Electrical receptacles / House built in 1953

I inpsected a house built in 1953, the recectacles were three prong,
but they all tested open ground…would this be because back then the
houses were wired with two wires ? no ground wire.

if so how should I write it up…


If the receptacles were of the three wire type they should be protected by GFCI.

If they are not protected with a GFCI device then that is what your statement should point out as well as there is no Equipment grounding conductor.

Here is my report comment:
“Most of the electrical system does not incorporate a grounding conductor (*). Rewire, use 2-prong receptacles and/or separately grounded receptacles as required. Avoid use of ungrounded 3-prong receptacles and adapters to reduce risk of electrical shock and to provide protection for sensitive electronic equipment. See body of report for locations of ‘open ground’ and ‘no ground’ (two prong) receptacles.”

At the beginning of my report I have a statement that says “The asterisk after certain report comments denotes items that were typically standard practice at the time of construction”

Personally, I don’t like the GFCI approach. Surge protection devices do not work without a proper ground. GFCI can also trip with motor related surges.

Here is a link to a page I created which I use in my reports:

Why would you want ot rewire with 2 prong receptacles?

In a system where there is no equipment grounding conductor present then the installation of a three wire device would require the installation of an equipment grounding conductor or the use of GFCI devices.

If an equipment grounding conductor is installed it must be installed to one of the following:
(1) Any accessible point on the grounding electrode system as described in 250.50
(2) Any accessible point on the grounding electrode conductor
(3) The equipment grounding terminal bar within the enclosure where the branch circuit for the receptacle or branch circuit originates
(4) For grounded systems, the grounded service conductor within the service equipment enclosure
(5) For ungrounded systems, the grounding terminal bar within the service equipment enclosure

If a GFCI device is used it must:
© A non–grounding-type receptacle(s) shall be permitted to be replaced with a grounding-type receptacle(s) where supplied through a ground-fault circuit interrupter. Grounding-type receptacles supplied through the ground-fault circuit interrupter shall be marked “GFCI Protected” and “No Equipment Ground.” An equipment grounding conductor shall not be connected between the grounding-type receptacles.

Any other replacement must be a two wire receptacle.

On a 120 volt circuit surge protection will dissipate the surge through the grounded (neutral) conductor and there is no need for an equipment grounding conductor to be present for them to work properly.

Yes, they do.

[FONT=Arial]“A word about grounding: most suppressors and EFI filters require real grounds. Any that don’t are next to useless. For example, most surge suppressors use MOVs (metal oxide varistors) to “clamp” overvoltages. Yes, you can have a suppressor that only has a MOV between neutral and hot to combat differential-mode voltage excursions, but that isn’t enough. You need common-mode protection too. Good suppressors should have 3 MOVs, one between each pair of wires. Whichmeans you should have a good solid ground. Eg: a solidly connected 14ga wire back to the panel.
Not rusty BX armour or galvanized pipe with condensation turning the copper connection green. Without a ground, a surge or spike is free to “lift” your entire electronics system well away from ground. Which is ideal for blowing out interface electronics for printer ports etc. Secondly, static electricity is one of the major enemies of electronics. Having good frame grounds is one way of protecting against static zaps. If you’re in the situation of wanting to install computer equipment on two wire groundless circuits take note: Adding a GFCI outlet to the circuit makes the circuit safe for you.
But it doesn’t make it safe for your equipment - you need a ground to make surge suppressors or line filters effective.”

[/FONT][size=2]Copyright 1991-2004 Steven Bellovin (smb(at)research.att.com) Chris Lewis (clewis(at)ferret.ocunix.on.ca)


You would not rewire with a 2-prong receptacle. You would either rewire (with new romex) or replace the ‘open ground’ receptacle with a 2-prong receptacle.

It is also acceptable to replace them with GFCIs and label the outlets as “no equipment ground provided”.

No disrespect meant toward you or either of these fine authors but I believe that I would trust someone in the electrical field instead of someone that is a computer program designer.

Most of the surge protecters that are bought off the shelf at the local stores will operate on a 120 volt circuit regaurdless of an equipment grounding conductor.

Todays electonics are a lot more forgiving that those in the past.

Not meant to argue in anyway but I was an electronic tec and later an engineer.
The post(Ralph’s) you quoted is referring to common mode signals that would appear on both the grounded and ungrounded conductor at the same time. Without a path to ground from both damage to the equipment could occur.:smiley:

as HI best to err on the side of caution instead of awaiting the right set of circumstances to disprove what you’ve stated in a report

Words well spoken and some that we all (HIs and sparkys) including myself should listen to.


Chiming in with Mike L, I too have lived through the nightmare of dirty power sources on sophsticated electronic equipment, including communications and computer equipment.

I’ve gotten into plenty of discussions with commercial electricians in years past over the need for a clean, real ground.

I’m mildly shocked that nobody has expressed concern that the person who wrote the above information appears to be actively inspecting homes and charging money for it.

I don’t think there are very many homes that old in Moreno Valley!!

Marc, lucky you’re many miles from Moreno Valley, therefore only “mildly” shocked. :wink:

That took a minute to sink in, but I finally got it. Good one. :mrgreen:

That would be an ASHI thing to do.

Here, we do not try to discourage those who need to ask such questions.

Maybe you should, to a certain extent. The “come one, come all, and inspect away no matter how little you know” heralding puzzles me. A uneducated inspector diminishes the NACHI brand and doesn’t provide the same level of value to the customer than an educated one will. After all, we’re talking about pretty fundamental stuff here, not some exotic niche topic. Asking questions should certainly not be discouraged, but charging money for what basically amounts to your knowledge and ability to locate defects and hazards is another thing entirely. I know that doesn’t do much for bringing in the widest possible group of inspector candidates to NACHI’s doorstep, but at some point there focus should change from filling to ranks to customer service.