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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings all, long time lurker and first time asker

I bought a fixer upper of a house, and on to the electrical portion. Most of the house is a 2-wire system (no ground), and a previous owner replaced all 2-prong outlets with 3-prong outlets. He did so without actually grounding anything, that b-hole...

I've fixed most of it using GFCI outlets and even GFCI breakers in a few case when it was cheaper. IMHO, a GFCI would likely be safer than a ground in most fault situations, so I'm fine with that.

I'm trying to add a few outlets to the somewhat finished basement now. The wall I want to add outlets to isn't a stud wall, its just furring strips and wood paneling. So, I was planning on using conduit and handy boxes.

Metal conduit and boxes isn't an option without running new grounded romex from the panel, and it isn't an easy route. I'm considering using PVC conduit and boxes.

Finally, here's my question. If the conduit and boxes are nonmetallic, and I GFCI protect the outlets (or the breaker feeding them), can I get by without running new romex w/ground? I know that's fine for most outlets, but the fact that it is surface mounted on the wall and run through conduit makes me want to double check.

I'm very comfortable working on the electrical parts of the house, I have a PhD in electrical engineering. I just want to make sure that I'm compliant with code. I'm in IN if it makes a difference.

On a related note, anybody know where I can pick up a crap ton of 'no equipment ground' and 'GFCI protected' stickers?

Thanks for the help
 

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Any new wiring needs an equipment grounding conductor. If you're extending an existing circuit that has no equipment grounding conductor, it is acceptable to connect the grounding conductor to a grounding electrode conductor and protect the normally current carrying conductors with a gfci.
I use a label maker for "no equipment ground" and "GFCI protected"
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Good call on the label maker. I have an amazon prime label maker inbound now.

What is meant by grounding electrode conductor? I'm dropping down PVC conduit from above a dropped ceiling to run a couple outlets. I hadn't planned on connecting the grounds in the outlet. I didn't want to give future owners the impression that the outlets are grounded if they open up the box.

There's a plastic junction box up there already, but the feed to that junction box is 2-wire. There's nothing in close proximity that is grounded.

So there aren't special rules for grounding an FS surface mount type box, as long as the box itself isn't metallic? That was my big worry. The NEC is sort of a struggle to make sense of, when you are doing something that isn't specifically mentioned. I guess a lot of it comes down to what an inspector might be feeling that day.

The codebook also says sch 80 must be used if in an area subject to physical damage, but I have a bunch of sch 40 already. Does a finished basement count as subject to physical damage? This is one of those ambiguous things... I know it won't actually be subject to any damage, but I want to be compliant with the code. I've searched a few times for that ruling, and you can find some pretty length debates between licensed electricians about it.


Thanks again, very much appreciated
 

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The only rule I know is that an EGC must be ran and connected. It's special that it's allowed to be connected to a grounding electrode system/conductor when the circuit being extended doesn't have an equipment grounding conductor. A GEC or GES is the part of the system which establishes a bond between the service grounded conductor and earth. There are many types of GEC's and a few points where the GES must connect.

Schedule 40 is not permitted in my region anywhere above ground other than transition stubs. Schedule 40 is specifically not allowed to protect NM against physical damage in the NEC.

Hope this helps
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I thought the purpose of GFCI protecting a non-grounded 3-prong outlet was so you didn't have to run new wires, such as an EGC.

About the sch 40 vs 80, that was the basis of the arguments I was reading. The code (NEC 2008) speficially says sch 80 or 'any other approved means' or something cryptic like that. I guess its just easier to use the sch 80 and not risk an issue.

It might be worth it to just call an inspector to ask some questions. We will be trying to sell the house soon, and I'd like to not have any surprises after the buyers inspector comes through.

Thanks for the help, it is much appreciated.
 

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Replacing a non grounded receptacle is different than extending a circuit. Definitely call your authority holding jurisdiction.
 

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The only rule I know is that an EGC must be ran and connected. It's special that it's allowed to be connected to a grounding electrode system/conductor when the circuit being extended doesn't have an equipment grounding conductor. A GEC or GES is the part of the system which establishes a bond between the service grounded conductor and earth. There are many types of GEC's and a few points where the GES must connect.

Schedule 40 is not permitted in my region anywhere above ground other than transition stubs. Schedule 40 is specifically not allowed to protect NM against physical damage in the NEC.

Hope this helpsdeleted
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sch 80 it is, thanks for the info. Hopefully LowesDepot carries sch 80 conduit and fittings and whatnot.

I guess technically I'm not extending a circuit, it was there when we bought it. The basement had a wall of Ikea cabinets, and a previous owner put a few handy boxes with outlets inside them ( 3-prong outlet, no ground conductor or GFCI protection) for AV stuff. Previous owner did a lot of weird / unsafe things like that.

I removed the giant wall of Ikea cabinets (because I am a reasonable person), but wanted to keep the outlets. I'm replacing the handy boxes with PVC conduit and PVC FS boxes, as there was no ground. The water service inlet is right there and would provide a nice low impedance ground path, however I don't think it satisfies the NEC.

As a practicing electrical engineer, it is sort of annoying that I can't do something that I know is safe and reasonable. I understand the purpose of the NEC and NFPA, and why the code must be rigid. It is still annoying though.
 

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A conduit sleeve on the wall should not be subject to damage.

You would be better served by running a new grounded circuit.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'd like to run a new circuit, but the panel is full. I certainly don't want to go to the effort of putting in a sub panel.

I've poked around a little trying to find an available branch I can replace (at least part way) with grounded romex, but nothing strikes me as an easy route yet. I'm still hoping something jumps out at me as a nice way to get a ground to the outlets.

The 1940's house has been updated so often that the electrical system is pretty convoluted. Basement lights on the same circuit as 2nd floor outlets, stuff like that. The more I modify, the more likely I am to find something I have to fix. I'm a little hesitant to poke that sleeping bear if I can avoid it.
 
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