Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo
- - - - -

Buying a house w/o 3 prong grounded recepticles. HELP!


This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
30 replies to this topic

#1 of 31 OFFLINE   Adam_R

Adam_R

    Second Unit



  • 395 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 10 2002

Posted May 17 2006 - 01:01 AM

I am buying a home that was built in 1960 and has only 2 prong outlets. I have a Monster Line conditioner for my HT stuff.

Can I get a 2 to 3 prong convertor?

How is this going to affect me?

Any input is appreciated.

Thanks!
Guess what...

#2 of 31 OFFLINE   Don.l

Don.l

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 118 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 09 2005

Posted May 17 2006 - 02:54 AM

I've always heard that you shouldn't do the converter thing, and you should get the outlets switched over for the ground. I don't think it's difficult or to expensive to have done, but you should do it and not do the converter thing.

Don

I've always heard that you shouldn't do the converter thing, and you should get the outlets switched over for the ground. I don't think it's difficult or to expensive to have done, but you should do it and not do the converter thing.

Don

#3 of 31 OFFLINE   chris_everett

chris_everett

    Second Unit



  • 403 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 20 2003

Posted May 17 2006 - 09:04 AM

First, you need to find out if your wire has three conductors (hot/neutral/ground) or not. If so, it's trivial to change out outlets to newer 3-pin types. If not, your wiring may be grounded through conduit. Although not as good as a conductor in the wire, you can still use standard 3 pin outlets. (look closely and you will see that the ground wire connects to the bracket which will connect to the box) WARNING: if you have a "conduit ground" system, don't use isolated ground (orange) outlets.

If you don't have three wires _or_ conduit, I would be worried. I would consider figuring in the cost of re-wiring the house into the purchase price.

Whatever you do, DON'T bypass the safety ground. It's there to save your life.
--Chris Everett

#4 of 31 OFFLINE   BruceSpielbauer

BruceSpielbauer

    Second Unit



  • 275 posts
  • Join Date: May 27 2002

Posted May 17 2006 - 02:16 PM

Chris Everett is 100% correct. You MASY find that there is no major issue at all, IF the house actually has the third (ground) wire run throughout the system. Surprisingly, it was common for quite awhile to wire new homes with a ground (third wire), and then only install a two prong receptacle. I bought a home back in 1989 that was built in 1960 (coincidentally), and it had this arrangement, exactly. Every outlet was two prong. But, behind every outlet were three wires. I spent one day switching off breakers, and changing them out, at a total cost of less than $50.00.

It is also possible that your house has the conduit as the ground. If so, that is not as nice, but still will not mean any major expense, in order to swap them out. It is just a bigger pain to actually attach that connection properly, to ensure each new 3-pring outlet is properly grounded (this is NECESSARY, and must be done!) A bit more time-consuming, but no more epensive, really.

The third possibility, as he suggests, is the only one which can cost you "big bucks" later on. That is the case where there are only two wires, and no conduit, or perhaps there are two wires with conduit, but no true conduit ground to be found.

To check, you can start by cutting one circuit at the breakers, and then unscrewing a single outlet, and look for yourself. Check a couple, perhaps three, and note what you see. Hopefully, you will see three distinct (different colored) wires in each, and a pattern will begin to form, and you can relax.

-Bruce

#5 of 31 OFFLINE   Leo Kerr

Leo Kerr

    Screenwriter



  • 1,699 posts
  • Join Date: May 10 1999

Posted May 17 2006 - 11:52 PM

Please note, I haven't done this sort of renovation, and I really dislike working with Romex-type materials. That said,

If Adam has no conduit ground and only two wires in his feed wiring, how hard would it be to pull new 3-wire Romex in - by way of tying it to the two wire and pulling it through? Even if - here an unfinished basement is a good thing - it's just the last 18" up through the floor/wall from the basement?

Secondarily, how hard would it be to just fish in a seperate copper wire to add grounding?

Tertialy, in either case, this would be a chance for Adam to find out if the house was wired with copper or aluminium...

Leo

#6 of 31 OFFLINE   Adam_R

Adam_R

    Second Unit



  • 395 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 10 2002

Posted May 18 2006 - 12:56 AM

The basement is finished, so it would be very difficult and expensive to update the electrical system now.

If it turns out that it's really just 2 wire with no ground, what does that mean to my HT?

Can I not use it at all? Will my equipment not operate? The ONLY thing in my whole HT setup that requires 3 prong is the Line Conditioner. If there is no ground, it will just light up the "no ground" light, correct?

Thoughts?

Thanks again!
Guess what...

