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Old 08-24-2012, 10:52 AM   #1
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Ungrounded outlets


I have been told by a city inspector that many of my outlets are not grounded. I can either replace them with two slot outlets or find the beginning of the run and put in GFCI outlets.
I would prefer to put in GFCIs since I assume the residents of this home will have to put in three prong adapters to accommodate most electrical appliances. The problem is that without tearing apart the walls I do not know how to find the beginning of the run. Some outlets in the same room are on entirely different circuits. Is there an efficient way to do this?

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Old 08-24-2012, 11:07 AM   #2
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It is easier (but more expensive) to install GFCI breakers. If you try to install GFCI receptacles, you may find the old metal boxes are not large enough to install the larger GFCI (especially if the box has 2 or more cables and is already over the wire fill limit).

Tracing the circuit wiring without test equipment(signal tracer) is trial and error.

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Old 08-24-2012, 11:35 AM   #3
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How would I go about find ing the first out let in the stream without tearing out the walls and ceiling?

Are signal tracers expensive too?

According to my tests many of the house outlets are on one circuit so maybe I just have to put in a GFCI breaker there.
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Old 08-24-2012, 03:09 PM   #4
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Ungrounded outlets


I believe Fluke sells a decently priced tracer.

However, you could use a plug-in radio to figure out all the outlets on a circuit. Once you do that, take off the wall plates and see which one has only one set of wires. That will be the end of the string. Then remove the wires from the other outlets one at a time and see which outlet is the last to still have juice.
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Old 08-24-2012, 03:15 PM   #5
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Ungrounded outlets


You start by finding everything on the circuit. You then open part of the circuit and see what still has power. If things still have power you still are downstream. Repeat as necessary.
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Old 08-24-2012, 04:17 PM   #6
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Ungrounded outlets


You asked for an efficient way. then install GFI breakers. Or GFI receptacles in ALL of your receptacle locations. Installing GFI receptacles have the inherent risk of not fitting in older tight boxes.

Your best bet is to find the start of the receptacle run and feed your downstream circuit from the load side of a GFI receptacle. then all the other receptacles that are now being fed from the GFI can be 3 prong type. Follow the directions that come with the GFI regarding this situation.

Tracing circuits can be done and the more you do it the better you get, but in the end it's not efficient.

By the way, those little adapters are not legal or safe to use in your situation. Actually they are not legal or safe to use in most every situation that people want to use them for.
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:19 PM   #7
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Ungrounded outlets


if you install GFI outlets, they should be labeled "no equipment ground"
Jim Port is correct, disconnect one item at a time on a single circuit until everything else goes dead for that circuit
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:23 PM   #8
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Ungrounded outlets


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
You start by finding everything on the circuit. You then open part of the circuit and see what still has power. If things still have power you still are downstream. Repeat as necessary.
THIS is your answer.

May I ask your role in this home? You refer to the residents of the home, is this not your own home? WHY was there even a city inspection?
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:30 PM   #9
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Ungrounded outlets


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey
THIS is your answer.

May I ask your role in this home? You refer to the residents of the home, is this not your own home? WHY was there even a city inspection?
Sounds like someone is turning a house into a rental. Around here the city inspects rental properties for safety reasons
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:54 PM   #10
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Ungrounded outlets


Yes this will be a rental. The city inspector has given me quite a list. Thank you for all the help.
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:57 PM   #11
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Ungrounded outlets


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Yes this will be a rental. The city inspector has given me quite a list. Thank you for all the help.
Are you allowed to perform this work?
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Old 08-25-2012, 05:29 PM   #12
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Ungrounded outlets


I have learned a little more about this. Even though I protect the downstream outlets with a GFCI the city inspector’s device will not say the outlets are “grounded” will it? I assume he will just be happy with the fact that when he turns off the GFCI it turns off the other outlets? I did not think to ask that when he was there.

Someone at Home Depot said that GFCIs will only protect a maximum of five outlets. Is that true?
Thank you for all for the help so far.
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Old 08-25-2012, 06:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crescere View Post

Someone at Home Depot said that GFCIs will only protect a maximum of five outlets. Is that true?
Not true, it will protect as many as you wire behind the GFCI.
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:17 PM   #14
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Ungrounded outlets


I am still wodering about what will occur when if I place the GFCI at the begining of the line. The downstream outlets will not register as grounded will they? Is the inspector simply going to be satisfied with them being GFCI protected?
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Old 08-28-2012, 10:11 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by crescere View Post
I am still wodering about what will occur when if I place the GFCI at the begining of the line. The downstream outlets will not register as grounded will they? Is the inspector simply going to be satisfied with them being GFCI protected?
If the GFI is installed correctly and per enclosed directions, which means putting the little stickers on the downstream receptacles, and pointing that out to the inspector, then I believe you should be fine. This method is a NEC code accepted method of using 3prong receptacles without a grounding conductor.

Now, there may be a local ordinance against this. I could not answer that for you because I don't know your local ordinances. ASK THE INSPECTOR, they are there to help. There also may be a local ordinance against a non licensed person doing electrical work in rental property, regardless of who the owner is.

I hope this answers your question.

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