Any way to ground an outlet?

topic posted Fri, January 12, 2007 - 2:08 PM by  Unsubscribed
I'm supposed to be putting a computer in my room but I'm told that it shouldn't be done unless I've got a 3 pronged grounded outlet, which I have none of in my space. So is there any way to ground one of the outlets?
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  • The easy solution is to buy a GFCI (also called GFI) style outlet, and use it to replace an existing ungrounded outlet.

    A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter serves the same purpose as a ground, for all intents and purposes, as far as I understand:
    if there's an issue, it switches off the power right at the outlet.

    Naturally, you'll need to turn off the power in that circuit to swap the outlets- unless you're coolheaded and dextrous enough to do it without touching more than one wire at a time :) I used to do it that way sometimes, but it's not my favorite.
    • A GFCI outlet will need a ground of some sort as it will trip otherwise I am pretty sure. if you really want to do it right, go to the hardware store and get a ground clamp for your water pipe and then run copper to the outlet in question.

      Best of luck to you and be careful.
    • Hm, interesting topic and one that appears to have create some equally interesting comments. Foremost, regardless of our skill level and knowledge, I would obtain advice from a qualified electrician unless, of course, the solution is a plug and play. This is not and therefore could cause major problems and disruption to your safe running and operation of your machine. Far too often we dabble with our computer hardware only to cause problems that result in major cost and ultimately tradesmen.

    • I would not suggest using an adapter or surge protector if you have no earth ground. If you can change all your 2 prong outlets to 3 prong outlets then I’ll suggest you do that, and thereafter ground them to the main electrical panel via GFCIs. If your house has old wiring it is a hazard to say the least and I really suggest you call someone to re-wire, change the outlets and put a copper stick in the ground if you can afford it.

  • The easy solution is to buy a GFCI (also called GFI) style outlet, and use it to replace an existing ungrounded outlet.

    A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter serves the same purpose as a ground, for all intents and purposes, as far as I understand:
    if there's an issue, it switches off the power right at the outlet.

    Naturally, you'll want to turn off the power in that circuit to swap the outlets- unless you're coolheaded and dextrous enough to do it without touching more than one wire at a time :) I used to do it that way sometimes, but it's not my favorite.
  • i used that exact method (a gfci) when i only had a 2 prong outlet. i had no problems at all.
    • A GFCI compares electrons in to electrons out and cuts the power if they're different (i.e., if the electrons are running to ground through something they shouldn't). The outlet doesn't have to be grounded. At least that's what my electrician told me, but he's an asshole.

      Wow, I got to use "electrons" in 2 posts this afternoon. God, I need to get back to work.
      • Asshole yes....... but a well grounded asshole !
        • LOL
          • Both a GFCI and a "regular" three prong grounded receptacle require a ground wire in the feed. Cut the power to the receptacle in question and remove the cover plate. Inspect the fixture. If there is no ground wire in the box, then you are done. You will have to re-wire the circuit. For this, you want NM 12-2-G. That means, non-metallic, 12 guage, 2 wires with ground. If you have a ground wire in the box, then just replace the receptacle with a 15 amp, three pronger. I wouldn't waste the money on a gfci unless it is a wet location. But, I would get a good surge protector. For new circuits, code in most places now requires that circuits serving bedrooms be equipped with arc fault circuit interrupter breakers (AFCI). You swap out the old breaker in the mains box to do it.
            • RE-wiring, instaling GFI's , alot of work to plug in a computer. Orrrrrrrr, you can take off the face plate and see if the box containing the receptical is metal, or if it is a plastic box, there is a wire leading to the face plate screw. If it is, use a 3 - 2 prong adapter, AKA a ground lift, if you want it to ground, you MUST put the screw for the face plate through little metal tab ( it's not there for looks! ) on the adapter. This will ground the adapter, thus grounding the computer.
              • Sometimes if the box and conduit are metal, the outlet is grounded, but sometimes it's not.
                • If it is all metal conduit to the breaker/fuse box it is grounded. Because the incomming service is always grounded, thus grounding the service box.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Sure, it's _supposed_ to be grounded, but you'll find that's not always the case.
                    I have found several that were not, when by all appearances they should have been.
                    • Unsu...
                      any outlet that is not grounded was either installed incorrectly or the ground wire has broken. this can be a DANGEROUS SURPRISE! to defeat this danger EVERYONE should have a plug in circuit tester. it's a small yellow plug that you plug into any questionable outlet and indicates the status of the outlet by the combination of it's three lights. these devices are so critical to me that i have them scattered about like confetti. i keep them in the glove box of all my vehicles, in all my tool boxes, in the bats and laundry room even in my survival vest. my wife even carries one in her purse. she knows better than to plug anything into an unknown outlet without checking it first. but then she's been married to a master electrician for40 year:))
                      i will place a photo of one in this tribe photos. they only cost a couple bucks.
                      • Prior to branching off the garage circuit to install outdoor light fixtures, I checked it with one of those plug-in outlet testers. Everything on the tester was happy. When I opened the outlet box, there was no ground wire to be seen (it was a circuit Dad had installed). It was a three-prong outlet and nothing whatsoever connected to the ground. Yet the tester was happy as a clam. So I added the ground wire before adding the outdoor fixtures.
  • Although it is *theoretically* better for all electronics to be grounded, I rarely see this in the field. Unless you have a really messed up electrical system at this location (which can damage a computer over time) I wouldn't worry about it, and have had good luck putting computers in such situations onto a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) rather than plugging them directly into the wall. The UPS operates sort of like a shock absorber or a water heater and assures a more even feed. I've put a couple into a rural house whose wiring was eating computers every two years, and they have been fine since then.

