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Old 04-10-2008, 07:32 PM   #1
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


Hello all, I live in a house built in 1930 and all of my outlets have two prongs and are not properly grounded. I just found this out last weekend when I bought an expensive surge protector(which displays a red light if not properly grounded) only to find out that my outlets are not grounded. I have the computers in my house plugged into surge protectors and now I realize that I really dont have surge protection at all. Is there anything I can do to properly ground my outlets without breaking the bank? Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks
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Old 04-10-2008, 11:03 PM   #2
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


What sort of wiring do you have? Old Romex or armored cable? The ground would have been incoporated into the armor in the metal sheathed cable. The clamping system would have connected it back to the panel and then to the cold water pipe from the street. Over time the clamps that hold the ground corrode and the ground is lost.
Old romex didn't have a ground unless someone ran it along with the romex or later on by itself. If you have the old romex ,you'll have to either run a ground or rewire.
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Old 04-10-2008, 11:13 PM   #3
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


I've read that you can replace the first outlet in a branch circuit with a GFCI and then the outlets down the line can be replaced with grounded outlets. The GFCI will then trip in the event of a ground fault.

Im not saying to do this because I am not sure if it is 100% correct, but im sure the electricians on here will clarify if this is inaccurate or incorrect.

(I've wondered myself for some time)
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Old 04-11-2008, 07:49 AM   #4
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


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Originally Posted by OldHouse963 View Post
Hello all, I live in a house built in 1930 and all of my outlets have two prongs and are not properly grounded. I just found this out last weekend when I bought an expensive surge protector(which displays a red light if not properly grounded) only to find out that my outlets are not grounded. I have the computers in my house plugged into surge protectors and now I realize that I really dont have surge protection at all. Is there anything I can do to properly ground my outlets without breaking the bank? Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks
You have 2 options.

Rewire the circuits with new 2 wire plus ground cable, or replace the outlets with GFCI receptacles (or replace the breaker with a GFCI breaker). If you replace the receptacle, then you would want to find the first one in the stream, then it will protect any after it by connecting them to the LOAD side of the GFCI.

If you were to use a GFCI breaker, then EVERYTHING on that circuit would be protected.

But, please understand that this will NOT PROVIDE AN EQUIPTMENT GROUND. It will only make it safe to use 3 prong receptacles.
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Old 04-11-2008, 08:07 AM   #5
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


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Originally Posted by mgarfield View Post
I've read that you can replace the first outlet in a branch circuit with a GFCI and then the outlets down the line can be replaced with grounded outlets. The GFCI will then trip in the event of a ground fault.

Im not saying to do this because I am not sure if it is 100% correct, but im sure the electricians on here will clarify if this is inaccurate or incorrect.

(I've wondered myself for some time)
The GFCI option works if you need to plug in three prong devices. However it does not give you a ground for your surge protectors.

You don't need to replace all the receptacles. You can leave the existing alone and add one two new receptacles with ground where needed for your computer.
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Old 04-13-2008, 08:27 AM   #6
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


They wont trip if there is no ground. There is no signal to indicate a ground fault.
Many people around here install them in ungrounded bedroom outlets when they are trying to sell the house. It looks like you have a GFCI outlet, even the LED works, but in fact, there is no ground. Its common practice to do this apparently.

Though I do agree with properly rewiring the house or at least a new grounded receptical for the computer.
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Old 04-13-2008, 10:29 AM   #7
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


I don't think GFI's rely on the ground to trip - they detect an imbalance between neutral and hot in the milliamp range.

http://home.howstuffworks.com/question117.htm

This does not help the OP - because a Surge protector may need the ground to protect the computer.

Last edited by tribe_fan; 04-13-2008 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 04-13-2008, 02:48 PM   #8
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


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They wont trip if there is no ground. There is no signal to indicate a ground fault.
Many people around here install them in ungrounded bedroom outlets when they are trying to sell the house. It looks like you have a GFCI outlet, even the LED works, but in fact, there is no ground. Its common practice to do this apparently.

Though I do agree with properly rewiring the house or at least a new grounded receptical for the computer.
This is totally false information. GFCI works just fine with no ground present. They are legal code compliant replacement for two prong receptacles.
The portable plugin testers won't trip them however since they need the ground to perform that function.
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:24 PM   #9
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


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This is totally false information. GFCI works just fine with no ground present. They are legal code compliant replacement for two prong receptacles.
The portable plugin testers won't trip them however since they need the ground to perform that function.
I FULLY agree.

Gencon, please get your facts straight before making a post like this.
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Old 04-14-2008, 05:27 AM   #10
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


Ok, if the portable plug in testers wont trip them, how does a real life short trip them?
If there is an imbalance between neutral and hot, the imbalance must be going to ground, which the device does not have.


This is quoted from the article posted by tribe_fan:

So let's say you are outside with your power drill and it is raining. You are standing on the ground, and since the drill is wet there is a path from the hot wire inside the drill through you to ground (see How Power Distribution Grids Work for details on grounding). If electricity flows from hot to ground through you, it could be fatal. The GFCI can sense the current flowing through you because not all of the current is flowing from hot to neutral as it expects -- some of it is flowing through you to ground. As soon as the GFCI senses that, it trips the circuit and cuts off the electricity.

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The device is a Ground Fault Circuit Interupter. Without a ground for it to fault to, how does it know to interupt the circuit?

Yes, they are accepted as a replacement to a 2 conductor outlet by the NEC, only because it is slightly better than no protection at all. But there is no protection to ground-thats why the testers wont work. They test to ground. The internal tester tests to neutral.

Perhaps I should have rephrased my previous post to say "They wont trip if the problem is to ground."

They will trip if current goes through you to ground, however.
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Old 04-14-2008, 08:36 AM   #11
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Outlets are not grounded...what to do about it?


They work by detecting the difference in current between the hot and neutral. If there is a difference they trip. The device does not care where that current is going. It could be leaking through the cord, through your body, through the drill or saw itself. As soon as the current on the neutral is 5mA different that that on the hot it will trip.
The tester needs to simulate this current leakage. The way they do it is by shorting some of the current to ground. Without a ground they can't do that so they don't work.
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