Questions about grounding a quad/double outlet.

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  #1  
Old 05-07-05, 12:37 PM
Smithdogg1
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Questions about grounding a quad/double outlet.

Hello,

Over the past winter I successfully grounded all but one outlet in my room. This remaining outlet is a quad, in other words two separate outlets in one receptacle, see the picture below. In addition the outlet on the left is wired into a wall switch. Now I am really only concerned with getting the right outlet grounded, as I never use the switched one on the left, but the right needs to be grounded for my computerís UPS when I bring it home from college this summer. From what I can see there are a total of 5 romex wires going in/out of the receptacle, two going into the outlet on the left, two coming out of the outlet on the left and then one going into the outlet on the right. The outlet seems to be wired very odd, the outlet on the right is normal, two white wires on the right side and two black wires on the left side. But the left outlet has only white wires going into it, two on the left side and one on the right side, there is also a wire nut in the box which must be joining some wires together. I am assuming it is wired odd due to the fact it is a quad and that the left outlet is switched. I really am not sure how to go about grounding this thing, I can see a total of three loose copper ground wires in the box that are not connected to anything, just wrapped around three of the romex wires in there. Is it possible to safely replace and ground just the right outlet and leave the left one alone? Or should I just replace/ground both while I am at it? I tried to explain this as clearly as possible but I understand this is something that is hard to discuss over the internet, but I know there are some electrical people on here who can hopefully offer some advice, as I would rather not call and electrician for one damn outlet. If you need me to clarify something or get a picture of something specific I can, Thanks.

 
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  #2  
Old 05-07-05, 12:54 PM
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Smithdogg1,

Yes, it is VERY hard sometimes to picture in our mind what someone is picturing in their mind. Always remember to turn off the power to the recept. when you are working on it just in case in the grounding process you become all thumbs.....not something you want to happen...

Ok, I will assume you are clear on grounding in that you say you have done with with all the other recepts in the room and you have stated that ground wires are present in the box itself......not sure why it is not already grounded in this case since obviously the wires being run did have a EGC inside them from your statement.

OK we do need a bit more info.....you state their are (5) romax wires running both into and out ( total 5 ) of the box....which should give you (5) bare wires if the system is totally grounded....if you only see (3) then it looks like someone added something at a later date....anyway...back to the outlets...

Are you familiar with using a volt meter....you need to check to see if those bare wires you are speaking of are actually ground terminated and thus useful.....If you do you should be able to use a volt meter and get a reading from the hot wire ( black in most cases ) to one of the ground bare wires..if you read 120 Nominal voltage then you can assume it is a connected ground...

More info is needed....since you say their are 5 romax cables going into the box and out for again a total of 5 romax cables...you should have more than 3 bare wires into the box....

Check that box again...give us some feedback and again see if you can see which ones coming into the box do not have a ground and which ones look newer......and post back.....again do this with the POWER off when not testing the voltage and most important of all...BECAREFUL..

I am sure many of the other great forum members will chime in to assist you as well.....

P.S> It is also important to know IF you system is groundable in nature...what type boxes are in the wall...are they like the picture, is their BX or old style fabric romax run to them or new modern romax as you stated it was romax in the box...all that info is helpful....also how did you ground your other boxes.....might also be helpful to know....
 
  #3  
Old 05-07-05, 01:13 PM
Smithdogg1
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Hi ElectricalMan,

Thank you for the reply. I see what you are saying about how there should be 5 bare ground wires in the box, I am thinking that there are only three because one (possibly two) of the wires going in/out of the box are for the switch that the left outlet is hooked into, and for whatever reason from what I can see the peace of romex going into the switch is lacking a ground wire. But here is what I will do, later when my brother is not home I can shut off the breaker without him complaining and I will pull the outlets out so I can see exactly what is going on back there, who knows maybe there are actually 5 bare ground wires, I will also take a picture of what I find and post it here. And about testing the bare wires to make sure they are in fact grounded. Well I donít have a voltage tester, but I do have an outlet tester and the two other outlets in my room that I grounded over the winter read as properly wired. Also a while back an electrician did actually ground one of the outlets in my room, so I am assuming he checked to make sure the wire was indeed grounded back to the box. So I can only assume that if the rest of the bare wires in my room (and in the other two rooms on the second floor as well) indeed go to a ground, then the ones in this receptacle do the same. Again I will post back later when I know exactly what is going on in there and I will have a picture as well.
 
  #4  
Old 05-07-05, 01:36 PM
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Smithdogg1,

Yeppers, a low cost volt meter is a great thing to have just in these types of situation and to help check a circuit when working on it JUST in case that brother gets a little tempted to turn on a circuit while you are working on it..I know I have a brother also...yes he is an electrician too but you never know...

I for the life of me would not be sure why if the person running the circuit has ground wires available to them that they would not ground it but again you never know....even switches are grounded but back in the day i like to call it, it was VERY lax on grounding lighting ( switches ) versus recepts....so they could have cut them off.....hope not but you never know...

Anyway to answer your question....the bare wires coming in should be connected to the box either with one of them wrapped around a ground screw or to a pigtail that is connected to one...if it is a metal box of course...as the one in your picture you posted.

