Moving existing outlets to empty breaker?

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Old 03-31-10, 08:52 AM
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Moving existing outlets to empty breaker?

Hello, I recently moved into a two bedroom duplex and soon realized that I can't use a lot of my electronic gadgets. Both bedrooms and the dining room are on one 15 amp circuit. There are also 2 outlets in the kitchen on the same circuit. There is a 100 amp breaker box with about 4 empty breakers. I was wondering if it would be difficult to move one of the bedrooms onto an empty breaker and one kitchen outlet onto a different empty breaker?
 
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Old 03-31-10, 09:31 AM
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I recently moved into a two bedroom duplex
Do you rent? If so for liability reasons you can't do any work.
I was wondering if it would be difficult to move one of the bedrooms onto an empty breaker
The receptacles are probably daisy chained. If the portion you wan to change lies in the middle you would have to isolate it by disconnecting it from the upstream and downstream feeds. Then you would have to run new cable to it and find a way to power the downstream portion you disconnected. Simpler to just put in new receptacles on a different breaker which still requires running new cable.

By code the kitchen requires two 20 amp GFCI proteccred receptacles for the counter top.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 10:05 AM
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Thank you for explaining that to me This place isn't up to code then.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 11:41 AM
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Well, it isn't up to modern code, but neither is any other building built before 2008 when the latest code was released. A building only needs to comply to the code in the year it was constructed, and only brought up to modern code if there is a major renovation. Otherwise it is grandfathered as-is.

What you've described is typical of older buildings when codes did not require as many electrical circuits as they do today. Likewise the lifestyle at the time featured far fewer electrical devices than we use today.

If you are the owner and live in one half of the building, you can do the electrical work yourself in most states. However if you do not own the building, additional circuits could be added by a licensed electrician with permission from the building owner.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 12:05 PM
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Ah ok. There are mostly 2 prong outlets in here where the plugs fall out (or hang halfway out) if I try to plug something in, and there was no ground wire. The landlord agreed to ground 3 outlets. I'll see if he'll let me hire an electrician. Thanks!
 
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Old 03-31-10, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by LadyElan View Post
Ah ok. There are mostly 2 prong outlets in here where the plugs fall out (or hang halfway out) if I try to plug something in, and there was no ground wire. The landlord agreed to ground 3 outlets. I'll see if he'll let me hire an electrician. Thanks!
Grounding a receptacle is not simple. In fact it requires about the same work as installing a new circuit if the electrician does it properly. To actually ground it he has to run a wire all the way back to the breaker box or to the main ground within five feet of the box. You might want to suggest he add a new circuit.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 12:41 PM
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Oh ok, the guy that came to ground the outlets didn't do that. It looked like he just put another piece of wire in the outlet. He never went to the basement where the breaker box is. My tester shows that it's grounded though, weird.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by LadyElan View Post
Oh ok, the guy that came to ground the outlets didn't do that. It looked like he just put another piece of wire in the outlet. He never went to the basement where the breaker box is. My tester shows that it's grounded though, weird.
It may be that the receptacles are in metal boxes that are properly grounded and he just ran a pigtail to the box. That would be OK.

There though is also the possibility he put a jumper between the neutral and ground. That is very unsafe and a code violation. I normally would not suggest a tenant open a receptacle but in this case I would suggest you remove the cover plate and see if he ran a wire from the silver screw side or the receptacle to the green ground screw.

If you have a multimeter or test light I would check one of the boxes that haven't had a grounded receptacle installed. Remove just the cover plate and check if you have 120v between the narrow slot and the box.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 03:26 PM
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Ok, I took a picture because I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for





The test lights say that it has correct wiring. I have a multimeter, I just don't know how to use it yet.

I looked at a different outlet where he switched the plug out but didn't ground it and it doesn't have the green wire.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 04:38 PM
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If he used the neutral to ground trick it will fool a plug in tester. I probably shouldn't have even mentioned the possibility he did it wrong. My guess is the wiring may be either armored cable (AKA BX) or metal conduit. If so then a ground to the box is acceptable. I can't tell from the picture where the green ground wire goes. Does it go to a screw in the back of the box?