    If the wiring inside the wall does not include a ground, there is not a simple solution (as others have explained in more detail than I could).
    • Actually, this is what killed my UPS. (It's better than killing the power supply on my computer, but it's still an annoyance.) Reading through the materials that came with the UPS, it clearly says that hooking it up to an ungrounded or improperly gounded outlet can prevent the unit's battery from charging, and could void any warranty.
  • Unsu...
    they make an adapter plug. buy it about anywhere. has two prongs and a green wire. connect the green wire to the screw on the outlet that holds the faceplate on. costs maybe $2.
  • Unsu...
    Open the outlet and determine whether you even have a ground wire.

    It ';; be the Bare wire.
    Or if you house was wired in the 1950's the ground will likely be the metal shielding called BX cable.

    In either event you can replace the current plug socket with a nice shiny new one and attach a wire to that and then to the metal box.
    If the box is plastic then attach the ground wire from the new socket to the ground wire in the box.

    Turn off the power first unless you are handy at avoiding getting zapped. OUCH
  • Unsu...
    i ran into this adapter while looking for something else and remembered this thread
    • Unsu...
      Those little adapters don't create a ground. They connect to ground by virtue of that little metal tab with the hole in it.

      You are supposed to unscrew the little screw that holds the plastic (or metal) cover plate on your outlet. Then you use that screw to go through the little metal tab and back into the outlet.
      The idea is that the threaded metal part in the outlet's body is connected to ground.

      I can't say for sure whether the threaded hole in the outlet body is grounded by virtue of a manufacturing standard, or National Code, or just happenstance. I'd not trust it unless I ran a multimeter check on it.
      • Unsu...
        the REASON THEY MAKE THE ADAPTER is for what is needed. yes of course the little screw hole is grounded. thats why they make the thing. ALL the screw holes that hold the faceplates on are ground. thats why they make the adapter. theres no need for all the rigamorole. thats WHY THEY MAKE THE ADAPTER.
        ps. i got my electrical license in 1979.
        • steve.

          if the outlet is grounded or the junction box is grounded, than yes the screw hole is grounded because it conects to the metal brackets of the outlet. These parts are not neccessarily grounded. You can use your volt meter to measure the potential from the hot leg (the smaller slot) to the junction box. If it is 120 vac then there is a path to ground and a ground lift adapter is a way of grounding the outlet. If there is no potential from the hot to the junction box, then for whatever reason, the box is not a grounding conductor and the ground lift adapter is just a way of pluging in a grounded plug into an ungrounded outlet.
          regardeless it is an alternative means of grounding and it is not as good as actually getting a conductor into the j-box from the grounded buss on the main panel which should connect to the cold water and a ground rod.
          • Unsu...
            VIDA you simply don't want to understand. you only want to be right. the frikken OUTLET IS GROUNDED by the GROUND WIRE hooked to it. i repeat IF IT"S WIRED CORRECTLY! you are WRONG! the little screw is NOT connected to the metal brackets of the box. it IS connected to the BODY of the OUTLET!
            shit! I GIVE UP!
        • Unsu...
          ********ALL the screw holes that hold the faceplates on are ground. thats why they make the adapter. theres no need for all the rigamorole. thats WHY THEY MAKE THE ADAPTER. *************

          This confuses conveyance with causality

          There is no guarantee that the box is grounded.
          The fact that the adaptor is made to connect to a ground does not guarantee that the ground exists.
          Taking it for granted that every box has a ground in it is - - well - - error.

          I've opened up lots of electrical boxes with the ground wire cut off at the romex because the idiot who wired it was too lazy to take the trouble to do it right.
          I've opened 'em up where there were only two wires going in neutral and hot and no ground no shielding - nothing at all :a remnant of old knob and tube.

          Hell I actually knew a guy whop wired his whole house with two wire zip cord. He was actually proud of that madness.

          Always check to determine whether you have a valid ground.

