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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Using Three Pronged Electrical Adaptors Can Put Your Home at Risk of Fire

3/25/2019 (Permalink)

Many old homes lack 3 slotted grounding outlets. An easy solution is to use a cheater plug but are they safe?

We were once called to a home that had experienced a devastating fire. The rental home had been an older house that fortunately vacant at the time of the fire. After the investigation was concluded, it was determined that the fire had been started by an extra freezer that had been put in the garage. The problem? The garage did not have any three pronged outlets so the tenant had used a three-pronged adaptor plug to circumvent this obstacle.

Three pronged adaptors, also known as "cheater plugs", allow a three pronged plug to connect to a non-grounded, 2 slotted receptacle. They are often used for appliances in older homes and they solve the problem without any electrical work being necessary. However, as seen in the case above, they are not designed to be a safe solution. The reason appliances and electrical items have a third plug is to protect them from electrical surges, malfunctions and fire.   If something goes wrong with the appliance, the cord, or the outlet, the ground system provides a secondary path for the electricity, leading it back to your home's breaker box and safely into the earth.  Taking away that grounding function makes your home vulnerable to a fire.

It is safer choice to replace your outlets with a third prong outlet and while you are at it, make it a GCFI outlet. GCFI outlets shut the electricity to the appliance off at the outlet when a surge is detected, rather than the breaker as is the case of a 3 pronged outlet. This saves seconds, which could protect your appliance, your home and you from a shock!

In the New Haven County area, we have many beautiful old homes that are lacking updated electrical systems. We are also fortunate to live in an area with a plethora of talented electricians. Give one a call to inspect your older home for any potential issues and protect your property from an electrical fire.

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