Author Topic: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?  (Read 2584 times)

nereo

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Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« on: February 13, 2020, 12:49:53 PM »
New (to us) home has some outlets that are either weakly grounded or completely ungrounded, but all in spots we infrequently plug anything in to.

Knowing they should be grounded to meet code... and also that they have gone ungrounded probably since the addition was put in almost 20 years ago ... how much should I care?
Properly grounding them would probably mean cutting drywall and/or running new Romex.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2020, 07:25:38 PM »
Grounding is a safety feature.  The danger it protects you from is this: if you have some sort of appliance (or other device) with a metal shell or housing, and a wire gets loose inside and touches the housing, it'll energize the housing, i.e. if you touch it, it'll shock you.  If an appliance has a three-prong plug, the casing is connected to that third (round) pin.  If the casing gets energized, the connection to the ground pin will create a short, which will trip the breaker, and thus keep you safe.  Most appliances nowadays avoid the issue by being "double-insulated", which means that if a wire gets loose inside, there's now way for it to contact and energize the outside casing.  And these will have a two-prong plug.

Grounded receptacles have been part of the electrical code for a whole lot longer than 20 years--that requirement goes all the way back to 1968.

FINate

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2020, 07:54:56 PM »
Have you opened up one of the outlets to verify that the existing Romex doesn't have a ground wire? Maybe it just didn't get attached to the outlet and/or at the breaker box. Could be a simple fix.

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2020, 08:37:17 PM »
Having electrical work that is not up to code in an older house is not uncommon, especially when it comes to home additions, but this may be a tip off that there may be more less-obvious issues or hidden issues with the electrical work throughout the home. I'm by no means a master or apprentice electrician, but I'd have a hard time thinking of a good reason why a professional electrician would not want to ground a standard wall receptacle. So I'm assuming this was done by an unlicensed individual who didn't know what they were doing.

Are the outlets missing the ground wire because it's been cut back too far? Is the ground wire connected to the ground screw but just not secured? Or are the wires connected to the incorrect screws? If all of the wires look like they're securely and properly connected to the correct screws, it may be as simple as replacing the outlet.

If this work was done by someone who was unlicensed and they did not pull a permit or have their work inspected (if your city/county requires this), should something happen to your home, your insurance company may push back and deny the claim due to unlicensed work that was never disclosed to them. While I certainly don't feel that you're in imminent danger by having 2 ungrounded outlets that you don't use, I'd rather cut back the drywall and have the electrical work done properly rather than having this be a potential liability in the future.


nereo

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2020, 06:38:18 AM »
Have you opened up one of the outlets to verify that the existing Romex doesn't have a ground wire? Maybe it just didn't get attached to the outlet and/or at the breaker box. Could be a simple fix.

It’s 14-2 Romex, unfortunately. Not as simple a fix as I’d hoped.


Grounded receptacles have been part of the electrical code for a whole lot longer than 20 years--that requirement goes all the way back to 1968.

Thanks for the more detailed information - and yes I’m aware that the code required grounding much further back.  Like many (most) homes built in this area the work was often done without permits by homeowners with varying levels of skill, and frequently not to code.  That’s kind of a tradition here, and one the county is working hard to change now. One of the things we are doing now is systematically going through and repairing/bringing-to-code the most worrisome aspects.  The challenge for me is prioritizing everything (what is “do this immediately” vs what can be safely ignored for another 6-12 months).

We already know that permits weren’t pulled for any of the three additions made on this home over the last half century.  It was an interesting conversation with the county appraiser, who’s main comment was “yeah, it makes my week when I find a home that pulled the appropriate permits”.

I think the “correct” solution here is to just fish a bunch of 3-strand Romex through these outlets and ground them properly. I know I *can* put a GFCI there, but I don’t really want to go down that route.

In the meantime - if we don’t use the ungrounded outlets there should be little/no danger, correct?. Thinking I’ll just tape over of (better) put a plate them until I can get to it.

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2020, 06:51:09 AM »
I had to fix such things as a condition of selling my previous house. It might be better to do it prior to putting the house on the market, so you don't have to scramble around before closing.  I think I had to put GFI outlets in the kitchen?? The outlets were never a problem when we lived there.