  • Unsu...

    There is some very bad advice being given here.

    The reason to ground the electrical outlet for a computer and other sensistive electronic equipment is to reduce inteference from the electrical noise that is inherent in two wire systems. A three wire grounded circuit has a better grounding system and thus less electrical noise. Good electrical ground is a key to reducing electrical noise and interefence.

    The three wire system also reduces the hazards of electrical fire and shock, but that is true throughout the house and is not a reason why your computer would need it. That is more a concern for appliances that draw lots of current, that are in wet areas, etc.

    Another reason for having a three wire ground system for your computer is to protect it from power surges, caused by lightening and other spikes that can come down the line. Many of your spike suppression devices require a three wire grounded circuit. But spikes are just another form of electrical noise, albeit an extreme case of computer frying noise. So we are still talking about noise.

    In total contrast, the GFCI is a safety device intended to protect people from getting electrocuted and does not have jack to do with noise. The GFCI does nothing to protect your computer from the electrical noise found on a two wire system, and unless you are running your computer in a wet area, hardly seems necessary. A GFCI will also do nothing to protect your computer from surges and over voltages coming down the line. GFCI responds to shorts, not overvoltages and spikes. GFCI is not a spike supression devive.

    GFCI is essential in kitchens, bathrooms, and other wet areas for human safety. I am all in favor of installing GFCI, but it is not going to help your computer.
    • Unsu...
      So the way to ground it is to find the nearest "ground" and run a 12 or 10 gauge wire from it to the ground terminal on your outlet. This means getting inside the wall, usually, or getting underneath the house if it is pier and beam and running a wire up to the outlet. You may have to come down from the attic if the house is on a slab. IF that all sounds too difficult, time to call an electrician.

      So what is "ground?"

      Cold water copper pipes can be a ground if the pipes actually run into the soil at some point or are connected to a ground. Copper is a great conductor, of course. Steel pipes might be a ground, but are inferior to copper.

      Or you can run the wire literally into the earth. You usually have to have some kind of rod that goes into the ground, and put some kind of conductive solution in the ground in that area, then connect the ground wire to that rod/ You would need to read up on that, I've never installed an earth ground rod and can't tell you exactly how to do it.

      Then there are electrical codes to deal with.
  • Unsu...
    everyone! don't fall for all of this BS! it's just that. BS! can't you READ what the adapter does?
    "This 125v, 15 amp adapter takes a 3-prong grounded male plug and turns it into 2-prong grounded male plug." it's WHY they make this device.
    these ain't the only people who make them. yoou can get them ANYWHERE. it's WHY THEY MAKE THEM. it's to solve a VERY COMMON PROBLEM.
    you don't need all of this BS! just a $1 ADAPTER
    • I don't mean this as an insult, but I just don't get how one of those adapters could create ground just by providing a receptacle for the ground prong of a plug. I product description isn't all that educational to me.

      I've seen earlier era wiring that used metal boxes with the ground wire attached to it and outfitted with two prong outlets, which would explain how the adapter, with the tab connected by a metal faceplate screw, could provide ground. But that just about exhausts my understanding of how household electrical currents work. Does perhaps the common wire double as a ground wire? If so, why was a separate ground wire later introduced?

      thanks in advance for the enlightenment

      • Unsu...
        there are three wires going to the outlet. one white is the common ( connects to the silver lug), another black is the hot ( connects to the BRASS lug), the last can be either a geen or bare copper wire ( depending on the type of wire used. IT IS THE GROUND ( connects to the GREEN LUG). the GROUND is through the OUTLET because sometimes there are plastic boxes and conduit used. if the box is metal it too is grounded. the LITTLE METAL SCREW does NOT fasten into the BOX. it screws into the OUTLET. the threaded hole is in the OUTLET NOT THE BOX. since the GROUND WIRE ( which always connects to the GREEN LUG) grounds the body of the outlet the faceplate screw is ALWAYS GROUNDED. this was devised to minimize any chance of shock. since electricity always takes the path of LEAST RESISTANCE any short travels to the nearest ground. the FACEPLATE SCREW if for instance you flip a switch in the bathroom with dripping wet hands or plug in a plug with dripping wet hands. although you would definitely get a memorable jolt it won't be fatal because it will take the path of least resistance to the GROUNDED SCREW. for instance thats why children don't get routinely electrocuted fataly when they stick something in the outlet. because the electricity doesn't travel through thier bodies to ground it travels through the screw. not all adaptors have the little tab. some have a small GREEN WIRE with an eye on the end. this is to facilitate attachment easier when the faceplate is abnormal. in direct answer to your qwuestion... YES the WHITE/common wire and the BRASS/ground wire are BOTH grounds. but not to be confused.... they cannot be used interchangeably. because ( to sound redundant) the electricity takes the path of least resistance. a critical consideration when making proper connections in wiring.
        until the advent of ALL PLASTIC power tools every power tool sold came with a ground adaptor. i must have dozens scattered around. but now that nearly all power tools have plastic frames this is obviated. but STILL if you buy a higher end power tool thats still made of metal it will come with an adapter.

