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Old 09-01-2011, 11:52 PM   #1
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Open Ground Issue


Hi All,

Back with some more questions. When we had our place inspected prior to buying it, they noted that a couple of the bedrooms in the back tested as having an open ground. They said it was not a major problem, mostly a safety issue, but should be corrected. What would be the easiest way to try and track down where the problem might be in the wiring? Do I just need to start tracing the wires and inspecting all the outlets/switches/junctions? Is there a way to narrow down the search a little?

I read something about testing for continuity on the ground wires, how would I go about that. I have both a multi-meter and a continuity tester, but they have limited lead length. Should I just attach a spare length of wire to another ground and use that to test over a longer distance?

Thanks,
Keith

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Old 09-02-2011, 06:36 AM   #2
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Open Ground Issue


How old is the house?? Check the outlets for a ground wire, and it should be attached to all other ground wires in the box and to the box itself, if a metal box. One lead of the twisted grounds should also go to the outlet ground lug. That usually corrects the problem.

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Old 09-02-2011, 02:42 PM   #3
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How old is the house?? Check the outlets for a ground wire, and it should be attached to all other ground wires in the box and to the box itself, if a metal box. One lead of the twisted grounds should also go to the outlet ground lug. That usually corrects the problem.
Hi,

The house was built in 1996. I opened a couple of the easily accessible outlets an the ground appeared to hooked up correctly. Shortly after buying the place I had my father down for a few days to help with other repairs and I believe he had checked most of the other outlets as well and they all seemed ok. He said he believes that the problem is probably in a junction in the attic somewhere. At the time though, there was not an attic access to be able to look.

The other thing I've noticed doing a few changes with lights and switches is that none of the switches are grounded (some have no grounding screw at all). Should I take the time to go through all the switches and connect those that do have a screw so they are grounded, or is it not as important on switches?

Thanks,
Keith
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Old 09-02-2011, 03:31 PM   #4
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I would go through all outlets, switches, ceiling lights and verify proper connections. You may want to check with your city hall to see what permits were pulled, along with inspections for your house. Is this home in a Trac build (ie mass produced subdivision). Also, when the inspector went through the house, who played shadow with him/her, while they were going through to verify the house was in order, in the way of working mechanicals, plumbing, structure, electrical, and outside.
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Old 09-02-2011, 05:37 PM   #5
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Is this home in a Trac build (ie mass produced subdivision). Also, when the inspector went through the house, who played shadow with him/her, while they were going through to verify the house was in order, in the way of working mechanicals, plumbing, structure, electrical, and outside.
It's not part of a mass-built community no. Near as I can tell looking around and at some data online the homes in the area were built separately at different times (most between '85-'90, some later).

When we had the inspection done I met them here at the property and they walked around with me and showed me the various things that they noticed. They said the house looked good. Outside of some minor issues (toilets ran, couple ceiling fans not working) they mentioned the open ground should be fixed, and that the roof, while still ok for now, appeared to be original and may need re-done soon (on the todo list for next year).
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Old 09-02-2011, 05:49 PM   #6
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Open Ground Issue


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Hi All,

Back with some more questions. When we had our place inspected prior to buying it, they noted that a couple of the bedrooms in the back tested as having an open ground. They said it was not a major problem, mostly a safety issue, but should be corrected. What would be the easiest way to try and track down where the problem might be in the wiring? Do I just need to start tracing the wires and inspecting all the outlets/switches/junctions? Is there a way to narrow down the search a little?

I read something about testing for continuity on the ground wires, how would I go about that. I have both a multi-meter and a continuity tester, but they have limited lead length. Should I just attach a spare length of wire to another ground and use that to test over a longer distance?

Thanks,
Keith
If you know what circuits provide power to this area,
Check all the recepicules and see if they are wired correctily,
IE --- hot neutral & ground.
Check the main panel,
end for correct connection of all three wires.
If they both look ok,
Then the problem lies in between,
IE the wiring.

Then you will have to trace it out,
And look for damage, such as nails or screws,
even rodent damage.

It could even be a loose connection in the main panel.
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:01 PM   #7
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Yes you can use a length of wire to "extend" the length of a meter probe.

When using an ohmmeter or continuity meter or those functions of a multimeter, turn off the power in the circuit in question.

Also for just one (at least one) of the meter probes in an ohms or continuity measurement -- if you are touching the probe to a screw terminal, unhook all the wires from that screw first, or if you are touching the probe to a wire, unhook that wire from a wire nut or screw termnal first. Label all wires that you unhook.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 09-02-2011 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:44 PM   #8
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Open Ground Issue


Pick up a copy of Black & Decker's "Complete Home Wiring Guide". It includes a DVD & is up to date with the 2011 NEC. Do not be afraid to ask any questions. I am more of a Network/computer nerd, but dealt with electronic circuits, and schematics when I was in the Navy. So basically any problem that you can throw out there, I do not mind taking a look at the question.

