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Quick electrical question.

Old 04-29-05, 06:58 PM
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Quick electrical question

I'm taking down an old light fixture and putting up a new one. The problem I have is there is no ground wire and no ground screw in the box (it is a plastic box). Of course the new light has a ground wire.

The house was build in 1976 and is copper wiring. I did a google and the best I can tell is I just shouldn't do anything with the ground and all should be ok??? Is that correct? I know, just do it and see what happens but I'm no electrician (obviously) so I don't want to do anything that is dangerous.

Thanks

Last edited by Sdallnct; 05-21-05 at 04:43 PM.
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Old 04-29-05, 07:04 PM
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Been there a few times. Just wire it without the ground. If you are really concerned, find an outlet that is closer to the breaker box but on the same circuit and put in a GFI.
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Old 04-29-05, 07:06 PM
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There should be a bare (or green insulated) wire coming out of the Romex cable along with the white and black. If there isn't, your house is not "to Code." My house was built in 1963 and all wiring has a ground wire. With plastic box, the ground wire from the Romex should connect to the ground terminal on a socket, or to the ground wire of a lamp.

Any chance this light was a later "add on?" I'd check more of your wiring. Something is wrong.
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Old 04-29-05, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
There should be a bare (or green insulated) wire coming out of the Romex cable along with the white and black. If there isn't, your house is not "to Code." My house was built in 1963 and all wiring has a ground wire. With plastic box, the ground wire from the Romex should connect to the ground terminal on a socket, or to the ground wire of a lamp.

Any chance this light was a later "add on?" I'd check more of your wiring. Something is wrong.
Yes, it is possible and likely this was added later, I'm replacing an old track light with a new one and thought that would be easy...

Oh wait...OldDude you are toooooooo smart. I went and checked the wires sticking out under my kitchen cabinets that are for under cab lighting (yes another project I need to get to), some of them have the 3rd bare wire and some don't (these were already wired, I just took the old under cab lights down when we got new kitchen cabinets). When I look closer, it just looks like for some reason the bare wire has been cut back in to the Romex. I bet it is the same on that light! It is just cut way back.
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Old 04-29-05, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Sdallnct
When I look closer, it just looks like for some reason the bare wire has been cut back in to the Romex. I bet it is the same on that light! It is just cut way back.
"By Code," that is an unsafe condition. For anything bad to actually happen, the black wire would have to short to the metal housing, but the purpose of the ground wire is to protect you if that happens. Particularly in the kitchen, I would pull new wire. In the kitchen, there is a much higher chance your hands will be wet or you will be touching something metal. In the event of a fault, the risk of a serious shock is higher.

If there is any slack in the Romex, you might pull enough free to connect to the cut-back stub of ground wire (pulling new cable is a PITA)
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Old 04-29-05, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
If there is any slack in the Romex, you might pull enough free to connect to the cut-back stub of ground wire (pulling new cable is a PITA)
Oh yea, I should have plenty of wire to work with in all areas. The light I currently replacing in my media room has a good 8 inches of Romex coming out of the box, and I haven't seen if there is any slack.

In the Kitchen, when we replaced the cabinets, I had the new uppers installed about 3 inches higher then the old ones, so I have more then enough Romex to just cut away some of the outer shielding to expose some of the ground on the wire that is not visible.

Thanks a ton, you saved me from trying to figure out what was going on once I do get to the kitchen lights.

(Note my priorities? I working on the media room prior to the kitchen. My wife just loves me???? )
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Old 04-29-05, 07:59 PM
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I am not giving advice - just telling how my house is.

In my house I have older two wire outlets (white/black) and newer three (white/black/green) wire outlets. In order for a surge protector to work - you need a three wire outlet (grounded) - so I ended up running a bare ground wire to a copper pipe in my basement that is eventually connected to the ground in the breaker box. It works and the oulet is grounded according to the HomeDepot tester I got.

I have done this on three outlets and the prior owner did it on several others.

The building inspector made note of the older wiring but didn't seem to think the bare wire pipe method was a problem. As far as I know, it should work fine, it is pretty ugly looking, but the ground wire only gets current if there is a surge.
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Old 04-29-05, 11:29 PM
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Well got my track lighting installed. I was able to cut a few inches of romex off and expose the ground and hook the ground on the light to it. Everything works perfect. Even installed a wireless light switch with it (GE Smarthome) and that worked as well.