        • thanks steve... I'm gonna take some time to soak this in.

          In college I used to think I was really smart, acing all my classes until I hit that second semester of physics where the properties of electricity were introduced. Somehow I was just missing the essential grey matter necessary for wrapping my brain around those concepts. I still managed a B, but I honestly don't know how. .

          thanks again for the explanation
          • OK - I have read all of the responses to this question and there is some seroius misunderstandings about electrical wiring - some of which might create a very dangerous situation. Leeme try to explain a few things:

            1. A GFCI outlet is not required by code in the situation described. Typically GFCI outlets are required in kitchens and bathrooms and a few other areas where water might be present.

            2. The electrical wiring in modern houses is one of 2 types - there is a third but that is so old that in 30 yrs I have never seen a system that is still operating tho I have seem the remains.

            The older type of wiring utilizes metal boxes and armored cable which has a flexible coiled metal casing inside of which is normally 2 wires - one black (power or hot) and one white (neutral). In this wiring the ground is maintained thru the metal boxes and the coiled metal casing. As these systems were originally installed the outlets used had only 2 prongs there being no need for a round grounding prong.

            The newer type wiring utilizes plastic boxes (normally blue) and non-metalic (NM) cable. This cable has a plastic outer insulation and in it's simplest form 3 wires inside - one black (power or hot), one white (neutral) and one bare wire (ground). The outlets have three holes.

            So the first thing you have to determine is which type of wiring you have. To do this dtermine which fuse controls the electrical box you want to modify and turn that fuse off. Then if you have a voltage tester check to make sure the outlet has no power (if you dont have a tester use a lamp - the lamp will not light if the outlet is dead). Then take the face plate off of the outlet. Is the box metal or plastic? Then unscrew the existing outlet (do not unscrew any wires yet) Pull the outlet out of the box and follow the wires to where they enter the box. You will see either the end of the coiled metal casing or a metal screw adapter. The will be black and white. If this is the case you have the older type of wiring plan.

            If you have a blue plastic box and when you take the outlet out of the box you see a cable with plastic insulation you have the newer type of wiring. In the box you will find 3 wires - black, white and bare copper. This is the newer type of wiring plan. You should already have a 3 prong grounded outlet if you have this type of wiring plan but you may not if it was installed shortly after the code allowed NM cable.

            In both types of wiring there maybe more than one cable coming into the box - dont worry about that yet.

            There is also a hybred typically found where a new circuit has been added to an older type of wiring plan - plastic box, coiled metal cable.

            Once you have determined which type of wiring plan you have follow the following steps:

            Older Wiring Plan - You will need to get a 3 prong outlet, a short length of copper wire about 6 inches long and a special green colored screw made for metal boxes (you can get them at your local hardware store or at one of the big box stores). Now back at the outlet - attach the bare copper wire to the green screw on the new outlet. Then carefully pull the old outlet out of the box and to one side. Take the green screw you bought and screw it into one of the small holes in the back of the metal box and attach the other end of the bare copper wire to it tightly. This will establish the ground continuity for the new outlet. Now what you want to do is unscrew one wire at a time from the old outlet and screw it onto the new outlet - black wires go to the brass screws and white wires go to the silver screws. Just follow the old pattern in wiring the new outlet. Once done push the wires back into the box, screw in the outlet and replace the cover plate.

            New Wiring Plan - all you need is a new 3 prong outlet, pull the old outlet out of the box, disconnect one wire at a time and attach it to the new outlet in the same pattern - black wires to brass screws, white to silver screws and bare copper to the green screw.

            Hybred Wiring - if you have a plastic box with a coiled metal cable and it was installed properly you probably already have a 3 prong grounded outlet. Inside the box should be 3 wires attached to the old outlet black, white and bare copper. Just follow the existing pattern of wiring, one wire at a time, black to brass, white to silver and bare copper to the green screw. If there are only 2 wires a black and a white - it is probably time for you to call an electrician.

            NOTE: If you have a green wire it is a ground wire so it is treated like a bare copper wire.

            NOTE: If there is a red wire it is carrying power and is to be treated like a black wire.

            Remember always follow the pattern of the original outlet that is assured by only detaching one wire at a time and attaching that wire to the same colored screw on the new outlet.

            After you are all finished turn the circuit breaker back on.

            Good Luck

            • Unsu...

              Some older wiring systems had only two prongs, but the metal recepticle box was grounded by some means, either by conduit or by a third conducter. With those, the little one dollar adapters with the little tang that screws into the recepticle makes contact with the grounded metal recepticle box and that gives you a ground. The tang, you see, is connected to the middle third ground prong. But if you don't screw it in, you won't get the connection.

