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Old 10-19-2008, 08:52 AM   #1
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Yes another grounding question


I have done some searches and read as much as I could but I am still very confused. Let me start of by saying I know little to nothing about electricity. I bought a 1958 house in florida. The kitchen and the living room have three pronged outlets. In the second bedroom one wall has a three pronged outlet, the others are two pronged. Of course I want to put my computer on the wall with a two pronged outlet and the big orange extension cord running across the room just doesn't do it for me. How hard is is to swithch out the outlets? I have been reading and keep seeing GFCI breakers...how would I know if that is what I have? And what difference do they make?
Is this somnething I can tackle myself? Please be very basic with any answers, like I said I know very little about electricity.
thanks
kim

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Old 10-19-2008, 09:32 AM   #2
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Yes another grounding question


Odds are the three pronged plugs were just installed and the house is just two wire. Changing to three prong outlet is no better than using a 2 to 3 prong adapter.
Buy a tester at Lowes or HD and check to see if it is a grounded duplex. If it is I would use the duplex for protection of your computer.

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Old 10-19-2008, 10:24 AM   #3
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Yes another grounding question


Actually there may be another solution. If the electrical system is run in conduit, odds the system is grounded already. The system is using the conduit that the wires are in as a ground back to the panel. One way to find out for sure with out a major ordeal is to buy a plug-in tester from Lowe's or Home Depot. Like $8. Also, the primary purpose of a GFCI recept is to detect moisture, what you would need would be an Arc Fault breaker/recept.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:34 AM   #4
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Yes another grounding question


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Originally Posted by BeastinBlack View Post
Also, the primary purpose of a GFCI recept is to detect moisture, what you would need would be an Arc Fault breaker/recept.
Actually this is not at all true. A GFI's purpose is NOT to "detect moisture". True, GFIs are required in areas that are associated with moisture and wetness, but their function is to detect a current imbalance. This can come from many sources.
If there is an imbalance between the current into and out of a circuit the GFI trips. This current can be through a human or simply flowing into the earth. The GFI doesn't care.
THIS is the reason that a GFI is a legal and safe replacement for two-prong receptacles. It creates a safer environment where no grounding means exists.
This is not to say a GFI provides a ground. It does NOT. So plugging in a computer will still cause a "building fault" light to come on on your surge suppressor.


Arc faults have a totally different purpose.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:55 AM   #5
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Yes another grounding question


But again, if the structure is installed in RMC or similar material, the ground is present more times than not, correct?
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Old 10-19-2008, 11:15 AM   #6
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Yes another grounding question


Chance are very good that your house is indeed piped in conduit. If I remember correctly in 1958 in South Florida conduit was required in residential. EMT not RMC. It was only in the early 80's that NM was starting to be used legally/regularly. You do not find BX or similar in South Florida. So, chances are very good it's either NM with ground or EMT without the ground wire.
The reason I think this is the case is South Florida is where I started my electrical career. I never saw any NM until at least 1980.

If you do have conduit you can satisfy the grounding requirement by installing grounding jumpers from the boxes to the receptacles. This is very simple and most anyone can do it. It is unlikely the boxes will have a threaded hole for your grounding jumper wires. Just get a bag of push on jumpers at your local supply house. They clamp to the side of the box instead of being held by a screw.
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:05 PM   #7
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Yes another grounding question


Quote:
Originally Posted by BeastinBlack View Post
But again, if the structure is installed in RMC or similar material, the ground is present more times than not, correct?
OK
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:42 PM   #8
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Yes another grounding question


Quote:
Originally Posted by J. V. View Post
Chance are very good that your house is indeed piped in conduit. If I remember correctly in 1958 in South Florida conduit was required in residential. EMT not RMC. It was only in the early 80's that NM was starting to be used legally/regularly. You do not find BX or similar in South Florida. So, chances are very good it's either NM with ground or EMT without the ground wire.
The reason I think this is the case is South Florida is where I started my electrical career. I never saw any NM until at least 1980.

If you do have conduit you can satisfy the grounding requirement by installing grounding jumpers from the boxes to the receptacles. This is very simple and most anyone can do it. It is unlikely the boxes will have a threaded hole for your grounding jumper wires. Just get a bag of push on jumpers at your local supply house. They clamp to the side of the box instead of being held by a screw.
I think the house was rewired within the last 5 years as there is a newer 150amp circuit breaker panel in the rear of the house. How would i know if the house is conduit or not? where would i look?
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Old 10-19-2008, 04:27 PM   #9
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Yes another grounding question


Quote:
Originally Posted by BeastinBlack View Post
Also, the primary purpose of a GFCI recept is to detect moisture, what you would need would be an Arc Fault breaker/recept.

You are creative...
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Old 10-19-2008, 05:20 PM   #10
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Yes another grounding question


Quote:
Originally Posted by kimbur96 View Post
I think the house was rewired within the last 5 years as there is a newer 150amp circuit breaker panel in the rear of the house. How would i know if the house is conduit or not? where would i look?

Look in the attic, in a basement, any exposed area.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:34 AM   #11
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Yes another grounding question


Quote:
Originally Posted by kimbur96 View Post
I think the house was rewired within the last 5 years as there is a newer 150amp circuit breaker panel in the rear of the house. How would i know if the house is conduit or not? where would i look?
Open any box and see if the wires are cables or individual wires. You also will see the conduit entering the boxes. Round threaded holes with wires coming out. Look in your attic or crawl space or look in your service panel. You can easily tell if you have conduit or not.
Where in Florida do you live?
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:29 PM   #12
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Yes another grounding question


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Originally Posted by J. V. View Post
Open any box and see if the wires are cables or individual wires. You also will see the conduit entering the boxes. Round threaded holes with wires coming out. Look in your attic or crawl space or look in your service panel. You can easily tell if you have conduit or not.
Where in Florida do you live?
Okay, I looked in the attic...by far one of the creepiest places on earth, and there appears to be a cable like material. I am guessing this is the eletrical wiring. Looks almost like a a braided covering on it. Not a metal covering like braided steel, but either cloth or plastic. It is a single cable running from room to room in the attic.

I can go and do a lot of things...camp, dive, shoot, but attics creep me out

I am in Fort Lauderdale
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Old 10-20-2008, 02:14 PM   #13
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Yes another grounding question


Quote:
Originally Posted by kimbur96 View Post
Okay, I looked in the attic...by far one of the creepiest places on earth, and there appears to be a cable like material. I am guessing this is the eletrical wiring. Looks almost like a a braided covering on it. Not a metal covering like braided steel, but either cloth or plastic. It is a single cable running from room to room in the attic.

I can go and do a lot of things...camp, dive, shoot, but attics creep me out

I am in Fort Lauderdale
Look in an electrical box with a 2 pronger, what are the wires in there? cloth, rubber/plastic, silvery?
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Old 10-20-2008, 04:45 PM   #14
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Yes another grounding question


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Look in an electrical box with a 2 pronger, what are the wires in there? cloth, rubber/plastic, silvery?
They are rubber/plastic white or dirty yellow on one side and black on the other side
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Old 10-20-2008, 05:25 PM   #15
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Yes another grounding question


It doesn't seem that there may be a ground present, if you wanted, you could have a new line ran to your equipment, but what I recommend is a ground fault interrupter ( This will let you plug in 3 prongers, but will not give you a ground, but is safe.) And use a good surge suppressor with l-n protection.

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