rewiring to fix open ground?

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by Brandon_Hanley, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Dec 16, 2013 #1

    Brandon_Hanley

    Brandon_Hanley

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    We recently bought a 2 story red brick (w/ attic and basement) built in 1941. While investigating issues with added hum in my guitar amps we found that 90% of the outlets in the house show an open ground issue on the tester. The wiring is a mess, there are multiple fuse boxes and a mix of "knob and tube" and more modern wiring.

    We plan to have the hole house rewired eventually but need to have a new roof put on first, i cant deal with the noise issues with my guitar amps untill then though. I was thinking maybe i could just have new wire ran to my music room for now. Could running new wire to that room including a ground fix the problem?

    Would it be as simple as running conduit through my basement wall and up the outside of the house to the attic and then down into the 2nd floor music room outlets? Any idea what it would cost me to have someone do this?
     
  2. Dec 16, 2013 #2

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    First plug your guitar into a grounded outlet and make sure the 60 Hz hum is gone.

    Finding a ground and complying with whatever version of the NEC your area is using is not quite the same thing.
    If you run a single insulated ground #14 or #12 conductor somehow to a ground, it will be small enough to hide under a bead of caulk or quarter-round.
    Also, a large capacitor run to almost any ground will give you an AC ground which should reduce your noise problem; I don't know if the NEC addresses this arrangement.

    The NEC language sometimes has logical fallacies, on purpose or by accident, so if you post NEC excerpts that allow or prohibit whatever method you propose then several of us will be glad to try to translate this into plain English.

    Speaking of logical fallacies, if you believe "If the shoe fits, wear it." says anything about the other three cases, you have already fallen into the fallacy trap. :D
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
  3. Dec 16, 2013 #3

    Brandon_Hanley

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    i've had the amps in the add on room with modern wiring for the past 2 years and they sound excelent, the moment i plugged them into the outlet upstairs i knew there was a problem. i really should have used the tester up stairs before agreeing to turn my old music room into the kids play room. i keep my outlet tester with my amps because i usually check every outlet before plugging into it for the first time.

    you mentioned hiding a ground but what would i hook it to to ground it? the rest of the post i dont understand at all, not sure what any of that means.
     
  4. Dec 17, 2013 #4

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    And some of it's bad advice, unfortunately. Sorry.

    Revision A:
    The National Electric Code has rules for providing earth grounds to outlets, some rather restrictive. I don't think you are allowed to attach to the nearest cold water pipe, for instance.
    However, if you are allowed to snake a single insulated ground wire by some route to your breaker panel, you won't have to snake new thick two-wire-with-ground Romex cable inside finished walls.
    Also, if you only want one outlet grounded it would good if it is located near the circuit breaker panel ["load center"] in an unfinished basement. Then, running Romex shouldn't be a problem.

    If you provide more details and photos for your particular case, someone well-versed in whatever edition of the Code that is used in your area can maybe help you.
    Your local permitting dept. can tell you what version of the Code with what amendments they are using.

    You should also be aware that in some cases three-light outlet testers will lead you astray but I think for your case your readings are valid.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
  5. Dec 17, 2013 #5

    Brandon_Hanley

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    are there any other simple ways to get a good ground for even one outlet untill i can get the whole house rewired in the next 2 years?

    sadly the room i need a grounded outlet in is on the second floor and the panel box is in the basement.

    anything in particular i should take photos of?

    they come in handy though. when they have shown everything was correct i've never had a problem, when they show there is something wrong it gives me a heads up to try another outlet or pull the outlet to check before wasting time lugging a 70lb amp around.
     
  6. Dec 17, 2013 #6

    nealtw

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    When you rewire, you will be installing a ground plate or ground rods, why not install one now and run a ground to that outlet, just temp up the side of the building.
     
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  7. Dec 17, 2013 #7

    CallMeVilla

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    Listen to Brandon ... 'Needs a temporary fix ... will rewire completely eventually ... does not have a lot of electrical experience.'

    Keep it simple and responsive to Brandon's needs. Neal's idea is the most helpful and practical. A ground rod on the outside connected to the upstairs outlet would do the job until he can get a rewire.
     
  8. Dec 17, 2013 #8

    Brandon_Hanley

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    i believe i already have one ground rod on the opposite side of the house. there is definatly some sort of "stake" in the ground a few inches from the foundation with a section of some sort of wire connecting it to the house. not sure if thats what your talking about but its the first thing i thought of when reading your post.

    we hope to have the rewire done within 2 years. we really want to do it now but need to have a metal roof put on as our main project of 2014. there is nothing but baseball fields behind my house for a few hundred yards to break the wind that comes out of the hills so once a month or every other month we have to pay someone to go up and replace patches of shingles that are blown off. its bleeding us dry between paying someone to keep going up and the damage to the second floor ceilings where it comes through the attic floor.

    I will investigate more tomorow and see if i can find where the ground rod hooks and runs and see if i can find an easy way to run wire from the basement to attic to drop into the room. according to the outlet tester half the 1st floor is wired correctly with ground but none on the second floor have ground.

    allot of the plumbing (damn near all) is copper so if all else fails that may be the easiest.

    any special requests for what to take photos of to help you all help me?
     
  9. Dec 17, 2013 #9

    nealtw

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    In older houses you can usually find a clear path beside the plumbing stack from the attic to the basement. If you find that opening, close it up at each floor too. It's a great way for a fire to get from a basement to the attic so any path like that should be closed.
     
