Power Set up for ungrounded outlets (rental apartment)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by mexipike, Sep 12, 2021.

  1. mexipike

    mexipike Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I live in a sublet in Brooklyn and from my testing, despite having three prong outlets, none of the outlets are grounded. This is a long term sublet and it's actually a wonderful place that fits my budget, location etc. needs, however due to it's sublet status I don't want to make waves with complaining about the power. Another issue, is there are only a few actual outlets, so for my stereo I need to run a cable about 11 or 12 feet from the wall outlet to where my system is.

    I do in the short term want to protect my gear and try to get decent sound quality but don't want to get into the crazy expensive power conditioner world- that's for later when I own a home or something. I have a Sugden A21SE Signature coming soon and would like to protect it.

    So here's the setup I'm thinking about, mostly based on reading a variety of threads on here:

    Potentially getting one of these:
    002-00711-8R15W

    I'm waiting on a response to hear from zero surge if they can sell me one with a longer cable.

    Or maybe getting just the two outlet version:
    002-00703-2R15W

    And then adding a decent extension chord- (any suggestions? ) and then a wiremold power strip:
    WIREMOLD UL205BC : LC 13IN GRAY W/8 5-15R RECEPTS | Gordon Electric Supply, Inc.

    Both of these setups would be ungrounded but at least protected.

    I'm also considering adding this:
    PowerStation by iFi audio - Mains Audio Noise Eliminator

    along with a longer cable to power coming off of the two outlet ZeroSurge.

    I'm interested in the way that the ifi allows for adding a ground but I'm not sure what I'd ground it to- another component, some sort of pipe or something? I would love to hear thoughts on this.

    I like the simplicity of avoiding the ifi for now. I would love to hear some ideas on how to protect my equipment and at least not have the ****tiest power possible.

    And in case it matters my system is:

    Sugden A21 SE Signature (still waiting on it to come from England, until then Rega Brio R)
    Rega P6
    Dynavector P75 MKIV Phono Pre
    Chord Qutest DAC (with Ras Pi as source and Intel Nuc pumping Roon to that)
    Neat Motive SX2
     
  2. mexipike

    mexipike Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    ZeroSurge was able to make me an 8 outlet setup with a 15 foot chord. I went ahead and ordered it, as it seems like a simple way to stay protected. I'm still curious about what effects not having any grounds may have on my system, but at least I'll be protected.
     
    Lowrider75 likes this.
  3. jhw59

    jhw59 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Rehoboth Beach DE.
    Is there code saying rentals have to have grounded plugs? Worth checking.
     
    Ingenieur and Big Blue like this.
  4. Oscillation

    Oscillation Maybe it was the doses?

    It’s a sublet
     
  5. Oscillation

    Oscillation Maybe it was the doses?

    The screw in the outlet may be grounde
    RECEPTACLE SCREW SHOULD BE GROUNDED
     
  6. Lowrider75

    Lowrider75 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Excellent choice. I have the same unit with "BrickWall" branding.

    @jea48 if available can answer grounding questions.
     
  7. Danmar

    Danmar Forum Resident

    The gem box is grounded from the BX Cable, in NYC.
     
    Jim Hodgson likes this.
  8. jea48

    jea48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    Did you tell ZeroSurge you do not have an earth grounded outlet? If the ZeroSurge is UL Listed UL 1449-3rd Edition the unit will not give full surge protection.

    How did you test the outlets for the earth ground? With one of these?

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Power-G...VBqbICh1g1w6mEAQYAiABEgLEx_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
     
  9. mexipike

    mexipike Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I went from the text on their store website stating that it will work, and I think I also mentioned it in my email to them but I will double check.

    Text from the site:
    Our #1 question from our retail customers - Will this work in my ungrounded outlet and still protect my equipment? The short answer is "YES!" Unlike traditional surge protectors, we do not rely on the ground line for protecting your equipment. We are happy to answer your questions.

    Welcome to Zero Surge Inc. - Extending the Life of Your Electronics

    And yes I'm using a device like that to test my outlets. One of my outlets, the one I was planning to use says hot/neutral reverse, so I may try and correct that- though I think there are some ways to get a false positive on that too. I peaked at the outlet wiring but couldn't see the colors of the wires without digging deeper (and needing to go to the basement to kill the power)
     
  10. jea48

    jea48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    How about the other duplex receptacle outlets? Did they say OPEN GROUND?

