self grounding receptacles and GFCI

aclumJuly 25, 2007


What are self-grounding receptacles and do they really provide a ground for a previously ungrounded outlet in an older home?

Does putting a GFCI outlet at the start of a circuit protect all of the outlets on the circuit? (I sort of picture a GFCI outlet at the first outlet in the circuit as an extension of a GFCI circuit at the breaker box).

I've read on this forum about surge protectors at the panel. Is there one protector for the entire panel or do you need one for each circuit?

I've done a quick seach on these topics and I suspect that the answers to my questions are buried here and there in various threads, but I'd love to have my questions addressed in one new thread. (I've asked similar questions before on this forum, but I'm guess I'm a little dense and it hasn't all sunk in or come together yet for me ).



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Self ground receptacles cannot provide a ground if there is no grounding conductor.

GFCI's can provide a ground of sorts if used at the beginning of a series of receptacles. The receptacles connected to them and the GFCI should be marked "No Equipment Ground" when using this method.

You can get Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors that wire into a panel, or in some cases you can get one from the POCO that installs at the meter.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:52PM
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A self grounding receptacle will only be grounded if the metal box it is installed in is grounded. If the receptacle it is replacing was ungrounded and so was the box, it also will be ungrounded.

A GFCI does not supply a ground, and does not need one to operate, but in an ungrounded circuit, it offers personnel protection by opening the circuit should an imbalance between the hot and neutral of 5mA or more occur.

There are whole house surge protectors available that will protect all the circuits. A combination of that and point of use surge protectors is recommended. It should be noted that without a properly grounded circuit, a point of use SP does not provide full protection.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:58PM
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Anne, if you are talking about a home that only has 2 prong outlets, I would consider upgrading those. FHA, VA, and other lending programs are becoming more difficult to get these homes financed without the wiring upgrade. You may be in a position where you can't sell the home without it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:18AM
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Thanks for the responses!

The house in question was built in the mid-50's with a family room addition in the 70's and kitchen and bath updates within the past few years. We recently purchased it as our "retirement home" and we're not planning to sell it (although one never knows, I guess)

It appears that the only ungrounded outlets are in the bedrooms. We'd like at least one grounded outlet in each of 2 bedrooms where we'll have computers, but don't want the expense of new circuits right now. One wall of the front bedroom abuts the plumbing in the garage laundry area, so perhaps we could run a ground wire to the the bedroom outlet on the opposite side of the wall from the laundry pipes?? Our remodeler also suggested that we might be able to have a ground in the yard near a bedroom outlet and run this in conduit up to the proper height on the exterior of the house and then "punch" the grounding through the wall to the recptacle. Any thoughts on these ideas? (We are planning on GFCI's at the start of each circuit).


    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:30PM
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Neither of those is a good idea, nor will they provide you with a proper ground. You have to run your ground back to the panel or to the main grounding conductor that leads from your panel to the grounding electrode (rod).

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 11:09PM
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Hi Normel,

You mentioned the grounding electrode rod at the panel for grounding circuits. Couldn't you have a similar rod with grounding wire "dedicated" to a specific (previously ungrounded) receptacle on the opposite side of the exterior wall (hope that makes sense!)?

My brother has a ham radio set-up which, although connected to a grounded plug, has an additonal ground for the antenna. It's basically a metal rod hammered into the ground with a clamped on wire that's routed the 6' or so across a bit of patio into his room. I'm picturing the same thing (or something similar) to ground an outlet on an exterior wall.

I'm looking more at functionality rather than code at the moment. Our concern right now is not the home's resale value, but more just protecting our computer equipment without having to rewire a bunch of stuff. There are really only 2 new outlets (one in each of two bedrooms) we need to ground in the house. As I mentioned previously, most of the other outlets are grounded and we can live with the other ungrounded ones.

Thanks for any thoughts!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 1:50AM
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810.21(J) requires a ham radio antenna grounding to be tied to the house grounding electrode system.

You are not allowed to add extra grounding electrodes without bonding them to the existing grounding electrode system.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 8:25AM
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functionality as in a ground fault in the computer resulting in an energized chassis, arcing, ground rod shooting out of the ground :) The only ground that is safe to add and will even accomplish anything is a run back to the grounded conductor in the main service panel.

It's too bad self-grounding receptacles have to have that title, even though pros understand that concept. I get so mad hearing a HD employee telling a customer, If you have old wiring with 2 prong outlets, you could spend more money on this special self-grounding receptacle that will create a ground. Plus even without the employees, people see them and assume that is what the receptacles do.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 11:21AM
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