The multimeter is easy to use. Plug one probe into the common and the other socketmarked volts. Set to AC voltage at least 250v and measure.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 04:53 PM
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When the gas company came to turn my gas on, they found a "illegal" rigged up gas heater so shortcuts wouldn't surprise me. I couldn't see where green ground goes. There's a lot of tape wrapped around the outlet. Would it be safe for me to unscrew the outlet to look behind it?
 
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Old 03-31-10, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by LadyElan View Post
There's a lot of tape wrapped around the outlet. Would it be safe for me to unscrew the outlet to look behind it?
Yes, it would. It would be even safer if you turned off the circuit at the panel.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 06:21 PM
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I turned the circuit off just to remove the faceplate before



It looks like the green wire goes from that red thing to underneath the tape on the outlet. I didn't see green wire anywhere else.

*Thanks pcboss!
 

Last edited by LadyElan; 03-31-10 at 07:00 PM. Reason: Replaced the picture
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Old 03-31-10, 06:30 PM
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Sorry, but the photo isn't very clear. Could you try the macro button when you take a closeup? Sometimes it looks like a flower.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 07:03 PM
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Old 03-31-10, 07:08 PM
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That is wired 100% WRONG! The ground is not to be connected to the neutral wire. If this was done by an licensed electrician report it him to the state board at once.

While the tester will indicate it is wired correctly the ground needs to be connected to a grounded metal box or a ground wire that is run to the electrical panel.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 07:15 PM
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Shoot! So the things that are plugged in that are supposed to be grounded really aren't? I don't think the guy is licensed, he's a friend of the landlord and was hired because he's "cheap". I know a licensed electrician came to give an estimate but they said his rates were too high.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 07:34 PM
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That fix is both illegal and dangerous. You can now have neutral current flowing on any metallic parts and could receive a dangerous shock or worse.

The landlord needs to have this fixed properly.

This is the bootleg ground that Ray IIRC was talking about.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 07:40 PM
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Wow! Thank goodness I found this forum. Thanks everyone! That's scary.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 07:55 PM
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Please let us know how your discussion with the landlord goes. Also if you include your city/state members here who live in your area may be able to give you specific recommendations for city or state help if the landlord is unresponsive.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 08:08 PM
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Ok thanks I'm in Kansas City, MO.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 08:34 PM
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hold up one second though...is that white wire the same one that runs to the silver screw or does it come thru the back of the box by itself.

in 1950s-60s they sometimes daisy-chained a single conductor between the outlets to ground them. my grandparents house was this way

so you gotta check one more time and see if those wires are separate or if they are the neutral wires for the outlet

the only reason I question that is the style of metal box and it looks like there are lots of white wires

Ben Hvac tech
 
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Old 03-31-10, 09:41 PM
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She has a green tied to a white. That is wrong period, no exceptions. Follow the middle white wire and you will see where it goes under the tape.
 
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Old 04-01-10, 05:26 AM
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Ben,

It looks like a bootleg ground to several of us. If a separate conductor had been run to ground the boxes they should have used a green or bare conductor to avoid this confusion.
 
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Old 04-01-10, 07:19 AM
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I got better look today. There are two pairs of black and white wires coming through the back of the box, one pair on each side.






I was telling the guy while he was doing this that I wanted to work on my computers with an anti-static mat and wrist strap and it had to be plugged into ground and then attached to my wrist
 
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Old 04-01-10, 08:38 AM
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While not wrong in and of itself for me tape around the receptacle is a bit of a red flag. Normally it isn't needed and most pros don't do it.
 
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Old 04-01-10, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by LadyElan View Post
I was telling the guy while he was doing this that I wanted to work on my computers with an anti-static mat and wrist strap and it had to be plugged into ground and then attached to my wrist
That is one of the situations when a bootleg ground can actually be very dangerous. Anti-static equipment should only ever be used when there is a good, verifiable ground (ideally isolated). This problem is a good catch.
 
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Old 04-01-10, 11:33 AM
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Although I wasn't alive at the time. Im pretty confident that green or bare wire may not have been very common in the mid 1900s

But now that the OP has stated that there are 2 blacks and 2 whites pigtailed we unanimously can say there is a bootleg ground and it must be removed and grounded properly for your computer safety equipment.
 
