retired electrcian converts two prong to three prong

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  #1  
Old 07-16-04, 03:18 PM
P Sully
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retired electrcian converts two prong to three prong

We had a retired electrician visit us and he helped us convert several wall outlets (2 prong) that we were using 2 prong adapters on previously over to the three prong recepticles. When installing the new recepticles he ran a "ground wire" from the white side neutral to the green ground wire screw.
I asked him if the outlets were grounded and he said let's try the ground testerso i plugged it in and the tester indicated all of the converted recepticles were grounded.

Is this an accepticle covnersion? Our small town has no electrical code.
 
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  #2  
Old 07-16-04, 03:23 PM
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This is NOT an acceptable conversion, violates code, and represents a serious electrocution hazard.

In addition this retired electrician has given a bad name to electricians everywhere. He has also take an extreme liability risk in doing this work.

Immediately undo what he did, and instead install a GFCI outlet.

In the future I recommend not using this person's services again.
 
  #3  
Old 07-16-04, 05:12 PM
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Absolutely not a safe installation.

I also agree to remove the wire from the neutral to ground at the recept. Replace each with a GFCI recept or at least the first recept in that circuit wired to protect the remainder downstream.
 
  #4  
Old 07-16-04, 06:09 PM
Rlfrazee
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Very breifly you dont have an equipment ground wire thus two prong receptacles.This person has connected the grounded conductor (aka neutral or white wire) to the equipment ground screw of the three prong receptacles. The white wire is a current carrying wire. He has given the current returning to the utility transformer on the white wire a alternate path with this "jumper wire". When you plug your harmless three prong appliance cords into these coverted outlets the current now has a path via the jumper wire to the green screw to the "D" prong of these receptacles right up the ground wire of the cord where it is terminated on the frame of the appliance, thus energizing the metal case of the appliance. Under the right conditions you could easily recieve a fatal shock when touching the appliance that was totally safe before this bad idea was installed. As for the tester showing a ground being present it is being fooled because this jumper wire has been connected to the white wire which ends up in the same place that the equipment ground wire would if you had one. A wire is a wire the tester doesnt know the differences. Do as Handy Ron and Racraft have said. Might not be a bad idea to let this person who did this know so he doesnt do it again.....RL

If you would like to know how to have a safe installation for your situation post back and the forum will gladly guide you through the procedure. It is very inexpensive for the safety benefits it provides.
 

Last edited by Rlfrazee; 07-16-04 at 06:20 PM.
  #5  
Old 07-16-04, 06:28 PM
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Did this guy retire, or just have his license yanked?
 
  #6  
Old 07-16-04, 08:19 PM
P Sully
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procedure to undo ground/neutral wire & install GFCI

Thanks to Rlfrazee,racraft and Handy Ron for your prompt response. I would appreciate reading a step by step procedure to hook up the GFIC outlet to each outlet.
Thanks
P Sully
 
  #7  
Old 07-16-04, 10:42 PM
Rlfrazee
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Okay, first let me give you the proper code compliant options that the NEC provides. 1.) You can put the two prong outlets back in (not really what you want). 2.) You can replace each ungrounded 2 prong receptacle with a ground fault circuit interupter (GFCI) labeled "no equipment ground" (these labels are provided inside the box in most cases when you purchase the gfci). 3.) You can install a gfci "first in circuit" and use it to protect regular three prong grounded receptacles downstream from it. These regular receptacles being labeled "gfci protected" and "no equipment ground". 4.) Install a gfci circuit breaker in the main panel protecting everything on its circuit (might not be able to do this i.e. fuse panel or older panel) following the label procedure in 3 above. 5.) You can run an equipment ground wire for the circuit/circuits connecting grounded receptacles to it. ( Not easy to do in many cases)
Probably 2 or 3 are your best bets. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Number 2 is the most expensive as each gfci is around 15 bucks. This method does however allow you to wire protection to each individual outlet, so if one gfci trips it will not kill the entire circuit only itself. This is done by connecting pigtails (short pieces of wire joined to the existing wires with wire nuts) then connecting the pigtails to the appropriate "line side" terminals of the gfci receptacle. You will not use the "load" terminals in this installation.
Number 3 is probably the way to go for you since you have already purchased 3 prong grounded outlets. You will need one gfci receptacle for each branch circuit you plan to convert. You need to find the first receptacle in the circuit down stream from the main panel. This will take a little trial and error. Turn off the circuit you are working on and determine what receptacles have lost power. Then find the closest receptacle on this circuit to the panel. Hopefully this will be the first in the circuit but be prepared that it might not be. Disconnect and seperate all the wires in the receptacle box laying the receptacle aside. Determine what wires are the ones bringing power to the receptacle by turning the circuit on and testing with a simple volt meter. Do not let any bare wires touch each other.Turn the power off and reinstall the receptacle connecting only the hot wires to the correct terminals. Restore power, if this is the only receptacle that regains power then it will be the one you will install the gfci. If not reinstall the receptacle and move to the next repeating the procedure. Pay attention and note how all wires are connected in every electrical box and always test wiring before touching. Once you find the first receptacle replace it with a gfci. Wire the incoming power wires to the "line" terminals of the gfci (they will be marked) Making sure the black wire is on the brass screw and the white on the silver screw. All other receptacles that you install after this will be regular three prong grounded receptacles. Connect the cable going to the next receptacle to the "load" terminal screws of the gfci. You will have to remove a piece of tape covering these terminals. Everything that is downstream from this gfci is now protected as they are on the gfci's load side. Restore power and push the test button on the gfci. If installation is correct the gfci will trip and deenergize itself and all downstream receptacles. Push the reset button to restore power to the gfci and other receptacles. Label the receptacles. Repeat the procedure on the next branch circuit. The compromise with this method being that you will lose the entire circuit if the gfci trips which may include some lights on the circuit.
I cannot anticipate everything you may run into such as switched receptacles and the like so you will have to post back with any questions if need be. Someone on the forum will assist you. GL and let the forum know how your project comes out.......RL
 

