Using ungrounded GFCI for Computers

Old 06-11-03, 02:59 PM
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Using ungrounded GFCI for Computers

Hello. I've just moved into a rental home. When I moved in I didn't take wiring into acount and now I'm paying for it. I require a large number of computers for work, but the home has only 5 "grounded" outlets in the whole house and I'm deeply scheptical that they are truely grounded, and they are in the kitchen anyway, so I can't use them.
I've been searching for a way to replace my current 2 prong outlets with grounded ones. I cut the power and pulled out the current outlets to see if the ground wire was present, and it is not. So I need opinions on two things:
1) According to the NEC I can replace these outlets with GFCI ungrounded outlets. However I'm unsure if this is wise for computers, especially high-drain computers that will be on 24-7 forever. Even if I do use GFCI outlets I'm not sure how likely they would be to trip in heavy usage.

2) Testing for ground. I'm a chicken when it comes to power strong enough to fry you. I finally got the courage to stick my Fluke probes into the outlets to at least see if I could establish a good solid 120, which I did. However, is there any reason to be afraid of arcing if I check for voltage from the hot lead to the receptical box housing (metal) to determine if the housing itself might be grounded? Most wiring books and tutorials suggest going this with a "neon tester" it's the same thing as using a voltage meter. I want to check it, but would hate to ruin a good pair of pants.

Ideas and opinions are appreciated. If I owned the home I'd just scrape the current wiring and redo everything "the right way"(tm) but it's costing enough in rent that I don't want to sink money into something I may only live in for a year or two.

Many thanks to anyone who can help.
Old 06-11-03, 03:57 PM
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You may use GFCI receptacles in place of ungrounded receptacles, but I don't recommend it for computers, because a surge protector relies on a true ground connection. If you want to measure from hot to the metal box, it is ok to use a voltage meter. However, although it is possible, I doubt that the box is grounded. You may need to run a couple of new circuits back to the panel for the computers.
Old 06-11-03, 04:06 PM
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I also recommend against the GFCI.

I'm not sure whether you can find a UPS that does not require grounding, but that might be a possible solution if it exists.

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