electrical question...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Deb&Al, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. Deb&Al

    Deb&Al Well-Known Member

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    we have an old house, and the plugs are the 2-hole, without a grounding hole.

    i have a laptop and printer and lamp plugged into the surge protector, but i need one of those orange adaptors to change the surge protector to a 2-hole.

    question: can old wiring, it's not tube and knob, i know that much, handle 3 or 4 things plugged into a surge protector that's then plugged into the wall?

    (i'm really dumb about electrical stuff.)

    thanks for any advice or recommendations that someone can give me. i really, really appreciate it.

    debie
     
  2. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    you should instal at least a new small sub panel with a new grounded cuircut & recepticle.
    iinstal a ground rod [or 3] and refit your house to safe specs.
     

  3. Herb

    Herb Well-Known Member

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    It all depends on the amperage rating of the circuit.
     
  4. CatsPaw

    CatsPaw Who...me?

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    Surge protector may not work without a ground. As far as handling multiple items...it should work like any other circuit.
     
  5. The Paw

    The Paw Well-Known Member

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    Deb:

    It depends on what the 3 or 4 things plugged in are. If you had a microwave, hair dryer, and kettle plugged in to the same surge bar, you would blow the circuit. If you have your laptop, printer, and a 100 watt lamp the single outlet with the surge protector will likely handle it.

    The two hole receptacle is not grounded, which was typical at one time. As CN suggests, getting a retrofit to convert your whole system to grounded outlets is a good idea, but is a much bigger job. A more affordable solution would be to have one 3-hole outlet box on a new wire that goes to its own breaker in the panel. The new wire can then likely be grounded in the panel. Then, you would not trip the breaker from other outlets on the same circuit, the surge protector will protect against surges (lightening etc.), and the fact that it is grounded means that if there is ever a short, that outlet is much safer.

    Given that you don't know much about electricity, hire an electrician to put in the extra outlet and wire. Good luck.
     
  6. MaryNY

    MaryNY Well-Known Member

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    My place is over 50 years old and has the two-prong wiring and plugs. My electrician (a real pro) installed a GFI plug (has three-prong plugs) in the Quilt Room where I keep the computer. I have a surge protector with multiple outlets plugged into it, plus and extension cord for my sewing machine. It's been working just fine for 7 years now.

    Good luck!

    MaryNY
     
  7. tuvold

    tuvold Well-Known Member

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    Hey,

    The little hole in the bottom is for grounding. It provides a path for current if something goes wrong. Keeps you from getting electrocuted. /crosses fingers. For it to work correctly you must have a direct path to the ground in the service.

    grounding = green or bare

    Other than the possible loss of the safety, the circuit's only limitation is the size of wire and and the circuit breaker/ fuse size.

    elect 101

    Talk to a qualified electrician if there is any doubts about safety.

    My 2 coppers,

    tuvold
     
  8. spam4einstein

    spam4einstein Well-Known Member

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    If its not knob and tube, then its like any modern circut in the power it can safely supply (assumeing it was installed by a professional electrician). It will be able to cary 15 amps max, maybe 20A if its heavier cable, but its likley #14 wire (rated for 15 amps max). Know the amps of the devices you have pluged into that whole CIRCUT..not just that plug. If it totals under 15 amps, then you should be fine. Just beware, many idiots use 20 amp circut breakers or fuses on 15A wire......Thats a great way to overload the circut and cause a hazard. But in theory, you could buy a 30 outlet strip, cut off the 3rd prong and plug it into your outlet and then plug thirty .5A devices in to it. Its not the number of devices, rather how much amps they use in total. for example, my computer monitor uses 3.2A

    BUT...you dont want a rats nest of plugs pluged into adapters pluged into plugs if you know what I mean. That is dangerous regardless of amps because they come loose or sloppy and cause a week path for the power to travel. The week path will get very hot, or spark causing fire. CUT THE GROUNDING PRONG OFF YOUR SURGE PROTECTOR and plug it directly into the outlet! That way you will have a clean installation and be as safe as possible.

    F.Y.I. 2 prong plugs have a ground...it is the Nuteral. The modern 3rd prong is a second ground added for saftey in case the Nut. gets cut or crossed with a hot......very unlikley and almost impossible to happen if nobody messes with the wiring.



    People should be forced to take a homeowners education course before they can buy a house. Its scary how little people know, and the damage they often cause because of it. It scares me sometimes!
    Good luck and ask if you need more help.
     
