your safest option. Have an electrician run a ground wire from the main electrical panel to the outlet.

Option #2: Change it out for a GFCI outlet

A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet is designed to shut off an electrical circuit when it senses that electricity is flowing outside of its intended path (that is, when extra current is trying to travel through your outlet wires). 

The downfall of a GFCI outlet is that it’s technically still an “ungrounded” outlet. Instead of absorbing the extra voltage and directing it to the ground, the GFCI device just shuts off power to that outlet altogether.

Need a Phoenix, AZ electrician to upgrade your 2-prong outlet?

If you have a 2-prong outlet in your home, you need to upgrade it to a 3-prong outlet for safety reasons.

Just contact us and we can send over a trusted electrician who can perform the job safely and quickly.

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