Grounded vs ungrounded outlets. Do you really know what it means? Can your outlets be a danger to you, your family, or your employees? In this post, we’ll answer some important questions about ungrounded outlets and what you need to know.


You can tell if an outlet is ungrounded simply by looking at it. A typical outlet has three holes: two vertical slits, and a round hole underneath. These are grounded outlets. An ungrounded outlet is one that only has two slits and no third hole.


The two slots on the ungrounded outlet represent a “hot” and “neutral” wire. On grounded outlets, the neutral slot connects the outlet back to the ground. This operates as a safety feature. In a power surge or other electrical issue, the excess electricity flows back into the panel instead of manifesting itself outside the outlet in the form of heat or increased power.


The fact is, ungrounded outlets do pose a danger if they aren’t handled properly. Some of the risks include:

  • An electrical fire. Heat or sparks coming from an ungrounded outlet can spark fires, especially if they are located near walls, furniture, other fixtures, or even blankets.
  • Ungrounded outlets could shock people if they are actively using appliances that are plugged into an ungrounded outlet. This can cause serious injury, and even death if there’s water around like in a bathroom or kitchen.
  • A power surge that could accompany an ungrounded outlet could lead to major damage to appliances that are plugged into a surging outlet.

Messy wiring, especially in older homes with ungrounded outlets, can increase the risk of the above. Wires should be kept as clean and as neatly organized as possible to help prevent their casing from wearing out.


Newer homes are much more likely to be fully equipped with grounded outlets, but if you have an older home with ungrounded outlets, it could be time to consider an electrical upgrade. Did you know City Plumbing now has a full team of certified electricians? We can assist you with upgrading your outlets or any other electrical needs. Make an appointment online, or call us today at (432) 366-2401. Give us a call, and we’ll come running.