Semi OT Electrical Question

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Folks -
I have an old Victorian, Circa 1868.... The tenants trashed it, long story.... Anyway, most of the electric outlets are two prong, rather than grounded.... I would like to put grounded outlets in, but I have only a hot (black) and neutral (white) No separate ground wire....
Would it be safe to install a 3 wire plug and have the ground and neutral common to the white wire? Would this work and be safe? Only having 2 prong outlets has been a PITA, and getting under the house to run separate grounds would be a real bit of work. Would bridging the ground and common terminals also work and be safe with a GFCI outlet?
I would appreciate any remarks from those that KNOW and have experience. The last thing I want is a fire....
I was under the house yesterday and found some old andirons.... All of the timber underneath is full dimension stuff, maybe even bigger....
Thanks in advance for any help that can be given....
John Moorhead
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On Wed, 07 Apr 2004 03:32:50 +0000, John Moorhead wrote:

NO, _NOT_ safe and don't do it. Electrocution is probably the first concern, fire somewhere after that.
-Doug
--
"A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always
depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw
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On Wed, 07 Apr 2004 03:32:50 GMT, "John Moorhead"

<snip>
No. It is not safe nor allowed by code to use a current carrying conductor (neutral) as an equipment grounding conductor (ground).
If the neutral were to open downstream, you would have 120 volts on the exterior metal parts of anything connected in that way. Excellent way to get electrocuted.
You are allowed to install a GFCI outlet with no ground connection to provide a 3 prong outlet when no ground is available. This is safe because the GFCI will trip if there is any fault current flowing to an external ground (like between your hair dryer and the sink faucet via your arms!).
This is not a perfect solution, because you still don't have an actual ground connection which can help eliminate electrical interference to/from electronic equipment. But it is safe and allowed by code.
HTH,
Paul
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Yes, it is a 3 prong outlet, but it is the same as breaking the ground off the plug; the ground on the GFCI is not connected to anything. Off hand I can't think of anywhere this distinction would matter, except for a possible nuisance trip.
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That was explained in the part that you snipped:
You are allowed to install a GFCI outlet with no ground connection to provide a 3 prong outlet when no ground is available. This is safe because the GFCI will trip if there is any fault current flowing to an external ground (like between your hair dryer and the sink faucet via your arms!).

Dunno about you... but IMO in the situation described above, it's much more of a nuisance if it does *not* trip...
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
For a copy of my TrollFilter for NewsProxy/Nfilter, send email to autoresponder at filterinfo-at-milmac-dot-com
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...

May I ask your source of that information? I would like to verify it. It's true you can use a GFCI on a 2-wire ckt, with a 2-prong outlet, but NOT in order to provide a 3-prong outlet!! The 3-wire system provides a level of protection that is far superior to 2-wire, and ANYONE could look at that sort of a setup and think it's safe to use equipment that REQUIRES the third wire! Also, everything from TVs to computers, surge suppressors, telephone, stereos, any modern electronic equipment, will very likely experience noise and interference problems, and surge protection components as provided IN most electronic equipment, would be unable to function, and any external surge/power protectors would be nothing but useless power bars with no function. The place would be a real pain to most electronic equipment on the market today. Technically, onle Class 2, 2-wire equipment would be acceptable to run on that setup.
A possible solution might be to: -- Put in your own ground rod in a location where it can be run into the breaker box? -- The meter must have a ground: Can that be tapped into, say, at the service entrance? -- How about a metal water line? Caution: PROVE it's a grounded metal, not just looks like it is. Anyone in the business can tell you quickly.
Pop & his two cents
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Check the NEC. Yes, this is the recommended way to provide a 3-prong outlet on a non-grounded circuit. Note: it is *supposed* to be marked so that you can tell it is not providing a ground. The idea is, at least you won't eletrocute yourself or somebody this way.
If it were my old house, I'd rewire it. Yes it's a pain, but worth it in the long run.
Bill Ranck Blacksburg, Va.
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...

