08:51AM | 09/14/07
Member Since: 09/13/07
1 lifetime posts
Hello, I have outlets in one of my rooms that reads "not grounded" when it is tested. My first question is: What exactly does this mean and what needs to be done to fix it? I was also wondering if it is safe to use these outlets in the mean time? I have been but am concerned. Thank you in advance for any help offered...Jay


09:23AM | 09/14/07
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
First note that the simple 3 light testers can give "false" indications if you have multiple problems. But it does mean that there is a problem.

It measn that there is no Equipment Groundign Conductor (ie, The Ground wire) connected to the ground teminal on the receptacle.

The fix depends on the type of wiring system (sheathed electrical cable, BX, metallic conduit, etc) and the age of the home. If this is a newer home then grounds would have run adn the maybe just missed on this receptacle.

If it was an older home then the sheathed electrical cable would not include ground, but if conduit was used the conduit would be the ground.

So it was possible that the old non-grounding receptacle was replaced with a grounding style. In that case the fix it with the non-ground style or with a GFCI or upstream GFCI.

Note that the ones that test OK, might just have the neutral tied to the ground terminal. That is not safe and the 3 light testers won't find it.

If this receptacle is protected by an i[stream GFCI breaker or receptacle it won't trip when using a GFCI tester. You need to tripp the GFCI with the test button and then verify that the receptacle is dead. If that was done the receptacle is suppose to be labeled No Equipment Ground and GFCI Protected, such labels are included with individual GFCI's. But they are often not used.

If the receptacle is otherwise not miss wired the danger is if you use a plug with a grounding pin (the round one). But you never know what is going to be plugged in in the future.

But if it is a GFCI or GFCI protected then it gives the same personal safety and one with an equipment ground conductor.

But for a refigerator, freezer, or sump pump you need a true ground and no GFCI as a false trip can cause damage.

And for electronics (computers) with a ground conductor you need a true grounded receptacle for maximum protection agains surges.


05:28PM | 09/26/07
Member Since: 09/25/07
2 lifetime posts
so...what is the difference if any between a ground wire and neutral?


07:46PM | 09/26/07
Member Since: 01/09/07
198 lifetime posts
A neutral is the other half of the pair of wires supplying electricity to a device. It is intended to carry the electricity whenever the device is turned on.

A ground wire is a safety device, intended to force a short circuit and blow the circuit breaker/fuse when a failure causes the hot wire to contact a metal part that is grounded (connected to the ground wire). The ground wire should never be carrying any electricity under any normal situation.


08:04PM | 09/26/07
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
The neutral (white) technically called the Grounded Conductor runs back to the service panel and then to the POCO transformer.

At the service entrance the neutral is bonded to the ground bus and Grounding Electrode Conductor. The Grounding Electrode conductor then runs metalic cold water pipe, ground rods or other appropriate ground electrodes.

The neutral is also grounded at the transformer.

The ground electrodes is for lightining surge protection and is not for carrying current.

The neutral carries current.

The Equipment Grounding Conductor, aka The Ground Wire, is bare or green wire. Or it can be metallic conduit.

It has 2 purposes. One is to current fault current if anything happens to the wire or appliacance that would cause the hot wire to connect to the case or other metal parts. It can pull enough current to trip the breaker.

The other purpose is to guarantee that any metallic parts in the home that you might touch is at the same voltage level. All appliances are connected by the ground wire and things like gas line and metal water pipes are also bonded to the ground electrode conductor at the service panel.

Those grounds normally don't carry any current. That is the only way that you can guarantee that they are all at the same potential.

The neutral and ground are bonded together at the Service Entrance and ONLY at the service entrance.

In most cases the main panel is the service entrance.

But some houses have a separate overcurrent disconnect on the outside and a sub-panel inside. Or multiple panels where the others are sub-panels.

In those cases at the other panels the neutral and grounds are kept isolated.
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