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How to Tell if Your Outlets are Grounded

How to Tell if Your Outlets are Grounded

Grounding is a process that transfers discharged electricity from an appliance directly to the ground. This process ensures you don’t get shocked in case there is a faulty wire. While the standard electrical code requires earthing in your house, some older homes lack earthing. That’s why it’s necessary to test and tell if a 2-prong outlet has ground by accurate ways like using a multimeter as explained in this article.

With some simple testing, you can check if your outlets have ground with some simple tools available at your local hardware store. The process of checking if a ground wire is grounded is as follows;

How to Check if a Wall Receptacle Is Grounded Using a Three-Prong Ground Tester

Three Prong ground testers are cheap and available at any hardware and the safest approach to testing your electricity outlets. It’s easy to use and has light indicators that tell the status of the wall receptacle.Unplug all machines from the circuit you are testing. Plug a three-prong outlet ground tester into the outlet you are testing. The tester has a row of three lights; the middle and right-hand lights will glow if the wall receptacle is grounded.

Grab the Sperry Instruments Outlet/Receptacle Tester on Amazon if you don’t have one

The device is handy and always gives accurate results. The tester has one light to show voltage difference between hot and neutral slots, another for hot slot and ground hole, and the third light for the voltage difference between neutral slot and ground hole. With this color-coding explained with a diagram on the tester, it’s easy to use the tool and test for grounding. Here is an example of a tester from Amazon.

Sperry Instruments Outlet/Receptacle Tester

It’s a simple and easy-to-use device for both consumers and professionals. This brand is very easy to use; plug it into an outlet and push a large black button on top. The tester produces a click sound, and the lights illuminate. Again, the tool can test both the GFCI receptacle and outlets. You can still use the device to detect wiring issues like swapping connections.

Being the safest tool you can use to avoid electric shock, and unlike a multimeter, it’s, therefore, a must to have tool for you to perform electrical testing.  Additionally, it contains a high-impact plastic case that improves its safety; you don’t have to worry about drops that could knock connections out of place. Lastly, the rubber grip allows you to hold the tester while plugging in and removing it from the outlet.


  • Compact, ergonomic design
  • Over-molded rubber grips
  • Indicates seven common wiring conditions
  • It doesn’t require batteries
  • It has three neon lamps
  • Has GFCI test button for testing GFCI outlets


  • even Visual indicators with a legend.
  • The ergonomic design of rubber grips for better gripping.
  • 10 ft Drop and 250 lb Crush.
  • Bright neon lights available, which is easily visible to the user


  • When the display lights blend, it isn’t easy to understand which one is indicating.
  • The RESET Button can press accidentally for its position.

Testing If Your Home is Ground Using A Multimeter

It’s potentially a risky method to use than a 3-prong tester, and you risk getting electric shock. You should only choose the technique if you are conversant with the device. But remember, you have to be cautious while using a multimeter it’s dangerous. If any leads have cracks or exposed, they may cause a short circuit.

How to Use A Multimeter

  • First, set the multimeter to measure AC voltage and the highest cutoff value.
  • Plug the red and black leads into matching ports on the device.
  • Attach the red lead into the outlet’s neutral port(B) and the black into the live port (A) and check the voltage.
  • Later remove the red lead from the neutral port and insert it into the ground(C), which is circular or u-shaped.
  • Take the readings and compare; if they are the same, the outlet is grounded, but there is no earthing if the readings are different.

How to Test if an Appliance is Grounded

  • Test for grounding in an appliance using a tester.
  • Disconnect the wires to an appliance and separate them, ensuring the circuit is off.
  •  Switch the circuit.
  • Touch the hot wire with one line and the ground wire with the other tip.
  • The tester will light up if the appliance is grounded and fail if it’s not ground.

How to Check If an Outlet Box is Grounded

  • Turn off the main switch
  • Pull off the outlet faceplate and then pull the outlet out of the wall
  • Disconnect the wires, so they are not attached to the outlet anymore.
  • Ensure that the positive and neutral wires are exposed and not touching anything. Switch on the circuit.
  • Touch the hot wire with the tester (black or red wire)
  • Touch the metal box inside the wall with a tester
  • If the tester shows reading on the screen, then you know that it is grounded.

What Happens If Your Outlets aren’t Grounded?

When your outlets aren’t grounded, they increase personal and property risk in your house. Moreover, ungrounded outlets increase chances of;

  • Electrical Fire– errors that occur in your outlet may cause arcing, sparks, and electrical charge that can cause fire along the walls, furniture, and more.
  • Health Hazard– unground outlets are a risk of shock to you when operating electronics and appliances plugged into the outlet.
  • Property Loss– ungrounded outlets can lead to shorting out of equipment, making your favorite and expensive appliances worthless.
  • Messy Wiring– when some wires are unground, especially in older homes, they form a mixture of ground and ungrounded, and this can cause many electrical problems in the future.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix an Ungrounded Outlet?

If your home still has ungrounded outlets, you should replace them as soon as possible. You can contact an expert electrician to do the work and prevent future issues and risks that can occur. A new outlet can cost around $80 to as much as $ 500. The cost of receptacles varies depending on the type you want, and the price is approximately $ 4 to $ 50.

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For the labor, an expert electrician will charge around $50 to $ 100. With the material costs, the average grounded outlet installation will cost a range of $200-$300. This price is fair, and it will save you a lot in preventing damage to appliances, electronics, and even risk of life.


Grounding is essential for your home safety, especially in wet areas, because of the high safety risks. If you doubt your outlets are unground, consult an expert for testing and install it as soon as possible. If you do the testing, remember to take precaution never to touch wires with bare hands or let their ends meet. Grounding will improve your appliances’ life span, prevent electrical fires, and keep your life out of danger.