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Old 05-04-2010, 11:04 AM   #1
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Outlet and Switch question

Hello everyone. We just purchased our first home and I have run into an issue that I am not sure needs correcting or not and one that i know needs correcting in some way. Our home was built in 1950, and supposedly the electric was updated in 1996. I think what they meant by updated is that a 220amp box and a new ground was installed.

The first and probably easier issue is that many of our switches and outlets are wired what I see as odd(ie. we have 2 outlets in the living room, one is on the same circuit as a 1st floor bedroom, the other on the same circuit as the 2 switches in the living room area). The bathroom and kitchen seem to be on their own circuits. Is this something that I need to correct, or is it something that is more of a luxury to correct? In my circuit breaker box I have more than enough empty spaces to add breakers if need be and our basement (where the box is located) isn't finished so it wouldn't be too difficult to access the wiring, at least on the first floor. But since I imagine it might be a bit of a project to rewire the house if it doesn't have to be done right away, I have a few other projects that need addressing first.

The second issue is that all of the older outlets / switches do not have a ground wire, they are the older 2 prong style, and least the outlets are. My question is: if I change the outlets to a 3 prong, I know I need to run a ground, but what about the switches? Should I leave them as is, without the ground or should I install new switches and run a ground wire? And to go along with this question I want to replace a light fixture in our master with a ceiling fan, but the fixture that is currently installed does not have a ground wire, but it sits in a metal box. Is there a way to tell if the box is grounded somehow?

Thank you for any help!


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Old 05-04-2010, 11:17 AM   #2
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My home is also from the 50's. They connected the ground to the outside of the box. Did they run romex or BX type cable? I believe the metal sheath of the BX could serve as your ground. If you have NM and feel comfortable removing your panel cover, look inside to see if the wires include a ground wire. You could use an ohm meter and check for continuity between your neutral (wide slot) and the box.


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Old 05-04-2010, 11:49 AM   #3
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It's the BX type cable. I'll have to check the box when I get home.
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Old 05-04-2010, 04:02 PM   #4
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Any $7 multimeter will tell you if the box will provide you a ground. I have BX wiring in my house and the whole schebang is metal. I tested all my outlets and the box provided a good ground so I added the green ground pigtails and installed new 15Amp 3prong outlets. Remember - this will ONLY work if you have metal conduit.
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