I have moved into an older home. All of the outlets are two prong only. Is there an extension cord that will plug into the wall with a 2 prong, but has 3 prongs in the extension part? If not, how am I going to make things work in this old place, lol?? Thank you for any help!

  • 4
    Is safety important to your family? There are many ways to resolve that situation safely and legally. Wackadoodle extension cords are not one of them. Apr 23 '20 at 14:23
  • How old is it, and do you know what it was wired with? (old, likely cloth-covered NM, K&T, BX/AC, conduit)? Apr 23 '20 at 23:28

You can legally change the outlet, as long as it is “GFCI Protected” and marked “No Equipment Ground". You'll get the safety benefits of a third wire ground, though not all the surge protection benefits of your power strip. The GFCI units do use some 'vampire' power, about 1 Watt, 24/7.

Section 406.3(D)(3) of the 2008 National Electric Code covers this situation.

GFCI no equipment ground

Consider also a whole house surge protector, and if you have K&T wiring, an AFCI on the K&T. That said, if any of this sounds unfamiliar, hire a home inspector to check out everything and provide advice as to priorties.

  • A whole house surge protector protects equipment from certain types of damage. But it really doesn't do much for personal safety. May 27 '20 at 20:56

There are adapters like this:

enter image description here

By screwing the green tab into the outlet faceplate, you are theoretically providing a ground. There are also models with ground wires you can attach to known grounds like water pipes.

I would get a circuit tester like this to insure the adapter is actually safe.

enter image description here

  • Downvoted (sorry!) because cheater plugs are just that -- cheaters. It might be different in places like Chicago with tons of conduit, but I never find a ground on an old outlet. And I know you said to get the tester, but that's just the path to heartbreak. Apr 23 '20 at 18:55
  • 1
    Thanks for explaining your downvote. I expected that from certain types of people. I'm sure completely rewiring her house is a much more practical and realistic solution...OK, that was a bit sarcastic (sorry!) Apr 24 '20 at 4:39
  • Well rewiring isn't the only way to fix the situation, you can also use GFCI receps or breakers and then legally and safely convert to grounded receps. I think your answer is worthwhile though, since you specifically mention the need to verify that a ground is present. May 27 '20 at 20:25
  • This is better than violating an extension cord that you're likely to still have, and use, lying around after you do upgrade. Like that's ever going to happen anyway, +1
    – Mazura
    May 28 '20 at 12:48
  • Do think those adapters have been illegal in Canada for years. Someone can check and add if I am wrong.
    – crip659
    Feb 25 at 22:33

No, they no longer make those because they are dangerous. What you really need to do is call in an electrician to update your wiring so that it's safe.

  • Unfortunately, i don't own the home and trust me she's not going to do anything to change it! Apr 23 '20 at 15:14
  • Thank you for the information. I will talk to someone at the home improvement place to try to get these items. I certainly don't want to do anything unsafe! Apr 23 '20 at 15:16
  • 1
    According to the internet these grounded plug adapters are indeed still made and available in the US. All cautions still apply.
    – Tim Nevins
    Apr 23 '20 at 15:19
  • 1
    "ground-wire style of cheater plug was discontinued when it was noted that a loose unattached grounding wire could by accident become inserted into the "hot" ". - However, even the type w/o a wire are "illegal in some jurisdictions, in particular throughout Canada"
    – Mazura
    May 29 '20 at 23:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.