Last edited by Rlfrazee; 07-16-04 at 10:52 PM.
  #8  
Old 07-17-04, 07:05 AM
Yankee112916
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Thats a Nono

This procedure is not acceptable,an also very dangerous,this is called a bootleg ground,a big no no,most do it yourselfers think that just because ,u place the neutral an grds on the same bar in the panel,main panel only,they are the same,they are not,the neutral, carries currentback to the power company,the car
ries current to
ground in the event of a ground fault or short. Hope this helps ,Yankee electrican
 
  #9  
Old 07-26-04, 05:56 PM
P Sully
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2 prong conversion

7-26-04

Thanks Yankee 112916 for a simple explanation and especially Rlfrazee for a detailed list of options to correct my problem.I think it's best if I bring in a licensed electrician and with him decide if choice #2 or #3 are the best options.I also liked #4 but as you said it may not be feasible.

P Sully
 
  #10  
Old 07-27-04, 07:42 AM
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One other thought: There may be a proper ground path in place that can be connected to the outlets. Is there a ground wire in the cable that's connected to the metal outlet boxes or cut off and laying in the box? Is the wiring run in metal conduit? Just worth checking.

Doug M.

PS.
Please print this thread off and give it to the retired electrician that stayed with you. Don't be too hard on him, things may have changed a lot since he last worked. We'll all be there some day...
 
  #11  
Old 07-27-04, 02:56 PM
Rlfrazee
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You are wise to call in an electrician he will see things you dont and you will get a professional job that he will stand behind in case of a call back. Glad the forum could help......RL
 
  #12  
Old 07-27-04, 07:46 PM
CSelectric
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Originally Posted by Rlfrazee
You are wise to call in an electrician he will see things you dont and you will get a professional job that he will stand behind in case of a call back. Glad the forum could help......RL
Lets just hope the electrician he calls didn't serve his apprenticeship under the retired clown. Amazing a man of that calibre could make it to retirement without killing himself or someone else.
 
  #13  
Old 07-30-04, 01:48 PM
CrAzYhOrSe
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Uh oh ! I did this very same thing in my home years ago. I have a fuse panel too. When I did this, I had visited a tech school, electrical class and without even asking anyone about it, I assumed that since the white and green wires were connected to the same block, there should be no problem jumpering from the ground on the receptacle to the neutral. I now understand, if for some reason the neutral wire becomes disconnected, I may become the path for current to ground. What I dont understand is why it doesn't do that anyway when it is connected properly.
 

Last edited by CrAzYhOrSe; 07-30-04 at 02:07 PM.
  #14  
Old 07-30-04, 01:58 PM
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I assumed that since the white and green wires were connected to the same block, there should be no problem jumpering from the ground on the receptacle to the neutral
One of the most common misconceptions in all of wiring. It sounds so good too!

