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Electrical Question


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19 replies to this topic

#1 of 20 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted July 01 2004 - 02:31 AM

I'm a college student and I move around to different aparments every year due to roommate changes and such. We just picked up the keys to a new place for this coming year. It's a house built in the early 70's that's in great condition considering the age. Well, the problem is that every outlet in the house is a 2-prong outlet. Everything I own is 3-prong: my computer, monitor, printer, TV, power conditioner, surge protectors, etc. The "obvious" solution is to buy cheater plugs, thus by-passing the ground on all my stuff. Is there anything else I can do and how will this affect my stuff? Thanks.

#2 of 20 OFFLINE   Scott Van Dyke

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Posted July 01 2004 - 03:04 AM

1. "Cheater" plugs can still be grounded using the screw from the middle of the outlet faceplate and screwing it through the metal tab in the plug. 2. You can ground the important outlets right to the outlet housing. I give this a "3" out of "10" in difficulty of electical stuff for the do-it-yourselfer.

#3 of 20 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted July 01 2004 - 03:16 AM

Thanks for the info. I've never had to use cheater plugs so I was unaware of the metal tab. I'll probably just go that route. Thanks.

#4 of 20 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted July 01 2004 - 06:28 AM

This really doesn't work in most situations. Many homes are wired with 2-wire Romex, so the box isn't grounded. This would only be true if metallic conduit was used. And many boxes are just plastic. And many homes built in the early 1970's were wired with aluminum wire, so any grounds in those cases are suspect anyway.
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#5 of 20 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted July 01 2004 - 08:04 AM

Not to mention, the metal boxes (if they did use them) are nailed to wood studs. That’s not a good ground by any stretch of the imagination. The only way screwing the adapter to the center screw will give a ground is if the house used conduit throughout. And even then, it would have to be connected to a ground stake or water pipe at some point. Regards, Wayne A. Pflughaupt
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#6 of 20 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted July 01 2004 - 08:25 AM

if it's a 2-prong outlet, i doubt it's properly grounded.

go to home depot and get one of those electrical testers - they're like 5 bucks. they'll tell you whether the outlet is (or can be) grounded.

i can't remember the exact sequence, but i think it's like this.

1. put one prong (red) into the hot side
2. touch the screw with the black prong
3. if it lights up, you know the box is grounded

someone correct me if i'm wrong...i don't want seth to electrocute himself. Posted Image
 

#7 of 20 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted July 01 2004 - 08:30 AM

Well the house has an entirely unfinished basement so I'll be able to see if there's conduit throughout. I'm going over there later tonight, but I haven't noticed any conduit, so I doubt there's any there. So what can I do here? I obviously can't redo the electrical system in the house because a) I'm renting and b) I'm going into grad school and have little-to-no money.

#8 of 20 OFFLINE   Chris Lanni

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Posted July 01 2004 - 10:22 AM

Seth: The other thing that you can do is take the outlet cover off, unscrew the outlet and check in the box for a ground wire. Sometimes there is a ground wire that is not connected. Option two is to run a copper wire from your outlet box to an "earth" ground. Either a water pipe or a ground rod outside. If you can hook it to a water pipe just make sure that it is not a pvc water pipe. Make sure that it is metal all the way to where it comes into the house. GodsLove chris

#9 of 20 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted July 01 2004 - 10:33 AM

Thanks Chris! I'll definitely look around the basement and see what some of my options are. I'll probably still have to talk to the property management people because they make a huge deal in the lease about making any changes at all to the property without written permission.

#10 of 20 OFFLINE   Chris Lanni

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Posted July 01 2004 - 10:49 AM

No problem Seth. The nice thing is anything done per above would be easily taken apart upon moving out. It would be perfect if the room/rooms you need the grounded outlet in were right above the basement. Then with an open basement floor you find one of the outlets from down below, snake a wire up to it, hook up a clamp to the water pipe and presto-chango, you're done. Gods Love chris

#11 of 20 OFFLINE   Seth_L

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Posted July 01 2004 - 04:36 PM

I've seen houses that were built before 1970 and that all have 3 prong outlets. It seems really strange that in the 1970s they would have built a house without.

