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Just moved into new apartment. Only ONE grounded electrical outlet, help needed!


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22 replies to this topic

#1 of 23 Dave Mack

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Posted August 24 2005 - 07:26 PM

Hey Y'all,

Silly me, I didn't check when we looked at the place but there are NO 3 prong grounded outlets in the living room or bedroom. There is only one in the whole apt. and it's in the kitchen! It's the back 1/2 of a house that's from the 40's. So what to do? All my HT equipment and recording gear? My new DLP FP? I should have all this grounded, yes? Any idea how much it costs for an electrician to run a line upstairs?

Thanx! d

#2 of 23 TheoGB

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Posted August 24 2005 - 08:37 PM

Hey, I thought no US plugs were earthed and only came two-pin style?

Is the three-pin plug becoming a standard or have there always been both? Sorry, just interested.

#3 of 23 ChristopherDAC

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Posted August 25 2005 - 02:43 AM

Three-prong polarised grounded receptacles have been required in all new electrical installations in this country for decades. This includes new construction and renovation, although it is permissible to repair an in-situ two-prong or non-polarised receptacle without rewiring. Most household electrical equipment, however, is not outfitted with plugs having ground pins; all household electrical equipment, however, is outfitted with polarised plugs [that is, one pin is larger than the other to permit distinguishing between the "hot" and "neutral" pins; I do not believe this is a concern in Europe as both sides of the 220-volt line are "hot", thus requiring a separate ground pin for all equipment -- correct me if I'm wrong, but that's how 220-volt outlets in this country, for heavy appliances, are wired].

Dave, are your outlets even polarised? This is not a very good situation. You need to find out if your electrical service box is even wired to serve 110-volt grounded receptacles; even if it is, tearing out the electrical wiring in the walls [since the in-situ wiring will not have a ground conductor, and in fact will not be up to code in other ways as well] and running new will not be cheap. This is definitely something you need to talk to your landlord about.


#4 of 23 Craig S

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Posted August 25 2005 - 02:46 AM

The U.S. has had grounded (three-pin) plugs & outlets for as long as I can remember (I'm 47). My 20-year house has three-pin outlets exclusively.

That said, a lot of gear still comes with 2-pin plugs. Most computer equipment & high-end AV gear is grounded, however.

Sorry for the thread-jack, Dave. I know this is of no help to you. Have you talked about this with your landlord? Maybe they'd be willing to split the costs of putting in grounded outlets since it is an upgrade to the apartment.

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#5 of 23 Matt Stryker

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Posted August 25 2005 - 02:53 AM

The other thing is, just cause it has 3 prongs I wouldn't assume that it is grounded; it may just be someone replaced the old 2 pronger with a 3 and never connected the ground wire; a simple outlet tester from Home Depot (or if you already have a multimeter you can use that) will tell you.

A possible option if you have a lower level (less than 3 stories) apt is to run a grounding wire out of your apt and tie into another ground in the building or if there is none, sink a grounding spike in the land next to the building. It doesn't sound like the building is too new, so that might not be a big problem. Are you going to install satellite as well?

#6 of 23 Glenn Overholt

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Posted August 25 2005 - 04:58 AM

I second that notion on that kitchen recepticle not being grounded...

However, a lot of the older buildings ran the wire through Romex (I think it is called - that flexable metal tubing?), and that should be grounded, so all you'd have to do would be to buy a new socket and run a wire from the socket's ground terminal to the outlet box, and screw it tight.

Glenn

#7 of 23 Chris Lanni

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Posted August 25 2005 - 05:38 AM

Dave,

Yes you definitely want grounded outlets, as you will not be able to use any surge protectors otherwise. It sucks when you rent, because you cannot change these things yourself without going through your landlord. Ask your landlord if he minds that you will be contacting an electrician about some new outlets. You could try some things yourself, depending on what access you may have to the panel box, or basement.

Gods Love
chris

#8 of 23 TheoGB

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Posted August 25 2005 - 07:14 AM

Quote:
I do not believe this is a concern in Europe as both sides of the 220-volt line are "hot", thus requiring a separate ground pin for all equipment -- correct me if I'm wrong, but that's how 220-volt outlets in this country, for heavy appliances, are wired].

Hmm. I couldn't really say for sure. I think all of Europe is now 230V as it was determined we could drop by 10V and they could rise by 10V without problems for existing equipment.

In England it's always been three pins (well not always but you'll only find two pin stuff from a VERY long time ago) and they are neutral, live and earth. Current colours are blue, brown and green/yellow respectively, though once it was black, red and I think green. So far as I know only the live pin is ever going to be problematic to touch, hence the fuse in the plug goes over that connection.

My reference point re: the plugs was TV but also the fact that most appliances tend to show two-pin plugs in their manuals. Thinking this through, of course, I realise that Europe also tends to have two pin plug systems!


If you were renting and the third pin wasn't earthed/grounded could you not force the landlord/lady to fix it as it would be suggesting something that wasn't true? (Did that make sense?)

#9 of 23 Chris Lanni

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Posted August 25 2005 - 07:28 AM

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Over here in the states the codes for wiring and such have changed over the years. If a home was built to code in the seventies, for example, and a landlord rents it in 2005, the landlord does not have to bring the home up to the current code. It is called "grandfathered in". The only way, really, the landlord would have to change the existing wiring is if he upgraded the whole house. Then he would have to bring the wiring system up to 2005 codes. If the house has three-pronged recepticles and the house is not grounded then all the landlord would have to do is go buy two-pronged recepticles and replace them. If the renter said anything, that is.

