Ground wires in the recpt box

Old 10-27-03, 01:11 PM
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Ground wires in the recpt box

In many of the old houses in my town they were wired when
only a black and a white wire were used.

Then a little later when the ground,bare wire, came along it was
connected to the metal recpt box.

Then along came the 3 wire plug and that wire was connected
to the "green screw".

The church I attend still has the 2 wire, a lot of the things we
plug in now of course have the three wire plugs so an adapter
gets used.

Our computers etc have surge protectors which of course
need a properly grounded recpt.

One of our members is in the house building,remodeling game.
I pointed out to him our need for a ground on the surge units
that we plug in. He said we could just extend the white over
to the grn. of a new recpt and that would take care of it.

We have to do that all the time in the old downtown houses he
tells me.

Then may do that but is that a safe way to go?

How would you ever get a "ground" in block walls or pass the
fire stops in framed walls?

What is the diff. between a "neutral " and a "ground"anyway
they both come off the ground bus at the breaker box but go
to diff term at the recpt but are still both grounds.

Any info you can share with me will help by understanding.

Thanks, Charlie Johns Island, SC
Old 10-27-03, 01:26 PM
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What he is doing is not safe.

The white wire is called a neutral, or return. The electricity used by the appliance is returned to the source via the white wire. The white wire is a current carrying conductor.

The ground wire is a non-current carrying conductor. It is used to ground the metal cases of certain three conductor devices (tools, power supplies, etc.) to prevent electrocution if someone is touching the metal and a short occurs.. It is also used as a reference for power supplies.

When you incorrectly connect the ground screw of an outlet 9or the ground wire of a ficture) to the return, you have just placed current on any three prong devices plugged into the outlet. Someone touching the case could receive a death inducing elctric shock.

This is very dangerous, and stupid.

Your only solution is to either use GFCI outlets (which provide no ground, but do protect against shocks), or replace the wiring to the outlet.

My own church has simply run new outlets to the places where they need them. This is the best solution, as the existing wiring cannot really handle the numerous electric devices anyway.
Old 10-27-03, 01:40 PM
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I agree with Bob. What was done at your church has significantly increased the danger of electrocution. I'm sure the person who did this was well-meaning and unaware of the hazard he was creating.

You must think of the safety of the children. How bad would you feel if something were to happen? Please correct this hazard as soon as possible.
Old 10-27-03, 01:51 PM
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Thanks Bob,that answers my questions and is about what I
suspected with the neutral used as ground.

I hope the city elec. code inspector is doing his job.

When I closed in my double garage to make a family room
recpt and things were added.

One afternoon I came home and found an insp form stuck
in the door which was looked.

" I could see throught the windows that it was OK" was
written on the form and signed off. The covers were on all the switches and recpt etc. so I guess he had x-ray vision.


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