The annoyance of two-prong outlets

Poky house was built in 1959, and doesn’t have grounded outlets. I am planning on replacing them with GFCI outlets, which takes care of the safety issue, but I realized that some of my equipment should be grounded for static electricity control (like my soldering iron). A GFCI doesn’t help with that. That means I need to get into the crawlspace and see if I can run a real ground to one or more of the outlets in my office.
Just another item on the ever-growing list…

My 1919 house has a similar outlet situation. Maybe it’s just the lead paint and water and solder exposure talking but I’ve decided to embrace the isolation from ground which, as you can see, um mumble grumble something, gestures to eyebrows improves the wind shear, notwithstanding… cough, vapor pressure harmonicals so static passes harmlessly through.

When we were buying a home, our first realtor showed us a place with all 2-prong outlets. As a former electrician, what that said to me was that the wiring in the walls was likely a fire hazard, as the insulation was probably so old it was breaking down. We ended up buying a house that was built in 1904, but it had been taken down to the studs, rewired and rebuilt.

I lived in a 1949 house without grounding for a few years. I installed GFCI outlets and just lived with it.

The house I grew up in was built in 1912 and obviously the outlets were not grounded. When we needed to plug in a three-prong plug, my father would just stick in a cheater plug. That was by no means the most dangerous thing about that house. For example, all the wall switches were wired to break the neutral wire instead of the hot wire, and some (but not all) were installed upside down (down=on). My electrician uncle always found something to freak out about whenever we asked him to do something in our house.

The next time you catch them doing something wrong, take away their TV privileges for a week. See, grounding outlets is easy-peasy, as long as you have enough of a backbone to carry thru with it!

You’ll be shocked at how much better they behave after that.

Don’t give up your day job, Spidey.

When I had some grounded outlets installed in our 1942 vintage house, it was no big deal. I think the electrician just dropped a ground wire through the walls and into the basement.

I may well do that - create a ground net in the crawlspace and attach the outlets to it.

My first thought was that you could simply use a jumper to tie ground and neutral together at the outlet. Obviously this is prohibited and dangerous without a GFCI, but the GFCI should take care of any faults here. I know that it’s legal to use a GFCI without the ground screw connected at all.

But I snooped around and it appears that using a jumper is illegal. I’m not entirely sure why. Any ground fault through the outlet should be detected just as easily as through some other place (plumbing, etc.).

Best avatar for the subject EVER.

As part of this project, I had to run a new feeder to the stove. Even though I had the main breaker turned off, and checked with a non-contact tester, I was still wary of touching the ends of the cable…

Yeah, I’ve been shocked enough times to know that I would rather leave my shocks to a good scary movie.

My house is from 1940. The wiring is in remarkably good shape (early romex, or NM I should say) but no grounds to be found anywhere. Someone did, helpfully, replace all the receptacles with three prongs. Yes, I know how wrong that is. Interestingly someone did upgrade the main panel to a modern 300A service.

I’ve just been updating as I remodel, one room at a time. I added a subpanel in the attic which makes redoing the 2nd floor bedrooms easier than pulling wire all the way back to the fully finished basement.

I’ve gutted one of the bedrooms and need to do the electrical next. Unfortunately, it appears that bedroom, the whole finished attic, and my office* are on one meandering circuit. So I’m currently in procrastination mode.

*Pretty sure it was built to be a nursery, but is absolutely perfect in the modern WFH era for an office.

It’s a big house, and if I have one lesson learned from buying a project house it’s this: Having both the attic and the basement fully finished means NOTHING is easy.

One thing I wanted to add, although off-topic somewhat. As I said the house was built in 1942, in the middle of the war. All the rooms had a ceiling light with a wall switch. One of the switches went bad and I replaced it. It seemed to be very old; I had never seen such an old switch. So one very bright sunny Saturday afternoon, I bought a half dozen toggle switches, turned off the main and replaced them all. A more motley collection of switches would be hard to imagine. No two were alike and I suspect that they went back to the 1920s or even earlier. It must have been impossible to buy new switches in 1942 and they went out and scrounged whatever they could find. At any rate I am glad I replaced them all.

My house was built in 1959, and most of the outlets are two prong. I hired a plumber to ground the outlet in the kitchen that the fridge was attached to, and i think we were both shocked to discover that there was a perfectly good ground already in the wall, it just wasn’t attached to the outlet.

(Is “shocked” the wrong word to use there?)

The electricians my late father paid to run an armored cable up to the shed didn’t connect the ground (and cut it short to make sure you couldn’t). After getting a mild shock off the lathe I hammered a length of studding into the ground and connected a cable up to that.

I had a similar thing happen at my first apartment in grad school. It was all two pronged outlets, but I had three prong equipment I wanted to connect. I mentioned it to the onsite manager, and he said there was already a ground, it just wasn’t hooked up to the receptacle.

I don’t remember if I installed a 3 prong outlet, or if maintenance did it, but once installed, it did provide a proper ground.

I guess it takes true cost cutting management to decide to install a ground in all of the old apartments, but not bother to update the receptacles. It was probably barely safer than no ground, because I’m sure most people just used one of those two to three prong adapters, and never bothered to hook it to the center screw.

My son recently bought a house with two-prongs. An electrician told him if he bought a new breaker box it could handle the grounding for him and he could then replace all the two-prongs with three.

Yeah, as long as he runs all new cable - which is going to be expensive.