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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    1

    Default 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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
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    6,318

    Default Re: 1953 Home With All 2-Prong Outlets - Complete Re-Wire, or is GFCI Sufficient?

    100 amp panels are sufficient in most homes, but at some homes, where there is more demand for electricity, an upgrade will be in order. That's a job for a licensed electrician only.

    I've bought a few homes built in the early 50s, and I had no need to replace the wires in those homes. You can cerntainly have an electrician check your wires to determine their condition and safety.

    When I replaced air coolers (swamp coolers) in some of those homes with central a/cs, I had to upgrade the panels. And with all the appliances and computer devices of today, going to 200 amp boxes was the thing to do.

    An electrician can install grounding wires and new receptacles throughout the house, to meet current codes. This will be a much better choice than to install GFCIs.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,695

    Default Re: 1953 Home With All 2-Prong Outlets - Complete Re-Wire, or is GFCI Sufficient?

    The best thing to do is to take a small flat blade screwdriver with you and remove a few of the outlet plates and see if there is a bare copper wire attached to the metal box. For safety's sake, you should turn off the CB for the outlet(s) you are going to check and if you have some type of voltage checker, i.e. neon circuit tester of voltmeter, check for power at the outlet.

    If you see that bare copper wire, then it is an easy matter to just change the outlets. If there is no wire, then the cost will climb significantly as a wire will need to be run.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    693

    Default Re: 1953 Home With All 2-Prong Outlets - Complete Re-Wire, or is GFCI Sufficient?

    Randy, if the home was originally wired to Code and not degraded since then you can achieve a significant level in safety by installing either GFCI breakers or receptacles, at the first location in the circuit, and be perfectly legal by switching over to 3 wire receptacles.

    The ground wire does offer some protection to electronic equipment during storms.

    A 100A service is fine unless you have an electric water (19A), range (21A) heat pump emergency heat (42A).

    A 100W light bulb only draws 0.833 A so you can see lights, TV etc. don't really matter. Heating loads can add up quick.
    Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, Hidden Content

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,775

    Default Re: 1953 Home With All 2-Prong Outlets - Complete Re-Wire, or is GFCI Sufficient?

    You can also run a ground wire to any outlets that you have that you are plugging in 3 pronged served electronic equipment. Ground is required for some noise filtering on those types of equipment. Be also aware that a house of that age may have some AL wiring during updates made and it should be checked to make sure the switches, receptacles, etc. are rated for AL and proper connectors are used.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,915

    Default Re: 1953 Home With All 2-Prong Outlets - Complete Re-Wire, or is GFCI Sufficient?

    In a 'crawl-space' or 'basement' home where the single floor is wired from underneath, it's usually quite easy to do an outlet-only rewire to add grounding, or even to just add a ground wire to the existing system. This does nothing for the ceiling lights but they generally aren't a shock hazard unless you're working on them. I've seen several houses done this way with a new higher-rated service panel installed at about 1/2 of what an entire rewire would have cost. It does not bring the system up to code but it improves it considerably and is the best 'bang for the buck' in many situations.

    Phil

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    El Paso, TX
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: 1953 Home With All 2-Prong Outlets - Complete Re-Wire, or is GFCI Sufficient?

    GFCI receptacles are a legal fix if you want to install three prong receptacles. They do need to checked periodically because they do wear out. Although there is no ground it is considered a safer fix than grounded receptacles.

    I personally have never had a problem with a computer that is not grounded.

    You may be able to install GFCI circuit breakers but there is a type of wiring commonly found in homes called "shared neutral". A GFCI circuit breaker will not work reliably on this type of wiring tripping frequently.

    You can protect all receptacles "downstream" from any you install but you need to make sure you understand how to do it and you need to be certain as to which wires are the incoming hot and which are outgoing and feeding other receptacles.

    In my contracting business I have found problems are frequent when downstream protecting receptacles resulting in a lot of callbacks because of tripping receptacles. I will no longer downstream protect existing circuits, only new circuits. I now insist the homeowner allow me to install a GFCI receptacle at each outlet. It is more expensive but also more reliable. If there is a problem with something plugged into the circuit it is easy to localize the problem. If the customer is not willing to do this, and they always are, I would politely decline the job.

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