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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I have a VERY limited understanding when it comes to electrical shtuff, so some good advice from another electrician would be greatly appreciated.

Recently, I found out that I live in a '2 wire house', therefore I need to have my HT outlet grounded, obviously. My landlord's electrician (licensed and bonded) has agreed to come over and ground the outlet (entirely at my cost) for ~$20-$50, which sounds just too cheap. From speaking w/a coworker of mine (he was an electrician in the Airforce,) it is, now, my understanding that the best method of grounding the outlet would be to run the third wire down (ground) to the box in the basement (I'm on the 2nd floor.) However, the estimated cost (again, from my coworker) for that would be ~$150. So, I can only guess that this electrician is thinking he'll just run a grounding wire out of the house to an external source (like how my dish is grounded.) If I'm correct in this assumption, I'm left feeling somewhat disconcerted; an external ground like that can't be as safe as the other idea, can it? To me, the idea of my HT's outlet being run along the side of my house, exposed to wind and all the other elements, could lead to voltage fluctuations and who knows what else.

So, anyone have a clue as to how I should handle this?
 

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The only option for code and safety is to run the ground back to the service point, usally the meter or main panel. If you are fed form a sub panel that is grounded, then that would be OK. If you have a grounded appliance such as a range, that too is OK.


But what's not OK is to ground to the earth locally or a water pipe uness that water pipe is bonded to the electrical system at the service point and it should be to code.


BTW, your dish ground needs to be bonded to the electrical ground as well. This is to avoid voltage buildup across two grounds seperated by earth which is resistive.


As far as running the wire outside that's OK but I'm not sure if it's code. Copper won't degrade outside. Once it corrodes, that protects the underlying copper. Case in point, very high end copper roofs and the Statue of Liberty. It was the steel support that was decaying and rebuilt years ago. The copper skin is still as good as when it was delivered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response...this is really stressing me out. Is there a simple way to test if the water pipe is bonded to the electrical system at the service point?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by flip22
Thanks for the response...this is really stressing me out. Is there a simple way to test if the water pipe is bonded to the electrical system at the service point?
At every place I've lived, the connection is very obvious. Look at the water pipes near the electrical box or where the electrical service comes in for a large wire connected to a cold water pipe.
 

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If this is an older home, it may have been wired with metallic BX (aka "armored") cable and metal boxes. If so, then grounding the outlet is usually relatively quick and easy -- just connect a wire between the receptable's ground screw and the metal box.


This may be why the estimate is low...
 

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If there is properly installed metal conduit, just screwing the grounded outlet into the metal box does the trick. No ground wire is needed.
 

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But would the NEC electrical code recognize that as a valid "legal" ground connection? Even if so, I prefer installing the wire rather than relying on self-grounding outlets.
 

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The NEC recognizes the strap-to-box contact valid only for surface-mounted boxes, not flush-mount, except for those receptacles with approved screw-contact devices. However, for audio/video uses, I'd prefer a dedicated ground wire run to the nearest properly-grounded metal, such as a water pipe or properly-grounded appliance's ground connection.


That being said, if you're in a house with non-grounding wiring, the capacity of the wiring was determined when lighting was the primary electrical loading, before TVs and such. If you're really concerned, have the electrician run a new NM cable from the panel to a new outlet. New wire, new circuit, new ground wire. To me, this would be a well-spent $150.
 

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You guys who get to use Romex and follow the NEC should be happy you don't live around Chicago. All the wiring around here has to wear armor any there is nary a ground wire to be seen in the electrical system except for the main building ground. It may keep the rats from eating the wiring but I wonder about how well the conduit connections do the job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks everyone for the info...here's how it went down:

Once the electrician removed the outlet's face and did a little poking, the damn thing FELL APART! "Woah, you don't see that everyday," he said. But, after that scare, everything went as smooth and as fortunate as possible. As it turns out, my house is so old that it used to have gas lighting. So, all he had to do was run the wire up through the attic (again, lucky for me there was some wiring run up to the attic) and drop it down one of those obsolete gas pipes straight down to the box in the basement! Oh, and the guy said as soon as he saw my system, he wouldn't have considered doing it any other way :) Finally, at about 10PM last night, I was able to hook everything up to my HTS3500 (brand new and sitting in a box for 2wks!) and have peace of mind.


Oh, and, Glimmie & Greywolf, I checked the the water pipe and it IS bonded to the box, as well. Thank you for pointing that concern out to me.


Have a great weekend everybody!

-flip22


ONE more thing- the electrician said that he'll return today to add a dedicated circuit for that outlet on the box- without ANY prompting!

Nice guy and a true professional...guess I lucked out, huh?
 
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