Grounding outlets in an old house

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  #1  
Old 03-01-06, 01:58 PM
Gui
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Grounding outlets in an old house

Ok, so I am new to this forum and to home improvements since I just moved into my first house. However, I can do stuff and I have a minimal understanding of things electric and mechanic, so I am not afraid of trying to do stuff myself as long as I have sufficient information to know it is the right way to do it.

My new house is old (~1925) and only parts of it were renovated. The room that I want to use as an office has old two-pronged outlets, so I need to do something to them before I am able to plug my computer and surge protector. This room sits just above the kitchen, which was renovated by the previous owners and has three-pronged outlets everywhere.

After reading about it, here is my plan to grounding the office that I would like to test with you guys. I want to run the ground leveraging one of the outlets in the kitchen. There is a very high cabinet that has a grounded outlet all the way on the upper shelf (they had a TV there), so I could run a ground from there, drill through the ceiling to reach the office floor, and connect the ground to the closest outlet in the office. Then I could run the ground through all the office outlets, if there is proper conduits behind the walls, or just run it to the outlet I want to ground through outside if necesary.

Is this the way to do it or am I just being dumb and naive? Is there a better way to do it? Should I just hire an electrictian to do this job?

I have read quite a few posts here and I know there are a lot of very knowlegeable people here. Thanks in advance for any help you guys can provide.
 
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Old 03-01-06, 02:12 PM
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My advice is to leave everything as it is and run a new circuit to the room you want to use an office.
 
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Old 03-01-06, 02:17 PM
Gui
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You mean running it all the way from the office to the electrical panel? I am concerned that I might not be able to run the ground that far....g'd knows what's behind those old walls. Any suggestions/links to articles on how to do that?

Thanks.
 
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Old 03-01-06, 02:47 PM
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Bob's not suggesting that you run a grounding wire from the office to the panel. He's suggesting you run an entirely new cable (hot, neutral and ground) and that you add new outlets (perhaps next to or in between the existing outlets).

The problem is that in addition to needing a ground, you almost certainly need more power. Adding a grounding wire solves only the first problem. Adding a new cable solves both.
 
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Old 03-02-06, 12:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Gui
You mean running it all the way from the office to the electrical panel? I am concerned that I might not be able to run the ground that far....g'd knows what's behind those old walls. Any suggestions/links to articles on how to do that?

Thanks.
It may not be as hard as you think. There are many illustrated books at the hardware stores. Think outside of the box (either up or down). If you can get to the attic, basement, or crawl space, you may be able to easily run it the entire length of the house.

These guys suggested the new circuit because old houses often have quite a lot of stuff connected to one circuit. For your computer, etc..., a dedicated circuit is best to avoid interference from other things pulling power. Before I ran a new circuit to my office, every time my washing machine or refrigerator kicked on, the lights would dim in half the house.
 
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Old 03-02-06, 08:04 AM
Gui
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Thanks for the replies. I will check behind the outlets to see what's going on the house wiring and figure out what's doable. I will come back and post a pic to share whatever I find (and likely ask for some additional help too ).
 
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Old 03-02-06, 08:33 AM
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And since you really have no idea of the quality of the previous renovation, I would invest in an inexpensive, plug-in type receptacle tester. It's usually yellow and has three lights on the back. It will tell you if those new receptacles in the kitchen are indeed rewired to be grounded receptacles, or just replaced with newer 3-hole receptacles, but no ground wire behind them.
 
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Old 03-02-06, 09:22 AM
darinstarr
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A GFCI receptacle will also provide some measure of protection (must be marked 'no equipment ground' if none is present). If you are familiar with how the circuit runs, receptacles on that circuit *after* the GFCI receptacle will also be protectedby it. I debated between this and doing a proper re-wire of my computer room.

For a variety of reasons, I chose option B, and am currently rewiring everything. I'm glad I chose this option. I have learned alot about the house and it has given me an opportunity to correct many wiring mistakes made by previous owners.
 
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Old 03-03-06, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by darinstarr
A GFCI receptacle will also provide some measure of protection (must be marked 'no equipment ground' if none is present). If you are familiar with how the circuit runs, receptacles on that circuit *after* the GFCI receptacle will also be protectedby it. I debated between this and doing a proper re-wire of my computer room.
Never plug a computer into an ungrounded receptacle. Using a GFCI does not magically add a ground...the circuit is still ungrounded. But the user is now protected from a shock hazzard. Computer switching supplies require a ground to reference their voltages to. Without this reference, the voltages could float to a point where they fry your computer.
 
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