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Old 08-29-2005, 10:37 AM   #1
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


hello,

would a gfci outlet installed upstream in a ciruit protect the circuit if the none of the outlets and metal work boxes are grounded? this i a very old house and i want to protect the eletrical service the best i can without tearing out the walls and installing new wiring. there has been a new service installed at some point, but they just run 14/2 with no ground! the service is grounded tho. i think gfci breakers, tho more expensive, would be the way to go, cause there r only 3 120v 15a branch circuits in the entire house, its a very small house. btw, i replaced all the old 2 prong outlets with 3 prong outlets because the old outlets were wore out, apliance plugs would actually fall out of the outlets when plugged in and almost caused a fire once already from arcing!

bobo
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Old 08-29-2005, 09:26 PM   #2
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


bobo,
I'm NOT a pro electrician, but you seem to have several code (and very unsafe) problems going on.
The first thing that you did wrong was install 3-prong outlets without any ground wire. That's against code, and could kill anyone plugged into it and relying on it being grounded (including you).
Your home (doesn't matter how "small"), is way "under-wired", and is very dangerous for fire or electrocution to you and your family.
Please have a pro electrician inspect it, and give you recommendations.
Good Luck!
Mike
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Old 08-29-2005, 11:15 PM   #3
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


I agree with mike. If you go over to "contractor talk.com" under electrical, under knob and tube there is some good info on gfi's and ungrounded knob and tube and two prong outlets. Some of it might apply to what you have. I'd link you over but I don't know how. HS
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Old 08-30-2005, 06:48 AM   #4
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


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hello,
would a gfci outlet installed upstream in a ciruit protect the circuit if the none of the outlets and metal work boxes are grounded?!bobo
...NO.
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Old 08-30-2005, 07:32 AM   #5
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


ty all for ur replies!

let me make something clear that i didnt in my original post. this is a VERY TEMPORARY fix! i live alone, and i am very aware of the outlets not being grounded. i labeled each outlet "NEG", and i am only trying to make what is there alttle safer til i get the money to do it properly, and up to code.
this is a break down the circuits.
C1-kitchen, single poll 20amp breaker, 4 outlets
C2-livingroom, 2 bedrooms,single poll 15amp breaker, 8 outlets
C3-lights, single poll, 15amp breaker, 7 lights
C4-well pump, single poll 20amp breaker
C5-electric range, 240v, 60amp breaker

i feel that for the time being, GFCI breakers will serve me best. i realize this by no means grounds the circuits, but i think the GFCI breakers would give alittle more assurance that they will trip, even if the load on them becomes unbalanced, correct?

bobo
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Old 08-30-2005, 12:35 PM   #6
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


I wonder if you could run a ground wire to each box to ground you system. You buy a roll of green wire. I don't think you have to run MC because it residential.
I think I also heard that gfci don't work when not grounded correctly.

I would definetly be asking my pro friends on this subject.
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Old 08-30-2005, 04:21 PM   #7
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


[I wonder if you could run a ground wire to each box to ground you system.]

framer,

running a ground wire to all the outlets back to the service panel would still involve riiping out walls., which is what im trying to avoid for the time being. i only want to make it alittle safer for now, so was gonna go with the gfci breakers, since the service panel is grounded. i will ask a pro i know in ny. thanks to all for ur advise!

bobo
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Old 08-30-2005, 05:58 PM   #8
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


Quote:
Originally Posted by bobo
[I wonder if you could run a ground wire to each box to ground you system.]

framer,

running a ground wire to all the outlets back to the service panel would still involve riiping out walls., which is what im trying to avoid for the time being. i only want to make it alittle safer for now, so was gonna go with the gfci breakers, since the service panel is grounded. i will ask a pro i know in ny. thanks to all for ur advise!

bobo
You have obviously never fished wires before in existing?
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Old 08-30-2005, 08:22 PM   #9
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


framer,


no, i have never fished wires through exiting walls before, but have been told it can be a nightmare getting around windows, doors, cats etc. i guess u would pop out the work boxes and fish from opening to opening, but how do u get around obstacles u cant see? advise plz.

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Old 08-30-2005, 10:55 PM   #10
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


Is your house a one or two stories? Does it have crawl access?
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Old 08-31-2005, 07:43 AM   #11
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


framer,

it is a one story house, no crawl space. there was at one time, but someone filled it in, probably because the foundation was giving away in some sections. very little to no space between ceilings and roof trusses. i think i understand the general concept of snaking wires, but i dont understand how one would be able to get the wires through the holes in the studs, where the original wiring is, without knocking holes through the walls and then patching them.

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Old 08-31-2005, 01:55 PM   #12
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


Bobo,

A GFCI Measures the current on the supply (HOT), and return (Neutral) paths of your circuit. If it detects that the Hot is carrying more current, that means that the current is finding some other path to ground than the Neutral wire - and kills the circuit.

Now, let's pretend that you have a three-wire appliance with a metal casing which is connected to the ground:

In a simple two-wire system, if something bad would happen such that the case touches the "Hot" (or Neutral if the device is turned on) side of the supply, the case is now energized and if you ever touch it, you are likely to get at least a little shock, and if you are well-grounded (such as touching a faucet) at the time, seriously injured. normal, properly grounded system,

In a properly grounded 3-wire system, the additional current will flow from the case through the ground wire, so that even if you touch it, because electricity will seek the path of least resistance, you will most likely not get shocked - or at least not as seriously. If it is the "Hot" side that touches the case, this would cause a dead short, and your breaker/fuse would blow. If however, it is the Neutral side, and there is enough resistance in the device to somewhat limit the flow to something below the limits of your breaker, you COULD potentially have a dangerous device and never know it.

In a properly grounded three wire system WITH GFCI, no matter the damage to your device, the breaker will see that the current on the Neutral does not match the current on your Hot, and it will blow as soon as the damaged device is plugged in.

In a system that is NOT properly grounded, but DOES have GFCI, the case of the damaged device would still be energized, and until you provide a path to ground, the only path will still be through the house wiring, so it will not blow. If you happen to touch it while being grounded (such as a faucet), you will briefly become the path to ground, the GFCI will notice the difference in current and it will blow. Not fast enough to keep you from getting shocked at least a little, but probably fast enough to prevent serious injury - in fact, you might not even feel it.

So the short answer is YES - the GFCI WILL afford you SOME additional protection, and I suppose is better than nothing, HOWEVER, do not make the mistake of leaving it like that for very long.

You really should re-wire the house at the first available opportunity. Considering that the house is really small, it shouldn't be THAT expensive....
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Old 08-31-2005, 08:38 PM   #13
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wiring a gfci outlet in circuit


BIGA,
TY FOR UR INDEPTH DESRIPTION ON GFCI BREAKERS! I UNDERSTAND COMPLETELY NOW, HOW THEY FUNCTION IN A CIRCUIT. IM GOING TO INSTALL THE BREAKERS FOR THE TIME BEING, AND GUTTING THE HOUSE AND INSTALLING A NEW SERVICE AND WIRING, WILL FOLLOW SOON, ITS JUST RIGHT NOW IM FINANCIALLY LIMITED TO WHAT I CAN DO, AND NEED A ROOF OVER MY HEAD!...BOB
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