Thursday, June 13th, 2019 by Mark Lockwood
Most homes nowadays contain three-prong outlets to plug in electrical appliances and other items that need a power source, but if you are an owner of an older home (one that was built before the 1970’s), you will want to check what your outlets look like. Three-prong outlets were not invented until the late 1960’s, so most older homes contain two-prong outlets (unless they have already been replaced) which are quite dangerous in today’s technology driven world. If you do not know the difference between the two types of outlets, take a look at the ones in your home and determine how many holes/slots are in each one. A three-prong outlet will have two slots on the top, and a third slot towards the bottom of the outlet. A two-prong outlet has the two slots at the top, but not another one underneath. I bet you are now wondering what is so important about the bottom slot (if you don’t know already), and why having only two slots is not enough. Two-prong outlets have two wires running through them (a neutral wire and a hot wire), and are not grounded which can leave homeowners unprotected from stray currents that could potentially result in someone being electrocuted, or expensive electronics being damaged from a power surge. The third slot in three-prong outlets have a third wire, which is the grounding wire. This wire allows for power surges to travel somewhere else, whereas they would normally go to a person, or to electrical equipment in a two-prong outlet. If a surge of excess electricity occurs, the risk of fire and/or electrocution increases greatly, but if you have a grounding wire, the excess electricity travels from the outlet, to the electrical panel, and then out through the ground wire into the ground outside, which absorbs the excess energy into the earth. Certain appliances are more susceptible to these dangers than others, such as larger and more modern appliances. Items such as computers, televisions, vacuums, large kitchen appliances (i.e. stove, refrigerator, etc.), should all be plugged into three-prong outlets. A good indication of whether or not something needs a three-prong outlet or not, is by looking at the number of prongs on the plug of the electrical item itself. For example, some smaller items only have two prongs, indicating that they are generally safe to plug into a two-prong outlet with no grounding. Bigger appliances however, possess a plug with three prongs, indicating a three-prong outlet with grounding is a must.
With electricity being used in today’s world more than ever due to the overall rise in technology, power surges are even more common. If your home contains two-prong outlets still and you are interested in learning more about how you can protect your home, give Marlock Electric a call for more information.
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