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Thread: Socket dilemma

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Default Socket dilemma

    Hi everyone. I'm new to this forum, and need a little advice. I recently purchased an old home which was built in 1960. Many of the outlets are ungrounded 2 prong type. I don't want to spend thousands of dollars having all sockets rewired, so I was hoping to find another alternative. Will installing GFI outlets in place of all the ungrounded outlets provide enough safety. Thanks, David

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    boston,ma
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    Wink Re: Socket dilemma

    You can check to see if the boxes are grounded, this will be the case if your house is wired with bx wire, the wire has a metalic sheating around the exterior, I have also see early romex type wire which has a silver jacket and white and black copper conductors and a aluminum ground wire that is attached to inside the outlet box, if either of theses is present then you have grounded boxes and you can swithch to a gfci or 3 prong receptacle, you need to buy ground pigtails and ground screws from your local hardware store and ground each outlet to the outlet box, this is required even if you buy receptacles that are grounded through the case body itself, better to be safe than sorry! Buy a receptacle analizer and test each outlet after you change them to make sure they are wired correctly, if all of this is way more than you like then call a professional to change outlets for you. Good Luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    9

    Default Re: Socket dilemma

    Thanks jled96, I will try to look closely to see if the boxes are grounded. If they aren't grounded, am I looking at major expense, or will gfi outlets at each location still work?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    boston,ma
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    Default Re: Socket dilemma

    Yes gfci's will still work, they come with stickers in each box to indicate they are on an ungrounded circuit, just place the sticker on the wall plate face, I am required to do this under the code, you can place the sticker to alert someone to the fact the circuit is not grounded. Just make sure the outlet is wired correctly,black on the hot side,white on the neutral side,and be sure to press reset button after you turn power back on,this will reset the device and make it operational! Good Luck!

  5. #5
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    Feb 2012
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    Default Re: Socket dilemma

    Thanks man!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Keyport, NJ
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    Default Re: Socket dilemma

    If your wiring is BX, it is against code to use the metal sheath as your equipment ground. If you see a small metallic strip inside the metal sheath it is not BX and you can use the metal sheath as a ground path.

    Another option is to to just run a bare copper wire to all of the outlet boxes from the main panel ground bar. That way you won't have to replace what you have, just need to add one wire.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    Default Re: Socket dilemma

    Ground wires provide almost no personal safety while GFCI's do. About the only place you really need to add aground wire is outlets where you will be connecting electronic equipment with 3 pronged plugs. Ground is used to filter off electrical noise.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    boston,ma
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    Default Re: Socket dilemma

    Yes it is now against code to use bx sheath as ground, this is why new bx comes with grounding conductor, in existing installations it was code back then in 1960 sheathing was ground, most codes allow grandfathered use as an existing installation. Good Luck!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Keyport, NJ
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    Default Re: Socket dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    Ground wires provide almost no personal safety while GFCI's do. About the only place you really need to add aground wire is outlets where you will be connecting electronic equipment with 3 pronged plugs. Ground is used to filter off electrical noise.

    Jack
    The ground wire is for personal safety. For any appliance with a metal chasis, the ground wire is connected to it. It is there in the event that a live wire comes in contact with the metal chasis and energizes it. Should that happen, the current will flow back to the panel and trip the breaker. If this path was not there, any person who came along and touched the metal chasis would be electrocuted.

    There have been many electronic devices made without a third prong on their plugs as well. I would also note that fluorescent light fixtures require a ground connection to work as well.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Default Re: Socket dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by drooplug View Post
    The ground wire is for personal safety. For any appliance with a metal chasis, the ground wire is connected to it. It is there in the event that a live wire comes in contact with the metal chasis and energizes it. Should that happen, the current will flow back to the panel and trip the breaker. If this path was not there, any person who came along and touched the metal chasis would be electrocuted.

    There have been many electronic devices made without a third prong on their plugs as well. I would also note that fluorescent light fixtures require a ground connection to work as well.
    A round wire does not provide personal safety. If the hot wire should be shorted to the metal case of an appliance and you touched it and ground, it would take 15 amps to trip the breaker. It takes less than a amp through your body to kill you, 15 amps would burn you to a crisp. The ground wire's purpose is to trip the breaker and prevent the in-wall cabling from overloading and causing a fire , not to provide personal safety.

    If you read my post I said for electronic devices with 3 pronged plugs not all electronic equipment. The most common units are surge suppression strips and UPS's which do require ground.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

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