Not Grounded -- What will happen? Does anyone know what will happen if I use a surge protector to plug in a floor lamp, a laptop, a phone (& maybe a printer) in a wall socket that's not grounded? Will I start a fire? Will I electrify my apartment? There's only 1 grounded socket in my apt, & it's for the AC in another room. Thanks, Arlene
asked by pen and paper on July 1, 2009
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I'm living in a house that has a basement that was apparently wired by a do-it-yourself amateur when he did the basement finishing remodeling. The outlets in the basement LOOK as if they are grounded -- they have the 3 holes which is the standard to use with a grounded outlet in the U.S. However, after some problems, and some strange symptoms, which included a 'not grounded' indicator being lit up on a surge-protector power-strip, we became suspicious. My husband used some testing equipment on the basement outlets, and discovered they were not really grounded. We are planning to have an electrician fix the basement wiring and add some more outlets too.

What city do you live in? The very limited wiring in the apartment sounds like it might be a violation of building codes or occupancy safety standards, but that varies greatly by city to city, and I'm not an expert of any of this. On the other hand, maybe they would just tell you to remove the AC. I would find that difficult myself; I hate hot weather.
Lost Gecko answered on July 11, 2009
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Buy a 3-prong circuit tester (they're cheap and available at most hardware stores and test every outlet (it's super-easy) if you don't trust the building manager. In my experience, old apartments are often retrofitted incompetently and dangerously, including such idiocies as using gas piping as a neutral conductor and putting in-phase AC on both legs of a three-wire Edison circuit, potentially overloading the neutral by twice its safe rating. I've even known the owner of a circa-1912 six-story apartment building to bribe a city inspector rather than correct potentially deadly wiring faults at great expense, so I don't trust managers or owners (or some inspectors) as far as I can throw them (which isn't very far nowadays).
Back to the original question, if the outlet is not grounded then the surge suppressor will not work. Learn more here:
OldAmazonian answered on January 29, 2010
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in electronics, when a live wire comes loose it can electrify the entire casing. the ground plug for electronics help ground the casing so that it causes a short protecting anyone that touches the case.

it could be fairly deadly/dangerous depending on the equipment and power draw, but most of the time it should be fine. I would definitely worry about using ungrounded plugs if you have pets or small children.
JC answered on March 11, 2010
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Well, update, my sockets are 'grounded'; that is, they have 3 holes, 1 round. But the red light indicator on my Belkin is lit & says not grounded.

So, I don't know. I'm using it, & will ask my building manager if it's really grounded or not.
pen and paper answered on July 2, 2009
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Nothing will happen; it will work fine. But IF one of the AC wires shorts to a metal part and IF that metal part is exposed and IF you touch it and IF you are also touching some other piece of grounded metal at the same time you'll get shocked.
Davey Hudson answered on February 10, 2015
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If you have a ground fault indicator on your surge protector, than the surge protector offers no real surge protection. The ground wire from the wall outlet serves to pass current into the frame of the house, as opposed to the electronic device. I learned this the hard way, because my apartment didn't have a ground wire on the plugs. A power surge fried my router and battery backup, and upon reading the fine print, I learned that this is necessary for any surge protector to work properly. So, I got a 8 gauge wire, and hooked it directly from the new GFCI wall outlet ground to the box in the wall. The metal from the box will ground out, so long as you securely attach the wire using a bolt or screw.
Pete answered on September 3, 2014
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according to the nec , if you have an existing 2 prong, 2 wire outlet, you must change to a gfci receptacle, you can install in the first receptacle from the panel and wired correctly will upgrade the rest of the outlets on that circuit.
CHARLES P WILLIAMS answered on March 4, 2015
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Some scary comments here that are intended to help people. Surge protection works by diverting energy, either from Line to Line, Line to Neutral, Neutral to Line, Line to Ground or Neutral to Ground. In some documentation for a surge protection device on a 120VAC line, it will probably state this as L-N, L-G & N-G. Ground is Earth Ground... Our planet Earth. It is the reference and where this energy is sometimes being diverted. The MOVs inside will dissipate some of that energy as heat. GFCI is something different than Surge Protection. A light on your Surge protected outlet strip does not indicate GFCI, it indicates a Ground connection. A GFCI is a circuit. If you need a ground and you do not own the premises, get your landlord to update the outlets. If you do this yourself, you are liable for anything wrong that happens, when the landlord should be legally liable. Make sure your Surge protected outlet has a Line to Neutral MOV before you buy it. This will at least offer some protection. However, as one person pointed out, the warranty is usually contingent upon having a good ground. Also, in addition to a good ground, these warranties are also contingent upon you having homeowner's insurance, since they cover what is beyond the APPROVED coverage of the insurance company. Read the contract!!!
Daniel P. Peddle answered on March 15, 2015
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Woo what will happen bitches??
M.Jonas answered on February 1, 2012
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[Deleted by the author on Jun 16, 2012 8:08:00 AM PDT]
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