Gods Love
chris

#10 of 23 SethH

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Posted August 25 2005 - 07:54 AM

My last rental did not have grounded outlets -- with the exception of 2 GFCI's in the kitchen.

I own a Monster PowerCenter (let's not debate the value of such in this thread) and hooked it up. It has a light on the front that comes on when a groud is detected. Naturally this light did not come on. HOWEVER, when I ran the cable tv line into it, the light came on because the power center was able to ground through the cable. I couldn't say for certain if this meant all my equipment was actually grounded or not, but it made me feel a little better.

The outlets in the kitchen may be grounded. If they did recent renovations to the kitchen (within the last 5-10 years) they would have to bring the electrical wiring in that room up to code.

#11 of 23 Chris Lanni

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Posted August 25 2005 - 08:12 AM

Tragically, GFCI's do not mean they are grounded.

I also own a Monster PowerCenter, so I will take a beating with you. I am not certain about the grounded coax, but it does not seem that would be the case. Only that the coax, itself, was/is grounded.

Only if they pulled a permit and had the renovations inspected. There is a lot of remodeling that goes on that is not inspected.

Gods Love
chris

#12 of 23 Dave Mack

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Posted August 25 2005 - 08:40 AM

Hey all! Thanks SO much for the input and advice! The one in the kitchen is newly put in and indeed IS grounded. I have 2 ways to test and the light for "grounded" came on with both. I think that was recently added.
Interestingly, the fridge wasn't even plugged into this! It had one of those grey 80 cent adaptors attached and was in a regular old outlet.
I did a bit of research and I think as long as the wiring is still ok, it doesn't have to be upgraded. My living room is on the 2nd floor above the kitchen. I was thinking that for now, I could run a heavy duty extension cord. But that leaves a kitchen window open.
My landlady just paid to have a brand new hot water heater put in for us yesterday as the old one here literally just died. She's a single mom who lives in the front of the house and I don't think she has all that much dough. The box for the 2nd floor electric is easily accessible. My fiancee's cousin is a contractor who works with alot of electricians so we might ask him if he can get an estimate.

It's funny. I have ALL this equipment and I just took it for granted about the outlets.
At least one good thng is that out here in berkeley, I don't think that lightning is an issue.
Posted Image d

#13 of 23 MarkHastings

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Posted August 25 2005 - 08:56 AM

Quote:
The one in the kitchen is newly put in and indeed IS grounded.
Wooooooooo! Big Screen DVD Party in Dave's kitchen!!!! Posted Image

sorry to hear Dave, that does suck. Posted Image

#14 of 23 Guest_Eric Kahn_*

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Posted August 25 2005 - 10:07 AM

You are going to love this next part, you can LEGALLY put a GFCI recepticle in place of a 2 wire 2 prong recepticle, you just have to make sure you get the hot wire (black in the US) onto the copper colored screw on the recepticle

GFCI,s do not need a ground wire to work, they measure if any current is going from Hot to ground and can do this without a ground wire to the circuit box

also, even though there is no ground prong on the recepticle, unless your place is REALLY old, the neutral side is grounded at the circuit box, in fact, the earth ground and the neutral bus are one in the same in most residential circuit breaker panels

#15 of 23 Mort Corey

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Posted August 25 2005 - 11:03 AM

Not being electrically inclined, I think I'd call an electrician, and pay whatever the service call fee would be, and just have him look everything over to get an educated opinion on the whole matter.

Mort

#16 of 23 Chris Lanni

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Posted August 25 2005 - 11:20 AM

Eric,
I think that the OP is wanting grounded outlets in the bedroom and living room for his high dollar electrical equipment, GFCI's will not really help him here.

Gods Love
chris

#17 of 23 TheoGB

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Posted August 25 2005 - 11:46 AM

Actually reading this over I'm a little confused: I understood the earthing of appliances to be for our protection as much as anything else? The idea being that if there's a short circuit in your appliance, the outside does not become live and therefore pose a risk for you.

Are surge protection mechanisms there to protect your equipment for harm from the socket and if so, aren't they simply a hi-tech sort of fuse? Why is the earthing necessary?

Cheers
Theo

#18 of 23 Chris Lanni

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Posted August 25 2005 - 12:20 PM

Theo from Great Britain,

Essentially, yes. Better than I can explain it, go to this thread.

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#19 of 23 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted August 25 2005 - 12:40 PM

Quote:
Romex (I think it is called - that flexable metal tubing?),


Actually "Romex" is a trademarked name for one particular brand of NON-metallic cable. It generally has a plastic sheath around the conductors. Then the conductors themselves may have a separate layer of insulation, generally black for "hot", white for "neutral", and no insulation for the "grounding" wire.

The flexible metallic cable is generally called "BX" type cable.

Most "surge protectors" use what's called a metal-oxide-varistor (MOV) as the active circuit. An MOV basically acts as though it were a pair of Zener diodes wired in reverse order in series as a voltage clamp. This is connected across hot and neutral so the grounding connection is moot.
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#20 of 23 Glenn Overholt

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Posted August 25 2005 - 03:23 PM

Thank you Dennis, for the correction. I meant the BX type. If that runs all the way to the circuit breaker/fuse box, then that could be used as the ground.

Glenn





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