At a different house I had to pay for the whole electrical box to be replaced because they had changed the codes while I lived there and required a larger amp service. That pissed me off a little, as it wasn't a safety problem and the people buying it didn't care but their loan company did.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2020, 06:52:29 AM »
My previous house was built in the 40s and practically none of the outlets were grounded. You can simply replace the existing outlets with GFCI outlets and receive some of the shock protection offered by grounding an outlet. You can get replacement GFCI outlets for around $10 each, so you should be able to replace the commonly used outlets fairly inexpensively.

Syonyk

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2020, 04:05:11 PM »
You can simply replace the existing outlets with GFCI outlets and receive some of the shock protection offered by grounding an outlet. You can get replacement GFCI outlets for around $10 each, so you should be able to replace the commonly used outlets fairly inexpensively.

You want to explain that one in electrical engineering terms?

A ground fault is when current, instead of taking the neutral line, is flowing over the ground conductor.  On a standard 120V North American outlet, you've got hot (+/- 120VRMS), neutral (0V - bonded to ground at the head end), and ground.  Normal current flow is on the hot and neutral conductors, with nothing on the ground conductor.

In the event of a ground fault (insulation failure, water, etc), you'll have current flowing on the ground line.  A GFCI detects this current through the ground connection (they're pretty sensitive - typically 10-20mA is enough to trip one) and trips, cutting power to the hot line.  So now you've just got neutral and ground connected, and no hot line run through.

If you don't have the ground conductor run to the outlet (the ground is disconnected), then you will never have current on the ground conductor.  Even if you short hot to ground, there won't be any current on the ground conductor, because there's nowhere for it to go.  It's not connected, so outside the rather minute capacitance of the screw, it's got nothing.

At least, this is my understanding of the mechanics of a ground fault outlet.  You seem to have a different understanding.  Care to expand on it?  Because my knowledge of a ground fault outlet is that, without a connected ground, it won't ever do anything, and is therefore worse than nothing (because it costs more, and offers a false sense of security that it can't deliver).

================

OP: 120V tingles an awful lot, but as long as you're running fairly new appliances in the outlets, it's unlikely to be a major problem.  If the cost to replace the wiring with a ground exceeds your current budget, then replace the outlets with two prong outlets.  It's better to not have the ground pin on a non-grounded outlet than to have one, plug in something that is designed assuming the ground is valid, and then have trouble.  Anything that only has a two conductor cord should be designed such that it doesn't require a ground in the first place.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2020, 04:40:02 PM »
You can simply replace the existing outlets with GFCI outlets and receive some of the shock protection offered by grounding an outlet. You can get replacement GFCI outlets for around $10 each, so you should be able to replace the commonly used outlets fairly inexpensively.
You want to explain that one in electrical engineering terms?

It senses the difference between hot and neutral:

https://home.howstuffworks.com/question117.htm :
Quote
A GFCI monitors the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral. If there is any imbalance, it trips the circuit. The GFCI senses a mismatch as small as 4 or 5 milliamps, and it can react as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second. That's a key specification, because at around 10 milliamps, human muscles "freeze" from electrical overload, meaning that you're unable to let go of an object that's causing a shock; just two seconds at that level of current can cause death
« Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 04:47:08 PM by YttriumNitrate »

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2020, 07:59:44 AM »
You can simply replace the existing outlets with GFCI outlets and receive some of the shock protection offered by grounding an outlet. You can get replacement GFCI outlets for around $10 each, so you should be able to replace the commonly used outlets fairly inexpensively.

You want to explain that one in electrical engineering terms?

A ground fault is when current, instead of taking the neutral line, is flowing over the ground conductor.  On a standard 120V North American outlet, you've got hot (+/- 120VRMS), neutral (0V - bonded to ground at the head end), and ground.  Normal current flow is on the hot and neutral conductors, with nothing on the ground conductor.

In the event of a ground fault (insulation failure, water, etc), you'll have current flowing on the ground line.

Not always. You will have electricity taking the path of least resistance to ground. Adding a copper conductor (ground line) allows for a very low resistance path. But, there could be other paths, such as a stainless steel table in direct contact with the shorted device and the ground. And you can still have a path to ground without a grounding line; in the worst case that you a sentient bag of mostly water (you), exactly what adding a grounding line is designed to mitigate.

This is also why they are required in all wet areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, water is a great conductor and can easily result in a quick path to ground.

 
Quote
A GFCI detects this current through the ground connection (they're pretty sensitive - typically 10-20mA is enough to trip one) and trips, cutting power to the hot line.  So now you've just got neutral and ground connected, and no hot line run through.