#7 of 31 OFFLINE   chris_everett

chris_everett

    Second Unit



  • 403 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 20 2003

Posted May 18 2006 - 03:25 AM

Leo: He might be able to use existing wire as a pull string, but if that wire was stapled to studs (as it should be) that won't work.

Adam: I would not buy a house without an electrical grounding system. It's not just the light coming on. If you have a ground fault in a piece of gear, it will find ground through other means. Possibly you or your family, electrocuting you, or through a less conductive material, causing a fire. Even if you only have one pice of HT gear with a ground pin, you probably have lots of other electical "stuff" in your house with a ground pin. If it does not have a ground system, I would call an electrician and have them give you an estimate on the cost of re-wiring, and deduct that from any offer on the house, and explain why.
--Chris Everett

#8 of 31 OFFLINE   Adam_R

Adam_R

    Second Unit



  • 395 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 10 2002

Posted May 18 2006 - 05:45 AM

I appreciate the input guys.

I spoke with an electrician and he told me that I could put GFCI outlets on a 2 wire groundless system and use surge protectors and I'd be just fine. I already have surge protectors and line conditioners for all my gear anyway.

He also to ld me that I could just run a ground off the neutral wire, which goes to the same place a ground wire would anyway. He can't do it becasue it's against code, but he said that's what he would do in his house.

Is he nuts?

The house and town is so awesome, the 2 wire thing is extremely minor in the scope of things.
Guess what...

#9 of 31 OFFLINE   chris_everett

chris_everett

    Second Unit



  • 403 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 20 2003

Posted May 18 2006 - 09:44 AM

Yes, you can use GFCI's, and that will offer _some_ protection. However, GFCI's aren't appropriate everywhere (they have false trips to often) And they won't protect against everything. Surge protectors and line conditioners are not really relevent.

You can connect your ground to neutral, and yes, it goes to the same place....But be _very_ careful doing this. You have to make __SURE__ that your outlets are wired correctly. If you get an outlet wrong, bad, bad things could happen.

In a house this old, I'd just be worried about the electrical infrastructure in general. You may have a fuse box rather than breakers, aluminum wire rather than copper, not enough circuits in some places like the kitchen, etc.,etc... All in addition to potentially no ground wire...

This is probably worry for nothing. Most probably, there is a ground wire.
--Chris Everett

#10 of 31 OFFLINE   Adam_R

Adam_R

    Second Unit



  • 395 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 10 2002

Posted May 18 2006 - 01:46 PM

thanks for all the input chris

the house has been updated to 200 amps and has a breaker box, not fuses.

i do understand that using the neutral can be bad, so i may just pay to have the house re wired, as painful as that may be, who knows

i spoke to the electrician who inspected the place and he can run ground wires to some easy to reach places for not much money

who knows

thanks again!
Guess what...

#11 of 31 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Producer



  • 5,910 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 05 1999

Posted May 18 2006 - 01:54 PM

Adam,

Maybe someone with more experience can comment, but I believe surge protectors will not work without a ground. The same might also be true of line conditioners, but I’m not sure.

Nevertheless, a simple solution is to just not use equipment with grounded plugs.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt

My Equipment List
“A nice mid-fi system,” according to an audiophile acquaintance.

My Tech / DIY Articles and Reviews

#12 of 31 OFFLINE   Alfonso_M

Alfonso_M

    Second Unit



  • 396 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 25 2000

Posted May 30 2006 - 05:21 AM

I don't know where you are located, but here in South Florida many Insurance Companies won't insure any Home unless you upgrade the electrical system up to code, which includes of course grounding all outlets with 3 wire Romex at least, if your House is of a certain age they require an inspection prior to issuing coverage, especially electrical. I personally wouldn't connect any expensive equipment with out proper ground and surge protection, but then again, I live in the Lighting capital of the world Posted Image

#13 of 31 OFFLINE   chris_everett

chris_everett

    Second Unit



  • 403 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 20 2003

Posted June 01 2006 - 07:01 AM

Upgrade the entire electrical system to current code?!?! Are you sure about that? The national electric code changes yearly, and to update even a 5 or 10 year old house could be an insane bill. They may very well require an inspection, and make sure that things were done correctly at the time, but every building code that I'm aware of will grandfather in old construction.
--Chris Everett

#14 of 31 OFFLINE   Adam_R

Adam_R

    Second Unit



  • 395 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 10 2002

Posted June 02 2006 - 12:47 AM

You do not have to upgrade to current code to get insurance. BTW - Getting any kind of insurance in FL sucks. I lived there for a few years.

I have spoken with a few electricians and it seems like I (we) might be getting a bit more concerned than we need to. Apparently, the big part of updating the fuse box to a 200 amp circuit breaker has been done and that's the most important part.

