GFCI and general grounding question

Hello.
Went to hook up a GFCI for a basement installation (new outlet) and noticed that there was no ground conductor connected to the line I was connecting off of. Started popping off outlet covers around the house for outlets, light switches, other GFCI's, and nothing has the green ground screw connected. Not only that, there is only 2 wires (black and white) coming in, so there isn't even a ground wire to connnect.
This house is 2 months old and was bought new construction in Illinois.
1) Should the light switches, outlets, and GFCI be grounded by code?
2) If they shouldn't be, isn't there some kind of verbage that goes on the outlet/switch to indicate it is not grounded? (If there is a link to the instruction, can you provide it ?)
3) Is this worth a visit/chat with the building inspector, or is this a staisfactory install?
Thanks!
John
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John wrote:

Illinois?? By any chance is the wiring in metallic conduit? If so, it may be permissible *in some cases* to ground the device to the _metal_ box directly via the mounting screws and omit the Green grounding conductor.
If boxes are non-metallic and/or the wiring is not in metal conduit, it should be an interesting discussion with the bldg dep't!!
Jim
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But even if the wiring is in metal conduit and the code allows to ground by connecting to the metal box, there should be a wire connecting the metal box to the green screw of the outlets, the asker says "nothing has the green ground screw connected", from that point of view this is not a satisfactory installation, it is actually a potentially deadly one.
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Good point. I got busted on this one in my first "project". I figured the screws grounded the switchs/outlets. Which is true until you pull them out of the box (if metal).
Again, not sure of NEC, but IIRC the outlet/switch must be grounded while "hanging from its wires".
In short, I think ungrounded circuits are going to be a code and safety issue. Potentially a nasty one to fix...
Good luck, Jim
f/256 wrote:

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f/256 wrote:

No, there are exceptions (which is why I said *some cases*). If the box is surface-mounted (handy box, e.g.) or if the device comes equipped with special self-grounding screws on the strap, then a separate Green grounding conductor is not required.
I was trying to think ahead for legitimate reasons that the contractor was permitted by the inspector to do what he did. The whole job *may* be a screwup, but it is possible that it was acceptable...
Jim
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by
box
satisfactory
assuming the box is metal and grounded, when you screw the outlet/switch down to the box, it makes an electrical connection same as if you attached the screw to the box. look carefully at the outlets and switches. that screw is attached to the frame. or to test it another way, put a meter in resistance mode and measure resistance between the green screw and any other metal on the case of the device besides the hot/neutral terminals. you will find 0 resistance. screwing the device to the box makes the connection.
whether this is code or not, i cannot say.
randy
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It is "code" if the device is listed as "self grounding". That is usually a little brass spring contact on one of the screws. You can also ground a device if the paper washer is removed and it is screwed up tight to the box but that usually doesn't happen when it is hanging out on drywall ears.
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Technically, GFCI does not require a ground. But Speedy is correct: if all your boxes are ungrounded, offer the inspector large sums of money at the door. :+)
For one thing, the friendly inspectors tester will not trip the GFCI. The tester "shorts" some of the power from the hot wire to ground. If the ground is floating, the GFCI will not "trip" and you "fail". Now you can either fix the ground, or try and explain to the friendly inspector why you outlet is not grounded...blah, blah, blah.
Good luck, Jim
PS: Ground is your friend. If you can get it to your boxes, life in your house will be safer and more stable (less noise).
Speedy Jim wrote:

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Thanks to everyone who has responded!
1. Curiousity got the better of me. I took the cover off the fuse panel in the basement.
2. The ground stake is connected to a copper wire. This wire goes into the basement, into the panel, and connects to a connection point on the upper panel grommet (inside the panel). For all the other circuits inside the panel, there are only 2 wires for each load.
3. So the only thing in the whole house that has a ground via a ground conductor (copper wire) is the panel itself.
4. The loads off the panel (outlets, light switches, etc.) are all connected to the panel by 1/2" steel pipe (EMT) using steel grommets and hardware. So, elctrically speaking, the switches and outlets themselves are grounded via their mounting screws to their junction boxes. Those boxes are grounded via the EMT to the panel. And the panel is grounded via the copper wire to the stake outside.
5. I just transferred from Virginia and the house there had bare grounded wire in every outlet and switch which was ultimately connected to the panel and stake outside.
6. This grounding via the piping works from an electrical theory standpoint, but as someone said, an outlet hanging by the wires would not be grounded.
Hmmmm..
John
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Based on #6, you are in luck. If the box is grounded, a ground wire from the box to the switch/outlet ground screw should do the trick (and pass code).
Personally, I prefer ground screws/16 gauge wire. Those ground clips drive me nuts as I can never get them on as easy as a screw. Screws probably do a better job to boot.
Jim
John wrote:

...
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Based on #6, you are in luck. If the box is grounded, a ground wire from the box to the switch/outlet ground screw should do the trick (and pass code).
Personally, I prefer ground screws/16 gauge wire. Those ground clips drive me nuts as I can never get them on as easy as a screw. Screws probably do a better job to boot.
Jim
John wrote:

...
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Hmmm. Most likely the wires are either in AC (commonly referred to as BX) or metal conduit and the boxes are metal. The outside of the AC (the armor itself), the conduit, and the box carry the ground.
The outlets are probably the self-grounding type which have a small brass plate mounted just underneath the screw which holds the outlet to the box. I don't remember the correct name for this type but they're fairly recent (last 10 years) and were introduced to overcome the objection that the screw might not have sufficient contact area to provide the ground. If you have this type of outlet and a metal box you don't need the grounding pigtail. Of course if it makes you happier you could just buy a bunch of green pigtails and install them anyway (a belt and suspenders approach).

Where in Illinois? IIRC Chicago is an all-AC (BX) or metal conduit city. NM (aka Romex) is prohibited.

Sure but they probably are. Have you actually tested? Don't forget that whatever the locality sets as the electrical code is the one you have to abide by. Especially in older cities it's not necessarily the NEC verbatim.

Never ever involve any sort of authority (CPS, Police, Inspectors, etc) if you can possibly avoid it. It likely to cause you more grief. In this case if the outlets aren't up to code how would you like to move to a hotel when the inspector removes the Certificate of Occupancy until they're fixed?
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SpamFree wrote:

Here in New Jersey, the fixture was required to be grounded by a separate wire. The reason (via the Inspector) was that it protects anyone who removes the outlet for service.
I figured grounding all the fixtures was much easier and cheaper than: a) a hearing for a variance, b) bribes to said Inspector.

You can usually find these at the local library. Or just do what Mr. Inspector says.

Is it even legal to have an ungrounded box (ie. NEC required). Just curious for an answer from those more familiar with the NEC.

You should always get a permit/inspection for house stuff. The scare tactic I've heard: If you do work without an inspection/permit, and your house burns down because of it, the Homeowners Ins may not pay. The small inspection fee and groveling in front of an inspector more than pays for itself in peace of mind. :+)
Jim
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Go to your hardware store and buy a circuit tester. GB Electrical makes one they are usually made of red or yellow plastic and only cost about $3-4. They look like a plug with the three prongs and are about 1 1/2 inches long and have three lights in the front. Two are orange and the third is red. Plug it in to the outlet and you can trouble shoot your connection by the lights that are lit. Pretty useful gadget.
Ron

noticed
in,
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That's an awful a lot of money to have to pay. Does the government have some sort of assistance program to help pay at least half of the $3-4?
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