No. A GFCI sense a difference between the hot and neutral and assumes that the difference is leaking to ground (regardless of the path). It will work with devices that have a 2 prong cord (no ground to the device).

Quote
If you don't have the ground conductor run to the outlet (the ground is disconnected), then you will never have current on the ground conductor.  Even if you short hot to ground, there won't be any current on the ground conductor, because there's nowhere for it to go.  It's not connected, so outside the rather minute capacitance of the screw, it's got nothing.

Correct, but not relevant

Quote
At least, this is my understanding of the mechanics of a ground fault outlet.  You seem to have a different understanding.  Care to expand on it?  Because my knowledge of a ground fault outlet is that, without a connected ground, it won't ever do anything, and is therefore worse than nothing (because it costs more, and offers a false sense of security that it can't deliver).

See above.

================

Quote
OP: 120V tingles an awful lot, but as long as you're running fairly new appliances in the outlets, it's unlikely to be a major problem.  If the cost to replace the wiring with a ground exceeds your current budget, then replace the outlets with two prong outlets.  It's better to not have the ground pin on a non-grounded outlet than to have one, plug in something that is designed assuming the ground is valid, and then have trouble.  Anything that only has a two conductor cord should be designed such that it doesn't require a ground in the first place.

Code allows for outlets to be protected via GFCI without a ground so long as they are labeled something like "no mechanical ground". In fact every GFCI I have bought in, at least, the last 10 year comes with a sheet of stickers to use for just this purpose. The last house I owned, before this one, had outlets setup like that as a result of my inspection finding ungrounded 3 prong outlets.

One point I want to clarify to the OP. You do not need a GFCI at every outlet; a properly installed GFCI outlet will protect every outlet that is connected downstream of it. You can even install a GFCI circuit breaker and not have the outlet. (This is my prefered method when installing outlets that can/should be GFCI protected and they are the only thing on a circuit. It allows me to easily find the GFCI, sometimes that first outlet is in an awkward location.) Please be aware messing with circuit breakers, might technically trigger the need to upgrade arc fault protection as well (and combined GF/AF breakers get pricey). 

So you would need a GFCI for each circuit/string of outlets.

In short, and for anyone who wants didn't read my in-line replies. A GFCI sense between hot and neutral and does not require a ground connection to operate properly. They are code approved for operating 3-prong outlets without a mechanical ground.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 08:09:27 AM by BudgetSlasher »

nereo

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2020, 08:13:00 AM »
I appreciate all the responses.  One great thing aobut this forum is how people are willing to share their knowledge and take the time to explain exactly what's going on.  Just the kind of respones I was hoping for.

Final followup - beisdes the meager cost of ~$10 for a GFCI at the first 'upstream' non-grounded outlet, is there a reason NOT to use GFCI and the associated "no mechanical ground" stickers?  My main reluctance to going this route is I've found GFCI outlets to be prone to tripping (which seems to be a sign that there is 'leakage' ).

Syonyk

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2020, 09:20:43 AM »
Thanks, I was operating under a wrong model of GFCI devices, apparently!

I suspect I was confusing the outlets with solar charge controller/string inverter ground fault systems, some of which just have a central  ground connection that handles detecting fault currents on the ground line (from a PV line rubbing a frame or something) - and definitely won't work right without a solid mechanical ground.

bigblock440

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2020, 12:02:23 PM »
Have you opened up one of the outlets to verify that the existing Romex doesn't have a ground wire? Maybe it just didn't get attached to the outlet and/or at the breaker box. Could be a simple fix.

It’s 14-2 Romex, unfortunately. Not as simple a fix as I’d hoped.



Wait, why would 14-2 not be grounded?  14-2 has a ground wire, why would you need to run a new one?  I've never seen Romex that didn't have a ground wire, in the store or otherwise, even the older stuff in my houses.  The only non-ground wires I've seen have been the real old stuff with the black coating.


nereo

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2020, 12:10:12 PM »
Have you opened up one of the outlets to verify that the existing Romex doesn't have a ground wire? Maybe it just didn't get attached to the outlet and/or at the breaker box. Could be a simple fix.

It’s 14-2 Romex, unfortunately. Not as simple a fix as I’d hoped.



