October 17th, 2006


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jimbojones
09:37 pm - RAH was right
In the last 24 hours, I have:

  • explained the difference between GFI and two-prong circuits (and why just ripping the third prong out isn't any less safe than buying a "converter")
  • troubleshot and resolved DNS issues with several hundred domains
  • banged about a thousand lines of C++ code
  • troubleshot an electrical problem in my car, "fixed" it without parts long enough to get to a parts store
  • fixed the problem for real once I had the replacement parts I needed
  • troubleshot and resolved problems on several mailservers
  • banged a few hundred lines of Perl code
  • transparently migrated several gigs of live websites and email accounts from one server to another
  • troubleshot and resolved VPN connectivity problems between two offices, without ever setting foot in either
  • banged about 50 lines in Bourne shell script
  • repaired the latch on a door that wouldn't stay shut
  • shot some pretty decent games of pool


Specialization is for insects.

On an unrelated note, after looking at that (incomplete) list - why the hell do I always feel like I'm not getting enough done?!


 
Current Mood: cheerful
Current Music: Mighty Diamonds - Never Get Weary

(19 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:



 
From: dlack
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 03:00 am
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[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 03:32 am
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I'm talking about those cheap little three-to-two interfaces for plugging grounded devices into older houses with non-GFI wiring.



A friend lives in just such a house, and needed to set up her computer in a room where she didn't yet have an adapter. Wal-mart was charging as much for the adapters as for cheap power strips (and was out of the adapters as well), so I suggested that we simply buy a cheap power strip and I'd tear out the ground plug with my handy-dandy folding pliers.

She was concerned that that might leave some kind of raw edge that might be hazardous, so I explained that the third prong is connected straight to ground on the house side, and is connected to the outer casing on the device side, and that there was therefore 1. no risk of being shocked by any exposed metal connected to the third prong and 2. no decrease in safety compared to a commerically bought "converter" which simply did the exact same thing - that is, fail to connect the ground circuit to anything.


 
[User Picture] From: clme
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 03:43 am
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:)

I've actually lived in places with two prong outlets that had grounded boxes.


 
From: dlack
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 10:58 am
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[User Picture] From: clme
Date: October 19th, 2006 - 12:13 am
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To be fair, most places wired before 1950 weren't 'wired properly' (and quite a few after that too).

Think about a place wired in the 1920s or 1930's. Fabric wrapped wire that contains two conductors with soft rubber insulation. At least, it was soft in 1920. Now its crumbly and the parts that protrude into the electrical boxes have more or less eroded away. Wire nuts? No such thing! A 3 inch in diameter ball of fabric electrical tape is what awaits you! Half the time in those cases when the 'ground' tests OK in a box its because a neutral wire is exposed and touching a peice of metal. Other times its because someone replaced the basement wiring with conduit and used flexible up to the first few boxes in each circuit in the living quarters (which is how I normally got lucky when updating wiring).

Wired in the 1910's? The lighting circuits and one or two of the outlets could still be 'knob and tube' wiring. Fuck the ground... we dont even have INSULATION on these puppies. Still, they're pretty safe since each of the wires are 2 feet apart. Heck, in some areas it is still legal to tap into one of these circuits as long as you do it right. I actually have run across areas where someone tapped into it using modern romex, electrical tape, and no boxes though.... I'd like to say it was only once, but I'd be lying.

Wired in the 1950's or 60's by a cut-corner asshole or someone not following the national electrical code? Well, hello wire with two conductors and no ground! Lets not forget aluminum wiring that corroded, or copper clad aluminum that people used the wrong outlets/switches with!

After that your biggest worry is going to come from people cutting corners or do-it-yourselfers.


This isn't to say I dont agree with you dlack... I do. I'm just saying that housing reality basically means you better test that ground anyway if you use one of the adapters :-)


 
[User Picture] From: clme
Date: October 19th, 2006 - 12:28 am
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Let me just say too that one of my pet peeves is finding extension cords, power tools, and air conditioners with the ground pin snipped off.

Finding one too many things like that is why I finally rewired my grandfathers workshop/garage. I even talked my dad into replacing the old fuse box containing 30-amp fuses (that originally went to 14 guage wire) with a circuit breaker box he had left over from an upgrade in his shed.

I've been nearly electrocuted from many things. I've been knocked on the ground by frayed wires that had been run over by fat people riding electric carts. I've been thrown across the room from arcing where someone tried to screw three wires onto a single terminal instead of using a pigtail. I've had slight burns from being too close to live short when screwing a box cover back on.

I. Dont. Fuck. With. My. Grounds. Respect the ground, its there to help you. An adapter of any kind (even when the box is grounded) is only a temporary solution and should never be regarded as more than that.

