How do I ground ungrounded outlets?


Old 06-04-07, 04:41 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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How do I ground ungrounded outlets?

My house is 100 years old. When we moved in in 1972 (when I was 31), it had one fuse box with four 15-amp fuses and knob-and-tube wiring (but relatively new copper plumbing - the previous owner was a plumber). I have added 2 fuse boxes and 2 breaker boxes to the house and about 500' of 14/2 wire (although I used 12/3 to connect the new fuse boxes and the breaker boxes to the original box). I have the grounding bars in the boxes connected to the plumbing to which I have run 16-gauge wire attached to an 8' copper rod driven to within 2" of the ground surface just outside the basement wall

I just replaced an old television with a new LCD model; the manual strongly suggested use of a surge suppressor so I bought a behemoth for $99.00. When I plugged it into the outlet I had been using for the old television (through a power strip plugged into the old outlet) it sounded a tone to signal that the outlet was not grounded. I need to figure out how to ground that outlet (although I think it will be simple as I have a galvanized iron gas pipe coming off the meter within 6' of the outlet and I figure I can run a ground wire from the gas pipe to the outlet).

I have the UPS for my downstairs computer connected to a power strip attached to an extension cord which is plugged into the power strip which feeds the TV, VCR, DVR, and DVD player. That UPS has not complained (as far as I can determine) about being connected to an ungrounded outlet. I have the UPS for my second computer (on the second floor) connected to the electricity in the house by attaching wires coming out of the wall to the two flat poles on the UPS plug. The hole the wires come out of (and one of the wires is two wires twisted together) has no box. The wires initially were connected to an old porcelain fixture with a light bulb in it. The fixture was attached to the wall through a center hole in the bottom of the fixture which was mounted on a bolt attached to a metal strap screwed into the lath-and-plaster wall.

Other than tearing out all the walls down to the framing and re-wiring the house, do you have any suggestion how I might go about grounding my ungrounded outlets?
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Old 06-04-07, 05:33 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
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I am concerned that what you have presently is not correct and is unsafe. I suggest that you have a competent electrician evaluate what you have. He or she can also help with your current problem.

When you add sub panels to the same building as the main panel, you do NOT individually ground those sub panels. They get grounded by their connection back to the main sub panel.

In the US you do not ground individual receptacles or circuits to nearby water or gas pipes. That is not allowed. Your proposal for grounding your TV is wrong.

Your situation with the computer upstairs sounds extremely unsafe and is either a fire or an electrocution waiting to happen.

Please get some professional help to completely and throughly evaluate and fix what you have. Do this BEFORE doing anything else, or at the very least while making other improvements.
Old 06-04-07, 08:02 AM
pcboss's Avatar
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Since your house is so old it might be balloon framed. This would make it relatively easy to add new wiring without extensive damage to the plaster walls.

Instead of trying to add a ground wire to the existing wiring you would be better off to add new grounded circuits where needed.
Old 06-04-07, 12:13 PM
ray2047's Avatar
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Running multiple fuse and breaker panels off the original. One maybe with adequate size wire but #12? How are these connected to the original fuse box? #16 ground wire? Even as a non electrician what you describe is very scary to me. IMHO you need to start with a new service panel and get rid of everything you have done. What is the rating of your service drop?

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