Wait, why would 14-2 not be grounded?  14-2 has a ground wire, why would you need to run a new one?  I've never seen Romex that didn't have a ground wire, in the store or otherwise, even the older stuff in my houses.  The only non-ground wires I've seen have been the real old stuff with the black coating.

Sorry, I was being lazy and using “Romex” as a regular noun and not a proper-noun - much like one might say “Kleenex” to mean a facial tissue and not an actual Kleenex-brand product.  It is the older stuff with the black coating and two solid-strand, individually insulated copper (not aluminum, thank-god) 14g wires. 

Photos might explain it better but alas I have on this computer.  It’s easy to trace to a junction box, and that junction box runs to the breaker panel with more modern actual Romex-branded white jacketed wire, and is properly grounded from there.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2020, 05:25:34 AM »
I was just re-reading the original post and it seems we have been focusing exclusively on the ungrounded 3-prong outlets it your house.

I was wondering if you could clarify what you meant when you described other outlets as "weakly" grounded?

This may just be me being curious, but I am a little confused by how everything is laid out. You say that the wiring is the black coated stuff that has been described as "real old" by others (the description makes me think of black cloth insulation, which was displaced by plastic "ROMEX" by the 70s) and you are discussing this wiring in the context of a 20-year-old addition (which wouldn't have been the old black stuff). I have generally for ROMEX at the end of an old circuit, where something has been added on, not feeding from the panel to old wiring (though I have seen it a time or two).


bigblock440

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2020, 06:07:50 AM »
Have you opened up one of the outlets to verify that the existing Romex doesn't have a ground wire? Maybe it just didn't get attached to the outlet and/or at the breaker box. Could be a simple fix.

It’s 14-2 Romex, unfortunately. Not as simple a fix as I’d hoped.



Wait, why would 14-2 not be grounded?  14-2 has a ground wire, why would you need to run a new one?  I've never seen Romex that didn't have a ground wire, in the store or otherwise, even the older stuff in my houses.  The only non-ground wires I've seen have been the real old stuff with the black coating.

Sorry, I was being lazy and using “Romex” as a regular noun and not a proper-noun - much like one might say “Kleenex” to mean a facial tissue and not an actual Kleenex-brand product.  It is the older stuff with the black coating and two solid-strand, individually insulated copper (not aluminum, thank-god) 14g wires. 

Photos might explain it better but alas I have on this computer.  It’s easy to trace to a junction box, and that junction box runs to the breaker panel with more modern actual Romex-branded white jacketed wire, and is properly grounded from there.

I usually see that referred to as knob and tube (though you almost certainly don't have actual knobs and tubes), with the newer stuff being designated as Romex, weird that it would have that type of wire if it was only built 20 years ago.  Maybe they reused stuff instead of buying new. If you're not using the outlet though, it shouldn't be a big deal that it's ungrounded.

Papa bear

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2020, 06:15:34 AM »
Have you opened up one of the outlets to verify that the existing Romex doesn't have a ground wire? Maybe it just didn't get attached to the outlet and/or at the breaker box. Could be a simple fix.

It’s 14-2 Romex, unfortunately. Not as simple a fix as I’d hoped.



Wait, why would 14-2 not be grounded?  14-2 has a ground wire, why would you need to run a new one?  I've never seen Romex that didn't have a ground wire, in the store or otherwise, even the older stuff in my houses.  The only non-ground wires I've seen have been the real old stuff with the black coating.

Sorry, I was being lazy and using “Romex” as a regular noun and not a proper-noun - much like one might say “Kleenex” to mean a facial tissue and not an actual Kleenex-brand product.  It is the older stuff with the black coating and two solid-strand, individually insulated copper (not aluminum, thank-god) 14g wires. 

Photos might explain it better but alas I have on this computer.  It’s easy to trace to a junction box, and that junction box runs to the breaker panel with more modern actual Romex-branded white jacketed wire, and is properly grounded from there.

I usually see that referred to as knob and tube (though you almost certainly don't have actual knobs and tubes), with the newer stuff being designated as Romex, weird that it would have that type of wire if it was only built 20 years ago.  Maybe they reused stuff instead of buying new. If you're not using the outlet though, it shouldn't be a big deal that it's ungrounded.


There’s a lot of wiring between k&t and your modern non metallic sheathed cable.  There were plenty that existed that were only 2 wire, but are not k&t.




