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Help! My house doesn't have Ground!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by darthbatman, May 18, 2011.

  1. darthbatman


    Feb 2, 2009
    The plugs in my house all have three holes,
    but i found out recently that the ground holes are empty!
    So my house actually has no ground!
    I think this is why my bass amp is producing the 60-cycle hum.

    I've read a little bit about it but I'm pretty much in the dark here.
    How could I fix this? I was looking at the ART Cleanbox or similar,
    and I'm really not sure if that would help me... Ground loops is one thing,
    but to have no ground.. i don't know! Please help. :rollno:
  2. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    One remedy is to get an electrician to run grounded circuits to where your equipment is. You'll want more than one receptacle so as not to overload it. Two receptacles (15 amp) ought to do it.
  3. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    If all your outlets are ungrounded you probably need a new breaker box and rewired with 12/3. You can drive a ground pin outside and run a ground wire through the wall to a GFI and at least get certain outlets grounded.
  4. Phendyr_Loon


    Sep 4, 2010
    Often times the 3rd (bottom terminal) of the outlet is wired to its junction box via a jumper lead.
    Kind of a alternative way to ground the outlets in houses without a central ground running though the house.
    A way to conform this would be to open up the outlet in question.
  5. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    That will trick a tester usually, but it still isn't an earth ground.
  6. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    How did your house pass inspection before you bought it with that problem? Time to pay electrician to do house wiring right.
  7. How old is this house?

    If it was owned by the Flintstones or is a new one in Passaic New Jersey, it may not have a ground required.

    Using an anode or a eufer is not the best answer for various reasons since you'll be making ground eddy currents that are susceptible to lightning hits and if your neighbor did the same thing you can get some oddball ground potentials there.

    In Pompton Plains NJ there used to be so much ground eddy current you could just drive two anodes into the ground and adjust the distance between them to get free electricity at any voltage you wanted.

    Certain European countries still have a single leg to ground system to save costs on the double wire needed to actually get a ground from the power generating station.

  8. darthbatman


    Feb 2, 2009
    Thanks a ton for the replies,
    yeah the house is ancient... built in 1927 I believe.

    I have a couple friends who do electrical work.
    One older friend of the family's actually is a certified electrician,
    and he replaced a number of outlets for us over the years...
    I'll have to ask him whether there is truly any ground,
    and whether he'd be willing to run a pin outside like a couple of you suggested.
    I suppose in the future it would be better to rewire the whole house,
    or at least replace the breaker box... Then again, i'm moving out in a couple months.

    So just to be sure, am I correct in thinking that the missing ground is most likely what causes the hum?

    Many thanks
  9. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    A missing ground could definitely cause a hum. I used to have lots of problems with hum.... but only in one band. Took me a while to work out that the one power bar we used had no ground connection. It has since been fixed.
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products

    Eddy currents are produced when a conductor is in the presence of a magnetic field.

    Eddy current - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    What you have there is just current, not eddy currents. Eddy currents produce a magnetic field and heat, but no electricity.

    Most grounds in homes are established on the water mains, so all the plumbing in your house should be a good ground reference.
  11. I concede it was local vernacular- kinda like watching water swirl in eddies that got my grandmother all excited.

    She'd be out hanging laundry in Fair Lawn and she always told us of the day the weeds were swaying from the electricity in the ground.

    She was right about the 'in the ground' part, but I seriously doubt the weeds could sway to 60 ~.

    This was the same old woman (my grandmother here) who had 'ball lightning' sitting in her kitchen a few times a year - usually in August.

    But then again, I think she was a witch anyway and things can happen to them all the time and they are not considered as abnormal.

    About water pipe grounds though - many homes in SoCal are mobiles and they sit above the physical earth, and the water companies in their needs to protect their meters will often put dielectric couplings between the meter and the supply line into the house.

    A water pipe ground in that situation is not very good at all because in some cases the underground run is less than 3 feet., some are sky'd out from the stemwalls and never get to the earth.

    I had nothing but troubles with my phone since Verizon put their phone ground onto an available water pipe with one of their clamps and the 60~ hum was deafening.

    After I drove in a copper-clad anode and grounded the phone system correctly, the noise went away.

    Verizon had come out and tested the system repeatedly and never caught the problem - so much for 'trained' personnel. It looked good by the book.
  12. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    IIRC, all homes built after 1966 have to have proper grounding. My house was built in 1959 and 90% of the house is ungrounded and there are still 2 prong outlets. A few of them were upgraded though but not where I need them.
  13. 1927 You could have paper or cloth wire coverings or maybe knob and tube? Best to re-wire to be safe

    Early wiring methods

    The very first interior power wiring systems used conductors that were bare or covered with cloth, which were secured by staples to the framing of the building or on running boards. Where conductors went through walls, they were protected with cloth tape. Splices were done similarly to telegraph connections, and soldered for security. Underground conductors were insulated with wrappings of cloth tape soaked in pitch, and laid in wooden troughs which were then buried. Such wiring systems were unsatisfactory because of the danger of electrocution and fire and the high labour cost for such installations.
    [edit] Knob and tube
    Knob-and-Tube wiring
    Main article: Knob and tube wiring

    The earliest standardized method of wiring in buildings, in common use in North America from about 1880 to the 1930s, was knob and tube (K&T) wiring: single conductors were run through cavities between the structural members in walls and ceilings, with ceramic tubes forming protective channels through joists and ceramic knobs attached to the structural members to provide air between the wire and the lumber and to support the wires. Since air was free to circulate over the wires, smaller conductors could be used than required in cables. By arranging wires on opposite sides of building structural members, some protection was afforded against short-circuits that can be caused by driving a nail into both conductors simultaneously. By the 1940s, the labour cost of installing two conductors rather than one cable resulted in a decline in new knob-and-tube installations.
  14. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    That's kinda the definition of a hole.......

    Sorry, I couldn't resist!
  15. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    There is a good chance the house is grounded to the box ... but when it was built, they only ran hot and neutral to the outlets, probably knob and tube as mentioned ... in most municipalities, it is not against housing code to HAVE existing non-grounded outlets ... BUT, the keys here are that they have to be existing, and not allowed to be installed in new permit type work, and also they MUST have a two prong receptacle, and not the 3-prong type used for a grounded outlet ... at least that has been my experiences with building codes and housing inspectors ... I owned rental housing for 25+ years, these were common issues in older buildings ...
  16. parsons


    Feb 22, 2008
    If the house is that old it is prolly knob and tube. You need to gut the wiring and redo it all. My guitarists house was built back then. He just finished running all new wire, panel and ground rods for the house. Our drummer is an electrical contractor, and supervised the job. It was time consuming but had to be done. Old wiring isn't safe, it can catch fire easily when pushed too hard.
  17. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Or, you could install a dedicated circuit that is grounded to your music room. You wouldn't have to rewire the entire house. BTW knob and tube is completely safe if the wire insulation is intact. I manage an old apartment block that was inspected for sale a couple years ago and the inspector said the 70 year old wire is in great shape. If you were to bend the wire, the insulation might crack off but who bends wires in their walls and attic?

    Back in the bad old days, people just knew better than to disturb house wiring.
  18. otherclef


    Aug 10, 2011
    The good news is you are not doing any gigs from the house!!!
  19. parsons


    Feb 22, 2008
    That inspector(like any and almost ALL inspectors) was an idiot. If you want to trust 60 to 80 year old insulation on your wiring, go ahead. You'll get what is coming. There is a reason it hasnt been used for over 60 years.
  20. Blue


    Jun 19, 2004
    South East Penna
    Dude .. is it floating or what ... ?;)

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