Without a bootleg ground, and without grounding, you can safely touch the chassis of that appliance because the chassis of that appliance is not connected to anything electrical. Once you put in the bootleg ground, however, the chassis is now connected to the open neutral (via the bootleg) and has 120 volts on it. Surprise! You're dead!

And if you read this forum for a while, you'll see that open neutral faults are not uncommon at all. They are the source of a significant percentage of all the problems reported here. This is what makes bootleg grounds so dangerous.
 
  #15  
Old 07-30-04, 02:16 PM
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Current takes the easiest path to ground. When you connect the neutral (return) to the ground, which is connected to the chassis of an appliance you might be touching, you provide a second return path. Most of the time, you won't notice, but if you touch the chassis and, for some reason (bad connection at panel...) provide a better ground source than the panel you get a shock and, under the right conditions, die early. Are you still in the same home?

Doug M.
 
  #16  
Old 07-30-04, 02:44 PM
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Doug, we're discussing bootleg grounds here (I think). I'm afraid your discussion of parallel paths might confuse the issue. There's no parallel path in a bootleg ground.

Of course, what you brought up is bad too, but for different reasons.
 
  #17  
Old 07-30-04, 03:15 PM
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I Thought I was talking about a bootleg ground too, but looking at my reply, I'm not sure I can follow my discussion either. I know what I mean... Late in the day and late in the week. I'm surprised I'm still typing legible English. Actually, if I had seen your reply, I wouldn't have replied at all... Sorry for the confusion.

Doug M.
 
  #18  
Old 07-30-04, 09:30 PM
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CrAzYhOrSe mentioned a case of parallel path. Once you have a parallel path, then the ground can have the same voltage as the neutral, and the hazard is like that of a bootleg ground. Separate grounding is not perfect protection since in a fault condition, even the ground wire is a hazard. And in an open neutral condition, the neutral bonding to ground can backfeed the ground wire to multiple parallel paths to ground. Fortunately a human makes a poor path to ground, so as long as you ensure there is a solid path to ground, most of the current goes that way. The better your grounding electrode system, the less current will go to through a human in certain problematic conditions (fault to ground and open neutral).

But the system is adequately safe. If you want to be safer, stay away from electricity, cars, etc.
 
  #19  
Old 08-03-04, 02:13 PM
CrAzYhOrSe
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I am still living in the house. I think the best way for me is option #2 as stated by Rlfrazee. And I know that you cant put a price on life, but what if I took the jumper off the neutral all together and left the ground disconnected ? Would this be the lesser of the two evil's ? I'm thinking it's pretty much the same thing. Neither is a good idea. $15 a pop for each gfci seem's kinda steep, to me.
 
  #20  
Old 08-03-04, 02:26 PM
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Do not leave three prong recepticle outlets installed unless you either provide GFCI protection for them or provide a proper ground.

You can buy two prong recepticles and install them, you can buy GFCI recepticles and install them and configure them to provide downstream protection, or you can have the recepticles properly grounded.

But please, do not simply remove the bootleg grounds and leave the three prong recepticles installed.
 
  #21  
Old 08-04-04, 07:46 AM
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Believe it or not I've seen instances in which the whole house was run in EMT and BX (no separate ground wire required in most instances), and the bright owners decided to bond the ground screw to the neutral screw to the metal box in every outlet. They felt this provided a more secure connection in case one of the neutral wires failed. As far as I know this is still the way the installation is, the owner didn't want anything changed (or downgraded as he called it )
 
  #22  
Old 08-04-04, 10:02 AM
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...then he's a fool and will either enjoy watching his house burn down from where he's sitting on the curb, or loosing his life or the life of a loved one by turning on the washing machine.

It never ceases to amaze me what people try to get away with when they decide to "improve" their home wiring. When I rewired my house it was mostly knob and tube, but several years of home ownership by different parties introduced 12 awg wiring from radio shack (off the spool - unshielded), taped-together connections buried in drywall plaster, 14/2 wiring on 20 amp circuits, and the most popular "modification": two separate hot 20 amp circuits providing power to one 110 v bathroom fan through a junction box buried in a basement wall using the old knob and tubing wireing (~14 awg)...luckily it was on the same side of the panel. Otherwise the flimsy 14 awg knob and tube would have melted somewhere in a wall under a 220v load probably AFTER the bath fan blew up.

Talk about peace of mind. My entire house is rewired with brand new romex, new receptacles, and a brand new 200 amp box with plenty of space in it. Everything is grounded, and I have more than enough space on every circuit to add more lights and plugs.

Happiness, and it's worth every penny.
 
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