              But there are also old houses in which there are just two wires going to the recepticle and the metal recepticle box is not grounded to anything. With those, the little adapter don't do shit, other than make it physically possible to plug in your three prong device into a two prong outlet.

              Now people are throwing their credentials around. I'm not an electrician, but I've designed and built high voltage high speed remote control systems for use in high radiation environments. I know a thing or two, okay, and about 10,000 times more about electricty than the guys who come out to your house to rewire your breaker box, yo.

              But I still call my electrican brother-in-law when it comes to electrical code stuff. He knows the local code, and I don't. He also can tell me when textbook theory don't comport with practical experience.

              What just chaps my hide is when folks who don't know electrical theory and have no practical experience, either, get on here and tell folks how to wire their homes. Ugh. People just make shit up. Why? Just cause you have bought shit in from the eletrical isle at Home Depo and bolted it into your wall at home does not mean you know what the fuck you are talking about.

              If you are not an electrician, an electrical engineer, or someone who otherwise has some actual knowledge and experience and solid basis for offering opinions on electricity, why open your mouth and offer guesses and speculation as if it were fact? Trying to get people killed? Electricity will kill and burn shit down if you don't know what you are doing with it. Yet people write total nonsense about it on here, repeatedly, and not just in this thread. Just about every thread on the subject. Morons like Salil, for example (is he still here? He holds 8 bachelor of liberal arts degrees but has never held a volt meter ior a screw driver in his prissy little hands.) Why is Tribe infested with these assholes? This is what is wrong with Tribe. Every bullshit artist feels compelled to offer his opinion on every subject even when he has no fricken clue.
              • Interesting comments but there seems to be a slight disconnect:

                " I'm not an electrician, but I've designed and built high voltage high speed remote control systems for use in high radiation environments. I know a thing or two, okay, and about 10,000 times more about electricty than the guys who come out to your house to rewire your breaker box, yo."


                "But I still call my electrican brother-in-law when it comes to electrical code stuff"

                Not sure I would trust what you know about household wiring over what your brother-in-law knows. If you don't know the electrical code then you shouldn't be offering advise such as that which you give in the first 2 paragraphs of your post. Those 2 paragraphs clearly demonstrates the kind of advice you rail against in the last 2 paragraphs of your post.

                What's that old proverb about the kettle and the pot?
                • Jezze, What's wrong with you people ? I posted the basic see if your faceplate screw is grounded info A MONTH AGO ! And still this simple question, and simple solution, drag on and on.
                  I doubt anyone here cares who's dick is bigger, so put em back in your pants boys !
              • Unsu...
                prophet i agree with you 100%. it's the bane of the internet.. FRIKKEN BULLSHIT ARTISTS! that and dumbass MOFO's who truly believe they are geniuses. when in reality the DON'T HAVE A CLUE!
            • Charlie, you totally rawk! This WAS the very answer I was looking for. My home was built in 58, and the detailed "old wiring" description you gave is exactly what I found. I followed your exact directions and am pretty sure it's good, though I haven't checked it yet.

              Thanks a bunch!
            • "If there are only 2 wires a black and a white - it is probably time for you to call an electrician."

              I have a fully finished basement (done by the previous owner) that has outlets and switches with in plastic boxes with only two wires, black and white.

              I want to replace one switch with a motion sensor type but it requires a ground to work, What can I do?
              Thanks in advance Charley!
        • steve-

          the little screw is only grounded if the outlet or the box is grounded. Otherwise it is isolated.
          A lot of what you are saying here is problematic from an acuracy point of view. Seems like you have a practical understanding of how to get an outlet wired, but this is not good information here.
          • steve-

            all the outlets and switches in my house and all the houses I have worked on, are amde of plastic or some other non-conductor. Electricity does not run through me a little bit and go to the grounded faceplate screw in all situations except those of foulty equipment wich is what grounding safegaurds against.

            sorry to double post, but this is so probelmatic.
          • Unsu...
            actually it is you who doesn't understand. even if we've explained it multiple times by multiple people. if it is wired correctly.THE OUTLET IS GROUNDED.THE OUTLET IS GROUNDED.THE OUTLET IS ROUNDED.
            to repeat i got my electricians license in 1979, i got my ham radio license in 1962. when did you get yours?
            • Unsu...
              Steve said:

              actually it is you who doesn't understand. even if we've explained it multiple times by multiple people. if it is wired correctly.THE OUTLET IS GROUNDED.THE OUTLET IS GROUNDED.THE OUTLET IS ROUNDED...
              to repeat i got my electricians license in 1979, i got my ham radio license in 1962. when did you get yours?


