Electrical outlets not properly grounded - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-19-2012, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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All of the outlets in my TV room are 3 prong. My surge protector has a "Not Grounded" indicator light and it says that some of my outlets are not grounded.

I opened up one of the outlets and it had 3 wires; I'm assuming they are the hot, neutral and ground.

2 questions:
1. Will my surge protector still protect my components even though it says my outlets are not properly grounded?
2. What could be wrong with my outlet? Is the ground wire not properly terminated?

disclaimer:
I know little to nothing about electricity so I may be incorrectly phrasing my explanation/questions.
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-19-2012, 05:22 PM
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There should be three wires, black (hot), white (neutral) and copper (ground). If all of these are connected, then the probable cause is "upstream".

Bob
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-20-2012, 11:29 AM
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Sorry, I got interrupted yesterday. The first thing to do is buy an outlet tester at a hardware store. See if that also indicates bad ground. I had a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) that had a light that indicated bad grounding, but I ran the circuit and knew the ground was good.

If the outlet tester also indicates bad ground, then you have to start tracing the lines. The "easiest" thing to do is determine what's on that circuit and then attempt to follow the circuit from the breaker box to the end of the circuit. For outlets, they sell a device that you plug into the outlet and then you take a separate device and run it over the breakers, and it tells you which breaker corresponds to the outlet. For lights, you just have to turn off breakers one by one and see what goes off.

Anyway, this will allow you to determine what's on that circuit. Then you go into every switch/outlet box to see if the ground is properly connected. The grounds should be connected in each box (that is, the wires that "pass through" the box should be connected together, in general, hot to hot, neutral to neutral, ground to ground) and to each switch (well, my house was wired without grounds to light switches, but perhaps that was code at one time) and to each outlet.

As for whether the surge suppressor would not work, my guess is that it would not work correctly without the ground.

Bob
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-22-2012, 06:26 AM
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One more thing to look at. Is there another surge protector upstream from the one you are installing? That can cause this sort of behavior, and if there is one, you shouldn't be installing one downstream.
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-22-2012, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctviggen View Post

Sorry, I got interrupted yesterday. The first thing to do is buy an outlet tester at a hardware store. See if that also indicates bad ground. I had a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) that had a light that indicated bad grounding, but I ran the circuit and knew the ground was good.
If the outlet tester also indicates bad ground, then you have to start tracing the lines. The "easiest" thing to do is determine what's on that circuit and then attempt to follow the circuit from the breaker box to the end of the circuit. For outlets, they sell a device that you plug into the outlet and then you take a separate device and run it over the breakers, and it tells you which breaker corresponds to the outlet. For lights, you just have to turn off breakers one by one and see what goes off.
Anyway, this will allow you to determine what's on that circuit. Then you go into every switch/outlet box to see if the ground is properly connected. The grounds should be connected in each box (that is, the wires that "pass through" the box should be connected together, in general, hot to hot, neutral to neutral, ground to ground) and to each switch (well, my house was wired without grounds to light switches, but perhaps that was code at one time) and to each outlet.
As for whether the surge suppressor would not work, my guess is that it would not work correctly without the ground.

CTVIGGEN did a pretty good job of giving you advice. My dad was a Journeyman Electrician before he passed away and I had the opportunity to be his helper many times. One of the many reasons we were often employed was similar to the reason the OP talks about. Too many amateur electricians are lazy and use the slide in and grab slots on a plug or switch. Often times those at some point will let lose of the wire and you have no power. In most cases a ground wire is screw down only, so that is probably not your problem. First thing I would do, if it is has not already been done, is label all of the circuits at the breaker box. In an emergency, unless you are going to pull the main breaker, you do not have the time to try and figure out which breaker is which. As to the ground, obviously you have a wire that has slipped off of a plug or switch or has come apart where they are twisted together. Electrical code in some places does not require a wire nut on ground splices, but as a precaution I always use one. Electrical code used to allow the use of green ground screws to metal boxes, another place wire slippage used to occur, but now most locations have banned those now. I would get one of those 3 prong, 3 light circuit testers and test all of the plugs on that particular circuit. That type of tester is cheap and can be bought at Harbor Freight for a few dollars. Check each plug, and if I were a betting man, I think you will find that a plug will show an open ground. Caution, test all plugs on that circuit as you may not have found the one with the problem at the FRONT of the circuit. Any open ground will be passed down the circuit. When you find the open ground at the FRONT of the circuit turn off the power and open that box up. I think you will find the problem. This also points out something else. This is another good reason to keep plugs and switches on separate circuits. WARNING!!! IF YOU ARE NOT A PROFESSIONAL ELECTRICIAN NEVER WORK ON A LIVE CIRCUIT. ALWAYS TURN THE POWER OFF FIRST. THE LIFE YOU SAVE WILL PROBABLY BE YOUR OWN.
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