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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2020, 08:13:03 AM »
Just being Mr. Obvious here, but adding a ground wire and replacing these recepts is only a benefit if you have a need for using grounded loads. In a kitchen this could make some sense, though metal-bodied appliances have gone by the wayside (and most of those lacked a ground prong anyway). Same for a garage or shop when power tools were metal-bodied and did rely on a ground for safety. I can think of some laptop chargers that have a ground prong, but then this is usually for RF purposes and doesn't extend beyond the power supply brick.

Leaving these ungrounded, assuming the recepts don't have a ground 'hole', isn't the safety concern some people think it is. A 2-pronged device doesn't care either way.

GFCI's are great, but I would avoid using one on a circuit that powers a fridge or freezer where compressor loads can cause a false-trip or you'll end up with not-so-fresh food.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2020, 08:15:50 AM »
Just being Mr. Obvious here, but adding a ground wire and replacing these recepts is only a benefit if you have a need for using grounded loads. In a kitchen this could make some sense, though metal-bodied appliances have gone by the wayside (and most of those lacked a ground prong anyway). Same for a garage or shop when power tools were metal-bodied and did rely on a ground for safety. I can think of some laptop chargers that have a ground prong, but then this is usually for RF purposes and doesn't extend beyond the power supply brick.

Leaving these ungrounded, assuming the recepts don't have a ground 'hole', isn't the safety concern some people think it is. A 2-pronged device doesn't care either way.

GFCI's are great, but I would avoid using one on a circuit that powers a fridge or freezer where compressor loads can cause a false-trip or you'll end up with not-so-fresh food.

Very good point on the compressor loads.

I suppose I overlooked that as I was looking through the lens of all my major appliance have a dedicated circuit.

Syonyk

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2020, 08:52:59 AM »
I suppose I overlooked that as I was looking through the lens of all my major appliance have a dedicated circuit.

That's definitely a perk of newer homes, if they're done right.  I've got a "deep freezer circuit," a "fridge circuit," etc.

And the cost to upgrade the whole house from 14AWG to 12AWG, and 15A to 20A circuits?  Quite minimal.  I don't recall the exact number, but it was some stupidly low value compared to fighting an underwired house like I have in the past (the entire back half of a rental seemed to be on one 15A circuit - it ran the upstairs master bedroom, the next bedroom over we used as an office, and a good chunk of the downstairs living room).

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2020, 09:12:59 AM »
I suppose I overlooked that as I was looking through the lens of all my major appliance have a dedicated circuit.

That's definitely a perk of newer homes, if they're done right.  I've got a "deep freezer circuit," a "fridge circuit," etc.

And the cost to upgrade the whole house from 14AWG to 12AWG, and 15A to 20A circuits?  Quite minimal.  I don't recall the exact number, but it was some stupidly low value compared to fighting an underwired house like I have in the past (the entire back half of a rental seemed to be on one 15A circuit - it ran the upstairs master bedroom, the next bedroom over we used as an office, and a good chunk of the downstairs living room).

Oh this house wasn't done "right", but as we've moved the laundry, replaced the water heater, re-done the kitchen, and so forth, I have made sure that dedicated circuits exist. I think there are still a few things like the garage door openers, water softener, and basement dehumidifier that are not on dedicated circuits.

I have both 12 and 14 circuits. I have actually had to downgrade some circuit breakers; they leave the box as 12ga, but then I go to replace something on that circuit and find a bit of 14 ga snuck in (this house was built before romex was color coded). Luckily by adding the dedicated circuits for major appliances, switching the LED lights, having 5 or 6 different circuits service the kitchen counter, I have yet to have an issues with power draw on any one circuit.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2020, 10:12:41 AM »
Out of curiosity, why would you want the water softener on its own circuit? The load it presents is tiny!

jpdx

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2020, 01:08:35 AM »
Grounded outlets protect you and your equipment. Many surge protectors work best when properly grounded, because they send some of the transient voltage through the ground. Sensitive electronics and appliances may require ground and some audio equipment may have less hum if grounded.

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2020, 07:34:32 AM »
This is an interesting thread for me because my house has a wonderful electrical story, too. The short is we have ungrounded wires into most outlets of our home, too (same as OP). Luckily, due to weird circumstances with the house purchase, we have a brand new service (pole to panel) with AF/GF breakers with grounded wires going to a junction box in the crawl space that connect up to the old wires of the house. We want to replace the wires at some point, but are not to that house project, yet.