But long story short....it will not hurt if they are bare to run (2) pigtails out of the grouping of grounds...all in one wire nut and ground both recepts....I would not leave one grounded and one not......since you have the ability to ground them......
 
  #5  
Old 05-07-05, 01:45 PM
Smithdogg1
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Originally Posted by ElectricalMan
But long story short....it will not hurt if they are bare to run (2) pigtails out of the grouping of grounds...all in one wire nut and ground both recepts....I would not leave one grounded and one not......since you have the ability to ground them......
So basically I just need to join all three ground wires from the box together with a wire nut, leaving enough slack on two of them so I can hook them up to the outlets grounding screws? Alternatively I suppose I could get two short copper wires, attach one to each of the outlets grounding screws, twist them together and then join those two wires along with the three (or however many there are) ground wires from the box all inside a big wire nut? Does this sound right?
 
  #6  
Old 05-07-05, 02:32 PM
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Yes, that is right...do not wrap the grounds around the green screw on the recepts......do it as you said from making pigtails with (2) 6" pieces of scrap bare wire as you stated.....

Also you left out making sure one of those grounds is wrapped around a green ground screw in the BACK of the metal box you are dealing with....if it is indeed metal...

The comments in the last post were on the green ground screw that needs to be added to the back of the metal box...not the ones on the recepts....you are correct in that it is best to do it adding the wires to the recepts and combining them all under one wire nut......these wires are refered to as pigtails.....
 
  #7  
Old 05-07-05, 04:02 PM
Smithdogg1
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Ok sounds good.

Originally Posted by ElectricalMan
Also you left out making sure one of those grounds is wrapped around a green ground screw in the BACK of the metal box you are dealing with....if it is indeed metal...
This has me a bit worried, because I did not do this when I grounded the other two outlets, yet they still test as being property wired/grounded. Is this necessary for a proper ground? Or just an added measure? If it is necessary I suppose I will need to redo the other two outlets, adding in a wire that goes to a ground screw on the box. But for the purpose of this outlet I should just add in another peace of new wire to the wire nut, then run it to a ground screw in the box right?
 
  #8  
Old 05-07-05, 04:12 PM
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Your tester can only check so much, and there are thousands of wiring mistakes the tester cannot detect. Bonding metal electrical boxes to the grounding wire is required by code. The code sets minimum safety standards. Terms like "proper ground" and "added measure" are imprecise terms, as are "safe" and "unsafe". Safety is a continuum. The code just draws a line on this continuum at what the code committee felt was a reasonable point.

And yes, you can just run a grounding wire from the box to the wire nut containing the grounding wires. Your home center sells packages of grounding pigtails specifically for this purpose. It's easy to do.
 
  #9  
Old 05-07-05, 07:47 PM
Smithdogg1
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Well I attempted to tackle grounding the double outlet a little while ago, and sadly I must admit defeat. When I pulled the outlets out there was a much bigger mess than I thought and there is not much room in there, I donít even know if another wire nut will fit back there. Trying to unwrap the ground wires from the romex with all those wires in the way is a major pain. I put a few pictures of it below. BTW there are 4 ground wires in there, the peace of wire that is lacking the ground is the one that goes to the switch, like I suspected. I may try to tackle it again if I get motivated but I think I may have to leave this for an electrical.

http://memimage.cardomain.net/member...98_97_full.jpg

http://memimage.cardomain.net/member...98_98_full.jpg


But I donít have all bad news; I did fix one of the outlets that I had previously grounded. I used a 6Ē peace of copper wire to run from the ground screw on the back of the box to the wire nut, and then inside the wire nut that wire meets the ground wire from the romex along with another small peace of copper wire that goes to the ground screw on the outlet. I put a picture of this below also, hope I did it 100% correct this time, let me know I am going to fix the other outlet very soon as well. Anyway I really appreciate the advice thus far and I have already learned a lot from this forum.


http://memimage.cardomain.net/member...98_99_full.jpg
 
  #10  
Old 05-08-05, 07:51 AM
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Smithdogg1,

You know sometimes the BEST learning experience is what you learn in the process. You have made a BOLD step that some people just dont do and that is knowing when something is possibly over their head and need to call in a professional. Sometimes it is just not something a person feels comfortable about doing and I commend you on your efforts and knowing your limitations.

Electricity can be dangerous and knowing when you are over your head is an important step in the learning process.

OK....I am going to give you something to think about as a last ditch thought......

now this is if you just cant get another joint in the box....if you can atleast ground the back of the box with the pigtails John refered to and make up those bare wires in a wirenut..if possible......include that pigtail in the wirenut if possible...to actually ground your box.....and get a selfgrounding receptable to replace the ones you have.....atleast you have some element of being grounded....

However I do suggest you contact a local electrician if you just do not feel comfortable about it....I am glad you were able to use the previous concepts to correctly ground other outlets in your room......atleast you learned something from the experience and I am sure you computer will thank you....

Yes those plug in testers are a bit lacking sometimes...we use a Ideal 65-155 tester/analysis unit when we do out testing in a house as it is more accurate but also more costly....in the $ 250.00 range for a unit.

Keep us updated on your project
 
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