Wiring Fault and other stories


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Old 12-16-13, 03:41 PM
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Unhappy Wiring Fault and other stories

TLR - Moved into basement suite. Nothing is grounded. Here are some pictures. Looking for advice and information on how to protect my things when I don't own and owners can't afford to re-wire.


I recently moved in the basement of some family to find all outlets in the house not grounded. Since I do some work from home on my computer, I require my investment to be protected efficiently. Also, I have a few appliances due to lack of a kitchen, and have a microwave, bar fridge, coffee maker, and a TV and entertainment center.

Since I learned this, I have been scrambling to learn what I can do and looking for opinions from electricians.

I will upload two pictures. The first is from a surge bar I used to test outlets around the house, the light for 'protection' was lit dimly, but wiring fault was also lit. I have another surge bar which shows 'not grounded' and 'protected' is red for not protected. The second picture shows the recently installed (3 years ago?) convoluted breaker box with what looks like GFCI connected to an area I do not understand, and a whole house surge bar (below box) which really doesn't mean anything to me as I hear it does not really protect much.

This whole situation confuses me and I do not really know what to do. I do not own this house and the owners do not have the money to spend on something like this at the moment. I want to find out how to protect my investments without causing too many problems and expenses.

My tentative plan: When I find out which breaker to turn off, I plan to take off an outlet cover and look for a ground wire to verify if they just tossed these outlets in against code or if the GFCI is somehow protecting them.
 
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Last edited by Ceiltsei; 12-16-13 at 03:44 PM. Reason: adding TL:DR
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Old 12-16-13, 05:07 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

By looking at that panel and it's associated wiring..... there is no reason there shouldn't be ground to all receptacles. All that NM wiring looks like it should contain grounds.

The grounds may not have been properly connected in the basement wiring.

No bearing on this problem but it looks like there are more breakers in panel then there is wiring for. Not always easy to spot three wire cables.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 06:05 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

whole house surge bar (below box) which really doesn't mean anything to me as I hear it does not really protect much
Where did you hear this info? I would put more faith in the whole house surge protection then your surge strip. That said however, the best surge protection is a multi-layered approach using both whole house and point of use protection.

I suggest getting a "real" meter and take some readings rather then putting any credit in the little LED light on your strip. With a analog meter you should get 120 volts between hot and ground, and hot and neutral. You should also get zero volts between neutral and ground. If you don't get these readings, you have something wrong.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 06:23 PM
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The installation looks very good and not terribly old. I'd be surprised if the circuits were not grounded.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 06:58 PM
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Do you dare take the cover off of the panel and look inside (at the wiring to the breakers, to the neutral bus, etc.?

If you make up a test light with, say, a 25 watt incandescent lamp, you will trip a ground fault circuit interrupter associated with a receptacle if you plug the test probes into the hot prong and the ground prong holes and the circuit is correctly wired.

Can you find the/a grounding electrode conductor going to the main cold water pipe and/or ground rods?

You will provide adequate grounding for protection of your equipment by stringing an external ground wire to some point on the house's grounding electrode system. This wire can be daisy chained to the ground pin of the plugs of your power strips and/or to the frame or chassis of each piece of equipment in question. You do not have to modify any part of the house system except to gain access to a point on the grounding electrode system which point might be the neutral bus in the panel.

Of course, if you verify that the branch circuits are indeed correctly wired (and grounded) then you don't need the external ground wire. But the external ground wire, run redundantly, may eliminate audio equipment hum and noise if you experience any of that.

A GFCI unit provides near perfect protection against electrocution for people but little or no additional protection for equipment over and above circuit grounding. Circuit grounding greatly improves surge protection for equipment and provides some although far from perfect protection against electrocution. GFCI units will work on ungrounded circuits. Surge protectors will not work on ungrounded circuits.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 12-16-13 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 12-17-13, 10:55 AM
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Thank you for all of the suggestions and advice. Due to the breaker being 15amp for this room, I think there is a high possibility of overloading this circuit with my dream appliances. Along with not being grounded, I think I should treat this situation as far more temporary. Although, I have learned a lot!
 
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Old 12-17-13, 06:50 PM
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I think I should treat this situation as far more temporary.
That's fine. Just be aware that not only does a temporary installation not justify cutting corners, there are additional requirements for those.

Due to the breaker being 15amp for this room, I think there is a high possibility of overloading this circuit with my dream appliances.
It's easy to find out. One 15A circuit can safely supply up to 1440W of continuous load or 1800W of non-continuous load. Use V * A = W to convert the draw of each of your appliances, lights, etc. to watts, add them up, and compare that to what the circuit can handle.

A load that is on for more than 3 hours is considered continuous, and a load that is on for less than that is considered non-continuous.
 
 

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