Is it correct to assume that our surge protectors really don't work because they can't dump anything to ground? Anything else I should be concerned about in this situation where we have AF/GF breakers with ungrounded outlets? What protection do I not have without new modern wiring into each outlet? Or is it more a functionality thing on the equipment side as @jpdx points out with electronics?

Another question is based on @Syonyk point: how much would it cost rewire everything? I assume this has to be done by a licensed electrician (at least to satisfy our local ordinances)? We have plaster walls (1/2" board with 1/2" plaster) and just curious if one has to tear out most of the wall around the outlet and switch to feed and secure the new wiring?

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2020, 07:43:09 AM »
Out of curiosity, why would you want the water softener on its own circuit? The load it presents is tiny!

Because it is on a circuit with a mud room outlet, all the outlets on the first floor of the garage, the garage door openers, the pantry light, and some other odds n ends. (I'm not sure I know everything on that circuit either).

So I am not sure I need it on a dedicated circuit, but I don't like the circuit it is on. I also like fixed items on their circuit, it less likely to have a circuit tripped and not noticed, or a a GFCI installed upstream and tripped. Basically, I like the only thing impacting a circuit with a large appliance or utility to be the large appliance or utility.

Papa bear

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2020, 11:51:06 AM »
This is an interesting thread for me because my house has a wonderful electrical story, too. The short is we have ungrounded wires into most outlets of our home, too (same as OP). Luckily, due to weird circumstances with the house purchase, we have a brand new service (pole to panel) with AF/GF breakers with grounded wires going to a junction box in the crawl space that connect up to the old wires of the house. We want to replace the wires at some point, but are not to that house project, yet.

Is it correct to assume that our surge protectors really don't work because they can't dump anything to ground? Anything else I should be concerned about in this situation where we have AF/GF breakers with ungrounded outlets? What protection do I not have without new modern wiring into each outlet? Or is it more a functionality thing on the equipment side as @jpdx points out with electronics?

Another question is based on @Syonyk point: how much would it cost rewire everything? I assume this has to be done by a licensed electrician (at least to satisfy our local ordinances)? We have plaster walls (1/2" board with 1/2" plaster) and just curious if one has to tear out most of the wall around the outlet and switch to feed and secure the new wiring?

For a licensed electrician to come in and rewire a house, figure on about 8-10/sf.

Or if you are comfortable with the code and inspecting it yourself, you can probably get someone to do it for 3-4k.   We’ve done that half dozen times or so on rehabs. 

You only need to cut the holes out for the outlets/switches to fit an old work box, and channel out some plaster/lathe in order to run your wire.   They have flexible bits so you don’t have to cut the entire line, just spots as you go on. Then you’ll have a fun time putting it all back together and finished.   


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Car Jack

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #26 on: February 24, 2020, 02:01:58 PM »
I can think of some laptop chargers that have a ground prong, but then this is usually for RF purposes and doesn't extend beyond the power supply brick.

Many laptop power supplies indeed connect the earth ground input through an EMI shield that connects to the negative output lead.  I've built myself power supplies stacking laptop adapters and always check them first.  I'm building non-standard things like +10V and -10V for old audio mixers.  I've had to pull them apart, remove the EMI shield (actually a PC Board) which disconnects the output, making it completely isolated, then stacking to my heart's content.

(I'm a power supply designer, too).

Mgmny

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #27 on: February 25, 2020, 01:27:47 PM »
water is a great conductor

Came here just to be the jackass and say you're wrong.

Greatest misconception of our time. Water is a garbage conductor of electricity.

Water with dissolved salts, for instance, is a great conductor of electricity, but water is not.

:)

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Ungrounded outlets - why should I care?
« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2020, 05:29:56 AM »
water is a great conductor

Came here just to be the jackass and say you're wrong.

Greatest misconception of our time. Water is a garbage conductor of electricity.

Water with dissolved salts, for instance, is a great conductor of electricity, but water is not.

:)

Very well, the water in your house and its contents, be they natural or a results of treatment processes, can, objectively, be a great conductor of electricity.

However comparatively, against other paths ground, or more importantly to yourself, in a house (plastics, air gaps, rubber feet on appliances, fiberglass, ect), even DI water begins to look like a darn good conductor.

:), not a personal attack, I just can't help a similar impulse to be that guy.