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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    21

    Default Grounding to conduit in basement? Old house

    I have an old house with that is essentially "open ground". I am on a 15 amp fuse box that has given me little problem in 9 years. Excellant shape, no rust, corrosion, etc. I am trying to sell it I need to make some of the outlets grounded. I added a GFCI in the kitchen and added 2 other outlets to it so all comes off the GFCI. Can I attach my copper ground to the GFCI and the cold water pipe and be grounded - same in the bathroom?

    Also, to add 3 prong outlets: There is visible conduit in the basement but there are no ground wires to the outlets themselves however, the old wiring seems to be fine, no frays, tears, etc. Can I ground the conduit lines in the basement to the basement cold water pipe to the sink and/or the cold water meter access pipe and will the outlets from that box then be grounded?

    Be patient. I'm old, tired and get crap advice from guys who think I won't or don't understand it anyways. To often it's wrong or not complete. I can not afford to put in breakers but I also don't want to sell a dangerous house. Is there an inexpensive but safe fix for an older, yet otherwise safe and upgraded house?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Default Re: Grounding to conduit in basement? Old house

    At the very minimum, install a #6 copper wire from the fuse box (it should be connected to both the neutral and the frame of the box) to two separate ground rods driven 8 feet into the ground, 6 feet apart, outside the foundation of the house. Run another #6 copper wire from the fuse box to a grounding clamp attached to the metal cold water pipe. Run a jumper between the hot and cold pipes by the water heater. If you have gas piping, that also needs to be grounded similarly.

    Then, any circuits you want to ground must be grounded in the fuse box. I don't believe code allows you to connect your GFI directly to the water pipe for grounding.

    But, I could be wrong. I don't have a current code book. You might want to pay an electrician for a half hour of advice.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Pacific Northwet
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    Default Re: Grounding to conduit in basement? Old house

    Another option is to negotiate a reduced "as-is" price. Get an electrician to provide a written estimate for doing the required work, and use that in negotiations with a buyer.

    On the other hand, some lenders may refuse the loan without the upgrades in place, in which case you may have to pursue other options.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,836

    Default Re: Grounding to conduit in basement? Old house

    First you have to understand that there are 2 different types of grounding. One is grounding to the ground electrodes and water pipe which is for lightening protection.
    The other is ground bonding which is what you need for the outlets. A ground connection from the outlet back to the main panel and bonded with the common or neutral wire. Using the conduit will sometimes work if all the mechanical connections are good including the conduit connection to the main panel and the common bus is connected to the panel. Personally I have found that these type of connections are not reliable. Oxidation and corrosion can interfere with the connection.

    To meet current code the panel must be grounded as Fencepost described for lightening protection, but the ground bonding must also be installed.

    Most old houses are grandfathered in and bringing up to current code is not a requirement in most jurisdictions.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    693

    Default Re: Grounding to conduit in basement? Old house

    Good advice in the previous posts so will not go into that part but will say this:

    Forget about all of your ideas about connecting wire from any device to a conduit or water pipe. You would end up with a dangerous installation and would be better off leaving the two wire devices.

    Second, I’d really like to know what was done with the “ground” for the gfci’s you mentioned in the kitchen.

    Third, The cheapest way to fix the issue; replace the two wire receptacles with three wire ones is to install a gfci upstream from other receptacles, replace the old receptacles with new three wire ones, let them be protected from the load side of the gfci and identify them as such on the cover plates. Most gfci’s come with stickers for this purpose………. If you do this you connect nothing to the ground terminal on any of the new receptacles.

    If you have questions fire away.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Shamokin, Pa.
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    645

    Default Re: Grounding to conduit in basement? Old house

    Quote Originally Posted by NEC View Post
    Good advice in the previous posts so will not go into that part but will say this:

    Forget about all of your ideas about connecting wire from any device to a conduit or water pipe. You would end up with a dangerous installation and would be better off leaving the two wire devices.

    Second, I’d really like to know what was done with the “ground” for the gfci’s you mentioned in the kitchen.

    Third, The cheapest way to fix the issue; replace the two wire receptacles with three wire ones is to install a gfci upstream from other receptacles, replace the old receptacles with new three wire ones, let them be protected from the load side of the gfci and identify them as such on the cover plates. Most gfci’s come with stickers for this purpose………. If you do this you connect nothing to the ground terminal on any of the new receptacles.

    If you have questions fire away.
    I think this is the most sane option posted. Least amount of work and and it is also an acceptable practice.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    wisconsin
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    159

    Default Re: Grounding to conduit in basement? Old house

    cheapest option is gfis. but beware trying to shove a gfi in an old box with wires that are probbly only 3 inches long really sucks!!! and about bonding to the gas line, i dont know where your from but around here thats a big NO NO.. gas and electricity dont mix.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Shamokin, Pa.
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    645

    Default Re: Grounding to conduit in basement? Old house

    Quote Originally Posted by sparky1 View Post
    cheapest option is gfis. but beware trying to shove a gfi in an old box with wires that are probbly only 3 inches long really sucks!!! and about bonding to the gas line, i dont know where your from but around here thats a big NO NO.. gas and electricity dont mix.
    True !!!!!
    One of the biggest pains is getting a GFCI + wiring to fit into say a 2&1/4 metal box. Usually I remove the box and install a deeper metal or PVC box in its place.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    jersey
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    174

    Default Re: Grounding to conduit in basement? Old house

    In my opinion the NEC is TOO lax here. But if your recognize it as a minimum standard and not a guide for doing electrical work you will have a much safer situation.

    OP you said you didnt want to sell an unsafe house, I'll see if I can tell you how to do that for around $150.

    first off putting a gfi on a a circuit with no equipment ground, while legal, isnt the best practice, in my opinion, because that little sticker doesnt give you any real "protection."

    The NEC does however allow you to run a peice of #12 or even #14 bare or insulated thhn from the receptacle back to the ground bar in the panel (or to any other part of the egc or gec)

    second load protecting outlets from a gfi should have a ground wire (green or bare)

    once all your outlets are grounded back to the panel then add he 2 ground rods, bond the water pipe and and jump the meter / hw heater.

    on a side note tho if your outlets have no ground then your lighting doesnt either. Are your fixtures listed for use with no equipment ground? There is probably a more dangerous situation there...

    example .. light stops working, go to change the bulb and put your hand on the metal trim on the fixture thats shorted against a frayed nuetral or something, your balancing yourself against the refridgerator (which is now well grounded thanks to the ground you just added) and bang 60 miliamps across the heart.

    ground the lights too or put in fixtures rated for use with no egc ( they have no exposed metal parts)

    on the flip side tho, you do all this you may not only get a few bucks more for the house but you make it more saleable.

    good luck I hope that helps.
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