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  1. #1
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    Default What is the best way to ground this house.

    Hi ALL new to the site here. I hope i can get some definative answers on this site regarding this question. I have a home that was built in 1956. It has the older two wire romex (black and white wires) with a paper insulation around the actual wires then around the paper is a braided cloth like type of insulation. Some romex cable outer insulation is black,other romex cable like for instance in the kitchen has this silver paint like coating on the outer insulation. According to a AWG gauge all wires going to receptacles throughout the house is 12 AWG. What is the best way to ground all 13 receptacles throughout short of a total re wire of house? I have gotten suggestions from change all receptacles to GFCI type, to yes go with GFCI,but find the first receptacle on each circuit and wire it up correctly on the LINE and LOAD side so it protects the other receptacles on that circuit downstream. Well some receptacles are on the same circuit ,but different rooms which a GFCI can trip,and shut off receptacles in say the living room and a bedroom. I have also gotten pros and cons on both of the above GFCI procedures. Some say GFCI receptacles are not designed roomwize to be used with the metal boxes they used at that time. 4 of the 13 receps. have 4 wires going into the box (2 white, 2 black)I was told either way there is a label that also has to be installed so it is visable on the switch plate? But every electrician does not suggest one way over the other way.
    The one thing they will say is finding the first recep in a circuit can turn into a very time consuming issuein these older dwellings. Sorry to be so long winded,but i wanted to provide all information possible. Thanks to all !!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What is the best way to ground this house.

    Quote Originally Posted by cobra007 View Post
    Hi ALL new to the site here. I hope i can get some definative answers on this site regarding this question.
    Welcome to the forum.

    In order for you to get the definitive answer inquire what the local electrical codes are in your municipality.
    The National Electrical Code (NEC) is the minimum standard and while some municipalities may follow that verbatim others will have made amendments going further as to their own interruptions.

    Things mentioned here will just be general points and not specific to your locale.


    I have a home that was built in 1956. It has the older two wire romex (black and white wires) with a paper insulation around the actual wires then around the paper is a braided cloth like type of insulation. Some romex cable outer insulation is black,other romex cable like for instance in the kitchen has this silver paint like coating on the outer insulation. According to a AWG gauge all wires going to receptacles throughout the house is 12 AWG.
    My own home was built around 1953 and has pretty much as you describe although with 14ga copper run for the 15 amp circuits.

    Which brings the question ....... is the wiring 12 ga. aluminum or copper or copper clad aluminum?

    If the wiring is copper then you're off to the races laughing.

    If it's aluminum there are special techniques and/or switches , receptacles required for this type of wiring.

    What is the best way to ground all 13 receptacles throughout short of a total re wire of house?
    Installing a GFCI receptacle will not provide an equipment ground to a circuit that is not wired for it.

    The best way to provide a true equipment ground for all the receptacles would either require running a dedicated ground wire from the service panel to each junction box .... or .... running new 14/2 or 12/2 copper from the service panel to each junction box.

    This also raises the question as to what is the service panel ... fuses or a modern breaker panel with an appropriate ground point ?

    Don't run a wire from each box to a water pipe ... this is not an acceptable method and is dangerous.


    I have gotten suggestions from change all receptacles to GFCI type, to yes go with GFCI,but find the first receptacle on each circuit and wire it up correctly on the LINE and LOAD side so it protects the other receptacles on that circuit downstream. Well some receptacles are on the same circuit ,but different rooms which a GFCI can trip,and shut off receptacles in say the living room and a bedroom.
    Back in the day when these houses were built..... the electrical requirements were pretty minimul. So it's not unusual to find that there were only 2 or 3 circuits ( depending on the size of the home) feeding the general use plugs and lights throughout the home.

    I spent a day mapping out the circuits in my home to determine what goes where and what feeds what.

    As you mentioned ... I have a bedroom that feeds half the living room plugs that are downstream. So yes .... if I were to install a GFCI in place of the bedroom receptacle and it tripped this would disable the living room plugs associated to that circuit.

    I have also gotten pros and cons on both of the above GFCI procedures. Some say GFCI receptacles are not designed roomwize to be used with the metal boxes they used at that time. 4 of the 13 receps. have 4 wires going into the box (2 white, 2 black)
    There are restrictions as to installing a GFCI receptacles in boxes ....
    1 - containing more than 4 wires ( not including the ground wires)
    2 - containing cables with more than 2 wires ( not including grounding wires)

    I have found the old boxes a tad narrower and with the GFCI receptacles being a bit wider does present a snug fit but they generally do fit. What I do do is after connecting the wires to the screw terminals is wrap the body with electrical tape. This covers the heads of the screws and helps to prevent them from touching the box .... of course making sure to test fit them before the final install.

    I was told either way there is a label that also has to be installed so it is visable on the switch plate?
    There will be labels supplied with the GFCI that say " no equipment ground" which would be used.
    Since there is no equipment ground present and if the there are 3 prong plugs installed the label needs to indicate this.... to avoid any misconception the 3rd prong is wired for this.

    Hope this helps.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  3. #3
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    Default Re: What is the best way to ground this house.

    Quote Originally Posted by YukYuk View Post
    FYI it was common in the late 50s to wire 2 kitchen circuits and split each receptacle (break yoke) so that one side is circuit A an the other is circuit B. Be sure to check this before you begin,



    Keep in mind that your older wiring had a useful life that has been exceeded (25-50 years).

    You may find that it was common to not have split kitchen receptacles and they were included as branch circuits for other areas as well.

    Are you saying there is a movement requiring replacement of this wiring like there is with knob & tube ?
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What is the best way to ground this house.

