Home Inspection Reveals Two-Prong Outlets. What Now?

Are you getting a pre-listing home inspection to uncover potential issues before selling your home?  Are you buying a home and getting a thorough home inspection report? If the home…

Fixing Two-Prong Electrical Outlets

Home Inspection Reveals Two-Prong Outlets. What Now?

Are you getting a pre-listing home inspection to uncover potential issues before selling your home?  Are you buying a home and getting a thorough home inspection report? If the home was built before the 1980's,  it is very common to see notes about two-prong electrical outlets in the home inspection report. There are a lot of great resources out there to answer any of your questions about two-pronged outlets and ungrounded three-prong outlets. One of our favorites is this blog post, "Options for repairing ungrounded three-prong outlets." At Tri-County Inspections we meet many first time home owners that worry two-prong outlets are lethal. First, don't worry. The house is not a death trap. In fact, two prong outlets themselves are not even a hazard, unlike a bad electrical panel.

First Time Home Buyers, Don't Worry

If you're a first time home buyer, putting an offer on an older starter-home, a two-prong outlet could seem outdated to you. You may have heard horror stories about knob and tube wiring or Federal Pacific Electrical panels. But don't worry. According to the National Electric Code, two-prong outlets are allowed if they are properly working. So the question is are two prong outlets dangerous? Do two prong outlets cause more fires? And should you, as a first time home buyer, be setting aside a big chunk of money to rewire the home's electrical system?

Do Not Use Two-Prong to Three-Prong Adapters

The quick answer is that there's nothing wrong with the two prong outlet. They are not hazardous. However, do not use a three prong plug in a two prong outlet. Resist the urge to get the two-prong to three-prong adapter to start plugging in power cords and over-loading the circuit. The adapters are only for two-prong outlets that are grounded (which is highly unlikely).  So how hard is it to upgrade a two-prong outlet to a three-prong outlet? It's not that hard.

Two-Pronged vs. Three-Pronged Outlet

The main difference between the two-prong and three-prong outlet is that the third prong is for a ground wire - a safety measure that works to trip the electrical panel when there is a surge in electricity rather than causing a fire, damaging appliances or electrifying metal appliances which present the risk of being shocked (as outlined in the video).

Replacing Two-Pronged Outlets with GFCI Outlets

Ideally you would have a ground path for any three-prong outlets. However, you can also upgrade to a GFCI outlet without needing to install a ground path.  We always recommend our homeowners consult with an electrician to ensure they are getting the most up-to-date advice. Consider watching some YouTube videos like this one from This Old House, before consulting with an electrician so you can follow along "How to Ground a Two-Prong Electrical Outlet."
If you decide to hire an electrical contractor, according to HomeAdvisor, licensed electricians charge between $50 - 450 to install outlets, depending on the size and complexity of the project (see the graph).

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Tri-County Inspections home inspectors deliver everything from thorough home inspections with radon testing, mold testing and septic testing add-ons to brief walk-through inspections across ten Ohio counties including: Lorain CountyCuyahoga CountyLake CountyMedina CountySummit County, Wayne CountyHolmes CountyGeauga CountyPortage County, and Stark County. We are also the Cleveland landlords' choice for lead inspection services.

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