Home Electricity 101: Safety in Grounded Plugs

All Montreal homes built before 1960 have the same energy: unpredictable. For us, the 1960’s brought about a new era of groovy energy; an energy we could get down with.

We’re not talking bellbottoms, afros or free love. We’re talking energy in the literal sense.

Safer home electricity standards were introduced in the 60’s: something we, as inspectors considered groovy. Most importantly, the 1960’s brought about the standardization of down-to-earth (grounded) electrical plugs. They protect people and electrical equipment from potentially very dangerous -even fatal- electrical shock.

Electrical Outlets 101

Electricity is all around us, but to most people it’s still a magic mystery.

What is a grounded plug? What is grounded electricity? What do each of the holes in an electrical outlet do?

Let’s start at the beginning. When you look at a normal 120-volt outlet, you will see two vertical slots and a moon-shaped hole centred below them.

We have a name for each of these holes. The top left slot is called ‘neutral’. The top right slot is called ‘hot’ and the bottom hole is called the ‘ground.’

Electricity flows in a circuit, and in a house it flows from the hot slot to the neutral slot. Any appliance you plug into the outlet completes the circuit to run a motor, heat some coils, or power the equipment using electricity.

The ‘ground’ slot is the safety feature in all this circuitry. If your appliance has a loose wire, or becomes overheated, the surge in electricity will flow straight to the ground, rather than releasing itself (potentially fatally) into you or into your equipment, potentially burning it out, or causing it to catch fire. If it’s grounded, it will detect the surge in electricity flow, and instantly trip the fuse or circuit breaker.

As you can imagine, 2-prong plugs (standard before the 1960’s) don’t have a ground at all, which is what makes them potentially very dangerous.

The “cheater” plug

Nearly all equipment and appliances today are sold with 3-prong plugs. Since it’s expensive to re-wire an entire pre-1960’s home, many people have opted to install a “cheater” plug. This means there’s a third slot, but it’s not connected to a ground ie not grounded.

These plugs are potentially hazardous to both you and your equipment.

Strategic Grounding

Do you own a pre-1960’s construction? There’s no question that completely rewiring your home is the best solution to ensure all plugs are grounded. Granted; this is an expensive and intrusive undertaking.

The next best solution? Take some protective measures, and strategically install grounded circuits.

Buy a tester (about $12) at your local hardware store. Test each plug. Make sure outlets where your A/V equipment, toaster and washer and dryer are installed are grounded.

Safety from the water mix: GFCI’s

Most commonly, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters GFCI’s are used to prevent the dangers of water and electricity mixing. It is prudent to install them in wall-mounted receptacles in areas where water and electricity are most likely to come into contact such as bathrooms, laundry room, kitchens and outdoors (where power tools and rain might mix, or water hoses and other electrical equipment.)

As soon as the GFCI senses a change in electricity flow, it trips the circuit, thus cutting off flow. Any plugs near sinks, like those you use in the bathroom to plug in your razor or hairdryer, or those on the kitchen counter used to plug in the toaster would benefit from GFCI’s.

Common ground

Erratic, spontaneous energy might be fun sometimes – but when it comes to wiring your home, it’s much better to be grounded.

…funny how the same decade got us both grounded and to the moon. No wonder we were so dazed and confused!

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Lay Chan Wee
Lay Chan Wee
01:19 31 Aug 21
I was impressed with the service provided by Rui Su. He was organized, explained in detail area that I am not familiar... with. He provided a good report. I will recommend him if you need home inspection.read more
Mary Jane Caro
Mary Jane Caro
14:25 27 Aug 21
I am always pleased to recommend Carol Mose from Mose Home Inspection Services to my clients who have had offers... accepted on residential real estate properties. She is knowledgeable, thorough, provides clear explanations, and delivers comprehensive reports.read more
Massimo Pannunzio
Massimo Pannunzio
22:05 25 Aug 21
Michael has got to be on of the best home inspectors in all of Quebec. It was amazing working with him and he had my... best interest at heart when making a life changing decision. He made sure I had all the answers and made it easy to work with him. I will be using Mose inspection for any moment that I need an inspection done that's for sure!read more
Amanda Lee
Amanda Lee
19:14 16 Jun 21
Amazing experience with Carol Mose who helped me with a pre-purchase inspection! She was very approachable and... observant, and informed me of all her first impressions on-site. This gave me greater understanding of any conditions as I was able to ask any quick questions on the spot. Her reports are the most thorough that I've seen and include diagrams to help explain what any physical signs mean and potential consequences. Could not have asked for a better inspector!read more
Maeghan Banks
Maeghan Banks
15:38 14 Jun 21
Carol was wonderful to work with for our pre-purchase inspection. She was professional, thorough and communicative,... taking the time to explain her findings as we went through the house. After the inspection, we felt we had clear knowledge of the condition of the house (both pros and cons), allowing us to move forward with the purchase with confidence. Highly recommend!read more
Ryan Chalupovitsch
Ryan Chalupovitsch
13:43 01 Jun 21
Carol Mose is the best home inspector in the business. Approachable and extremely knowledgeable. She did an... inspection for me and really took the time to explain her findings and help me understand the home I was looking to purchase. Cannot recommend her enough. Don’t hesitate.read more
Elisabeth Faure
Elisabeth Faure
21:16 29 Apr 21
This is the second time I have used MOSE, and they are always really amazing. Very nice, very professional. they came... to have a look at my roof and let me know if we were due for a repair - I was very satisfied with everything and would recommend them to anybody!read more
Hannah S
Hannah S
22:05 16 Apr 21
I had a great experience with Mose home inspection. My husband and I are first time homebuyers and so had a ton of... questions about the process. Everyone we talked with was really informative and helpful. Michael was our inspector and was phenomenal. The inspection was very thorough and he explained everything in detail with realistic next steps for us to take. We came out of the inspection feeling really informed. Plus, he is just an absolute delight! He had very contagious enthusiasm and made the inspection a really positive experience. Would highly recommend!read more
Gabriel Lukuc
Gabriel Lukuc
03:05 16 Apr 21
Michael was amazing. He took the time to explain to us what’s really important and the reasoning behind it. We’re not... very handy nor savvy when it comes to home construction so we really appreciate him taking the time to explain to us all aspects of the inspection. Also, Michael was friendly, professional and timely; he provided the report over a holiday and a weekend.read more
Stephanie Ballard
Stephanie Ballard
14:24 19 Mar 21
MOSE is the best in the business. Once again we were happy with their inspection services - they are professional,... friendly and knowledgeable. Would not hesitate to recommend to friends and family (and have)!read more
Rodrigo Morales
Rodrigo Morales
18:27 10 Sep 20
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