grounding outlets

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Old 12-06-04, 11:32 AM
drg259
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Question grounding outlets

We just bought an older home. The outlets are 2 prong. We want to replace these with 3 prong but want to make sure that we ground the new plug. If there is no ground wire in the existing wiring, how can we ground the plugs before we can rewire our house. We do plan to re-wire but financially cannot afford to do so just yet. WE are looking for a quick, short-term fix.

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Old 12-06-04, 11:44 AM
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Grounding is more important in some places than others. You'll probably notice that most of your lamps, your toaster, your television, your radios, etc. only have two prongs on the plug. Grounding won't do anything for those. But other things, such as your computer, your stereo, your refrigerator, etc. have three prong plugs. Most of the time people want grounding, it's for their computer.

If the box is metal, there's a chance that it is already grounded via metalic conduit. A voltmeter can be used as a first-pass test (it's not completely conclusive). Simply test for voltage between the black wire and the metal box. If the box is grounded, you can install "self-grounding" receptacles.

If the box is not metal, or is metal but not grounded, then I suggest you install a new circuit breaker and wire a brand new circuit with brand new cable between the panel and where you want grounded receptacles.

If you don't really need grounding, but simply want 3-prong receptacles (e.g., for your vacuum cleaner), then code allows you to install a GFCI receptacle on the circuit.

Post back with more of your motivation for wanting this change.
 
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Old 12-06-04, 11:58 AM
drg259
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grounding

Our boxes are metal but they are not grounded, my husband checked that. I am interested in getting the receptacles grounded for the computer and TV and electronic appliances.

What is the best way now? I do not want to run new wiring just yet, but need to have computer access. How do I fix the problem now?

Thanks for your help.

Donna
 
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Old 12-06-04, 12:07 PM
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Does the plug on your TV have a grounding pin? Most do not.

Until you can run the new circuit, I suggest you put a GFCI at the spot where you plug in your computer. You won't have much surge protection and the GFCI might shut off your computer without warning occasionally, so you'll be taking a risk with your computer, but the risk is not high (unless you live in an area with frequent electrical storms or poor electrical service). To provide some protection, look for a "mode 1" surge suppressor (not the more common "mode 2" surge suppressor).

Life is full of compromises. Living with modern stuff in old houses often involves a higher level of compromise.
 
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Old 12-06-04, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by drg259
Our boxes are metal but they are not grounded, my husband checked that. I am interested in getting the receptacles grounded for the computer and TV and electronic appliances.

What is the best way now? I do not want to run new wiring just yet, but need to have computer access. How do I fix the problem now?

Thanks for your help.

Donna
If you must have grounded then you must run new wire. There is no way around that. The GFCI solution provided will allow 3 prong receptacles to be installed legally but they will not really be grounded.
 
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