What is an Open Ground?

Close of the hands of an electrician using specialized meter to check an electric recepticle Wilcox Electric DC

bigstock-View-From-Above-Electrician-W-422792339(1)Home inspections find a surprising number of open grounds. What is an open ground? Is it dangerous? How can I fix an open ground? Here at Wilcox Electric, we care about electrical safety. Read on to find out what you need to do if you have an open ground (or more than one) in your home.

Modern homes now have three-wire receptacles that accommodate electrical cords with three-prong plugs. The third prong provides a path to the grounding system of the house. Most major appliances, such as stoves, refrigerators, and computers, have three-prong plugs, meaning they must be grounded through the receptacle. 

However, if, for whatever reason, there is no grounding conductor at the receptacle, there is a danger of possible shock or electrocution and damage to the equipment. The equipment could become energized, leading to a dangerous situation for anyone in contact with that equipment.

What is Grounding? 

Grounding is a critical component in an electrical circuit. A circuit carries two wires. One is "hot" or "positive," meaning it carries the electrical current into the circuit from your electrical source. The other wire is the "ground" or the "negative" charge. This means it doesn't carry the electricity that operates the circuit. Instead, it carries the excess electricity that comes in on the positive wire in case of a surge or other event of excess current. If your home's electrical circuits are not grounded, it leaves you at risk of fire and damage to whatever is plugged into the circuit in the event of a surge. 

What Causes an Open Ground?

Any home built since the 1970s likely has three-pronged - or grounded - outlets installed. They are required by building codes and have been mandated on all appliances by the Underwriter's Laboratory since 1969. 

If your home doesn't have three-pronged or grounded outlets, you aren't in danger of an arrest or a court case. But it could still cost you your property or home in the event of a fire. If your home doesn't meet building codes, you could run into trouble with your insurance company. 

Unfortunately, sometimes these three-pronged outlets are not actually connected to the grounding system of the electrical system in the house – which is what is known as an open ground. If there hasn't been a problem, these open grounds are quite often only found during a home inspection. If you're looking to buy or sell your home, this timing is never convenient. 

Fortunately, a professional electrical services company can test your outlets to see if they are grounded and fix any problem on the spot. This means you don't need to wait until your house is up for sale to eliminate this potential fire hazard. 

The Right Electrician to Find and Repair an Open Ground?

Whenever you need electrical work done in your home or business, always hire a certified, licensed professional to do the work. You want to ensure the electrician knows what they are doing and the company they work for stands by their work. 

A business' reputation and longevity can both tell you a lot. It's a good sign when you find someone who's been around for decades. Don't stop there, however. What kind of reputation do they have? Look for client testimonials for different services, different years, or even referral agencies (see ours here on the second half of the page). Do a little research to find out if they do what they say they do.

Finally, you want to find an electrical company that puts YOU, the customer, first. Many businesses say their customers are their top priority, but find one who does what they say. Along with that, when workers come into your home, you should expect them to clean up after themselves and treat you and your home respectfully.


Wilcox Electric is a company that puts you first. We're here to fix your open grounds and any other electrical work you need. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.