In some of your reading, you’ve likely seen people mention “ungrounded” outlets in homes and buildings. But what makes an ungrounded outlet such a negative? Are they dangerous? Our certified electricians are here with answers to your questions about ungrounded outlets.
What Is an Ungrounded Outlet?
Ungrounded outlets can be identified by looking at the face of the outlet (where you plug things in). In nearly all modern homes, there should be three holes. Two are vertical slits and there is one roundish one beneath the pair of vertical slits. That is a grounded outlet, which has been required by electrical safety standards for all structures since the mid-1960s. Ungrounded outlets lack the third hole, the roundish one on the lower portion where the ground plug goes.
Why Are Grounded Outlets Important?
To understand the why, you have to understand what a grounded outlet does. The two vertical slots represent a “hot” wire and a “neutral” wire. The ground wire in a grounded outlet ties into the neutral vertical slot.
Why the redundancy? Well, it acts like a failsafe. If anything goes wrong with your outlet, such as a short, the renegade electricity travels safely along the ground wire back to the panel. Without the ground wire, that electricity can channel into materials, such as fabrics located near the outlet, or a very unlucky person.
Is an Ungrounded Outlet Dangerous?
Ungrounded outlets dramatically increase personal and property risk. Ungrounded outlets increase the chance of:
Electrical fire. Without the ground present, problems with your outlet may cause arcing, sparks, and electrical charge that can spawn fire along walls or on nearby furniture and fixtures.
Health hazards. Ungrounded outlets pose real risk of shock to people operating the electronics and appliances plugged into the outlet.
Property loss. Ungrounded outlets can short out equipment, rendering your favorite appliances and tools worthless.
Messy wiring. In many older homes, it’s common to find a mixture of grounded and ungrounded outlets. This indicates piecemeal electrical work has been done and can be a clear sign of serious electrical problems or cause many in the future.
Do you have ungrounded outlets in your home or business? There’s no better time than the present to update your system and greatly improve your safety. Give us a call at Speedy today, and we can help get you started!