Ungrounded Circuits


Old 04-04-05, 08:13 AM
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Ungrounded Circuits

I am converting attic space to living space in an 1940 home. To accomodate this renovation I will have to reroute some first floor 2-wire circuits and move or install junction boxes before I put down flooring. Some of these 2-wire circuits have already been extended over the years. I have read several times in this forum that one should not extend ungrounded circuits.

1. Is extending an ungrounded circuit a code violation or is it just bad practice by creating more ungrounded circuit?

2. What would be wrong in extending an ungrounded circuit to an outlet and ground the new outlet by running a green ground wire to a water pipe?

3. Is it OK to ground individual outlets in an ungrounded circuit?
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Old 04-04-05, 09:51 AM
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Running a ground wire to a water pipe isnt going to make the whole electrical installation safe, the idea of a grounding system is to make all metal work etc.. raise to the same potential though the house this mean that if there is a fault on an applicance touching the metal pipe work hopefully wont give you a fatal shock as it will be at the same potential as the fault.

You will need an earthing spike connected to your installation for you main grounding, but this will need to adhere to regualtions as the spike needs to be driven a good amount under the ground.

You CANNOT earth systems just by connecting green wire to metal work!!!.
Old 04-04-05, 10:57 AM
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Hopefully this isn't in your plan; you are not allowed to install flooring over junction boxes. The boxes must remain permanently accessible.

There was a lot of discussion recently regarding extending ungrounded circuits. It seems that the conclusion was it can be done in a code legal way, but there were many provisions and technicallities to consider. Most however, consider it to be bad practice for a number of reasons.

No, grounding an outlet to a water pipe is wrong and creates a very unsafe situation. If an appliance was to have a ground fault to that pipe it could reasonably kill the next person to touch a faucet anywhere in the house. Pipes are not part of the grounding system, they are bonded to it.

It is okay to ground individual outlets provided that the grounding is properly connected to the grounding system at the panel box. Usually this means that if you are running ground wire back to the panel box, you might just as well run a whole new circuit and forget about extending old wiring altogether.
Old 04-04-05, 11:09 AM
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It is extremely dangerous to connect a receptacle to a water pipe, or to anything else except a proper ground. Do not do this, unless you have a death wish for yourself or anyone who comes into your house.

Run new circuits. It is the most appropriate solution.

Do not cover any junction boxes. They MUST remain permanently accessible.
Old 04-04-05, 11:21 AM
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How much difficulty will it be to run new circuits, with grounding, to the panelboard.
Old 04-04-05, 11:57 AM
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I would run new 3-wire/romex to the new receptacles in the attic area. That way you don't overload an existing circuit. I know you don't want to tear down walls to run new wire, and you don't have to. You can run wire from the attic, down to the ceiling of the room below. Then run the wire in the upper corner of that existing room, and cover it with crown molding or a raceway designed just for wiring. (Crown molding usually has a space behind it.)
Old 04-04-05, 02:33 PM
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Thanks for all the warnings about grounding to water pipes.

Sorry I wasn't clear about the junction boxes. I am not going to bury junction boxes under the floor. I need to clear the future floored area of junction boxes. One of my biggest tasks in this project is to relocate existing junction boxes or rewire with more new junction boxes so that they will be accessable and servicable after the floor is down.

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