Lesson 2 - Explaining the clients options

Hey Guys,

Another Virtual Inspection Question…

You are doing a home inspection on a house that has an unfinished basement…and the client has an old (2) two conductor NM without a EGC running to receptacles in the house. They would like 3 prong receptacles and the existing branch circuits as explained are older (2) wire type NM cable…and a new grounded properly service was installed (2) years ago.

You inform the client the receptacles are " Ungrounded " and she seems concerned…so here is your question…

1.) Hou do you explain to her the options she has and what are they?

NOTICE: Electricians please hold off to allow the HI’s to answer until I say it is clear for the Electricians to resond and assist them. Another Notice…Dave Macy…you can’t answer this question…!

Hint’s - Give their options and attempt to give them some technical options on what they may be able to do.

Disclaimer - I am NOT trying to make you guys Electricians…But would like to assist in letting you peer into the world of what the electrician may offer and suggest and a well educated HI may be able to assist the client on knowing their options before they PANIC at your results…Tactfulness also builds future clients.

An unfinished basement requires GFCI protection. Since the service was upgraded the basement should have been as well as the requirement becomes retroactive (210-7d2)

  1. Use GFCI receptacles to replace existing 2 prong “ungrounded” receptacles.
  2. Have a licensed electrical contractor add the EGC and use the appropriate grounded receptacles (with labels) with GFCI protection (receptacle or breaker)

ignore the basement part Doug…it was to assist in a possible solution…for the answers…

As an inspector, my weakness has always been electricity. However, I describe what I see (obsolete two-prong outlets, and wiring with no potential for ground), which I view as a safety-hazard, acknowledge that the NEC is not retoactive, and recommend an evaluation by a licensed electrician within the contingency period, and add that the cost of the upgrade could effect my client’s evaluation of the property.

Paul I am tickled to death you posted this question as I have had to deal with it many many times.

I can trouble shoot a complicated A/C system electrically.
I can wire my own home.
Can I explain the two wire system to a client. Absolutely not I just get this Deer in the head light look and know I am not pentrating the brain waves. My fault: Will be very interested in the final answer

Keith…very excellent…the concept of this virtual lesson is to possible EXPAND the knowledge of what you can comment to the client on and increase the knowledge of electrical conditions…lets see how others post as well and we will start explaining the idea and concepts…

I have to confess…this virtual lesson is to possibly see the extent of the HI’s knowledge on the Electrical Options…kinda an advanced lesson on the insite to the actual electrical options that face the consumer…

But…again your statement is 100% correct in the verbage and no wonder your software is the industry standard…most excellent… that the inspector should write in the report…my attempt here is to dive into the ACTUAL electrical options to help educate…

Also…it is extensive informative topics like this…dealing with understanding the options the client ACTUALLY has is what I as a highly informed HI would want…knowledge is as important …you can explain a condition but need to know options for that condition…

So lets dig deeper…what are the electrical options here !

As posted to you privately, I absolutely agree with what you’re attempting to accomplish. The more we know the better we can serve ourselves and others. You have certainly earned my respect as an electrical authority and, more importantly, as a human being. Thank you.

Thank You Keith…truly means alot to me…!

Will do my friend…OK GUYS…lets have some thoughts…however I know its the weekend…so lets give this one time for other HI’s to give it a shot…before I turn it LOOSE and let the anxiously awaiting electricians ( myself included ) go at it…:slight_smile:

Come on HI’s…lets learn together…

Well the first thing that I would do is talk to the client to find out why they want the three prong receptacles. If the reason is because they have equipment that they want to use in that location that has three prong plugs on it (e.g., refrigerator or freezer, appliances, computer or electronic equipment, certain kinds of power tools, etc) then I would explain that the equipment comes from the factory with a three prong plug on it for a reason. That third prong is needed to protect either the equipment or people or both in the event something goes wrong.

Next I would say that one option would be that they could replace the old two prong receptacles with three prong GFCI receptacles that are labeled with “No Ground”. This does not prevent someone from plugging into it a three prong plug. This option will protect people but will not protect the equipment from damage. To protect the equipment it still needs to be connected to a good ground.

Another option is to provide a ground at each outlet and properly install a three prong receptacle with ground. This will protect the equipment but will not adequately protect people coming in contact with that equipment in this location (unfinished basement). In order to adequately protect the people the circuit needs to be protected by a GFCI. Since we are talking about an unfinished basement I would also point out that the wiring is readily accessible which will make the job of the electrician a lot easier.

At this point I would hand it off to the electrician to discuss specific methods and costs.

So how did I do?


Ahhh…excellent…lets get more…( guys to benefit from this…always go back and read the my first post on it…to better understand…)

Great points brandon…lets keep it going…explain how this can be achived in your last paragraph…also the basement reference is ONLY to facilitate the answers to your last paragraph…lets dig deeper…

Personally, I would recommend installing a GFCI breaker in the panel and running new branch circuit wiring w/ground in the basement. The two wire circuits are old and unlike wine or good cheese, electrical components do not get better with age. I know this option is ok.