    If I were going to all the trouble of fishing in a new ground wire to all of the electrical boxes in my house, I would upgrade to all modern wiring instead and be done with it. The labor time would be about the same and you would have it done right instead of a make-shift add on.
    Yep ... that would be the logical approach.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What is the best way to ground this house.

    Installing GFCI outlets or even GFCI breakers will afford some protection but will not provide the grounding needed for some modern electronic equipment. Although as a DYer you might get away with running ground wires to the boxes, a licensed electrician could not, and the labor and tear up required would be the same needed to pull new up to date wires. Also doing it wrong could negate your fire insurance if you have a fire. I would suggest you either do nothing at this point or have the house re-wired and brought up to code.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What is the best way to ground this house.

    Thanks to all for there replys much appreciated!!!

    Canuk in answer to your questions. All wires are through and through copper, and all is on a breaker system.

    A few years ago central heat/air was installed here that required a service upgade to 125 amp. (cutler hammer)panel The electricians did what they call a sub panel or "piggy back". As inside in the kitchen is a breaker panel that is 100 amp. (fed. pac.) well considering the reputation of that panel i would like to also in addition to the grounding move all breakers to the cutler hammer panel. After, the breaker move would that then make the fed. pac. panel a junction box? And maybe with this breaker re location would it make grounding easier to make happen,or just put mme back to square 1?, just making a safer breaker panel? I feel like 20 questions here now...laughng..
    As far as my naive understanding right now is an equipment ground "absorbs" the shock via a ground wire thus not shocking the user in case of a bad wire, bad appliance,frayed wire etc.,and a no equipment ground GFCI shuts the power off to that circuit or individual receptacle very quickly via monitoring
    the current thus not shocking or protecting the user from a potential shock. What are the differences between the two? Would one of the two grounding procedures not protect a user and/or appliance,computer,plug in light or similar? Thanks all again!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What is the best way to ground this house.

    Quote Originally Posted by cobra007 View Post
    Thanks to all for there replys much appreciated!!!

    Canuk in answer to your questions. All wires are through and through copper, and all is on a breaker system.

    A few years ago central heat/air was installed here that required a service upgade to 125 amp. (cutler hammer)panel The electricians did what they call a sub panel or "piggy back". As inside in the kitchen is a breaker panel that is 100 amp. (fed. pac.) well considering the reputation of that panel i would like to also in addition to the grounding move all breakers to the cutler hammer panel. After, the breaker move would that then make the fed. pac. panel a junction box? And maybe with this breaker re location would it make grounding easier to make happen,or just put mme back to square 1?, just making a safer breaker panel? I feel like 20 questions here now...laughng..
    As far as my naive understanding right now is an equipment ground "absorbs" the shock via a ground wire thus not shocking the user in case of a bad wire, bad appliance,frayed wire etc.,and a no equipment ground GFCI shuts the power off to that circuit or individual receptacle very quickly via monitoring
    the current thus not shocking or protecting the user from a potential shock. What are the differences between the two? Would one of the two grounding procedures not protect a user and/or appliance,computer,plug in light or similar? Thanks all again!
    Moving your wiring to the other panel will no doubt require you to update the wiring because it would no longer be grandfathered.

    A GCFI outlet has an electronic circuit in it that monitors the current flow on the hot and common wires and trips if there is a minute difference. So if the current in the hot is flowing through an appliance and all or part is going to ground, through a short or you touching the hot lead and being grounded, the current flow would not be balanced and it would trip. A ground by it self does not afford this protection. If an appliance has a fraid cord and touched the case it would trip the main breaker once the current flow exceeds the breaker amperage rating say 20 amps. Such a current flow through your body would be deadly.

    Most electroinc equipment such as computers have a power supply and the computer it self operates on 12vdc or less that is supplied by the power supply. Most of these power supplies have filtering to remove a certian amount of electrical noise and require ground to get rid of the filtered noise or excess input voltage. External filters such as UPS's and filtered power strips use the ground also. That's why it is import to install GFCI's and a proper ground.
    Hope that helps.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  8. #8
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    Default Re: What is the best way to ground this house.

    cobra007 .... here's a thread discussing the purpose of the "ground" line
    http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=2746

    As for the other points regarding whether or not ... this or that .... would be definately answered by the local electrical code in your municipality.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What is the best way to ground this house.

    Quote Originally Posted by YukYuk View Post
    So you have a new grounded panel, good.

    You can then easily home run new grounded circuits (with cable that contains ungrounded conductor, grounded conductor and equipment grounding conductor) and remodel outlet boxes that meet current space/size/depth requirements, to the newer main panel, and protect them with a GFCI and/or ARC fault protection, and eventually eliminate the old (and notorious branded) panel (now sub-panel). One of the major caveats to the old panels is that they do not afford necessary and newer required space for wiring. I would avoid using the now sub-panel as a wiring path for any of your re-wired/updated branch circuits that you are going to home-run to the new main panel. You could either pull continuous new cable, or install junction boxes which you would then need to maintain accessiblity - easily done by installing a blank cover.

    I suggest you acquire the services of a qualified professional to assist you in either planing, reviewing/supervising or performing the work on site, and to be sure to acquire any necessary permits and inspections your local authority having jurisdiction may require.

    The equipment ground conductor doesn't "absorb the shock". It affords a continuous, bonded, uninterrupted path of least resistance (actually a low impedance path) for the fault current, so it doesn't flow through you as easily, but it still can; therefore you would also like to have another safety protection, especially in damp or wet areas, e.g. GFCI, as well as a direct short protection - circuit breakers or fuses, and possibly Arc Fault protection. It depends. You may also wish to look into surge protection for your entire home, or at point of use for your more sensitive electronics.
    HMMMM Qualified I have heard that before.
    Harry

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What is the best way to ground this house.

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

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