Thanks OldDude!
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Old 05-21-05, 04:41 PM
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Now undercounter lights!

OK I bought some undercounter lights for my kitchen which is wired for it. These are what I got.

http://www.lusalighting.com/images/comlightwhite_1.jpg

My concern is what to do with the ground coming out of the wall?

You had me concerned with regards to grounds, but now these new lights are only a two wire system. Basically they come packaged without a plug attached (but comes with a plug). Obvously since I already have the raw wires coming out of the wall, I did not use the plug. I just screwed the black wire coming out of the wall to the wire that had black printing on it on the light, then the white wire out of the wall to the all white wire on the light. Seems everything worked, including the previously installed switch.

I GUESSING that I don't need to worry about a ground on each light since:

-The lights are only two wire
-The switch used for on and off has a ground (I assume)
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Old 05-21-05, 06:11 PM
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It doesn't say in that photo, but it might be "double insulated." If the exterior of the light is insulated, or if there is a complete layer of insulation between the inside of the light and any exposed metal, then it is considered double insulated, and a ground wire is not required.

The "complete layer" business is a little debatable. That cardboard sleeve in regular household lamp sockets qualifies, but "them's the rules." Basically, there has to be an extra layer of insulation that per some test (I don't know the exact details) would keep a losse black wire from contacting the case.

Edit: Just tuck the ground wire neatly out of the way in the box. You might need it for a different lamp in the future.
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Old 05-21-05, 07:02 PM
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OK great. Thanks so much. I also installed a dimmer in the place of the previous on off switch and all seems to be working just fine! I just installed one as a test and have several more to do.

Thanks again for all your help!
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Old 07-24-05, 12:28 AM
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OK, I spoke to soon (haven't posted back sooner as I was working on some other projects) but,

As posted above I was trying to hook up my under counter lights. The wiring was already in place and I just wired in the lights. I put a dimmer on the switch. I THOUGHT all was working, but when I got to the other side of the kitchen, those undercounter lights do not work. In other words roughly half work and the half that doesn't work it all together. So thinking I did something wrong at the dimmer/switch as I wired in the lights the same on all of them. Here are couple of photos of how I have the dimmer wired in. Let me know what I did wrong,


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Old 07-24-05, 06:21 AM
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Dimmer looks OK and if even one of the lights on it works OK, it must be OK. There must be a problem in running the wiring from light to light, and I would start between the last one that works and the first one that doesn't.
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Old 07-24-05, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
Dimmer looks OK and if even one of the lights on it works OK, it must be OK. There must be a problem in running the wiring from light to light, and I would start between the last one that works and the first one that doesn't.
I was afraid you were going to say that. I have like 7 or 8 sets of wires coming out of the wall under my cabinets for putting up under counter lights. In my three wall kitchen I got lights working on 2 of the 3 walls. And while I could figure out a way to get some of them to working wiring, the last one is on the other side of the stove. So not sure how I would do that.
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Old 07-24-05, 10:28 AM
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Did the old lights all work? If so, the wires themselves are probably sound.

I assume everything is connected with wire nuts. In general, for each color, you would have an entering cable, an exitting cable to the next light in the chain, and a wire from the light itself. It is pretty easy to get one of three wires trapped under the plastic, but not really in the threaded metal part of the wire nut. Check your connections at each box, starting at the last one that works (it's exit cable could still be disconnected). You probably just have one wire nut not doing its job.
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Old 08-17-05, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
Did the old lights all work? If so, the wires themselves are probably sound.

I assume everything is connected with wire nuts. In general, for each color, you would have an entering cable, an exitting cable to the next light in the chain, and a wire from the light itself. It is pretty easy to get one of three wires trapped under the plastic, but not really in the threaded metal part of the wire nut. Check your connections at each box, starting at the last one that works (it's exit cable could still be disconnected). You probably just have one wire nut not doing its job.
Realized I never gave you closure (I'm sure you were having trouble sleeping wondering what happened)...

You were exactly right, I was basically using the wrong size wire nuts. On some lights I had two or three lights going to one wire. In other areas I was running one light to one wire but I was using the same size wire nuts on all. When I dropped to a smaller wire nut on those using less wire, they worked just fine.

Wife just ordered the back splash, so might finally be done with the kitchen very soon!
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Old 08-17-05, 03:31 PM
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Glad to hear it worked.
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