Besides, I am off work due to having major surgery on my Cervical Spine area about four weeks ago, so I am home pretty much 24/7, until I go back to my 8 to 5 job.
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Old 09-03-2011, 01:20 AM   #9
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Open Ground Issue


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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Pick up a copy of Black & Decker's "Complete Home Wiring Guide". It includes a DVD & is up to date with the 2011 NEC. Do not be afraid to ask any questions. I am more of a Network/computer nerd, but dealt with electronic circuits, and schematics when I was in the Navy. So basically any problem that you can throw out there, I do not mind taking a look at the question.

Besides, I am off work due to having major surgery on my Cervical Spine area about four weeks ago, so I am home pretty much 24/7, until I go back to my 8 to 5 job.
Wow I did not know you have surgey and hope it will be allright.

Now let get to the OP's part

Sometime you may get lucky with loose connection and some case someone did not hook it up so you will have to check it little closer with it.

That home builted in 1996 so there is no excuse for a well grounded connections unless someone screw up or hit the cable for some reason.

If you ran into any metal junction box for some reason pay extra attetion to make sure they are bonded properly.

Merci,
Marc
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Old 09-03-2011, 07:40 AM   #10
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Open Ground Issue


Thanks all, I'll start diging in the switches and outlets today and post back with my findings. If I can't resolve it there I'll try digging around the attic tomorrow.

@gregzoll I hope your recovery goes well. I will check on that book. When we bought the place I did buy a copy of "Stanley Complete Wiring" (http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Wirin.../dp/0696237105) to brush up on some details before doing some work installing a few light fixtures. I also do a lot of work with electronics (computer programmer by day) and have a fair understanding of how electric circuits and wiring works, just not much actual experience messing with home wiring so I like to double/triple check sometimes before doing something to make sure I do it correctly
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:47 AM   #11
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I thought that I was doing better, and ended back on Norco to kill the pain, from when they stretched back out the Tendons, due to had 4 Cervical vertebra fused in two spots.I keep mine at our coffee table, because it is always a good reference, especially when I redid the wiring in our Kitchen. If you have a iPhone, you can download the 2008 NEC from McGraw Hill. It is around $75.00

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Old 09-03-2011, 03:12 PM   #12
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Open Ground Issue


Status update.

I opened up most the plugs and the switch in the first room. All the receptacle's appeared to be wired correctly with the grounds twisted together and a pigtail to the outlet. The switches had all the grounds wired together, but nothing going to the switch itself (one switch had a ground screw, the other didn't).

Through a little trial and error I identified which receptacle seems to be the first in the run. It appears to be wired correctly as well, but still tests as an open ground. It seems to me like this would indicate the error lies between it an the panel. It also seems to me that there must be a junction in the attic somewhere prior to the receptacle because the cable running from the panel is a 14/3 but the cable coming to that receptacle is a 14/2.

From the main, they run a 14/3 with two circuits, one on the red, one on the black. The red services the master bedroom and hallway lights, the black services two other bedrooms (our guest and office). All the receptacle's in the master test as correct while the other two bedrooms test as open ground. I'm guessing then that somewhere in the attic main feed is split in a junction box and the ground on the cable going to the two bedrooms was not connected, or has since come loose.

I'll hop up in the attic either later tonight or early tomorrow when it's a bit cooler up there and see if I can find that box.

Thanks.
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Old 09-03-2011, 03:41 PM   #13
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You are keeping notes, and drawing out the circuits I take it. And tell me about it being hot. I had to go in mine to change out batteries in the remote temp/humidity sensor that I have up there. Right now, it says that it is 112, with 13% humidity, even thought it is 97 with 29% humidity outside.

If these are multi-wire branch circuits, I would take note in the circuit breaker panel, which breakers feed which circuits on the notes that you have made.
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Old 09-03-2011, 05:42 PM   #14
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Yep, taking a few notes. Didn't map out the full circuit path, but at least some notes as to which breaker controls what. The wiring in this place is bonkers in some areas, and at least one set of breakers is incorrectly labeled. The breaker labeled master is actually the guest+offce, the one labeled bed 3+4 is the master+hallway. Some lables are just a bit incomplete too, like there are two kitchen lights breakers, one for overhead, one for under counter, and one of the two also controls the lights in the master bath (wtf)?

If I had the time/money rewiring the whole thing sounds like a good idea. Bedrooms all have lights+plugs on the same circuit which I'm not a fan of. Maybe someday, for now though an updated label will have to do.
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Old 09-03-2011, 05:48 PM   #15
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Most bedrooms will have the lights & outlets on the same circuit. When I rewired my house, originally the house was divided on four circuits, due to really old home. I wired the bedroom outlets on their own 15 amp circuits, the lights for the two bedrooms, the hall, linen closet light, and the bathroom light & exhaust fan are on their own 15 amp circuit. The only set of outlets that has a ceiling light, is the living room, due to it would be a pita to rewire the lighting circuit on that, so I left that one as a 15 amp, since only thing used mainly on that is our plasma, u-verse box, and a room lamp, nothing else.

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