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Multiple outlets in older home need updating....

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Jun 03, 2013, 09:41 PM
Flying Pig
Multiple outlets in older home need updating....
I recently purchased a home built in 1948 and have multiple outlet types (2 prong and 3 prong GFI). A bathroom in the house has been professionally redone recently and has updated outlets (as well as the kitchen and one bedroom with 3 prong). With these recent upgrades can I assume that the electrical system is fairly up to date? And if so, can I replace the existing 2 prong outlets with GFI and be properly grounded?
Jun 04, 2013, 08:18 AM
Your house likely has 2 wire Romex wiring without a ground wire given its age.

The ease of updating will depend on the design of the house. Is it one story or two? Does it have a crawlspace, or unfinished basement? Is there an open attic? If you have access to the underside of the wall from the basement or crawlspace and to the top of the wall from the attic the walls can be fished without damage assuming you don't run into fireblocking in the walls. If you're on a slab in a two story house getting to the first floor walls will require cutting into the walls or removing baseboards to route the wires.

General Disclaimer

Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Jun 04, 2013, 09:51 AM
Hi Flying Pig,

In addition to Sparky617 comments, you may have issues with your electrical panel. If it is the original electrical panel from 1948 with several fuses boxes off to the side, you may be wise to consider replacing the main panel with a 200 amp panel and making the needed changes to the wiring so that future changes to your home will not be a issue electrically. However, this style of change would be best completed by a reputable electrician.

Good Luck!
Jun 04, 2013, 10:42 AM
you do NOT add a ground when you sling a GFI across a 2-wire circuit. it is alleged that the GFI will provide the rated 5 mA imbalance protection (aka stop shocks.) but without a ground lead to reference the chip against, I doubt that will work. the NatSemi spec sheet for the earliest GFI chips says you need ground.

1948, let's see... 65 years old. undersized for today's loads. nobody's insulation improves with age like that.

this is a candidate for an electrician replacing the entrance panel and running new branch wiring to replace the old tar and paper insulated stuff.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Jun 04, 2013, 11:54 AM
I would not assume that. You might find that only the bathroom circuits for the remodel have been updated to new code standards.

I know I purchased a home that was build in that same time period back in 2000. Many of the outlets had 3 prongs, but were not grounded. The only way to check is to remove each out let and see if the outlet is actually grounded, check your panel, or call a qualified electrician.
Jun 04, 2013, 03:18 PM
you can check with a three-prog tester, under ten bucks at ahy home center. if the correct two lights come on, at least it won't kill you. still might not have a real ground wire, but ground prong ends up at the neutral in the worst case. most also have a test button for a GFI now, too.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?