  9. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It is very possible that your wiring has the third wire for grounding already there, but grounded to the metal box that houses your two prong plug in. If so the present two prong plug in can be removed, and replaced by a new three prong plug in. The bare ground wire is switched from the metal box to the new plug in. Have some one check it for you. If indeed it's that way, they can put in all new three prong plugs for you at little expense.
     
  10. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    If you have outlets with only two prongs, you very likely only have two wires coming in. The neutral does NOT act as a ground. The neutral carries current back to the panel to complete the circuit. The third wire is a direct path to the grounding rod in the event a short develops in the appliance. Electricity follows the path of least resistance just like water. If a short does develop in the appliance, the wire is less resistant than a human body. If you touch the appliance the equipment ground will pull the current away from you so that you don't receive as much of a shock. NEVER cut the grounding prong off the plug. It's not only illegal, it's dangerous.

    Most electronic devices need the equipment ground in order to reduce static and to function properly. Because of the age of your home, I would recommend rewiring the house. If you look in the attic you're probably not going to like what you see the wires look like. At the very least run a new circuit with three wires and a new outlet to your computers.
     
  11. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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    This is a classic example of a little knowledge being VERY DANGEROUS. First, a two prong outlet, or any two wire circuit, DOES NOT HAVE A GROUND!!!! It has a hot wire and a neutral. The neutral is the return path for the energy. You can be KILLED if you get yourself between the neutral and a legitimate ground. The most severe shock I ever received, in over two decades of professional electrical work, was bridging a neutral in a junction box that was poorly spliced. The ground is indeed there for safety purposes. It is not the same thing as a neutral, normally it does not carry current or voltage, and it isn't just an extra wire that isn't important. Once again. This isn't like a post asking about how to paint a house. Electricity kills hundreds of people a year. If you don't know what your talking about. Stop advising others and learn. This piece of "information" could get somebody killed!!!!! :flame: :flame: :flame:
     
  12. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    couldnt she buy an updated box and run it corectly adding a ground you know the box im talking about the ones with the metal brackets on them for adding or remodeling
     
  13. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    I think this is a good idea
     
  14. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes, what tiogacounty says. If you don't know what you are doing with electricity well enough to explain it to someone else, don't do it.
     
  15. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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    Yes, this is a legitimate cure, assuming a few things here. First, does the service have a legitimate ground in the first place? I have seen many instances where the ground rod is an old rotten piece of pipe or the clamp is loose or rotten. Second, is it possible to run a copper ground wire from the outlet directly to the service? Remember, touching old knob and tube wiring is like playing with old grenades. It is brittle and highly unstable. Old rubber insulation, that has been in place for 90 years, is frequently staying in place out of habit. It's common to pull a receptacle out and find that the wire insulation has fallen off all the way to the back of the box. It makes you want to puke, and it's awfully hard to repair correctly. I guess the bottom line is that if it's possible to run a ground wire to the proper place, it's also possible to run a fresh romex and do it correctly.
     
  16. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you can't replace the circuit and there is no ground, the only safe choice is to replace the outlet with a GFCI marked "No equipment ground."
     
  17. Macybaby

    Macybaby I love South Dakota Supporter

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    we've been rewiring our old house and sure do find some interesting things. We're really amazed this place didn't catch fire and burn down long ago!

    In this house, both the wireing and plumbing were added at a later date, we've been replacing and updating both.

    The main panel had been rewired when electric heat was added (and they removed the three propane stoves). They patched in all the old wires (lots of junction boxes lined up in the attic). Looked pretty good . . . except that at some time, probably when the house was resided, someone cut the ground wire. From the inside, there was a ground wire hooked to the box, but it didn't go anywhere.

    We now have a new panel (actually a main and a sub) and a nice ground wire running from from both panels and attached to three ground rods pounded into the trench that the incoming wire is now in.

    Our neighbor (who thought he knew what he was doing) accidentally wired his whole house backwards - thought the white was hot and the black neutral. My DH about had a cow when he saw that (he was helping him with some other electrical work).

    But this neighbor must have a good luck electrical fairy watching out for him. One time he was hooking up a TV antenea on his In-law's house (which happens to be the house we are now remodeling). He drilled through the siding and accidenatlly drilled right through the live 220 wire for the heater. He said he "thought" he hit something . . . sure were a lot of scortch marks on the back of the siding (see above comment about burning house down).

