Receptacles wired backwards..

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?
THanks, JB
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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

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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 rewiring project.
"...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 120VAC circuit.
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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 pipe'..
Thanks.
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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.
CYA,
Matt J. McCullar Arlington, TX
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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 them. 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.
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...
...
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 voltages..
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Meth,

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.
Dave M.
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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.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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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 building inspector.
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.
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What code requires you to run the conductor through the same holes?

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man O man are system F----- up good luck you needed

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LMFAO!
Idiot!
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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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.
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