Alternative to grounding by using GFCI receptacles?

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Old 03-18-15, 01:24 PM
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Alternative to grounding by using GFCI receptacles?

I bought one condo unit in an old building. It is located a few stories off the ground. No receptacles inside my condo unit are grounded. They are all two pronged. The previous owner used those 50 cent adapters to plug in things with three prongs like the refrigerator. I found out that those adapters aren't safe.

I looked inside a few three prong receptacles in upper floor common areas. None have grounding wires attached. Only two basic wires. That also is not safe for using three prong devices, especially power tools or carpet cleaners.

The electric panel is not inside my condo. It is far away, and shared with other residents. Grounding the receptacles up in my condo will be complicated and will force other units to upgrade. Very expensive.

The only three prong items I use are a fridge, a microwave, and one surge protector power strip in the living room.

Would this be an alternative to grounding = Remove the two prong receptacles and install GFCI receptacles. Then attach grounding wires to the metal receptacle box ???

GFCI receptacles automatically shutoff when they sense a slight change. Better than a continuous electrical shock, I guess.

Note: Before I sell my condo in the future, I would revert all receptacles back to two prong so the buyer will be aware there is no grounding.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 01:27 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

You are allowed to switch to the ground plug included receptacles with GFCI protection in place as long as the receptacle is marked GFCI - No Ground.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 01:31 PM
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Agree. Locate the first receptacle in a run and install a GFCI receptacle to the LINE side. Then take off with all downline receptacles from the LOAD side to protect them. Install 3 prong receptacles downline and place the provided stickers on the cover plates. NOW, this does not give you a ground, but it gives you personnel protection and a place to plug in three pronged items safely. Unless the wiring in the condo is via conduit, running a grounding wire to the box won't do the trick.

Leave it all in place as the stickers will alert the new owners as to the situation.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 01:34 PM
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In the event the GFCI trips due to a surge, the extra current will be sent to the metal receptacle box via the grounding wire. Is that safe? Or could it case a fire?
 
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Old 03-18-15, 02:13 PM
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GFCI's don't trip on surges, but on an imbalance of current between the hot and neutral. In your theory, sending the surge to the box, where does it go from there? You don't have a grounding system. You could have a whole house surge protector installed in the panel that would take care of them.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 02:51 PM
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" You could have a whole house surge protector installed in the panel that would take care of them."

The condo building shares electrical panels among the residences. I am not permitted to change anything outside of my condo without lengthy approval process. I am just looking for a quick (and safe) alternative to rewiring.

" In your theory, sending the surge to the box, where does it go from there? You don't have a grounding system."

Correct, the current would just enter the metal receptacle box. Would that small discharge fry the box? Is it better to not connect any ground wire from the GFCI to the metal receptacle box?

Thank you for your replies.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 04:12 PM
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Surge suppressors require a ground. A GFCI is not a substitute for a ground. You will need to either use a whole house suppressor, run a ground wire from the panel to the receptacle, or install a new receptacle using cable with ground from the panel.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 05:45 PM
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The only three prong items I use are a fridge, a microwave, and one surge protector power strip in the living room.
Ray is correct, you need surge protection installed at the panel. Your surge protector power strip in your living room will do nothing if you have a surge come along because there is no grounding conductor.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 06:55 PM
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What wiring method is used in your condo?

Why would changes you make cause then other units to make any changes?
 
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Old 03-18-15, 09:14 PM
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If a receptacle is fed by a multiwire branch circuit -- two hots sharing a neutral -- then you will not be able to use the load terminals of the ground fault circuit interrupter receptacle you install at that location. Instead you will need to install a different GFCI receptacle at the next outlet box along the line you want to protect. This is true whether both hots feed the respective halves of the original duplex receptacle or whether only one hot feeds the receptacle with the other hot just passing through.
 
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