Outlet installation

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  #1  
Old 07-14-05, 09:47 AM
fallonbi
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Outlet installation

I have never replaced outlets before - I am pretty much a novice in all things electrical.

Today I have put in 4 new outlets and feel pretty good about that.

But the last one I tried to put in is presenting problems.

I am using a plug/tester thing that tells you if the outlet is wired correctly. Before I started working on the outlet, the tester said it was fine.

I put the wires on the new outlet EXACTLY as they were on the old one, but when I turned the power back on the tester said it had an "open ground". (If I hit the black button on the tester, it says it is "hot on neutral with hot open").

I don't know what either of those things is, and I don't know how to get the tester to read correctly.

I tried the two wires in every possible combination on the outlet - the tester always says exactly the same thing.

I also tried to put a small piece of wire from the outlet ground screw to the outlet box in the wall thinking that might ground the thing - no luck.

Any suggestions?

Is "open ground" something to worry about? I don't want to plug anything in until this is correct.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Bill

ps I live in a very old apartment building with very old wiring. I have screw in fuses, and some of the wire (including on this outlet) is the kind with the woven insulation...
 
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  #2  
Old 07-14-05, 09:56 AM
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You are putting 3 prong grounding type receptacles on wiring with no ground wire. You cant do this by code do you want to know how to do this correctly? What you have done is unsafe.
 

Last edited by Roger; 07-14-05 at 02:14 PM.
  #3  
Old 07-14-05, 09:58 AM
fallonbi
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I would definitely LOVE to know how to make this right - I figured it was probably unsafe.

Thanks!!
 
  #4  
Old 07-14-05, 10:05 AM
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Before we get into that do the other outlets check ok or are they also giving no ground indication on tester?
 
  #5  
Old 07-14-05, 10:30 AM
fallonbi
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I just checked them all again. There were four that were fine when I did them this morning before I started this email and then the one I wrote the email.

Now things are different...

Two are still totally fine.

The other two that I thought were fine, are now not. They're side by side and are wired together. One of them is still fine, but the other now says it is "open neutral".

All of the outlets were originally 3 prong outlets, and I replaced them with three prong outlets.

All of them tested correct when I started, and when I changed each one, I put everything back exactly as I originally found it.
 
  #6  
Old 07-14-05, 10:34 AM
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Is there a bare copper wire in the boxes with the black and white wires?
 
  #7  
Old 07-14-05, 10:37 AM
fallonbi
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There are a few other outlets in the place that I was going to also change.

I've just gone around and tested them, some of them are testing fine, others are saying "open ground" or "open neutral".
 
  #8  
Old 07-14-05, 10:37 AM
fallonbi
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I have not seen any bare copper wires in any of the boxes I've opened up.
 
  #9  
Old 07-14-05, 10:41 AM
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Ok are these wires in sheathed cables (NM) ie a plastic or cloth looking covering around the wires or do the wires look like they come into the box from a metal tube looking conduit?
 
  #10  
Old 07-14-05, 10:44 AM
fallonbi
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They have had cloth looking insulation.

Although I changed some light switches a few days ago and some (but not all) of those had plastic covered wiring. (One of the light switches looked like it had the metal tube conduit feeding into the back of the switch box.)

To be honest though, I haven't pulled any of the boxes all the way out - I just figured I could switch the wires on the outlets and be done with it.
 
  #11  
Old 07-14-05, 10:50 AM
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It appears you have possibly a mix of older wiring and newer wiring. However the four receptacles you replaced have no ground if no bare copper wires are present and they have a cloth sheath around them. Are these four receptacles all on the same circuit?
 

Last edited by Roger; 07-14-05 at 02:15 PM.
  #12  
Old 07-14-05, 10:51 AM
fallonbi
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They're not on the same circuit. The fuses control a mish-mash of stuff - some control just outlets, some control just lights, some control a combination of both.
 
  #13  
Old 07-14-05, 11:08 AM
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Ok read this link.... http://www.codecheck.com/250_50_commentary.html#2prong

Then determine what circuits do not have ground (no bare copper wire in the box), or have a ground (bare copper wire in the box). If someone has put alot of these 3 prong grounding type receptacles on wiring with no ground you need to fix it. This will take some time I know, but is necessary. GFCI protection (not too expensive once we get things sorted out) may be your best option. You will need to turn the breakers off or pull the fuses one at a time and map what is on that circuit. Keep a record of it when your done. The link will guide you thru how to check your outlets. If you get confused post back. I'll try to follow your posts best I can.
 

Last edited by Roger; 07-14-05 at 02:21 PM.
  #14  
Old 07-14-05, 11:16 AM
fallonbi
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Roger, you're the best!

I'll check out the link and start mapping out the circuits. I'll have to log off of here for a while since the computer outlet will be turned off and on during that process.

I'll be back within an hour to update (by say 3:30 Eastern).

Thanks very much!

Bill
 
  #15  
Old 07-14-05, 11:17 AM
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oh....also wanted to ask if any of the outlets are turned on from a wall switch? If so try to remember which ones, their likely will be a metal tab that will need to be removed from the new outlets. If you have an outlet that was switched then look at the outlets you replaced and on the brass screw side the one/ones that were switched will have a metal strip removed from between the two screws unless the switch turned both halves of the outlet on then the tab would not be removed. You will need to do the same thing (remove the tab) on the new outlets.

