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Old 08-12-2008, 04:18 PM   #1
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ground problem


Hi, I just bought a new surge protector for my computer and when I plugged it in the 3 pronged outlet in my room the green ground light on it started blinking. I told someone about this and they said my outlet isnt wired right and I dont have a proper ground connection. So I went to Lowes and asked them about it and they told me to buy a 3 light tester so I got one of those and when I tested the outlet it said open ground, then when I plugged the surge protector in, it said hot-neutral-reverse. So I was wondering how I can fix this in order to get it grounded correctly without having to pay someone else to do it. Thanks.

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Old 08-12-2008, 04:30 PM   #2
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Your tester reads open ground because the receptacle isn't grounded. Whether it is easy or not depends on whether or not there is a ground wire in the circuit's wire in the electric box. I'd suggest shutting off the breaker to the receptacle (use the tester to make sure it is dead). Remove the screws that old the receptacle in there. If there's a bare copper wire in the box (or green), you probably just need to attach it to the green screw on the receptacle. You might need to get a grounding receptacle if the old one is really old.

If there's no ground wire, things just got tougher.

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Old 08-12-2008, 05:07 PM   #3
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To add, depending on the age of your house and how recent any modifications, when you remove the receptacle you may be lucky and find you have the older style armored cable. Back in the day, the white & black wires were inside a metal sheath. The metal sheath is attached to the breaker panel & grounded, and any box it's attached to will also be grounded as long as it's metal. You may be in a situation they used the old armored cable having a metal sheath, but used plastic boxes (you're supposed to use metal boxes with that type of wire which grounds everything).

To ground, you'd have to figure out a way to connect the metal sheath of that wire to the receptacles green screw... I'm not sure how that's done or if there's something out there that lets you do it properly. Here's a picture of the older style wire, notice the metal "jacket", if that's the wire you have behind the receptacle chances are you only need to connect that jacket to the green screw but I don't know how to do it properly or if they make something that does it. I believe another name for armored cable is "BX". Also, this isn't the best picture as it has white, black, AND green older houses would have only white & black, and the sheath used as the ground (no green wire in it).


Last edited by Piedmont; 08-12-2008 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 08-12-2008, 06:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piedmont View Post
To add, depending on the age of your house and how recent any modifications, when you remove the receptacle you may be lucky and find you have the older style armored cable. Back in the day, the white & black wires were inside a metal sheath. The metal sheath is attached to the breaker panel & grounded, and any box it's attached to will also be grounded as long as it's metal. You may be in a situation they used the old armored cable having a metal sheath, but used plastic boxes (you're supposed to use metal boxes with that type of wire which grounds everything).

To ground, you'd have to figure out a way to connect the metal sheath of that wire to the receptacles green screw... I'm not sure how that's done or if there's something out there that lets you do it properly. Here's a picture of the older style wire, notice the metal "jacket", if that's the wire you have behind the receptacle chances are you only need to connect that jacket to the green screw but I don't know how to do it properly or if they make something that does it. I believe another name for armored cable is "BX". Also, this isn't the best picture as it has white, black, AND green older houses would have only white & black, and the sheath used as the ground (no green wire in it).
If the AC/BX is pre 1950, then you cannot use the outer jacket as a ground, it must contain a bonding strip internally.
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Old 08-12-2008, 09:44 PM   #5
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just a note of clarification; the cable pictured above is not ac/bx, it is MC and the reason it has a green/ground conductor is becuase the sheath is not acceptable as a grounding conductor. There is no way to attach the sheath to make it a legal ground with the one exception of a quite new version of MC that has a bonding wire similar to AC cable.
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