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What are Ungrounded Outlets?

Ungrounded outlets are commonly found in older homes and buildings and can be identified by simply looking at the face of the outlet. On nearly all modern homes, there should be three holes: two are vertical openings at the top of the outlet and one is a rounded opening at the bottom. If your outlet features all three of these openings, it is a grounded outlet. These outlets have been required by electrical safety standards for all structures since the mid-1960s, though they may not be the only type of outlet present in your home. Ungrounded outlets lack the rounded hole on the lower portion where the ground plug goes, only featuring the two vertical openings at the top. As a team of experienced electrical contractors, the team at BNR Electric knows how detrimental ungrounded outlets can be. That is why our team has provided some information explaining what ungrounded outlets are, the hazards they can pose, and why grounded outlets are important.

Learn about some common signs that you need to replace the wiring in your house.

Are Ungrounded Outlets Safe?

Though ungrounded outlets were commonly installed in homes before the mid-1960s, they have since been identified as unsafe for modern homes and devices. The presence of ungrounded outlets drastically increases the chance of:

Electrical Fires

Without the ground receptacle, your outlet may cause arcing, sparks, and electrical charges that can cause fires along walls or nearby furniture and fixtures.

Shock and Electrocution

Ungrounded outlets pose a significant risk of shock to individuals operating electronics and appliances that are plugged into the outlet.

Property Loss

Ungrounded outlets can short out equipment, rendering your favorite appliances and tools worthless.

Messy or Unsafe Wiring

In older homes, it is common to find a mixture of grounded and ungrounded outlets. This indicates that poor quality electrical work has been completed and can be a clear sign of current electrical problems or the cause of future issues.

Why are Grounded Outlets Important?

To understand why grounded outlets are important, it is important to first understand what they do. 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, acting as a failsafe.  Should anything go wrong with the outlet, the electricity simply travels safely along the ground wire back to the panel.  Without the ground wire, that electricity can channel into nearby materials such as fabrics, plants, or anything else near the outlet.

To learn more about electrical safety or to inquire about our electrical services, get in touch with the experts at BNR Electric. We can be reached by phone at 604-819-7887 or through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.


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