gfci installation w/o ground

Old 08-12-02, 07:17 AM
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gfci installation w/o ground

We have an older condo. The outlets are not grounded. We want to put gfci's in the bathroom. Can we/ should we replace them with gfci's if the present outlets are not grounded? We'd like to do it ourselves. Do you need an electrician to "do it the right way"? Thanks for the advice.
Old 08-12-02, 07:38 AM
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If you wish to replace the outlets in your bathroom that are not grounded, yes, you can do so by using GFI receptacels for replacement. The GFI does not need a ground to operate properly!

One thing puzzles me though, you say that you live in a condo and that the outlets are not grounded. How old is the condo? How do you know they are not grounded?

The safest and easiest way to replace the outlets is to locate the circuit breaker that feeds those receptacles and turn it off. Go to the outlets you wish to replace and check to make sure that the power is off. Remove the old receptacle and replace with the GFI receptacle. You will have to check to make sure that you put the wires from the old receptacle onto the GFI in the proper manner. A GFI receptacle can also protect outlets that are "downstream" of the one that you are replacing. There is a line and load side to a GFI receptacle. The power that feeds the present receptacle will go to the line side and if you want anything "downstream" protected by that gfi receptacle, those wires will go to the load side of the GFI receptacle. Best thing is to follow the instructions supplied with the GFI Receptacles.
Old 08-12-02, 11:36 AM
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thanks for gfci info

Thank you, sparksone42, for the information about gfci. I think we will go ahead and replace the outlets.

To answer your question; our condo was built in 1968. We have replaced outlet receptacles in the kitchen. There is always a "hot" and a "neutral" wire hooked up, but there is never a third wire. That is why we believe our outlets are not grounded.

Maybe we need to hire an electrician to ground all outlets. We might be running a risk with outdated wiring.
Old 08-13-02, 07:32 AM
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Ok, so there is only a white and a black or (hot) present. If that wire that enters the box comes through a conduit or pipe then chances are good that you have a ground.

Irregardless, if you replace those receptacles and protect the circuit with a GFCI receptacle or breaker the ground is not a necessity. As I said in my earlier post, the gfci will protect you with or without a ground. The gfci looks for a difference between the current that flows on both the neutral and the hot. When the gfci detects a difference between those two of approximately 5 milliamps the gfci circuit will trip.

The ground is like a security blanket that covers all of the metal and keeps all of the metal at the same potential and also represents an alternative path for fault to flow back to the panel and trip the breaker.

I think that you will be fine in doing what you want to do. Keep in mind that if you run in to problems you can always come back and post the problem and someone will help you out. Biggest thing to remember is to shut of the power to the circuit and then check to assure that you have indeed turned off the correct circuit before you do any work. Next biggest thing is to read, understand, and follow the manufacturers directions that will be supplied with the GFCI protection that you will purchase.

Good Luck!
Old 08-13-02, 07:56 AM
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The absence of an Equiptment Ground in a dwelling constructed in 1968 is surprising when we presume the work was inspected.I suggest that you remove the cover from the Service panel and inspect the wiring. If you see bare conductors connected to terminals then you have Non-Metallic cables with a Equiptment Grounding Conductor. If no bare conductors are visible then you may have Armored Cable as the Wiring Method-look for metal cables connected to the Service panel with metal connectors or check where you have exposed cables connected to exposed outlet boxes. If you have metal cables connected to metal outlet boxes it's Armored Cable and the metal of the cable is the Equiptment Ground.---Good Luck!!!!
Old 08-13-02, 08:01 AM
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Metal conduit wiring does not have a separate ground wire. The conduit is the ground path, and all works well as long as the outlet is actually mounted (not hanging), and there is a good ground at the panel. I prefer that setup a lot more, one less wire to worry about in the box. It also makes it a lot easier to add another wire/circuit later on (as long as the conduit/box fill are not exceeded.
Old 08-14-02, 08:03 PM
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The use of a grounding conductor in pipe is encouraged, due to the fact that fittings can work loose, or are installed loose to begin with, resulting in no return ground path.

The equipment grounding conductor is not included in pipe fill calcs, because it is not a current-carrying conductor.

Rick Miell

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