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Old 09-07-2010, 01:00 PM   #1
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


I just bought a house, yaay me

But all of the outlets are two prong

I had an inspector come and he said I could run grounds to all the outlets if I want, but that seems crazy, it'd be nice because I could just run them down the wall and maybe not have to open them at all.

The other part of me says to just run new wire, but I know they'll be stapled. So I have to open the walls. What is typically the route for this?

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Old 09-07-2010, 01:07 PM   #2
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


Why do you need to change from 2 to 3 prong?

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Old 09-07-2010, 01:14 PM   #3
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


well.. one outlet has a little blackish soot, as if the plug attached to it maybe cooked a little, maybe a spaceheater plug that got hot?

I have to change some for computers, tvs, stereo equipment, and things like my carpet cleaner, which takes 3 prong. Maybe put one 3 prong in each room instead of replacing them all?

Again, I'm just looking for suggestions
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Old 09-07-2010, 01:37 PM   #4
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


Is this a single story home with crawl space? If so then the fix may be as easy as running a new ground to each electrical outlet and switch. I helped an electrician do just this a few years back so I could gain the expertise on how it's done. We simply went through the bottom of each outlet and switch's box, then drilled through all bottom plates until we had access to the crawl space. We ran a ground wire from each box, then tied all ground wires together under the house to a central ground wire, a #6 I believe, and this was tied to a ground rod driven in to the ground. Don't ask me if this was to code or legal. He is still Licensed so maybe he knows what we were doing. If this home is two-story I don't see why this could not be done either. David
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Old 09-07-2010, 01:37 PM   #5
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


I know this is a DIY forum but frankly based on you question and terminology, I think you are in over you head and need an electrician.

Having said that, I will make some suggestions and you decide if you have the skill to undertake them.

Identify the first receptacle on a circuit and install a GFCI receptacle with all the down stream wiring on the load side. This will give you personnel protection and allow you to plug in 3 prong devices. It will not give you grounding protection for your electronics.

For circuits that need grounding protection for electronics: A new cable with a ground wire should be run from the panel. I know that an individual ground wire can be rum per code but it would not be my choice. You may or may not have to open up the walls depending on the house construction and layout.
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Old 09-07-2010, 02:04 PM   #6
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


Surge protection will not work without a ground wire on the third prong.

Running the new ground wire is almost the same hassle as running a new grounded cable. You could also add new circuits where needed with the new cables.

Cables fished into the wall do not require stapling.
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Old 09-07-2010, 02:47 PM   #7
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


I think its all been covered
My house is from the 50's & luckily has the ground wire
The metal box was grounded instead of the outlet

So 1st verify that the panel/outlets do not have a ground wire
If its there at both ends then you are OK to install 3 prong outlets & ground them
Metal boxes must remain grounded, add a ground from box to outlet

If there isn't a ground wire
Then its either run a seperate ground, or replace the wire
If its newer wire I'd run the ground, less cost, not my preference
Mine was older cloth wire so I am replacing it bit by bit

Where are you located ?
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Old 09-07-2010, 02:50 PM   #8
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


Thanks guys,

Yeah, I was thinking I would just run new wires, the problem is the old ones are always stapled so I have to open the drywall.. I doubt I'd be able to rip the old out of the staples using brute force and yanking on the wire, I'm willing to try though, as I would feel better running new wire anyway.

I don't have a basement, on a concrete slab, so all this has to be done from the attic.

What I'm hoping to do is run new wires to just one outlet per room, so if you have something that requires a ground you can at least plug it in with piece of mind, if I want a project later on, I could then work on upgrading the rest.

I'm a tech junky, so I like to plug my laptop everywhere to charge, so having grounded receptacles is kind of an issue for me.

It also gives me a chance to isolate the bathroom as my wife likes to plug in a hair dryer and curling iron, and we use a space heater in the bedroom. I iron a lot also. I have a lot of work to do it looks like.

If you have tips on fishing wire I would love to hear them, or how you would tackle this project.