#12 of 20 OFFLINE   Glenn Overholt

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Posted July 01 2004 - 08:13 PM

Thank you, Seth_L! I agree, and think that grounded outlets were required in the '60's on new construction. It makes me wonder if this apartment is 'legal', if you know what I mean. I can see the original owner/contractor getting a really good closeout deal on 2-pronged outlets, and wiring the place up quickly. Glenn

#13 of 20 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted July 02 2004 - 12:00 AM

It's possible that the house was built before the 70's. I just assumed by some of the features of the house. I seriously doubt there's anything illegal going on. This is actually a house, in a decent neighborhood, not an apartment. I relly think all the wiring is just original. I did notice that they have grounded the refridgerator by running a copper wire to a water pipe (all the water pipes are metal).

#14 of 20 OFFLINE   Gene Severn

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Posted July 02 2004 - 03:04 AM

For that era house, it was probably wired with "BX" cable. This is a spiral metal jacket surrounding the 2 conductors, hot and neutral. This jacket provided the ground continuity between the main panel box and the outlet, so a third conductor is not needed. Romex became popular later on and was used primarily with plastic boxes. A third bare wire provided the ground path and was attached to the green screw on 3 prong outlets. Best bet is to go to Home Despot and get the outlet tester. There is a legend on the tester itself explaining the function of the 3 lights.

#15 of 20 OFFLINE   Robert A

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Posted July 02 2004 - 05:38 AM

I bought my current house four years ago. It was built new in 1968 with two condutor wire and outlets through out the whole house. The house next to mine is the same way. I don't think there was a federal mandate or anything that said all houses must be grounded. I think the electrical codes are all done on a local level and so, as far as being legal or not, would depend on your local building codes. I added wires to the metal piping in the house and replaced the outlets with the more modern three prong type for the outlets that needed to be grounded (4 total). I would ask the owner if he wouldn't let you ground a few of the outlets. Just don't change the outlets to three prong without adding a grounding wire of some type as this is illegal. -Rob

#16 of 20 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted July 02 2004 - 06:03 AM


Well the codes are at a local level BUT there is a National Electric Code put out by NFPA. Most localities just "rubber stamp" the NEC with a few local changes.

http://www.nfpa.org/....SB&src=catalog
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#17 of 20 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted July 02 2004 - 06:30 AM

Unfortunately there's no metal jacket. As I mentioned ealier, the basement is unfinished, so I can see 90% of the wiring. It's just plain old 2-conductor wiring. I looked under the kitchen sink and noticed a copper wire attached to the pipes under the sink. From what I can tell this wire only goes to the refridgerator's outlet to ground it. But, my AV equipment will be on the other side of the wall from the fridge, so I might could tap into that same ground.

#18 of 20 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted July 02 2004 - 06:32 AM

Another quick question. I think Adelphia recently ran the cable lines to the house (in the last 2 years). If Adelphia properly grounded the cable, and I run the cable through my power conditioner, will my equipment (plugged into the power conditioner) be grounded by the cable?

#19 of 20 OFFLINE   Chris Lanni

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Posted July 02 2004 - 07:18 AM

Unfortunately the answer is no. All of the connections, whether they be outlets, coaxial, or for phone, all "leak" all excess current to ground. Must have the ground in order for it to work. You could run a ground wire to the same place they grounded your coax though. Gods Love chris P.S. The pipe that the fridge ground is attached to, is it metal all the way to the outside of the house? Otherwise it does no good as a grounding conductor.

#20 of 20 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted July 08 2004 - 09:06 AM

Just thought I'd post an interesting finding. I'm finally getting everything finished moving in. I hooked up my AV gear. I have a MonsterPower 2500. I screwed the cheater plug into the outlet and plugged the power conditioner into the cheater plug. Two of the lights on the front of the 2500 are labeled "Ground" and "Wiring OK." These were both off. I figured I would just have to accept the risk of not having a ground for awhile at least. Adelphia came out an hooked up my digital cable (just ran the cable into the TV). After he left I ran the cable through the 2500 on the way to the digital receiver. When I screwed the RG-6 cable into the 2500 those two lights on the front came on. So, according to the 2500 it is being grounded through the cable. Do you guys think it's really grounded? I'm skeptical, but if it's not grounded the Monster has a programming logic flaw in their power center.




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