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What outlet would be safest for me to use?


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#1 cat33

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 12:51 PM

I have plugged my surge protector into all of my apartment's outlets. I think only one is not properly grounded. Unfortunately that is the one my desktop is plugged into. I bought a 375w Cyberpower battery backup with surge protection that I would like to connect my computer to but the faulty wiring indicator light is red. Can I plug this thing in for the battery backup? I know the surge protection wouldn't work but battery backup would be nice.

I might be able to move in a month or two. I am trying to buy a house. I hope I never have to rent again. When our furnace started giving high levels of carbon dioxide the repair guy threatened to report him and that is why our furnace got fixed.

I can only imagine the drama I will be faced with trying to get my landlord to ground an outlet. I would rather just stop using the outlet but I use a wire internet connection. The other room the modem can reach into is next to neighbors who blast me with music. I can't hear anything in that room. There is another outlet in my living room which tests ok but is near a window and if my landlord's maintenance guy doesn't do a good job cleaning the gutters water can leak in. Even if I had a ladder, I am afraid to go in my neighbor's yard to gain access to the gutter. Also, the outlet is on the other side of the room so I can't run my wire over there without somebody tripping over it. I would have to use a wireless connection. The outlet is not close enough to the window to get wet and it hasn't leaked in years but......

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#2 rotor123

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 01:40 PM

The question to ask is why the faulty wiring light is on.
Is it on due to a open ground?
Or is it a open Neutral?
Or it it due to a reversed Neutral and Ground?

Roger

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#3 cat33

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 02:35 AM

This is way over my head. I have done some more research. I think I did the right thing by not turning the power on to the battery backup while plugged into the ungrounded outlet. I guess since I hope to move soon I will put it back in it's box and wait until I move and hopefully have better electricity and can use it in my new home.

I forgot about and didn't mention that on the other side of the wall of the ungrounded outlet is an outlet that has an extension cord plugged into it and there is a bug repeller devise plugged into it. I think it uses radio frequencies to repel bugs and rodents. I guess I may need to ask an electrical website about that. Anyway, if I could plug the battery backup into this outlet I could reach the backup's cord into my living room and avoid having to move the desk. At first when I plugged it in there was no red indicator light but after a few minutes it was as red as the ungrounded one so I wonder if they are connected and count as one outlet. I have read that if you have a surge protector plugged in your electricity will act weird if you have another one or an extension cord plugged in. But would that count for outlets that share the same part of a wall one in one room and the other in another room? I am greeted with a lot of hostility when I suggest unplugging the bug repeller to see if it is effecting the outlet's ability to be grounded.

I am also not having much luck getting my family to let me move the desk to a grounded outlet. There is not much flexibility in my house. I was told I worry too much.

Before I buy a house I will definitely get the home inspected before I agree to buy. I let a realtor trick me into making an offer waving all my rights to an inspection. I am grateful somebody had a better offer than me. I have to make sure a lawyer looks over the papers. I will not be using that realtor again.

Edited by cat33, 23 December 2012 - 02:38 AM.


#4 dc3

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 12:01 PM

You could purchase a plug in voltage tester which sells for about five dollars.

Rotor123 posted the possibility of the neutral and ground being reversed, in almost all distribution panels the ground and neutral are common to each other, so this wouldn't be a problem. I've never seen the ground and neutral reversed, the ground wire is a bare copper wire while the neutral has white insulation, kind of hard to miss that one.

I believe what he had meant to post was a reversal of the hot (black wire) and neutral (white wire) or a reversal of the hot and ground.

The tester that I've suggested will test for the following:

Open Ground
Open Neutral
Open Hot
Hot/Ground Reversed
Hot/Neutral Reversed
Correct

Edited by dc3, 23 December 2012 - 12:09 PM.

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#5 rotor123

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 02:11 PM

dc3, You hit the nail on the head, I meant the neutral and hot could be reversed. I've seen those testers and they seem to work.

I suggested one to someone that was buying a new power supply every month. I talked to him a few months later and he reported the tester showed problems, he got an electrician in and had it fixed and son of a gun, no surprise to me, his power supply stopped dying every month. Another bad sign is an outlet that feels warm or hot when in use.

I would think that the UPS would work as a battery backup even with the faulty wiring indicator light being red (on).

Why not check With the Maker. For sure no surge protection at that outlet.

Best Regards
Roger

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#6 dc3

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 02:59 PM

dc3, You hit the nail on the head, I meant the neutral and hot could be reversed. I've seen those testers and they seem to work.


I'm a retired electrician, I keep one of these in my tool bag along with a good voltage meter.:thumbup2:

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#7 rotor123

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 03:05 PM

Can I get you to pop over to NJ and fix an outlet for me :)

Merry Christmas
Roger

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#8 rotor123

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 03:09 PM

Would You believe I still have one of these? Would You believe I still have one of these? http://static.schneider-electric.us/docs/Electrical%20Distribution/Load%20Centers/Voltage%20Testers-WIGGY/VT1CP_lg.jpg Different brand of course. Different brand of course.
From http://www.electriciantalk.com
It didn't work out. I turned out to be afraid of heights. So I went into a different field. My brother OTOH just retired from the IBEW.

Roger

Edited by rotor123, 23 December 2012 - 03:18 PM.

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#9 dc3

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 03:25 PM

Would You believe I still have one of these? Would%20You%20believe%20I%20still%20have%20one%20of%20http://www.electriciantalk.com/f2/voltage-tester-35162/

It didn't work out. I turned out to be afraid of heights. So I went into a different field.

Roger


This is what I keep in my tool bag, AC/DC voltages to 600V, audible continuity tester, and single probe audible when line voltage is present.

