I'm in an old apartment and I'm rewiring my receptacles because they
have no ground. I have some odd situations.
Most are two prong receptacles, but some are 3 prong. I tested the
voltage on them. The 3 prong I tested showed about 60v from ground
screw to the small slot-HOT and60v from the ground screw to the large
slot(NEUT). Also, 120v from the small slot to the cold water pipe.
The two prong showed 101v from the large slot to the radiator pipe,
and 0v from the small slot to the radiator pipe (wrapped a piece of
copper wire around the corroded valve stem).
Now, the large slot is supposed to be neutral and 0 volts to the
ground/waterpipes/etc. and the small slot is suppsed to be hot.
Question is 1) Would it hurt to rewire the recepticles to large-
neutral, small-hot. I'm imagining a situation where one day I plug
something in with the ground and hot shorted... What should I check
and look out for?
and 2) what's the best way to run the ground wire? I think it's tacky
to run a 12ga (black insulated) from the green screw on the new outlet
outside the outlet cover, along the baseboard to the radiator. How is
this *supposed* to be done?
You're getting strange readings because you don't have a ground. The proper
way to retrofit a ground conductor is to run it from the metal outlet box or
receptacle to your service panel ground bar, or any other part of the
grounding electrode system, which doesn't include radiators
Two comments that trouble me:
"I'm in an old apartment and I'm rewiring my receptacles"
Are you sure you want to mess with the wires in a dwelling you don't
own? This should be handled by the landlord/management company. You
could be liable for any damage/injury you cause during/after the
"...run a 12ga (black insulated) from the green screw..."
A ground wire is typically bare or green in residential wiring. Black
might be ground (negative) in a DC circuit, but never in a residential
Point taken, the landlord is a friend of mine and I'm just looking
into it for now.. looks like more than I want to do.
Yeh, I was pretty sure I didn't want to use black except that's what I
have laying around. Looks like it's not such a good idea anyways.
Seems like everyone says 'eh, just ground it to the cold water
I gotta go with the original poster. Keep the landlord as a friend and let
an outside professional do it. That way, if ANYTHING happens, it can't
possibly be traced back to you, no matter what.
As a f'rinstance: as a ham radio operator, I've read old ham radio books
from the '60s and '70s when ham radios were often sources of television
interference. This wasn't because the ham rigs were operating outside of
their bands, it was because TV sets back then didn' t have adequate
filtering to prevent ham signals from getting in. If a neighbor sees your
antennas and complains, he doesn't want to hear "You've gotta buy a filter
for your antenna." As a sign of goodwill, you can give him a cheap antenna
filter, but here's the kicker -- and what the books scream in
"sky-is-falling" type: Don't touch the neighbor's TV set. Let him install
the filter; don't install it for him. If you so much as look hard at his
set, he's got you nailed for all time. "It worked all right until you
fooled with it!" And he'll expect free TV repair out of you forever.
So let's assume that this old electrical wiring in this old apartment soon
causes a fire. If you ever touched a screwdriver to any of it, guess what.
Matt J. McCullar
There is no way you can get these reading legitamately. My guess is that
ground screw is not grounded and the 60v is phantom voltage.
Yes, once you make certain you know what you are doing you should reverse
I just don't have much confidence in what you are finding.
To meet code you have to run a wire back to the circuit box, going through
all the same holes as the other wires. Even that might not be enough, but I
can't see your wiring.
It is debatable if a wire to the radiator is more or less safe than nothing.
Thanks for the detailed reply. Holyheck, that's a lot of lath and
plaster walls to rip out - 2nd floor to the basement. The landlord
downstairs probably won't be interested in having his walls
disturbed. Nothing can be easy can it.. Wonder if anyone else has
suggestions. I'll see if I can get a lightbulb tester over those
Sorry but it really sounds as if you are in over your head. An
electrician could "fish" a ground wire from the junction box without doing
too much damage to the walls. You don't seem to know what a ground is and
are not getting good readings from a voltmeter.
The landlord would be crazy to allow you to work on his house.
Perhaps take some lessons in tact from derbydad03; he essentially said
the same thing that you did without the assumptions and inflamatory
verbage. Also, read the part where I said "looks like it's not such a
good idea anyways" and then stroke your ego with your insincere
'sorry' somewhere else. If at least your insults, however true, were
value added with a scrap of useful information, then by all means,
honesty is great. For example: "You don't seem to know what a ground
is. It's (short description of *your* definition)" Yes I know, it's
not your job and you're not being paid to instruct or teach... Nope,
you're just here to berate ppl and make yourself feel important.
Futher, "not getting good readings from a voltmeter" is completely
baseless. Those are the readings period. It could be phantom, it
could be real - but voltage is voltage, - you know, as long as we're
being pedants. Perhaps you meant "You're not coming to the right
conclusions with the voltmeter alone." Probably true... funny, I
mentioned that I planned to use a lightbulb tester on it too.. Perhaps
you missed that in your zeal to shoot at an easy target.
Sure, he could have phrased it a bit nicer... but you *are* in over your head.
Among other things, it's completely unnecessary to "rip out a lot of lath and
plaster" to run wires from one floor to another; a couple of small holes is
enough for someone who knows what he's doing -- hell, that's enough for
someone who *doesn't* know what he's doing, but is able to combine knowledge
of building construction with a little imagination.
If you don't understand why this is the second indication that you're in over
your head... that's the third indication.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
On Sat, 15 Sep 2007 21:08:55 +0000, methochias wrote:
Your comment here about the landlord is a red flag.
Let your landlord take care of the electrical problem, not you. If he
does not and you think there is a safety issue, take this up with the
The last thing you need to do is mess with a landlord's property. Even if
he/she were to give an OK, you certainly don't want to be in a position
where the responsibility could come back to haunt you.
If this were your own building, then that's another scenario. For now,
it's the landlord's problem to resolve.
By the way, if you don't have his OK and something goes wrong, you may
find yourself in hot water.
On Sat, 15 Sep 2007 20:14:45 +0000, methochias wrote:
As I read your post, I think the best recommendation to give you would be
to hire an electrician so the work gets done correctly.
Electricity is nothing to play with, especially if you are in doubt.
Besides personal safety, there's also the issue of fire.
This may be one time when hiring the right person is the best (and
cheapest) thing you could do.
Hope this helps.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.