Category Archives: MN Home Inspection

3 Choices to Replace Nongrounded 2-prong Receptacles

GFCI, 2-prong receptacle replacement, nongrounded outlet replacementIf your home has an older 2 wire electrical system, it most likely is not  grounded properly. It also may not be capable of delivering the power loads needed by today’s device standards. This 2-wire system was often used in  knob-and-tube (K&T) wiring which was commonly used between 1880 – 1930’s. Knob-and-tube wiring was insulated with cotton cloth (loom), and soft rubber. Older cloth wiring is easily damaged by renovations and rodents. It would be a wise investment to upgrade, and re-wire your whole house if your system is older than 50-60 years. The cost to re-wire your home may run between 5%-15% of your home’s value. If that is not an option the 2014 National Electric Code (NEC) allows for alternate acceptable upgrades for 2-wire systems.

1) The NEC code allows you to replace existing two-prong receptacles with new 2-prong receptacles. You will not be grounding anything with this option, but just upgrading older (yellow, brittle)  receptacles with new (whiter) ungrounded receptacles.
2)  The NEC allows you to replace the two-prong receptacle with a 3-prong GFCI protected receptacle, but it must be labeled “No Equipment Ground”. You also cannot ground any receptacles downstream of this installation. There are specific wiring steps involved to switching to a GFCI when the box is not grounded. You must identify the load wire, and line wire and connect this according to the markings on the GFCI receptacle.
3)  You can replace the two-prong receptacles with a three-prong receptacle- and add a GFCI protected circuit breaker to the panel. The receptacle must be labeled “GFCI protected, and No Equipment Ground”

Note: You may need to buy the smaller GFCI receptacles to fit the smaller pre-1950 outlet boxes.

Grounding Options : 

(These are Not necessarily NEC approved- check with your local Jurisdiction for more details)

There are 3-prong self-grounding receptacles available which can be used if your outlet box is metal, and the box is connected to a grounding system that continues to your panel. There is also an option of to add a ground (jumper bond) from the new 3-pronged receptacle to a metal outlet boxonly if the metal outlet box itself is connected to a grounding system that continues to your panel.  A good YouTube video from VideoJoeKnows    “How to ground an old style electrical box.”  (Part 1 and Part 2.) will show you how to add a ground.

Another helpful article I found from This Old House Online “Replacing Two-Prong Receptacles”   will show you how to test to see if your box is grounded. (Test to see if your box is grounded by inserting one end of an electrical tester into your hot (short) slot, and touch the other end to the outlet box cover screw. If the circuit tester lights up, then your box is grounded.)

Note: I always recommend getting a certified electrician for all electrical work. Always get a permit for electrical remodeling, wiring, and upgrades to help maintain safe electrical standards for your family. Obtaining a permit also can add value if you choose to sell your home, or loose value if done improperly.

Victoria Morris

Minnesota Building Inspections

MN Home Inspector is Worth the Cost

St. Paul MN home inspector. MN Building InspectionsDid you know that the average home was sold for only 94% -96% of the listed price in 2015. Obtaining a detailed home inspection will most likely provide good reasons to renegotiate the asking price. With average home sales in the 7- County Twin Cities area being about $224, 000 you may be able to save $11,200 ( 5%) on average, off the list price with your home inspection investment. To see more Minnesota Real Estate Statistics review the MN Realtors Market Update.

A common, and expensive defect found during a home inspection is an aging roof. If the shingles are severely aged, there may be existing interior water damage from roof leaks. Snow on the roof  through-out the winter in Minnesota may make it impossible to walk the roof during a winter by a MN home inspector. However, there are usually visible areas where the snow stays melted off the shingles. These areas are often found where heat is escaping through the attic or second story wall sections. (Opposed to roof areas with no heat, which will turn the melted snow into ice dams.) Yes, there is a balance needed for all of your home systems.

These visible areas allow for a general diagnostic of the roof condition, but won’t reveal the roof  in great detail. This is why it is important to get into the attic, and assess the condition of the roof penetrations and deck board during the inspection if at all possible. Re-roofing a home can cost between $5,000 and $15,000.

There are usually some electrical defects. If the home owner has remodeled without obtaining the proper permits, this can devalue the selling price. Older homes (60 years+) may warrant the need for a total re-wire. The average cost to re-wire a home is between 5% – 15% of the homes value.

The heating and cooling system almost always needs servicing. It is a wise investment for any home owner to have your furnace and A/C cleaned and serviced annually. When you have this done, make sure the technician leaves a maintenance record affixed to the HVAC system. Replacement costs range from $2,500-$8,000 for one, or both heating/cooling systems.

Landscaping and drainage issues are known to cause a great amount of costly repairs. Usually causing foundation cracking, and basement water infiltration. This can result in greatly raising a buyer’s investment cost to correct. This is a very common area of need found by a home inspector.

So in the end, if a home inspection only saves you $1000 off the asking price, then you have approximately tripled this important pre-sale investment.