I'm trying to help a neighbor set up a computer and printer that her
out-of-state son shipped to her.
My neighbor's house was build in the 1960s and only has two-prong outlets. In
the past, whenever she wanted to use a 3-prong plug device, she just used an
I'm wondering if it would be okay to plug in the surge protector/power strip
her son sent into a 3-prong adapter and then plug that into the 2-prong wall
outlet. There would be three devices plugged into the power strip/surge
protector: a CPU, monitor, and printer.
Specifically, I want to make sure we're not risking starting an electrical fire
(or some other calamity).
If she does need to get an outlet turned into a 3-prong outlet, what elements
would the electrician take into account in his price (e.g., distance from
switch box) and what's your best guess on what that might cost?
Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide.
The first thing I would do is be sure if there is a ground present in the box.
A lot of older houses used a grounded system but installed 2 prong outlets. If
so the adapter works as long as you connect the ground tab to the center screw.
With that connected try a 3 light tester.
Better is to use a self grounding recptacle ... all assuming a ground is
actually present in the box.
If there is no ground present she really should try to get a circuit pulled in
for the PC. Surge protectors are not very good without a ground.
In the time it took you to type your message, you could have replaced
the outlet with a 3 prong one. They cost about One Dollar. Just be
sure the outlet (green screw) is grounded to the box with a short
piece of green or bare wire. A home built in the 60's should have a
ground in the box. Just be sure you follow the same wiring that was
used. The black or red wires go to the BRASS colored screws, the
White wires go to the SILVER colored screws, and the green screw is
the ground. Not too dificult to do. Be sure to shut off the power
when you do the job.
On 17 Nov 2004 20:36:52 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (Surfwospam) wrote:
On Wed, 17 Nov 2004 18:37:05 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:
Around here many homes built in the early 60's do not have grounds in
the box. The last two houses I have owned have not had a ground, and
they were built in '60 and '62. They use the cloth covered 2 wire
romex. All of the early '60s houses I looked at were the same, but
one built in '69 did have 3 wire romex.
It looks like the states varied quite a bit back then. The city I was
from had strict codes. Everything exposed had to be in conduit, such
as in the basement. Where I went thru walls, it was all steel encased
BX. This was code long before the 60's. My parents home for example,
was built in 1951, and had all of this. In fact, if it were not for
the 2-prong outlets and plug fuses, those were probably the most
durable electrical systems ever used in homes. ALL the houses in that
area were like that. I even put conduit and BX in my own home that I
built in 79, just because that is how I had always seen things wired,
and although romex w/ground was allowed, I refused to use it back
then. In the 50's and early 60's, Romex was not allowed at all in the
city, but I would see that cloth covered stuff on farms and in rural
Don't just bet on the box being grounded! Grounding recepts were
just being phased in during the mid 60's. And not every section
of this great land adopted grounding simultaneously. The box ground
path needs to be checked and verified before replacing any 2-prong
The real trick was having a house built to "GI Bill" or FHA standards (common
around Washington DC). Our 1951 house in Md had 3 wire Romex even though the
receptacles were 2 prong. We retrofitted them to 3 prong in the early 60s.
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