How to Upgrade Your Old 2-Pin Electrical Outlets to 3-Pin

Houses built before the 1960s had different electrical rules than we do now, including the fact that 2-pin outlets were standard outlets, not the average three-pin we commonly see today. The third hole in our outlets mainly helps protect against surges and shocks, and while 2-prong outlets are not necessarily a concern, they can be easily upgraded without major wiring changes.

Is it safe to replace the 2-prong outlet in your home?

While you can safely replace a two-prong outlet with a three-prong outlet, this does not make the outlet grounded. If the outlet is working properly , you can replace it, but it should be marked with a No Grounding sticker. You will also need to replace the old outlet with a “ground circuit breaker” or GFCI, which protects the user from electrical shock. Most of the time they are installed in bathrooms and kitchens where the outlet can come into contact with water and the outlet will trip to shut off when an electrical hazard is detected. As Safety Electricity explains:

The GFCI will “sense” the difference in the amount of electricity flowing in a circuit and the amount of electricity flowing through it, even at currents between 4 and 5 milliamps. The GFCI responds quickly (less than one tenth of a second) to a circuit trip or trip.

Before you start, make sure you know where the breaker is in order to turn off the power. We used to recommend turning off the entire network or a circuit breaker just in case. This process will only take a few minutes and you will immediately turn on the power again.

How to install a three-prong outlet

Make sure you have these tools before getting started.

When you have all the supplies at hand, turn off the breaker and use a voltage tester to make sure there is no voltage to the outlet. If the meter detects electricity, you may have a more serious electrical problem and should contact an electrician immediately.

After making sure that the electricity is off, you can start replacing the outlet . Use a screwdriver to remove the faceplate around the socket; at the bottom, you will find the mounting screws holding the socket in place. Come on, unscrew these screws. (Feel free to wear rubber-lined work gloves .) Once the outlet is free, pull it out of the wall to expose the two wires holding it in place. (Take this opportunity to make sure the electricity is off again.)

Take a side cutter and cut the two wires connecting the socket. Now you need to strip the wires to match the strip on the back of the GFCI socket. This gauge will show you which part of the shell needs to be stripped for a new socket. Make sure to strip just as much as the sensor requires, otherwise you risk getting exposed wires in the outlet.

After stripping the wires, attach them to the appropriate voltage receptacles. As Everyday Home Repairs points out, “Gold goes black and it’s hot. And then the white or neutral line will go to the silver screw clamp. ” You will take the black wire, place it under the gold plate at the outlet (all the way until it stops showing copper) and screw it into place. Then take the white or neutral wire, do the same for the silver side, and screw it into place.

After that, wrap the outlet with black electrical tape, completely covering the sides. The tape adds another layer of protection against electric shock . Be sure to cut the tape and not pull or tear to separate, as breaking the tape will cause it to bend and you want it to rest on the case for a secure fit.

Watch a video on everyday home renovation with detailed visual instructions:

You are now ready to anchor the socket to the wall and screw it back on. After everything is replaced, turn on the breaker again and check the voltage to make sure everything is working properly.


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