              Your statement is based on the assumption that the outlet is wired correctly. You state so yourself. That's a big if. I have seen plenty of two wire systems that have no ground whatsoever. The metal outlet recepticle is floating in those homes. I defer to your experience as an electrician on the best way to retrofit those systems for grounding.

              As to the other person who wondered how I could design high voltage systems but not be an authority on the electrical code for household wiring, well, gee, there are many industrial, scientific and experimental applications that are not governed by the household electrical code. My systems were not concerned with delivering 120 volts ac to someone's dishwasher, you know? For example, my stuff delivered a series of synchronized, high voltage, radio freqency pulses to diagnostic equipment that monitored and controlled an experimental fusion reactor. Not something an electrician would know how to do.

              I respect the electrician trade, but I have years of education, training and experience in electrical engineering that puts me a bit higher in the knowledge base that a journeyman electrician when it comes to talking about electricity in general. But I will humbly defer to electricians on what are the requirements of the electrical code as far as what type of wiring, breakers and connections are required by law and things of that sort. I will also defer to them on how to solve wiring problems around the house. They do that stuff everyday, and I don't. They have knowledge and experience about the delivery of line voltages that I don't. We have overlapping knowledge bases but I don't pretend to be an electrician.

              But yeah, I think I am qualified to refute the claim made earlier by someone that a GFCI will protect your computer from electrical noise. I feel qualified to tell that grounding the outlet will help reduce the noise, and adding a surge suppressor and noise filter (which usually requires a ground) is better still.

              Anyone here other than Steve and I actually know what they are talking about when it comes to electrical stuff?

              What I really want to know is why people who know nothing on the subject of electricity offer opinions on it?
              • Unsu...
                dan explained it correctly, charley explained it correctly, prophet explained it correctly and i did. but seems it wasn't enough. however since we gonna keep at this i will too. my house has many grounds. for my own preference i have dedicated ground rods for my hot water heater, my refrigerator, my service, my solar systems,my home theater and all five of my antennas. i chose to do this rather than one ground rod for just the service ( which would be adequate) but to protect my equipment. for instance if my hot water heater shorted it would go to it's dedicated ground rod rather than through my service ground which would possibly ruin a breaker.
                yes my assumption is that it's wired correctly. but to cover my ass thats why i explained about the circuit tester.
                and no cellphones didn't affect ham radio much. we still have better comm than cellphones because the electronics we use have advanced alongside the internet and cellphones. in katrina there were no cellphones. but we had comm. the internet might go down but we have our own satellite system that we can use to send data worldwide independently. although we do use it less when cellphones and internet are available i use mine daily to keep the net up.
                ps. i'm not a journeyman electrician i'm a master. and as far as the rest of what you said...... the ORIGINAL QUESTION we are addressing is how to interface a computer with household wiring. not about tesla coils. which i have built since early childhood.
                • Steve,

                  multiple grounds should all be bonded outside the house with a number 6 ground wire running to each ground rod. The reason is that having several ground rods creates a situatio where there may be different impedences to ground at the different rods. If that is true the path of least resistance might be through the entire house to a ground rod on the other side of the house, or even through circuity. That might not have been referenced in the NEC 1978 but is has made it there since then now that more about grounding is understood.
                • Unsu...
                  Woah, Steve, I wasn't implying you were a journeyman. Sorry my sarcasim came across as a jab at you. I was jabbing at no one in particular, just the many people who speak beyond their expertise. Also, my contributions to electrical engineering had nothing to do with Tesla coils.

                  There are many different ways to skin a cat. What got me fired up was someone saying you should just put in a GFCI. That is so ignorant. What would compel someone to offer such ignorant advice?

                  The original question was how to ground a two wire system. The reason for the question was because the person had been advised he needed to ground his system to protect his computer.

                  Your computer will probably work just fine on a two wire, ungrounded system. But if you want to protect your computer from glitches caused by noise and hash coming in on the power line, a three conductor, grounded system is a good idea. And if you want to protect your computer from damage or destruction by surges, then surge protector and a noise suppressor are a good idea, and most of those require a three wire system.

                  So we are back to the question of how to convert a two wire system to a three wire system. If your system is truly two wire, meaning that the outlet box is not grounded, then you are going to have to run a ground wire to the outlet. There are various ways to do it. But if you want to do it without tearing the wall out, you will probably need to hire a good electrician. Someone like Steve.

                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    no prob. i was just correcting facts. also i doubt the outlet box isn't grounded. so i still advise a $1 adapter and you can check it with $3 circuit tester before you go to tearing out walls etc. cause i'll bet it's grounded.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Hey Prophet!
                    I suggested a GFCI because it seemed that the original poster had limited interest, time, and access to the wiring of his (apt? dorm?) beyond the outlets in his room. It would provide the third prong, and *as I understand it* (as I said before) would serve the same basic purpose as a real ground. I didn't know about the specific issue with computers and noise.