I’d be reaching and would need to do more research before saying this to the client, but I think that you could also add a grounding conductor to the existing wiring and run it back to the panel, or look for places in the basement (like a water pipe?) where a ground could be connected to the receptacle. If I’m off base, I’m ready to be educated.

P.S. someone give me one green box to cancel the one anonymous red one I got (without comment) on a post in another thread where I thanked (sincerely) Nick for answering a question I had, but I guess they didn’t like me also saying that I did not agree with him. lol

Hopefully with all the educators here…we will get to that point shortly…

Anymore comments…lets hear em…:slight_smile:

Ahhh… I see now that we are not talking about putting three prong receptacles only in the basement, but anywhere in the house?

Well the good news is that the service is grounded and the basement is unfinished. This will help the electrican do the wiring. The goal is still to provide a ground and bring it back to the panel. The option to put a GFCI receptacle in the two-wire box and label it “No Ground” is still there too but still has that problem of not protecting the equipment that needs the ground.

P.S. thanks. I’ll let someone else have a go now.

Paul I understand what you are asking but I thought as a HI our job is to inspect and report and not offer a solution, cost to fix etc. I have renovated several residental properties and had my elec. come in and install a new panel, meter base, incoming service wire, all new recep. pull new romex up thru the walls, new GFCI, hardwire smoke for basement etc. really the only option is to do it right and then they can forget about it. I might refer them to the qualified elec. that I use as I know his work is by the book and he can give them a price etc. maybe there are some other options to what I listed above but I don’t know what they are or if the would be better than all new equip. What could be better or safer than all new equip?

Look…I am TEACHING above your reporting…I am trying to help educate…

Ok…so I should not make an attempt to EXPLAIN the options about what the client can do to make it the minimum safety standard…sure they can replace it all…if they want…but they dont have to.

This is hard enough to try and educate without pictures…trust me I am going somewhere with all this…

Are you saying HI’s should know NOTHING about the process to make it safe…without simply saying it all should be redone? while that is an option…

Just maybe…now I could be wrong…but some might want to know what options a person really has…please read my original post…these are virtual inspections…that make you think and give anything that comes to mind…you have and I thank you…but in the end I will and others will post the answers to the options…some may want to peer into the world of what can be done…to broaden their knowledge so they understand the concepts better…that way…you are just one step higher on the educational level…when speaking to electricians and helping to educate you r client in their options…

OK…Electricians…Go At It…explain article 250.130© and the options…

**VII. Methods of Equipment Grounding
250.130 Equipment Grounding Conductor Connections.

**Equipment grounding conductor connections at the source of

separately derived systems shall be made in accordance with
250.30(A)(1). Equipment grounding conductor connections at
service equipment shall be made as indicated in 250.130(A) or
(B). For replacement of non–grounding-type receptacles with
grounding-type receptacles and for branch-circuit extensions
only in existing installations that do not have an equipment
grounding conductor in the branch circuit, connections shall
be permitted as indicated in 250.130©.
**(A) For Grounded Systems. **The connection shall be

made by bonding the equipment grounding conductor to the
grounded service conductor and the grounding electrode

**(B) For Ungrounded Systems. **The connection shall be

made by bonding the equipment grounding conductor to the
grounding electrode conductor.

© Nongrounding Receptacle Replacement or Branch
**Circuit Extensions. **

The equipment grounding conductor
of a grounding-type receptacle or a branch-circuit extension
shall be permitted to be connected to any 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

[size=3]FPN: See 406.3(D) for the use of a ground-fault circuitinterrupting
type of receptacle.

The idea of my lesson here was to go beyond the understanding that GFCI as the only option the client can have…don’t get me wrong…that is a great one…LOVE IT…but in the example we have an unfinished basement and plugs above…while it may cost more…if they truly want a EGC they have options…knowing them will not MAKE you quote them…it just helps you know their are options…now pulling it all out and rewiring the house is another option…however it will quite possibly be a more expensive option…dont know…virtual inspection…

But understanding that all the above can achieve and will also allow the use of a 3 prong plug…over an above to just the GFCI and Label option…know all the options because your client may really want to buy the house…and you want their best interests at heart…if their was an unfinished basement and open access to the floor above…or atleast some areas of the house…their are other options…and what they can’t get to…the GFCI is a good option as well…

The point of this…was to know their are other additonal options and how they are achieved…

Now I am sure the other fellow electricians are awaiting comments as well…

For me this is priceless info. I run into this alot. What I would like to know is can you run just a ground wire to the recepticles or run new branch wiring. Since the ground is not a service conductor how many outlets can it be run to? Can you explain in lamens terms as I am not the sharpest tool in the shed.
Thanx for all you do.

I include the following links in my report and provide a copy of each to the client on site, along with recommendations for further inspection by an independent licensed electrical contractor regarding improved outlet safety prior to close of escrow.