  10. Dec 17, 2013 #10

    JoeD

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    A ground rod is not the solution. The ground wire needs to go back to the panel. where the neutral and ground are bonded.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNZC782SzAQ&noredirect=1[/ame]
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
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  11. Dec 17, 2013 #11

    CallMeVilla

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    Nice video ... So the simple, temporary solution might be an exterior ground (insulated, not bare) that goes back into the basement to the main panel.

    Can you do that?

    PS The insulation protects dogs from doing something stupid.

    DOG.jpg
     
  12. Dec 17, 2013 #12

    Brandon_Hanley

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    there is already an exterior ground rod connected to one of the panels. problem is i have 2 pannels, one newer looking panel with lots of flip switch breakers that are poorly labled in the basement, and one old panel with 4-5 fuse sort of things that screw in and are shaped like corks that is mounted to what used to be an exterior wall before the additional room was built on.

    it kind of seems like the newer panel was used as a sort of sub panel running off of the old panel.
     
  13. Dec 17, 2013 #13

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Can he legitimately run a buried heavy wire outside that joins a new rod to the other rod that grounds the panel? Depending on the conductor sizes & lengths it might be safe and code compliant.

    Can he legitimately run ground wires on the building exterior surface to the load center?

    Thanks for the video. I'll study it.
    I know Mr. Holt makes a fortune teaching this stuff but as an electrical/electronic engineer I find his interpretation of the behavior of electrons to be a bit bizarre, at times.
    But he's rich and I'm not. . .:(

    On the plus side, he seems to be surprised at some of the latest code changes. And so am I.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
  14. Dec 17, 2013 #14

    CallMeVilla

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    My last post on this ... I would suggest running an insulated ground wire inside water tight conduit from the upstairs room ... run it outside then kick it inside to the basement ... connect to the NEW box. This ground would give you a temporary ground until you can rewire the house

    Relatively inexpensive, efficient, and properly done.

    Gotta get back to work ...

    BAD.jpg
     
  15. Dec 17, 2013 #15

    Brandon_Hanley

    Brandon_Hanley

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    on another note i just tried to pull the outlet in question for photos and i couldnt get it out far enough to get a good photo but it doesnt look like the knob and tube that goes through alot of the house. it looks like its got the plastic coating on, 2 black connected to one side of the outlet and 2 white to the other, there is also 2 bare peices of copper wire that looks like it comes out of the same outer plastic coating as the other wires and it connects to the metal box holding the outlet.

    not sure what that means since i thought that would mean its grounded but its giving me the problems with amps and the tester says its open ground.

    any ideas there?

    ill try to get some photos loaded of the 3 (found another one) panel boxes and some other stuff later today.
     
  16. Dec 17, 2013 #16

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Put a 120 v bulb in a pigtail socket from the H/W store and go between
    the black and white - bulb lights?
    the black and bare - bulb lights?
    the white and bare - bulb lights?
     
  17. Dec 17, 2013 #17

    Brandon_Hanley

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    would a multi meter or test light work for this or does it have to be the bulb/pigtail?
     
  18. Dec 17, 2013 #18

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Better a big incand. bulb, to eliminate phantom voltages.
    Putting a meter across the bulb will give you even more info about the integrity of the connections in your house.

    If you have a metal cold water pipe entering your house and a long skinny extension cord, carefully measure

    Black to white - should be within 5% or 10% of 120v
    black to bare - should be within 5% or 10% of 120v
    black to pipe entry point - should be within 5% or 10% of 120v
    white to bare - less than one or two volts
    white to pipe entry point - less than one or two volts
    bare to pipe entry point - zero
     
  19. Dec 18, 2013 #19

    bud16415

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    I’m far from an expert on audio related problems. That being said your hum sounds more like one being caused by a ground issue than the lack of ground or poor ground with noise on it. I would try a thing called a ground lift adapter as an experiment and see if the issue improved. Most places don’t call them that what they are is the cheater plug adapter to use a three prong plug and old two prong outlet. They are only about $1 at any hardware store.

    I run all my audio thru an Uninterrupted power supply that has power conditioning also and that seemed to solve a lot of similar issues. If you have access to one that might be something to try also.

    That’s my two cents for what it’s worth.
     
  20. Dec 18, 2013 #20

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    By turning off the sound until the slides came up I was able to tolerate this gentleman for almost the whole time. I especially cannot stand the hand-waving.

    BTW, interestingly enough, although I study body language (it never lies), I have never looked up the official meaning of hand waving. Maybe because where I hang out nobody waves their hands like that.

    In my opinion:
    He sometimes gives either-or answers to things that are more complex and so those answers are, I believe, wrong. Some of the last slides appear to fall into this category and appear to contradict earlier slides.

    I don't doubt that he is popular, and probably no person is harmed by following his advice. Misinformed maybe, but not harmed.

    Can this gentleman sue me for libel? Only if he can prove damages, that people actually read what I post and believed me and he lost business as a result.
    How do I know this?
    Because an electrician on another forum defamed me all over the place, I knew what county he was licensed in and I seriously considered making an example of this disgruntled person by suing him for defamation & libel.
    So I consulted lawyers, in return for any electrical advice they might need.
    I find out that since he never posted my real name I had no case. He only defamed my forum name.

    That dead dog story was an anecdote. Science cannot base itself on anecdotes, or on faith, or on matters of opinion, or on hearsay.
    Maybe he likes dogs. He once compared stray voltages to stray dogs.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013

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