                    Could you explain why this is such terrible advice? I'd love to learn more on the subject.
            • Unsu...
              Steve, do you still do ham radio? That was a very cool hobby. I was wondering if the wide spread availability of cell phones, internet and other satellite and computer based communication technology had all but killed ham radio.

              Ham radio is still utterly cool. It's so retro as to be subversive.
            • what if it is a 2 prongged outlet?

              look at the start of the thread, the post asking how to ground an outle that is not grounded.

              if it is a 2 pronged outlet there is probably only a hot and a nuetral. there is probably not a ground wire although there may be.

              listening to this guy's question makes me think there isnt even any thermoplastic in the whole building.

              No I didnt get my licence in 1979, but I bet that was the last time you read up on the electrical code because things have changed since then.
  • I am assuming you have a good investment in your computer. The best thing you can do is keep on investing into the care of your computer. There is a lot of things you can do as explained by every one here. What chances are you willing to take with your investment. I think the best thing you can do if you still want to do it yourself is at least have some one take a look at it, who is knowledgable in this area and then go from there.
    • Whoa I can't believe that I am weighing in on this subject. I am not an electrician. I have wired five houses: four remodels and one new construction. There is a Bible out there for us do it yourselfers. It is called Home Wiring Step by Step Guide. It has hundreds of easy to understand picture/diagrams of wiring situations. This booklet is available at any hardware store. It costs maybe 3-5 Bucks. Now just let me say that all of the remodels I have rewired were in houses built before 1970. It is hard to believe some of the stupid shit I have encountered. I have seen many two wire (black and white) non metal clad wire circuits with metal boxes. No grounding there. You can attach all the GFI s and adapters you want but it still won't be grounded. Time to think about locating the house's electrical ground and screw that hoaky connection to the water pipes. Time to think about purchasing a ten foot grounding rod and driving it ten feet into the ground (tool rental places have a nifty driver for this task). Good Luck.
      • The requirement for grounding convenience outlets differs from region to region and date of construction in relationship to the code requirements at the time. It is not unusual to find homes built prior to the 60's in California with outlets with only a hot (black) and neutral (white) wire and an ungrounded bakelite box. It's has not been wired "wrong", it just was not required at the time by code and location.

        Typically in a home with two wire cloth covered romex you will find a ground loop from the circuit box of bare copper wire running from light fixture to fixture and exterior convenience outlets. I have found that it is acceptable to most inspectors in California for an existing ungrounded convenience outlet to be grounded by running bare copper wire to the ground loop and connecting to a new three prong receptacle. Most inspectors frown on a ground to a water pipe or waste line due to the possibility of a repair being made with plastic pipe in the future.

        • most inspectors insist on a cold water ground from the neutral buss in the main panel to within 5 feet of where the pipe goes into the ground if the pipe is metal. It is required by the code and you may also need a ground rod as well. When there is not a metal cold water pipe available, you need 2 ground rods at least 6 feet apart.
          • i know its well after the fact, but i just read this and laughed my ass off.
            everybody's gettin in an uproar.
            in order for a two wire system to be grounded the receptacle has to be screwed to a metal box which is connected to a metal conduit, which somewhere down the line has to be connected to the cold water copper, which actually goes into the ground. if this is the case then the two dollar adapter with the green loop will work. if not, the new grounded receptacle, will require an additional copper wire to be pulled down and connected to the waterpipe system. or out the wall and connected to a 5/8 diameter ground stake driven into the ground. usually 8' long. i dare somebody to argue this with me.
  • I'm an elecronic engineer who designs stuff that hopefully will not fail the first time there is a lighning strick in the area. First, the $2 plug-in adaptor will only work if you have a grounded box. The person who keeps harping about the plug-in grounding adaptors probably lives in an area where conduit or BX is required. This is not true in most of the country. If there are just two wires to the outlet, it is not grounded. Next, is a grounded outlet really required???? Electronic components are damaged by an applied voltage higher than they can stand. The designers attempt to reduce this possibility by using various surge absorbing devices on the input power lines. Usually, there is one surge absorber between the two power wires. Then there are absorbers from the power lines to ground. There are a lot of reasons for this, a lightng strike a distance away can induce some rather spectacular voltages in a wire. Antenna and resonance theory are way beyond the scope of this, just assume it can happen. Anyway, back to the compuer. The components inside the case only care about the voltage across that component. If the computer is not grounded, and there is a power surge relative to ground, the computer case, keyboard, mouse, all rise to the same voltage. There is no place for the electricity to go, there is no voltage difference between parts of the computer. There is no voltage difference between the components, nothing is damaged - except maybe you if you are touching the keyboard during an extreme (many thousands of volts) surge. So, why do they ground the computer? The above only applys if the computer is not connected to anything else. If you have a network or phone cable connected, all of a sudden the voltage surge on the power lines has a place to go - out through anything else connected to it. This will probably cause damage to something. If your PC is totally wireless, a wireless network connection, and bluetooth to the printer (a bluetooth keyboard and mouse is also a good idea - it gives you total isolation in case of a lighting strike), you should get along fine without a grounded outlet.

