No grounded outlets in apartment

Old 10-16-04, 10:07 PM
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Question No grounded outlets in apartment

Hello, Iím hoping someone can help me with this. Hereís the situation: I just moved into an apartment that has no grounded outlets, they are all two prong. I have a computer on a surge protected that I want(need) to have grounded. I know most other people in the building are using the two to three prong cheating adapters, which I understand is not good, or safe. Iím on the ground floor, and the outlet I want to use is opposite the outside. I can easily enough run a wire through the wall to the outside. The only solution I can think of would be to use one of the two to three prong adapters, and then drive a grounding rod into the earth outside and run a copper wire to the ring on the bottom of the adapter. Is this safe, and does anyone know what I would need and where I would get the supplies to do this? Also any other info on this procedure would be much appreciated. Thanks.
Old 10-17-04, 04:34 AM
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To be honest you cannot do any electrical work in an apartment you are renting. There are serious liability and legal issues here.
Tell the landlord this is 2004 and you need 3-prong receptacles. It amazes me how any landlord can not make this upgrade considering today's electrical requirements.

If you would still consider doing it regardless, then no, your idea is not appropriate and not safe. A ground rod should never be separate and isolated from the electrical system. It also will serve very little purpose if not bonded to the house's groundign system. The earth is a very poor conductor.
Old 10-17-04, 06:17 AM
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I would go one step further than what Speedy Petey is saying.

The 'earth' is not some magical place of zero voltage. The earth is a (poor but _large_) conductor of electricity, with current flowing through it all the time.

When you have two _separate_ ground electrodes, there will almost invariably be a voltage between them, and if you have a nearby lightning strike, that voltage can be sufficient to damage equipment and insulation.

This is why the electrical code _requires_ that all ground electrodes for a structure be connected together by rather thick conductors to form a 'grounding electrode system'. Separate ground electrodes are likely to do more harm than good.

The electrical system that you are using is most certainly grounded. This means that the neutral of the system is electrically connected to earth via a grounding electrode. This provides what is known as 'ground reference', and means that if you do what you propose, then your computer would be connected to _two_ well separated grounding electrodes.

If you do what you propose, than any _nearby_ lightning strike that causes earth currents would probably damage your equipment. A small fraction of the enormous lightning current would flow _in_ through this additional electrode that you supply, and then through your equipment, out through the power supply terminals, and out through the electrical system ground rod.

I hope that I've convinced you _not_ to do this.

What you _should_ do is check to see if your receptacles are grounded. They clearly are not three prong grounding receptacles, because they only have two holes. But in many such receptacles, the box that the receptacle is in, and the center screw of the receptacle _is_ grounded.

Go out and buy a neon electrical tester. This is a little light in a handle with two insulated probes. You can use this to test your receptacles. You push the probes into the slots of the receptacle, and if the receptacle is live, then the tester will light up. Since these are not standard plug blades, sometimes you have to probe around for the contacts in the slots; practice this a couple of time so that you know when you are making good contact.

To check to see if your receptacle is grounded, push one probe of the tester against the center screw that holds the faceplate on. If there is any paint on the screw, then scrape it off and make sure that the probe contacts bare metal. Put the other probe into the smaller slot of the receptacle. If the lamp lights up, then you have a good receptacle ground. If it doesn't, then try probing the other (larger) slot. If the lamp lights up here, then you have a good receptacle ground, but a reverse polarity receptacle. If it doesn't light up at all, then you probably don't have a receptacle ground.

If you do have a good receptacle ground and the polarity is correct, then you can use the two to three adapter. Just make sure that the adapter is screwed down with the little metal tab.

Also note that you can only do this with one of the receptacles on the duplex receptacle. Only one of them will allow you to plug in the adapter with correct polarity and reach the screw hole.

Old 10-17-04, 05:14 PM
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The less expensive surge suppressors require a grounding connection to provide protection. The more expensive surge suppressors do not. Spend a few more bucks to get the protection you desire. Look for a Grade A, Class 1, Mode 1 suppressor that meets UL 1449.

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