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Old 01-24-2013, 03:50 AM   #1
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Question about grounded outlets in older home


Pretty novice when it comes to electrical stuff, so bear with me.

So I just rented a home where some of the outlets are the 3 prong grounded and some are the non grounded old style 2 prong outlets. My question is about the 3 prong outlets and if they're really grounded or not.

To start... I cut the power in the breaker box and took one of the 3 prong outlets out. Looked at the wiring and there's two hot wires and two neutral wires, but no copper ground that I could see. It was pretty dusty and dirty in there which I'll eventually get around to cleaning. After seeing no copper ground in there... I assumed that they were all non-grounded.

Got out the multi-meter and set it to volts. Hot to neutral read 122 volts. Hot to ground read 122 volts. Neutral to ground read <1 volts. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that mean the outlet is grounded?

I also plugged in a surge protector and it's saying it's protected... well at least the green "protected" light is coming up when plugged in.

What am I missing here? Are these outlets grounded or not??

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Old 01-24-2013, 04:42 AM   #2
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Question about grounded outlets in older home


Could be that the wire isn't connected to the receptacles, but to the metal box itself, and the receptacles are implicitly grounded to the box. Do you see a ground wire in there anywhere at all? Is the wire Romex or cloth covered cable? Pictures?

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Old 01-24-2013, 08:28 AM   #3
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Question about grounded outlets in older home


Since you rent you should not be digging around in a place you do not own. Electrical work in rentals should be done by licensed contractors.
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Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:40 PM   #4
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Question about grounded outlets in older home


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Originally Posted by jeffnc View Post
Could be that the wire isn't connected to the receptacles, but to the metal box itself, and the receptacles are implicitly grounded to the box. Do you see a ground wire in there anywhere at all? Is the wire Romex or cloth covered cable? Pictures?
99% it's not the romex type wires. They're pretty covered in dust, but they look like the cloth covered wires. Two white and two black. Not seeing any ground in there. The house was built in the late 1940's.

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Since you rent you should not be digging around in a place you do not own. Electrical work in rentals should be done by licensed contractors.
It's not a building... it's a home that I'm renting. I'm the only tenant here. Still get your point, but I want to make sure that the electronics that I'm hooking up to these outlets are safe.

Plus it's against code to use these three pronged outlets without a ground, right? I'd like to know my place is safe too.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:46 PM   #5
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Question about grounded outlets in older home


You would need a GFI outlet to do it safe and legal. Still no ground but less likly to kill you.
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:09 PM   #6
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Question about grounded outlets in older home


You normally don't need a GFCI for replacement (check local codes of course, yada yada yada ass covering.)

You can replace the 3 prongs with 2 prongs. If you need 3 prong receptacles and don't want to wire in a ground wire, then you will have to use GFCI receptacles. They must be labeled "No Ground". That sticker is often in the box for you to use.

If you want to save money, and there are downstream receptacles from this GFCI receptacle, you can then keep the 3 prong receptacles that are ungrounded, as long as they are labeled "GFCI protected" and "No Ground".

In other words, if you have 4 receptacles to replace and they are all on the same circuit, find the first one that feeds them and replace it with GFCI. Then all the other will be GFCI protected as well, and they don't need to be replaced with anything. They won't be grounded, but they will be labeled, with have GFCI protection, and the whole thing will be your cheapest solution if you need a 3 prong system in that area.

Of course, as mentioned, your landlord needs to take care of this. You might tell him, and then ask him for a rent rebate for doing it for him. Otherwise, tell him he needs to hire an electrician to get the house up to code.
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:44 PM   #7
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Question about grounded outlets in older home


I'm probably going to do the GFCI's for the 2 prong outlets.

But back to my original question. Is there any way possible that these 3 pronged outlets that I currently have in place be grounded? My multimeters reading volts (122 volts from ground to hot) and my surge protectors are coming up "protected".

Is there any way possible that this can be correct without that ground wire going into the outlet?
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:48 PM   #8
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Question about grounded outlets in older home


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Originally Posted by TFrankies View Post
I'm probably going to do the GFCI's for the 2 prong outlets.

But back to my original question. Is there any way possible that these 3 pronged outlets that I currently have in place be grounded? My multimeters reading volts (122 volts from ground to hot) and my surge protectors are coming up "protected".

Is there any way possible that this can be correct without that ground wire going into the outlet?
Yes. Not as well as with a bond wire from the recept to the box, but the identified conductors are grounded at the panel.

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