Remember this when you map the circuits if you come across an outlet that is hot on one half and dead on the other half ....the dead half is most likely switched from a wall swtich.

One more thing...sorry...it is very hard to remember everything too ask.

Are there already any gfci type outlets installed in place of a regular outlet on these circuits?? Should have asked this earlier

They look like this...
http://www.levitonproducts.com/Catalog/Model_8599-L.htm
 

Last edited by Roger; 07-14-05 at 07:25 PM.
  #16  
Old 07-14-05, 11:24 AM
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Roger, you're the best!


My wife would probably question this statement
 
  #17  
Old 07-14-05, 11:49 AM
fallonbi
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Wives don't always see us at our best though...!!

As for the switched outlets, I don't have any.

I also don't have any of the gfci outlets.

I just mapped everything out (it's a small apartment!). There's really no rhyme or reason to what's connected to what.

I'll make up a diagram that I could email to you if it'd be helpful to you. If this would be good, email me at [email protected] and I'll email you back with a diagram.

Thanks!
 
  #18  
Old 07-14-05, 12:10 PM
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Well....you have brought up an issue that needs to be resolved. If you are renting this apartment then you have a landlord. You must get approval from him before you can work on the wiring and you may not be able to do that legally. Maybe with luck he will pay the costs and have someone come and do this for you. I cannot advise you to do work of any kind on an apartment, you will have to meet with your landlord on the issue of your wiring not having a ground wire.

I know this aint what you wanted to hear but I believe the moderators of the forum will support what I have said.

Sorry I didnt realize this was an apartment...please post back with what you find out.
 

Last edited by Roger; 07-14-05 at 02:23 PM.
  #19  
Old 07-14-05, 12:23 PM
fallonbi
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We own the apartment - just moved in on June 30.

I'm able to work on anything inside the floorplan/walls within certain restrictions (ie: major renovations - especially including plumbing, rewiring, removal of walls, etc. - need to be submitted to the co-op board with architectural plans and liscenced contractors doing the work).

If there are substantial wiring problems (which there may well be), the board will want me to get a liscenced electrician to do the work. But if I can fix the problems myself by using the gfci outlets or some other simple solution, it isn't a problem.
 
  #20  
Old 07-14-05, 12:26 PM
fallonbi
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If you recommend that I do not attempt to deal with this myself, I will not proceed on my own.

As I said, I am a novice and I don't want to get myself into any kind of trouble - or endanger anyone!!
 
  #21  
Old 07-14-05, 12:50 PM
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We own the apartment - just moved in on June 30.
ok....you may want to get someone to verify that these outlets are installed with wiring with no ground wire but from what I can tell this appears to be three prong grounding type outlets put in by the wrong means.

Essentially you have the choices outlined on the link I gave you.

1.) You can replace with 2 prong outlets as existing (you dont want this)
2.) You can replace the with GFCI receptacles.
3.) You can protect the circuits with gfci breakers in the panel and install
grounding type three prong outlets. Labeling these outlets GFCI Protected no equipment ground (this is not an option unless you upgrade the panel to breakers)
4.) You can add a green insulated grounding wire to the circuit (but you you
might as well run new wirng if you do this)

Rewiring is the best of course but is also the most expensive.

#2 is probably your best choice. The most economical way to do this is find the first receptacle on the circuit from the main panel (first in the circuit) install a gfci in that box then wire off its load teriminals to regular 3 prong outlets downstream from it. They will be protected by this one gfci. Then label the outlets as stated in#3 above.

Remember this does not make the the circuit have a ground but gives you protection from shock and is code compliant.

Try to put your computers on circuits that have a ground wire if you have them if not consider adding a new modern circuit for you computers. Surge protectors will normally not work on circuits with no ground.

When you complete this project and if you use #2, when you finish you want to push the test button on the gfci and make sure the gfci and the other outlets go dead..(check by plugging in a radio or light and see if they work...they should not) then push the reset button on the gfci and power should be restored. If an outlet doesnt go dead after pushing the test button then it wasnt downstream from the gfci like you thought and you will have to recheck if it is on the same circuit or if it is ahead of the gfci in the circuit.

Remember the hot wire (black) goes on the brass colored screws and the neutral wire (white) goes on the silver colored screws on the receptacles.

Follow the directions on the gfci to the letter....in your case the wires bringing power into the box (use a tester to determine this) connect to the line terminals of the gfci, then remove the tape from the load terminals of the gfci and connect the wires that go to the downstream regular receptacles there.

Always be sure power is removed from the circuit except when testing for power

Labels as discussed above come enclosed with the new gfci.

Hope this helps......Good luck ....Post back with questions
 

Last edited by Roger; 07-15-05 at 10:13 AM.
  #22  
Old 07-14-05, 01:01 PM
fallonbi
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This has been incredibly helpful and a little disheartening - I didn't expect changing the outlets to be so problematic!

Thanks so much for your time and expertise, Roger, I really appreciate it!

Bill
 
  #23  
Old 07-14-05, 01:07 PM
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Yep, when it comes to electrical the waters can get muddy in a hurry...good luck with your project. Always ask questions (there are no bad ones just alot of bad answers at times )
 
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