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Are Two-Prong Outlets Bad?

Whether you’re buying a new home and want to inspect it for electrical issues or are updating your current home’s electrical system, you may wonder if you should keep or replace any two-prong outlets you find. While two-prong outlets are still legal in older homes, they’re not recommended for many homeowners. Since two-prong outlets can be dangerous to you and your home, learn more about what they are, their dangers, and why you should consider updating them to three-prong outlets.

What Are Two-Prong Outlets?

Two-prong outlets are outlets featuring only two wires—a neutral wire and a hot wire. These outlets are typically found in older homes, as they were the standard option before the 1960s. 

What’s the Difference Between Two-Prong and Three-Prong Outlets?

Both kinds of outlets feature hot and neutral wires, but the big difference is that three-prong outlets have a grounding wire, while two-prong outlets don’t have one. Since three-prong outlets feature this grounding wire, they’re much safer than two-prong outlets. 

The grounding wire serves as a safety measure designed to trip a home’s electrical panel after an electrical surge. By tripping the breaker at the electrical panel, the grounding wires protect people’s homes and families from electrical fires, appliance or electronic damage, and shocks. Essentially, ground wires allow excess electricity to exit your home safely and disperse deep in the ground. 

Why Are Two-Prong Outlets Dangerous?

Due to the lack of grounding wires in two-prong outlets, they can potentially be dangerous. By not having a ground wire, an electrical surge can send electricity to an outlet and not give it anywhere safe to go, leading to fires or shocks to those in the home. This excess energy can also fry any plugged-in electronics or appliances. 

Find out more about the primary dangers of two-prong outlets below:

  • Electrocution: One of the biggest dangers of two-prong outlets is the higher risk of electrocution. During a power surge, electricity will rush to a two-prong outlet, and the lack of a ground wire will mean your system won’t have any way to safely redirect the power. If you come in contact with a stray current from the outlet, you could be electrocuted, potentially leading to severe injury or death.
  • Electronics and appliance damage: Besides threats to your health, two-prong outlets can also fry your appliances and electronics during a power surge. Since there’s no grounding wire in a two-prong outlet, excess power can rush into your appliances and electronics, frying any sensitive components inside. While some electronics may be easily replaceable, items like computers, TVs, and kitchen appliances can be much more expensive to replace.
  • Fire: After an electrical surge, the electricity has to go somewhere. At times, this electricity will go into your building’s material. Once it hits these materials, the electricity can cause a fire inside your home that can spread quickly. This fire could result in your entire home burning down or causing severe damage.

Why Shouldn’t You Use Three-Prong Adapters with Two-Prong Outlets?

Since two-prong outlets can be dangerous, you might be tempted to use a three-prong adapter as a quick fix. While adapters seem like an easy solution, they don’t make your outlets any safer, and your outlets will still be susceptible to various dangers from power surges. Additionally, plugging a surge protector into a three-prong adapter will be ineffective as well, as you still won’t have a ground wire.

How to Update Two-Prong Outlets

Due to the risk presented by two-prong outlets, you might be interested in making them safer. One of the best ways to better protect your home and yourself from electrical dangers is replacing your two-prong outlets with three-prong ones. 

Any type of electrical work can be dangerous, and outlet replacement work is no exception. As a result, it’s a good idea to work with a professional electrician who can do the job for you. This technician will install ground wires at your home and then switch out your two-prong outlet for a three-prong one. A great technician can also update any existing three-prong outlets to ensure they’re as safe as possible if they’ve become outdated.

When you don’t want a full replacement, you can hire an electrician to install ground fault circuit interrupters (GCFIs). While CGFIs don’t add any ground wires to your home or protect sensitive electronics from power surges, they do prevent electrical shock. 

Choose Bonney for Outlet Updates in the Sacramento Area

If you have two-prong outlets in your home and want to update them to three-prong outlets, turn to Bonney. Our technicians regularly provide a range of local electrical services to homeowners in the Sacramento area. Alongside adding ground wires to your home and updating your two-prong outlets to three-prong ones, we also offer a regular maintenance program, Bonney Beyond, where we’ll provide an annual electrical inspection, among other kinds of regular maintenance. Learn more about our extensive electrical services today. Please feel free to schedule service if you’re ready to get started updating your outlets.