I did this with a friend, and we just cut holes in the wall to run the wire, it patched up fine, but I couldn't help but wonder if there was a better way to do it

I'm in San Diego. My friend just bought a house and it was cloth also, we haven't seen any metal cased wires or metal outlets so far when tearing up their houses. The boxes looked ceramic actually. I would be very happy to see a metal box inside the walls

I haven't moved in yet, I haven't signed yet, I sign in 3 days, but I'm making sure I am doing my research and am prepared so I can tackle it right away. If I have to punch holes in the wall, I'd like to do that before we move in

Last edited by ibjames; 09-07-2010 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 09-07-2010, 03:37 PM   #9
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


Agreed that you never will be able to use the old wiring to pull in new. On a slab your only option is up to the attic. The way I like to open the wall is use a 5" hole saw about 6" below the ceiling. This lets you drill up thru the top plate and fish down to the switch or receptacle box. I prefer to remove the old boxes (usually they are undersized anyway) to make fishing the wire easier and installing new plastic boxes after the new cables are fished in. As was stated you do not have to staple the cables in the wall.

To patch the hole: cut a 8" (roughly) piece of 1 by 3 (or what you have) and place in the hole behind the drywall. Secure with a drywall screw on either side of the hole. Place the drywall plug that you cut out and secure with 2 screws into the brace. Tape and mud.
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Old 09-07-2010, 05:16 PM   #10
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


Before you get too carried away with this do some checking. The first thing I would do is turn off the main and then pull the panel cover and see if there are ground wires already installed. Sometime in the later '50s or early '60s houses started getting wired with cable that had a one size smaller ground. i.e. #14 wire had a #16 ground and #12 wire had a #14 ground. This wire could be there just grounding the box. The inspector you had there, is he an electrical inspector or house inspector?
Also, there is always a chance that everything is in conduit.
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Old 09-07-2010, 05:32 PM   #11
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


I had a house inspector and electrical..

the electrical inspector looked at the main, because it was full, and some were double tapped, he didn't open a receptacle to look at it.. he just assumed it would have to be replaced. Though there were quite a few bare coppers going to the ground, maybe they are for the receptacles?

I have done two houses in the same area and they were built around the same time frame. They both had cloth 2 wire.. I'm hoping this one is different

I haven't closed yet, I do this Friday, I'm just preparing myself.. I know how much work it is

What plastic box do you use after you pull out the old one rjniles? How do you secure it to the 2x4?

This rocks
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Old 09-07-2010, 06:48 PM   #12
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


These are the boxes I like to use as they screw into the stud'

http://www.licensedelectrician.com/Store/SmartBox.htm

Some will use a OW box with the wing ears and drive 2 screws thru the side of the box into the stud, but these this is not code compliant and some inspectors might call you on it. Reason: modification of a UL listed device.
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Old 09-07-2010, 07:40 PM   #13
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


just perspective from a new owner of a built in '59 house, we had the same exact problem, our saving grace was that the wire run was BX I think it's called, metal shielded cable.

Anyway, the metal shield acts as the ground cable for us, so I just had to ground the outlet to the box since the box was grounded via the metal shielding. made grounding easy, time consuming but very easy.

worth taking a look at to make sure you don't have BX before you get all worked up.

Hope that helps.
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Old 09-07-2010, 07:47 PM   #14
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


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Originally Posted by MLMIB View Post
just perspective from a new owner of a built in '59 house, we had the same exact problem, our saving grace was that the wire run was BX I think it's called, metal shielded cable.

Anyway, the metal shield acts as the ground cable for us, so I just had to ground the outlet to the box since the box was grounded via the metal shielding. made grounding easy, time consuming but very easy.

worth taking a look at to make sure you don't have BX before you get all worked up.
It is my understanding that the metal sheath on BX is not a valid ground. The problem is the metal rusts and the ground loses continuity or becomes high resistance. There is new BX that has an additional bare wire in the metal sheath with the insulated conductors that can be used for the equipment ground. A 1962 house will not have the newer type BX.
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Old 09-07-2010, 08:13 PM   #15
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Bought a new house built in 1962, all plugs are two prong


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It is my understanding that the metal sheath on BX is not a valid ground. The problem is the metal rusts and the ground loses continuity or becomes high resistance. There is new BX that has an additional bare wire in the metal sheath with the insulated conductors that can be used for the equipment ground. A 1962 house will not have the newer type BX.
*shrug* I dunno, I'm not an electrician, but I know my home inspector and electrician I hired to do some other work were A-ok with it. Is there an electrician who can shed some light on it?

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