    A few more comments. Take a look at your fuse or circuit breaker box. If the cables are in conduit or wrapped in a metal jacket (BX) you most likely have grounded outlet boxes. Then the $2 adaptor may be OK for you. If you see a kind of silver-gray covered cables, you most likely do not have grounding. If you have the BX type, this gives fair grounding electrically, but is almost worthless for surges. Without going into details, the jacket has usually corroded enough that you do not have good connections between the windings of the metal cover. (The little bare metal wire inside the jacket is pretty much useless at the currents involved in a good surge). The surge has to go round and round the cable to get back to the main box. In electronic terms, this is called an inductor. I does not allow fast pulses such as a lighning surge to pass.

    If is was in this situation, I would install a surge absorber in the main panel protecting the branch feeding the outlet. This will protect from surges coming in from outside. (It does not protect from induced voltages in the wire from the panel to the outlet, but this is not that much of a problem usually). Then just forget about the ground at the PC.

    A final word of warning, sometimes the surge absorbers used in the PC will "leak" current to the computer case - especially if the two wires on the back of the power outlet are reversed. I would check with a volt meter from the PC case to a ground somplace - just in case.
  • joe
    offline 0
    dont use GFCI. gfci dont work unless it's grounded. so all u'll have is a expensive 3 prong outlet with no grown and now ground fault protection. cheapest way to get growned is to get a single 12 gauge solid or stranded (green) wire and find away to get it into your outlet junctionbox. ground one end to your new 3 prong outlet and the other end to a water line. use a clamp to tie the grown to the water line. if a water line is no where close to where u can access it. get a growning rode and drive that in the grown and tie it to that. water line is way easier. don't use gfci. lol
    • Better to just drive a copper spike into the actual ground and run the wire from there. Use a GFCI to test that the grounding is working properly to the outlet. I did this to one socket at my place so I could use a legit line conditioner and backup power supply to my computer.
      • Also, if you live where lightening knocking out electricity is notorious, it may be best to run this wire into your basement dirt (when possible) so that the ground line isn't exposed to the sky so much.
          EVERYTHING HERE IS MAKE SHIFT!!!!! --- the houses are constructed of block and concrete.... the wires are either run through the concrete it self or through plastic tubing.... the are NO CONTINUOUS metal connections, but for the wires themselves. 2prong.
          I am constantly getting a low level shock from either the wall plate/ shared light switch... the computer casing, and all extensions. I tired to download some pictures from my camera the other day and had to wear gloves to do so.... the camera itself became electrified.
          There is NOWHERE that I can penetrate the concrete to get to soil...... Not without risking a berating by the landlady.
          ALL of the water pipes are PLASTIC... PVC that is.

          So tell me now...... What is there to do... other than die or lose the computer????

          I have a battery back up, multiple bus boxes and yet the current still get through........
          TELL ME --TELL ME -- TELL ME---
          • Unsu...

            *****I am constantly getting a low level shock from either the wall plate/ shared light switch..*********

            ******. the computer casing, and all extensions. I tired to download some pictures from my camera the other day and had to wear gloves to do so.... the camera itself became electrified. ************

            ********There is NOWHERE that I can penetrate the concrete to get to soil...... Not without risking a berating by the landlady.*************

            Ohh ~!!! OHH~!!!!!! Oh GOODY~!!!!!!

            Here is what you need to do.
            Don’t try to establish your own ground in the soil. It’s a complicated science and way beyond the layman.
            Forget trying to mess with the wiring.

            You problem is that you rental unit is not habitable. It is illegal. There is at least one serious ground fault somewhere and your landlady needs a tradesman to fix it.
            The wiring is a serious hazard it is potentially life threatening and certainly is very bad for your electronics.
            I am not a CA lawyer but I am a lawyer in three jurisdictions on the east coast. The law in every state that I know of essentially requires that land lords provide a habitable structure and failure to provide and maintain one is a violation of the implicit and at law terms of any residence lease / rent arrangement.
            So your landlady is in breech of contract.

            It is her obligation at law to fix the problem.
            Tell her that your electrical is shocking you and she needs to get an electrician.
            Then call the town. Code Enforcement is the place to start.
            So then if she tosses you out because you made her get it fixed she can then be sued and maybe even charged criminally for retaliatory actions to cover up an illegal condition in her rental unit.

            If you screw around with the electrical she can say you caused the problem and sue your ass.

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