It's
...
No, YOU check the NEC; you missed something. I already know what it says. Where you went off track was in failing to mention that such a situation can ONLY exist IF it is marked! There are also restrictions on HOW the outlet can be so marked, and I highly doubt that you could get ANY inspector to accept an entire domain wired that way. Your advice sounded to the contrary. If you don't know about the marking rules, check your NEC. And then check your locals. You must meet the more stringent of the two (or three, or four depending on where you live)! NEC is only a minimum requirement in the event of no other coverage. Any local code can exceed but not decede, the NEC. Almost all do.
It seems like you mentioned NY? Hell in this state, you can hardly put water in a toilet if there's an outlet within a hundred feet! It's union's paradise!
Now, if you also go to your local code enforcement, you are highly likely in most localities to find that you would NOT be allowed to use that wiring method.
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says.
can
likely
wiring
NO, the idea is that it allowed them to "grandfather" in old buildings where current regulations would create a severe hardship. You would not get a permet to use this method on new construction.
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Notice that part up there that I just underlined? I said it is supposed to be marked. I also said, in a part you snipped out, that I would rewire the whole thing if it were me.

NEC allows it when replacing old recepticles, no question. Now, local laws can be more strict, but I don't know where the OP is or what his local rules might or might not be. And of course, the local inspector is the final authority.
Bill Ranck Blacksburg, Va.
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On Thu, 8 Apr 2004 16:00:58 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@vt.edu wrote: [snip]
| And of course, the local inspector |is the final authority.
Unfortunately, so true.
I added a laundry/sewing room and garage/workshop to my house. Because the laundry was a long way from the primary cooling system (dual evaporative/refrigerated), even though I tapped into the supply duct, I didn't expect much flow. Since I was also adding an evaporative cooler to the garage, I drew up plans that included a supplemental cooling duct from the garage into the laundry. To minimize the run, I compromised the location of the cooler as far as the garage was concerned.
The plans were approved by the plans examiners, and the installed ductwork was approved by the mechanical field inspector. During the final framing inspection, the inspector (another one) told my wife (I was still working at the time) that having a duct from a garage into a living space was against code and I would have to remove it. He in essence voided the previous inspection. He also convinced SWMBO that this was a huge fire hazard and we were all going to die.
I went back to the plans examiners with this info and they said (quote) "Bull shit."
I appealed to the head of the inspection department and he said that he would never overrule one of his field inspectors because, "They are there in the field, I am here behind a desk, so I have to trust their judgement."
Rather than fighting city hall and SWMBO, I removed the duct.
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Oops. Instant fire code violation. There are reasons that the garage must (per NFPA codes) have:
1) 5/8" or thicker fire-rated drywall between garage and living areas. 2) Fire-rated, self-closing door(s) between living areas and garage and 3) No openings between garage and living areas, especially ductwork which can carry both fire and fumes from the garage into the living areas.
scott
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On Thu, 08 Apr 2004 20:50:32 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@slp53.sl.home (Scott Lurndal) wrote:
|>[snip] |> |>| And of course, the local inspector |>|is the final authority. |> |> |>Unfortunately, so true. |> |>I added a laundry/sewing room and garage/workshop to my house. |>Because the laundry was a long way from the primary cooling system |>(dual evaporative/refrigerated), even though I tapped into the supply |>duct, I didn't expect much flow. Since I was also adding an |>evaporative cooler to the garage, I drew up plans that included a |>supplemental cooling duct from the garage into the laundry. To | |Oops. Instant fire code violation. There are reasons that the garage |must (per NFPA codes) have: | | 1) 5/8" or thicker fire-rated drywall between garage and | living areas.
Done. 5/8 FC on the garage side, 3/4" (1/2 + 1/4) on the house side.
| 2) Fire-rated, self-closing door(s) between living areas and garage and
Done.
| 3) No openings between garage and living areas, especially ductwork | which can carry both fire and fumes from the garage into the living | areas.
Not quite what I was told. I should have added that the SOB inspector would have allowed thicker sheet metal ductwork and a fire operated damper on the laundry side. This was way too much hassle and expense for the limited use I would have made of it.
My main bitch was that I wasted a coupla hundred bucks on sheetmetal and compromised the cooling in the shop by not optimally locating the cooler because of the screwed up inspection department.
I should have just bribed them like the developers do and been done with it.
Wes
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Which was why I didn't mention it in (3). Typically only used in commercial and industrial settings.

