grounding and not getting fried

Old 01-30-04, 01:06 PM
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grounding and not getting fried

I could really use some help installing track lighting in my home...House was built in the fifties and doesn't have a ground wire. It has two wires; both are white up to a certain point, then wrapped in electricians tape. Apparently the electricians tape is connecting two wires together, b/c after the wrap, one wire stays white and the other one is black....
The track lighting on the other hand has one white, one black, and one green wire for ground.
Here's my questions:
1.) Can I just let the green/ground wire dangle freely without attaching it to anything?
2.) For attaching the wires, the track lighting kit included some of those little plastic orange thingies which I believe are called nut bolts.
First off, they only provided two nut bolts, so am I supposed to partner neutral with ground ( both from the track lighting) and then connect that to the neutral wire coming out of my ceiling?

Secondly, the nut bolts they provided seem too skinny to stuff a single wire into, much less one joined with a wire from my ceiling. Is there some sort of trick to this? Or when you twist them together do they compact in diameter?

3.) Finally, when drilling screws into my ceiling to support the track, how do I make sure not to drill into some electric wires or gas lines or whatever else might be running up there? Is there an easy way to tell, or should that not even be a concern?

4.) Along those lines, if I completely shut off the power coming into the house (as opposed to just one fuse) is there any danger of getting shocked? I know that may sound stupid, but I don't know if old wires (or new ones for that matter) can sometimes store electricity even if it's not actively flowing...

I really appreciate your help, as electricity is something that I've always been scared to mess with. Hence, I know next to nothing about it, but am determined to at least know how to install a light!

oh, p.s.
One last question: when people say wires are covered in "cloth" do they mean that thin plastic/rubber tubing that you can cut and strip off most wiring?
Old 01-30-04, 01:55 PM
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simplified version!

Maybe only need the answer to a single question: how do I attach the ground wire to the box?

I've been searching for answers since I posted this question a little while ago, and finally came upon the following advice, which, although dealing with a ceiling fan and not track lighting, seems applicable:

"If your house has modern wiring there should be a bare copper wire in the box or perhaps several twisted together and finally if the box is a metal box connected to a ground screw on the box.
If there are no ground wires in your box, and this is possible if your house was wired before that became the code, there won't be a ground wire in the box. If the rest of your house has not been upgraded, you can tell this is your case if your outlets do not have that third hole centered above or below the two slots. In that case, you probably do have a metal box and can attach the ground wire to the box. (The box may or may not be grounded, but this is the best you can do for your circumstances)"

Okay, assuming this information is correction (from Handyman I guess all I need to know is how do I attach the ground to the box?
Old 01-30-04, 03:11 PM
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You need a green grounding screw or green grounding clip to attach your ground wire to the box. If you wanted to verify whether or not the box is actually grounded, you could carefully, with the power on, test for voltage between the black wire and metal box. If there is about 120 volts between the hot wire and the box, you can assume the box is grounded. If your home's wiring method is non-metallic cable, and you don't have a bare or green wire in any of your boxes you can assume it will not be grounded.

Now if your home's wiring method is armored cable or conduit, then your boxes may be grounded and adding your green grounding jumper between the box and the light fixture may effectively ground your fixture.
Old 01-31-04, 04:29 AM
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not nuts

Thanks for the reply...I aint doing any sort of activity that requires me to monkey around testing electricity, so i'll just skip that part and go straight to grounding to the box. I'm 99.9% sure we don't have ground anyway...

One more quick question though: what exactly is a "green grounding screw" and "green grounding clip"???

And I guess that means I cant just cap it off and tuck it somewhere?

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