I am not running any huge amps here, so I should be fine with some good surge protectors and switching out a few old 2 prongers for GFCIs. (which I was assured work without a ground wire) Although, I am sure my line conditioner will complain about no gorund. Posted Image

The guy who I am buying from has been there for years with 2 big screen TVs and surround sound setups, so I think I'm going to be ok. Thanks for the input guys.


EDIT: I found this exchange searching electrician forums:


Question: Will a GFCI even work without a ground
wire??

Answer: Yes, in fact a GFCI is the NEC approved method of providing
a 3 prong outlet in a circuit with no ground wire.



Sounds good to me!
Guess what...

#15 of 31 OFFLINE   Leo Kerr

Leo Kerr

    Screenwriter



  • 1,699 posts
  • Join Date: May 10 1999

Posted June 02 2006 - 05:05 AM

errm... that almost sounds like propoganda from a manufacturer of GFCI outlets.

It might be ugly, but for a few strategic locations, you might also consider running a ground wire. This could possibly be done via surface-mount raceways and/or discreetly locating the wire in the cove-base/edge molding/ et cetera, and then run that back to whatever the preferred ground tie-in is.

(Note: I have no idea if that's actually a good idea or not. I just don't like the idea of ungrounded... and I'd rather not trust that every bit of the electrical is perfectly clean, and that there wasn't any way that there could be an error in the wiring (ground/neutral sharing.))

Leo

#16 of 31 OFFLINE   Adam_R

Adam_R

    Second Unit



  • 395 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 10 2002

Posted June 02 2006 - 06:27 AM

^

I would agree with you if I hadn't been told the same thing from licensed electricians.

They said GFCI's would do the trick.
Guess what...

#17 of 31 OFFLINE   chris_everett

chris_everett

    Second Unit



  • 403 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 20 2003

Posted June 02 2006 - 07:52 AM

GFCI's trip when there is a difference in what's going in through the hot wire, and out of the neutral. If that difference is going through a ground wire, or through you, it doesn't matter. While there are some failure modes that an ungrounded GFCI won't catch, it will provide you with very good protection.

Adam-- Have you popped off a cover plate yet to see what's actually in the boxes?
--Chris Everett

#18 of 31 OFFLINE   Adam_R

Adam_R

    Second Unit



  • 395 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 10 2002

Posted June 02 2006 - 11:11 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_everett
Adam-- Have you popped off a cover plate yet to see what's actually in the boxes?

No sir. But I have spoken with the electrician who I had inspect the system and he said there is no ground wire and no grounded conduit. He recommended 2 things to me before he would rewire the house. (now keep in mind I was leaning towards giving this guy $3000+ to rewire the place) He actually recommended putting the GFCIs in.


He said if it was his place, his number one choice would be to just put 3 prong recepticles in and ground to the neutral wire. He also said he can not do that for me since it's against code, but that was his first choice.

I'd feel more comfortable with GFCIs, I think.
Guess what...

#19 of 31 OFFLINE   Alfonso_M

Alfonso_M

    Second Unit



  • 396 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 25 2000

Posted June 04 2006 - 06:03 PM

double post

#20 of 31 OFFLINE   Alfonso_M

Alfonso_M

    Second Unit



  • 396 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 25 2000

Posted June 04 2006 - 06:02 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_everett
Upgrade the entire electrical system to current code?!?! Are you sure about that? The national electric code changes yearly, and to update even a 5 or 10 year old house could be an insane bill. They may very well require an inspection, and make sure that things were done correctly at the time, but every building code that I'm aware of will grandfather in old construction.

From personal experience I know that if you upgrade the kitchen in an old house , everything in that section has to be up to the new code, old 2 wire romex from the 40's and 50's 60's will have to be removed and replaced, and the main electrical box would have to be replace to accomodate added dedicated lines now require by code , like Microwave line and insane amount of outlets every 4' or what ever it is, etc, same for Bathrooms, GFCI outlets are required by code, and if there is no ground wire to make the proper connection you wont get a rough inspection until is corrected. Coral Gables, where homes date back to the 20's and 30's is full of horror stories about compliance with new codes and the retro fitting cost involved.

I'm sure a 5 to 10 year old house will have no problems with insurance and/or electrical codes, but Insurance companies at least in South Florida don't want to insure old homes any longer, the cut off age is difficult to pin down and varies from Company to Company, and if the inspector sees any old outlets without ground, that's another strike against you.

I would recommend to the original poster to re-wire to code as many outlets as possible, depending on the degree of difficulty and cost, especially if you plan to stay for a while in this home, piece of mind is worth more than a few extra dollars in the bank.





Forum Nav Content I Follow