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Old 08-11-2014, 11:06 AM   #1
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1953 Home With All 2-Prong Outlets - Complete Re-Wire, or is GFCI Sufficient?


There’s a home I’m looking to purchase, but all of the outlets, including the kitchen, bathroom, outside, and basement are 2-prong outlets. It was built in 1953. The home does have 100-amp circuit breakers (looks to be the original panel, and it does say “3-wire” on the panel).

Would these outlets need complete re-wiring, or would a GFCI be sufficient? There’s a drastic difference in price between both options, but safety is certainly a concern.
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:13 AM   #2
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A GFI will work and be legal.
Need to place the sticker that comes with it that says no ground on the cover.
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:52 AM   #3
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If your purchasing a house there is more to the decision about the electrical system than 2 prong receptacles. Having said that gfci receptacles are a code complaint way to replace 2 prong non grounding type. They help protect you from electrocution but do not provide safety grounding. Most home appliances do not need 3 prong grounding type receptacles as they are double insulated and just have two prong at the plug. Some kitchen appliances and power tools have 3 wire grounding power cords. A common solution is to spend the time determining how the power goes from receptacle to receptacle then placing the gfci at the beginning of the chain then protect the other receptacles from the load terminals of that single gfci. This way your not purchasing a couple dozen gfci's only gfcis where you need them. You can also check into gfci circuit breakers but that may be problematic in a older panel and home for reasons we can explain if you want.

I would be more concerned about the panel and the wiring method and the condition of that wiring than the system not having equipment grounding.
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Old 08-11-2014, 12:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randy394 View Post
There’s a home I’m looking to purchase, but all of the outlets, including the kitchen, bathroom, outside, and basement are 2-prong outlets. It was built in 1953. The home does have 100-amp circuit breakers (looks to be the original panel, and it does say “3-wire” on the panel).

Would these outlets need complete re-wiring, or would a GFCI be sufficient? There’s a drastic difference in price between both options, but safety is certainly a concern.
Aside from a lack of an equipment ground, the system might have other issues such as not enough circuits or DIY additions. Ditto for the condition of the actual wires. An electrical system of that age I would be leery of tackling, but if you want to it is doable.

GFCI protection without ground is code legal, make sure to add the stickers to. However, surge protection will be an issue since the 3rd prong is needed. Surge arrestors work by shunting voltage spikes over to the ground pin, and without one that will be a restriction. Also GFCI don't provide shock protection. They may protect a healthy adult from being killed, but a ground fault in an appliance will provide a rude surprise. Good chunk of resi appliances aren't 3 prong, but ones like the washer, fridge, toaster oven ect are.
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Old 08-11-2014, 01:26 PM   #5
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My usual advice, given that the overall condition of the wiring is still good, is to properly ground the receptacles/circuits that feed the washer, refrigerator, dishwasher, disposal, and areas where surge protection is desired.
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Old 08-11-2014, 01:49 PM   #6
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A ground fault circuit interrupter provides nearly perfect protection against electrocution to any circuit of any kind or age.

You can retrofit any circuit or receptacle with an equipment grounding conductor to provide fault protection and/or surge protection, the latter protection also requiring a surge suppressor.

Existing 2 wire circuits with or without added EGCs or GFCIs may not be extended or have additional outlets installed. New circuits would have to be strung here.

It is not necessary to decommission any of the existing circuits unless in disrepair or (probably not in this house) of a kind (such as knob and tube) not permitted by the insurance company you choose.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 08-11-2014 at 01:55 PM.
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