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bigdaddyII 08-27-2011 09:28 AM

Grounding outlets...
Cliff Notes:
- Just bought house built in 1959
- Only 5 outlets in house are grounded, those that were added after a living room addition by hippies sometime in the 70s
- House needs rewiring to correct ground wire absence
- Im broke
- I have replaced all ungrounded breakers with GFI/ AFI breakers except circuit that runs fridge
- Again im broke so would it be okay to run ground wires from panel to outlets seperately from existing romex or whatever the hell they used way way back in the day?

Hey guys. Just bought a ranch style house built in 1959 and moved in last week. A bit of back story on the house that is necassary to completly explain why some things are as they currently are:
The house was orginally built as a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 1 car garage with 1100 sq ft of living area. The original owners (I am the 3rd owner, seller I bought the house from only remodeled some, never added any additions), extended the 1 car garage and bricked it in to make a 400 sq ft living room. So my house is now 3 bedrooms, 1 bath.

Now on to my issue/ question. The only grounded receptacles in the whole house are 6 in the addition part of the living room. The original outlets from when it was still a garage is still ungrounded, as is every other light switch and receptacle in the house except the stove, ac/heater, and the electric dryer circuit I just added. During the course of the years a couple circuits were replaced from the original wiring with romex 12-2 but whoever replaced them stripped the ground wire out instead of simply changing the outlets. During a recent kitchen, master bedroom, and bathroom remodel, the "daisy chain" between the outlets in these areas were replaced with 12-2 romex and some of the grounds were connected (even though the original circuit feeding it is not grounded), and some were simply snipped off. This house also does not have the metal protected BX wiring, so no hopes of grounding to metal boxes, I checked juuuuussssst in case but no cigar.

My long term plans are to obviously rewire the entire house with 12-2 romex and change a lot of the circuits to where everything makes sense, like when the breaker for the living room is flipped, I want to cut power to the living room not 2 outlets in the living room, the kitchen lights, and the bathroom lights and 1 outlet etc etc. I also want my clothes washer on 1 circuit by itself, ditto for my refridgerator.

My original plan was to buy a roll of romex as I can afford it and redo 1 circuit at a time. This plan was when I was just going to replace existing circuits instead of overhauling them. Unfortunately I cannot afford all of the materials at once to do the overhaul I want to do right now or in the near future. What I did for now was replace all of my breakers that go to ungrounded circuits with GFI/AFI breakers except 1. The 1 ungrounded circuit I left controls the main kitchen light, 2 outlets in the kitchen on opposite wall of sink (one of which my refridgerator is plugged in to), and the bathroom light and 2 outlets. I originally installed the GFI/AFI breaker for this circuit but during a rain/lightening storm yesterday it tripped and luckily I was home to catch this. So I put the original breaker back in and replace the regular duplex outlets in the bathroom with GFIs. This leaves the recptacle my fridge is plugged into and 1 other one on the same wall unprotected.

My dilema now is that, as I understand it, the ground is to protect people rather then the equipment, and by now you probably figured out that my entire house also has the code violation 3 prong outlets wired to ungrounded circuits. I also have a 5 year old whose world it seems revolves around the refridgerator. I dont mind myself getting a small zap should something short there, but I dont want my wife or heaven forbid my baby girl finding out something is wrong by getting shocked, but for obvious reasons I cant have my fridge on a GFI. My idea, and please please correct me if I am off base or entertaining a waste of time due to yet another code violation, is to run a ground from the breaker panel to each circuit. Maybe get a roll of of #12 wire, and ground on the bus bar next to each circuits respective breaker, and zip tie or tape every so often to hold it together to original wiring down to the receptacles, on to the daisy chains, etc? Would this work and is single insulated #12 wire even on the market? This would only be a temp fix for a couple years until I can rework everything but I wont do it if it will create any other hazards/ or code violations. I appreciate any comments, ideas, or criticism, thanks for taking the time to read.

Code05 08-27-2011 01:29 PM

That is way too long to read. Break it down to individual questions.

bigdaddyII 08-27-2011 01:39 PM


Originally Posted by Code05 (Post 716136)
That is way too long to read. Break it down to individual questions.

I added cliff notes :). Im sorry its so long, all of my thoughts scramble in my head and when they finally come out in type Ive written a story. Its really only 1 question. Thanks for being the one out of 50 some odd to reply though.

Code05 08-27-2011 01:55 PM

Okay, you want to buy a roll of single strand #12 THHN wire and use it to connect the ground on the receptacle to the panel, by running the wire by its self . Correct?

Code05 08-27-2011 02:07 PM

Also note that 2 wire GFCI protected circuits can have 3 prong receptacles attached if they labeled correctly

picflight 08-27-2011 03:13 PM

Good read, I enjoyed reading your story :-)

bigdaddyII 08-27-2011 03:53 PM


Originally Posted by Code05 (Post 716154)
Okay, you want to buy a roll of single strand #12 THHN wire and use it to connect the ground on the receptacle to the panel, by running the wire by its self . Correct?

That is correct. I was trying to find out if this could be done without violating some code or another, and even if it would be a wise thing to do as I cant afford a total rewire at this moment. I do however want to ground at the very least the circuit my fridge is on, the rest have GFI/ arc fault breakers.

I know that I can install GFCIs and label them "no equipment ground", and in fact did that in my bathroom. The rest of the ungrounded circuits in the house have GFI breakers, except the bathroom because that is the same circuit my fridge runs on.

Code05 08-27-2011 04:08 PM

Yes, it is legal.

bigdaddyII 08-27-2011 04:50 PM

Thank you.

Code05 08-27-2011 05:45 PM

You are welcome. Here a graphic for reference.

AllanJ 08-27-2011 07:24 PM

You may run a separate ground wire, bare is okay. It may follow the route of the existing wires back to the panel exactly, approximately or vaguely. It can even emerge from outlet box, run down wall outside to baseboard, then up and around doorways and down the basement stairs. If it should first reach the fat ground wire between the panel and the main water pipe or ground rod, the ground wire from the outlet(s) can stop there.

bigdaddyII 08-27-2011 09:24 PM

Many thanks to both of you gentlemen. I swung by Lowes after work today and priced it out, they even have it with green insulation. I apologize abbout the book in my original post but I was always under the assumption that the more info, the better someone can help, I really wasn't trying to be difficult. Me personally I don't care if I get zapped, but my wife or baby girl trying to get something out of the fridge and getting a shock is what my concern is. Again thanks.

Jim Port 08-28-2011 02:22 PM

Given that most appliances and lamps only need a 2 wire plug I would wait until you rewire. You will not gain any additional safety from an unused grounding prong.

I would just run a new circuit for the fridge.

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