On the same note, dont fuck with the ground spike or the ground jumper around your water meter. Make note that many old two prong outlets are wired 'backwards'. The White wire goes to the Wide side of the plug. Paranoia is your friend, when in doubt kill the whole house instead of that one circuit.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: October 19th, 2006 - 12:33 am
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I. Dont. Fuck. With. My. Grounds. Respect the ground, its there to help you.

So, you're suggesting that I should have told my friend to rewire her entire house before plugging her computer in?


 
[User Picture] From: clme
Date: October 19th, 2006 - 05:05 am
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In a perfect world, yes. If nothing else as a small business owner you've just opened yourself up to liability by offering advice at all :-)

However, electricians are expensive. Really the best bet would be to check the box for ground and install a three-prong outlet with a pigtail screwed into the box, or call an electrician to have that one circuit fixed.

If an electrician has to rewire the entire house to get a three prong outlet to one room then its about 50 years overdue. Heck, you cant get a loan for a house from many institutions anymore without an inspection report showing that the electrical has been brought up to current N.E.C. standards anyway.

A ground is there to protect you. If for some reason a hot wire touches the outside of the case in your computer power supply, clothes dryer, drill press, or vacuum cleaner then it may not trip the circuit if they are properly insulated from the case. In this case you have juice flowing to the metal case of the appliance or tool waiting for a path to ground. This is why the ground is attached to the metal cases of these devices. You do NOT want to rely on household neutral for this since many places can be wired backwards (especially fabric wrapped, where the coloring was often ignored or hard to determine).

I'm not going to pretend that someone is going to spend 500 bucks so they can plug in their computer in one room instead of another. I know how often that actually happens. But destroying the ground pin on a tool, appliance, power strip, or extension cord is a bad practice to promote in any event.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: October 20th, 2006 - 02:25 pm
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But destroying the ground pin on a tool, appliance, power strip, or extension cord is a bad practice to promote in any event.
In a perfect world, absolutely. In the real world, this is a - rented - house with absolutely no electrical ground present, inhabited by three females who know less about electricity than I know about classic MacOS.

"Pull the ground pin" is about the best possible solution that anyone in the situation will actually adopt.


 
[User Picture] From: clme
Date: October 21st, 2006 - 04:10 am
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Well, depending on electrical code in the area since there is a chance it could be upgraded by threat of legal recourse. :) Some areas have very strict requirements for rental properties... others dont treat it any different than if it was 1920.

Still, someday they'll move and they'll still have a power strip with no ground pin. What will they do with it? They'll use it. At least a worthless 50 cent adapter will be discarded when they have the option of a ground pin.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: October 21st, 2006 - 06:24 am
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That would be lovely if, when she had gone to buy it, the adapter were 1. $0.50 instead of $6.50 and 2. actually available in the store.


 
[User Picture] From: clme
Date: October 21st, 2006 - 07:01 am
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They live in South Carolina and not Oklahoma right? They can probably find drug stores or grocery stores that have those things under 50 cents. Half the problem was that they were in a Wal-Mart...

To hell with it. Let it all burn down. Let them all shock themselves. People suck anyway. Just make sure the fire stays away from my house :)


 
[User Picture] From: discogravy
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 03:24 am
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if you were hardcore, the last bullet-point would have been "and i have done none of this sober"


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 03:31 am
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I didn't do all of it sober, that's for damned sure.


 
From: mostlyfakinit
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 04:08 am
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[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 04:59 am
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I'll sleep when I'm exhausted after sex dead.


 
From: mostlyfakinit
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 09:09 pm
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[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 09:15 pm
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I thought the whole point was that I wasn't sleeping?


 
[User Picture] From: marys_second
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 04:13 am
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Specialization is for insects

I'm stealing that line.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 04:57 am
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You're actually stealing it from this guy:



I'm just a conduit.


 
[User Picture] From: clme
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 06:13 am
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If the electricians used conduit they should have used three prong...


Oh. Wait. Homonym. Nevermind.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 06:16 am
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Conduits don't have "prongs".

And let's face it, towards the end there RAH wasn't all that well grounded...


 
[User Picture] From: clme
Date: October 18th, 2006 - 07:48 am
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No they dont. However, conduits are supposed to be grounded since they're exposed metal. This means you can run wire through them without a dedicated ground wire and still hook up three-prong outlets as long as you are using a pigtail from the outlet ground to the electrical box. In fact, that is pretty much standard practice.

It gets a little more dicey with 'flexible conduit' though. That stuff is not supposed to be exposed in most applications, and still sometimes has a ground wire run through it.

Whats worse is when someone installs an improperly grounded GFCI outlet. If it works at all (frequently they just trip under any load in that situation) it could be no better than any other outlet in the house.


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