Yes. Someone goofed if they told you the ductwork was ok without the fire damper.

Is it worth the risks (both to life and property as well as your ability to go where you want, when you want)?
scott
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They are out of hand and should be decapitated. Once the plans are approved, that should be IT. If you build to the plans, you should be left alone. There should be only ONE of them allowed on your property! Wilson
wrote:

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Someone wrote:

"Wes Stewart" added:

<snip a tale of inspection woes>
Your tale reminds me of my first supervisor, a brilliant engineer who designed and built his own home.
The electrical distribution system was a marvel to observe. It included the early vintage low voltage control.
When it was time for the electrical inspection before things could be finished, my supervisor took the day off and made arrangements to meet the electrical inspector to be on site to answer any questions he may have.
A point of reference, at this point in time, unless it was knob and tube, a union electrician would not wire a house.
This was not a knob and tube job since my supervisor did the work.
This obviously raised a red flag, but so be it.
As the story was related to me, my supervisor so totally overwhelmed the inspector with information that it was unnecessary to baffle him with bullshit.
(He had that way about him)
After about 20 minutes, inspector signed off on the job.
--
Lew

S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
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Lew Hodgett writes:

snip of lead in

Today, in locals with good building inspection departments, a PE can sign off on almost any building job and the inspector will OK it. Depends on the locale and its rules whether or not the inspector has any options, but in many, he (or she) is simply considered outranked, I guess.
Personally, I've seen PEs design things that are wondrous to behold and work perfectly. And the next guy up designs something I wouldn't let my neighbor's cats live in. But mostly they end up signing off on truss designs for site built items, etc., at least in residential and light agricultural construction, which is all I am familiar with.
Charlie Self "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." Thomas Jefferson
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Pop it is very specific that this is only to "replace" an existing receptacle where an equipment grounding path is not present. If you are adding a new circuit it must be with a grounded wiring method.
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The National Electric Code 406.3(D)(3)
3) Nongrounding-Type Receptacles. Where grounding means does not exist in the receptacle enclosure, the installation shall comply with (a), (b), or (c). (a)    A nongrounding-type receptacle(s) shall be permitted to be replaced with another nongrounding-type receptacle(s). (b)    A nongrounding-type receptacle(s) shall be permitted to be replaced with a ground-fault circuit interrupter-type of receptacle(s). These receptacles shall be marked “No Equipment Ground.” An equipment grounding conductor shall not be connected from the ground-fault circuit-interrupter-type receptacle to any outlet supplied from the ground-fault circuit-interrupter receptacle. (c)    A nongrounding-type receptacle(s) shall be permitted to be replaced with a grounding-type receptacle(s) where supplied through a ground-fault circuit interrupter. Grounding-type receptacles supplied through the ground-fault circuit interrupter shall be marked “GFCI Protected” and “No Equipment Ground.” An equipment grounding conductor shall not be connected between the grounding-type receptacles.
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the
circuit-interrupter-type
circuit-interrupter
I'm sorry, but there can be no debate of a subject such as this in the vacuum of one short section of the overall code. As in any technical regulation, the entire context of all related sections and paras must be considered. Everything here is true: but it is not in complete context without the remaining relevant components of the regulation. To be complete, every relevant section/para must be considered. Then, and probably more importantly, local codes must be considered; the NEC is only a starting point and a good reference. It is not the final word as it may (and often is) much more lenient than local codes. You cannot wire simply to the NEC.
Pop
Pop
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