    Someone also thought duct tape would work instead of electrical tape . . .

    And when someone installed the towel bar in the bathroom (on the wall right behind the main panel) they didn't think about the fact that the panel sits in the wall, and the back of it is right against the back of the sheetrock of the bathroom wall. They put the screw through the sheetrock and into the back of the main panel box. Had the screw been 1/4" longer, they would have come in contact with the bus bar.

    Cathy
     
  18. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That is _extermely_ bad advise, and poorly said. It will confuse many people.

    The nuteral is the nuteral. It should have _nothing_ to do with a ground. At times those 2 follow the same path, but they _never_ should serve the same function, and _never_ should be interchanged. One should _never_ call a nuteral a ground.

    It is not.

    Doing so will only hurt people.

    --->Paul
     
  19. spam4einstein

    spam4einstein Well-Known Member

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    ARGH!!!!
    For someone who dosnt understand electricity, the Nut. is a ground!. Its grounded to the plumbing or other source. I wasnt tying to give a course in fundementals of electricity! She is trying to plug in a computer, not trying to re-wire a circut for heavens sake! All she needs to do that safely is keep it under 15 amps and have a clean installation. You "PROFESSORS" have likley totaly confused the poor poster and have her thinking she now has to spend $$$$$ when she dosnt have to spend a dime. The only real help anyone else gave was the its possiblity the outlet box is grounded, and it may be possible to simply install a grounded outlet.

    I gave good advice and all the "professors" had to chime in on some minute detail about the way I used the term "ground". All she needs to safely run her computer is a hot and a nuteral.....which provides a path to ground! SHAME ON YOU FOLKS WHO WANTED TO PROVE HOW "SMART" YOU ARE AT THE EXPENSE OF THIS POSTER! If you are so smart you all know she can run her computer safely with the grounding post removed, thats how she has been running it, but my advice was safer because it would be a "cleaner" installation.


    DEAR POSTER, I WAS A LICNSED CONTRACTOR AND PROPERTY MANAGER FOR OVER A DECADE, JUST LAST WEEK I INSTALLED A COMPLETELY NEW ELECTRIC SERVICE PANNEL INCLUDING ALL NEW WIRING TO THE TELEPHONE POLE. GUESS WHAT, IT PASSED INSPECTION! HOW MANY OF THESE PROFESSORS HAVE RE-WIRED A WHOLE HOUSE IN THE PAST 2 WEEKS?




    Getting the Nuteral mixed up with the ground if you are working on the homes wiring can be a BIG mistake! The shock he describes is the exact reason the 3rd wire was introduced. I dont think this poster was about to start opening up her electrical service though fellas. She just wanted to know how to safely run her computer,,,,thats what I told her how to do, perhaps in too simple terms for the "electricians" here.


    Now if you want a debate with me....thats fine. But please let this innocent poster know its O.K. to run her computer without the dedicated ground as long as she dosnt take it in the bath with her LOL.
     
  20. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    (quietly raises his hand)

    my suggestion to them is, if the house is old enough to have 2 prong outlests only, they should start, cheaply, at step ONE... check the incoming service line... inspect it. find the houses main ground posts In the ground. Inspect them. start replacing the service from there with current parts. a new main breaker panel, new ground wires and posts, make 2x sure the new base service is in right then beggin to run new wire to new recepticles. it doens thave to be expensive, it doesnt have to be done all at once, BUT it is a WISE move, to update a home with old 2 wire circuits. the wires hidden in places are no doubt old cloth cased house wire, cracked and dry, and no doubt at all gnawed in a few places also. this happens even if no one messes with the wires for 100 yrs. There is no time like NOW to begin updating the whle system one step at a time.
    and there is nothing wrong with using 'used' parts and wire, if it is properly checked and it works.
    my 2 cents is forget 'fixing" the recepticles and start putting in new stuff.... even one piece at a time.
    I know, people sometimes dont have any money, and I'm as poor as they come. I put in new service and cuircuts rather than risk a fire. if you think a few parts are expensive wait till you have a housefire. the computer is only ONE plug in the house... they all need updated. yes, I do hope the poster was scared out their mind over the input, it may save their life.

    and I am currently in the process of refitting old wires and cuircuts in anther house, and re running a few temp lines in my own.
    (quietly puts his hand back down)