Edit: This meter has a capacitive storage which once you energize will provide up to thirty minutes of power for trouble shooting on unenergized circuits.

NJ is a little further than I travel to trouble shoot an electrical problem, but if you need some input I'm willing to help via PM.

Dan

Edited by dc3, 23 December 2012 - 03:27 PM.

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#10 rotor123

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 04:12 PM

That sounds like a handy one and it was priced right too.

No, that's alright, I'm pretty sure it is either a bad outlet or loose (corroded) wire connection to it. It gets warm with use. I did pull the outlet out of use Until my brother and I can get the furniture blocking access moved. My brother still has all his tools from before he retired from the union.

Between us I'm pretty handy on normal household plumbing, Change faucets, sinks, Toilets, that sort of thing. My brothers is OK with electrical, tough part is getting him started. A Friend that is a Mason. We have saved a lot of money by being handy.

Best Regards
Roger

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#11 cat33

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 04:33 PM

Thanks! It is relief to find out there is something cheap I can do to find out what is going on with that outlet.

One thing that is frustrating about my house search is it is winter time and some of the homes for sale have been weatherized and can't turn a faucet on to check the plumbing without paying to have the water turned on for an inspection, very worth it if going to buy but if not sure I want it.......and some have had their electricity turned off. One house had fire damage that was not mentioned in the listing and I'm not sure I noticed any 3 prong outlets in that home except maybe in what was left of the kitchen. No wonder they had a fire. I don't think the electrical had been updated since the 1950's

Also, I was reading somewhere that one cheap way some property owners ground an outlet is somehow put a wire near or next to a cold water metal pipe. Some how the ground follows the pipe into the earth? I guess that is something to think about because nowadays a lot of homes that have been vacant for a while, especially the foreclosed ones, have had all their metal pipes taken out and then the seller replaces with plastic hoping to prevent more pipe theft.

I went to Cyberpower battery backup website and read that I can use an extension cord but I have to be careful to get a single plug one with the right voltage. I could plug that into an outlet I wont be using until summer when I plug a fan in, and hopefully I will be moved by then. I already have a DSL wire in the doorway and we know not to trip over it, so another cord shouldn't be much of a problem. We don't use that room much because of noise from neighbors. I guess that type of extension is only sold someplace like Home Depot.

#12 dc3

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 04:55 PM

There is national code that requires the the main distribution panel, where the service is connected be grounded. Depending on the age of the house, and what has been "grandfathered" in, you should at the very least have a ground to earth (ground rod) at the panel.

You can use a water pipe to make a ground if it is either galvanized or copper for a ground connection.

One of the problems with wiring that dates back to the fifties is that it doesn't have a ground wire, two conductor with ground, ex: 12/2 romex. What is used currently would be 12/2 with ground romex.

There are disclosure laws which differ from state to state which require a disclosure of certain mechanical and electrical problems at the time of the sale. You can Google "home sales disclosure laws" in the state that you reside.

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#13 rotor123

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 05:31 PM

I'm going to make a suggestion. Do you have DIY or HGTV channels? Look at Holmes on Holmes or Holmes Inspection and Property Brothers.

Watch a bunch of shows from them. You will get a idea of the pitfalls that can be in a older home that you want to look for.

Things like Galvanized Water lines. They tend to corrode and the inside diameter can shrink from rust and cause low water flow or pipe breakage.
Asbestos
Knob & Tube wiring
Unsafe fireplaces or Fireplace Chimneys
Run the sink and Flush the toilet to see if the water pressure is OK.
What size electrical service?

Just to name a few. Once you buy that outlet tester Take it with you and check the outlets in a home you are looking at.

Good Luck
Roger

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#14 westom

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 06:36 PM

This is way over my head. I have done some more research. I think I did the right thing by not turning the power on to the battery backup while plugged into the ungrounded outlet.


First, an outlet tester can only report defective grounds. That one receptacle can still have a defective ground but report good. The tester only finds defects. Does not report anything as 'good beyond doubt'.

Second, a receptacle ground is a safety ground. To protect human life. It does not protect hardware. Hardware protection involves a completely different ground - earth ground.

Third, earthing hardware only makes equipment a target for surges. Don't earth hardware (only safety ground it). Earth the surge. A completely different device (also called a protector) is located on the breaker box. To earth potentially destructive surges harmlessly and outside the building. So that everything inside is protected.

Fourth, if a bug repeller works, then cock roaches are never seen inside radio transmitter buildings. Reality. The bug repeller sells for the same reason ineffective protectors also sell. Hearsay, urban myth, and advertising.

And finally, you have only two choices for three prong appliances. Either a dedicated ground wire must route from the breaker box to that receptacle (and not to a water pipe). Or the receptacle must be powered from or replaced with a GFCI. Those are your only two options.

Edited by westom, 23 December 2012 - 06:36 PM.


#15 cat33

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 10:27 PM

That's what I was thinking. If it was up to me I would unplug it. What bugs and critters we get seems to depend on what the neighbors are doing. For awhile the building next door to me was flea infested. Another former neighbor family had rats. One neighbor family was fly infested. They have all moved. I know we had the bug repeller when a rat came in here. The other infestations pretty much moved when the neighbors did. If the bug repeller worked, why did a rat make it's way in the house? I'm not convinced it does much of anything. We now have a cat and that combined with getting cleaner neighbors seemed to get rid of my rodent problem. I heard one of my neighbors needs mouse traps but I guess my cat does his job.

The big thing is to keep food in tight fitting containers but if my neighbors toss trash around and don't clean up after themselves their critters make their way in here.




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