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Old 04-01-10, 12:35 PM
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Ok, the landlord is sending the same guy back here tomorrow to run the ground wire down to the basement.
 
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Old 04-01-10, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by LadyElan View Post
Ok, the landlord is sending the same guy back here tomorrow to run the ground wire down to the basement.
Once bitten, twice shy.

...........
 
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Old 04-01-10, 06:01 PM
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You said you were in Kansas City, MO. Are you within in the city limits proper or in a suburb of the actual city? I'm sure the Public Works Department would be interested in an unlicensed handyman doing electrical work without a permit, that is, if the landlord doesn't see to it that his guy does it correctly. You could always inquire to when the inspection will be at your address and see what questions they ask you (very innocently, of course).
 
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Old 04-02-10, 10:17 AM
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So is it normal to run ground wire outside of the house instead of through the walls?

I'm in the city of Kansas City.
 
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Old 04-02-10, 10:30 AM
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No, it is not typical. It's legality is questionable in my opinion.
 
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Old 04-02-10, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by LadyElan View Post
So is it normal to run ground wire outside of the house instead of through the walls?

I'm in the city of Kansas City.
Call the city electrical inspector and ask.

How well do you like your new apartment? How polite and friendly has the landlord been about this.I ask because you must weigh that against getting this done absolutely correct.
 
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Old 04-02-10, 11:15 AM
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Honestly, I hate it and want to get the heck out of here but I'm stuck here for now. There's a mold problem and the fix for the leaky roof where the mold is was to put a tarp over it.

They really don't want to spend money on this place. I was told that the only reason they're grounding or switching out any of the outlets was for me. Because of the cost I could only get a few outlets done.

I really don't know how the landlord is, just that the maintenance guy that I go through for repairs (who lives in the other half of the duplex) has to make a "case" to get the landlord to fix things. I met the landlord for about 2 minutes when I moved in, other than that, I just mail the rent to keep a roof over my head.
 
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Old 04-03-10, 09:54 AM
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Would it be better for me to get a few of these portable GFCI plugs until I can move? The guy was a no-show yesterday.

 
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Old 04-03-10, 09:22 PM
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That may be better than what you have now, but it won't provide a ground.
 
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Old 04-03-10, 10:17 PM
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The GFCI unit does not protect your computers from static electricity, but it will protect your body from getting electrocuted even if the landlord's ground wire is installed incorrectly.
 
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Old 04-04-10, 12:23 AM
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I going have to step in here for a moment due there is couple members here are legit electrician in this fourm.

Now you allready have a major issue going on you have illegal bootleg ground and this is a very serious issue going on and it is not safe as Ray stated in the fourm.

Second thing 90% of electricians when they do the job right we almost never use the electrical tape to wrap around the recepectale and wirenuts as well.

Third thing I am pretty sure this is a plain 2.5mm˛ or 4.0mm˛ { 14 or 12 AWG } without a ground conductor in the cable or possiblty it was cut off in first place.

I am not suprised that you will find other issue with the electrical system in the house and I belive this was wired before 1970 due the NM cable coating { the early 60 to about 70's they will have a grounding conductor but it will be smaller than standard conductor size }

Oh by the way majorty of states are very strict with apartment and rental duxpex home they must have a licensed electrician to come out and they can do the proper repair on it.

running a new ground wire from load centre to the receptale that is a questionable item normally I will just run new cable and be done with it.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 04-04-10, 02:29 PM
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Second thing 90% of electricians when they do the job right we almost never use the electrical tape to wrap around the recepectale and wirenuts as well.
Hey I resent that remark and diagree!
This is not 100% true.. Receptacles like in metal boxes I always use electrical tape! Try sticking a hot switch or receptacle back into metal box with out tapping off the terminals and see what happens! (yes i know the circuit should be off, but in real life we don't always have this luxury..)

Also tapping off wire nuts is not a "all of the time" issue but, with certain applications its a good idea and it does ensure the wires want come out of a faulty wire nut. I dont need 20 years experience to know this. Its rated 600volts a wrap for a reason. Its rare with wire nut but, some applications it dose apply and is needed.
 
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