    On the reversed hot and neutral outlet.
    When you plug in the tester do you get only the org light for reversed polarity or do you get the red and the orange lights lit? I just ran a test using my plug in tester. I bench tested a duplex outlet with the hot and neutral reversed. With hot and neutral reversed and ground wire connected both the red and orange lights lit. (HOT /NEU REVERSED). I then disconnected the ground and the red light went out. Only the orange light remained lit.

    By chance do you have a multi meter? If yes set meter to AC volts auto or above 150V. Because the hot and neutral are reversed insert one test lead probe in the bigger of the two mains slots/contacts and the other test probe in the equipment ground U shaped contact hole. Make sure you make a good contact on both contacts. If you have an EGC earth ground you will measure 120V nominal volts. You can also use the metal supporting back strap or the wall cover plate center support screw/hub for the ground connection.

    Normally reversing the hot neutral reversed polarity is an easy fix. Normally...
    How old would you say the building is? If really old the insulation covering the wiring could be rubber and cloth covering. If that is what it is it could be brittle and cracked and if disturbed, by pulling it out from the wall box, the rubber/cloth insulation could break off the copper conductor. NOT GOOD! You could try using a pin light and shine the light on each side of the duplex receptacle and see if you can see the insulation on the wiring. Also look at the conductor that is wrapped around the side terminal screw. If the insulation is rubber and cloth sometimes the copper wire will be tinned. Color will be a dull silver color.

    Image, old brittle cloth/rubber insulation.
    Rubber Wiring For Residential | Electrical Construction

    You said you were going to use a drop cord. You could reverse the polarity on one end of the cord. Either the plug end or the female cord cap end. FYI the cord should be 14awg minimum.

    Also, there is a good chance the ZeroSurge conditioner may not work properly if fed with the AC polarity reversed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2021
    Danmar likes this.
  11. mexipike

    mexipike Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY

    Thank you for all of the help on this, thanks for going through all of the trouble of running a bench test!

    The other duplex outlets test "Open Ground"

    I do get the Red and Orange Lights lit on the reversed hot and neutral outlet.

    I have a good multi meter, I'll pull it out and take a look sometime this week.

    My building is likely from sometime around the 1880s. I did take a peak using a flash light and couldn't see the insulation on the wires. Where the copper wire connects to the outside of the outlet box the outlet is wrapped in a sort of rubber band like thing that I haven't seen before that doesn't let me see past it. I didn't want to pull the outlet out of the wall a bit more to investigate just yet. The outlet box looks newer, so hopefully I have newer Romex at least and the older cloth insulated wiring- I've experienced that stuff before.

    I was going to use a drop chord but now I ordered a Zero Surge with a 15 foot power chord. Of course I guess that makes it difficult to change the polarity, although I guess I could cut off the male end and rewire a new one on, though that would surely void any warranty. I spoke with Zero Surge and they recommended the Zero Surge power go straight in the wall without an extension between it and that all devices be plugged directly into it, without a power strip or the like in between. I didn't mention anything about my hot/neu situation as I imagine they would just say I need to fix the outlet. I may be able to use another outlet if I can't or don't want to mess with fixing the polarity on that one-15' chord may get me there or I maybe could add a 14 AWG extension- though less than ideal, I imagine.
     
    jea48 likes this.
  12. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    I used to live in NY (both the city and outside of) and know there are different kinds of sublets including the kind where you don't really want to rock the boat. I know people in apartments who did hire an electrician to do a dedicated line, despite all the handicaps of being in a multi-unit building and not having control over the power service you are using.

    The ZeroSurge product is a good one. I keep my old Quads (which need to be constantly energized by 120 volts) plugged in through one, and frankly, even with the storms we can get in Texas, I don't worry about that one.
    You are in very good hands with @jea48 in trying to comply with code and making sure you do it right. Good luck and as they say in Brooklyn, "yo Vinnie, gimme a slice." :). (We lived in Brooklyn for a long time as young people when it wasn't cool to live in Brooklyn).
     
    warpedwing, jea48 and Lowrider75 like this.
  13. Jim Hodgson

    Jim Hodgson Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Prior to my installing some fancy AC receptacles from VH Audio 6 or 7 years ago, I must have traded a couple dozen e-mails with Chris VenHaus about the wiring in our Brooklyn apartment. I’m probably still traumatized by the experience, and I haven’t thought about it again for about that long, but I can share what I remember. Just keep in mind that I’m no licensed electrician—in reality, little more than a confused observer—but maybe I can further the discussion and/or see if @jea48 could elaborate some more?

    I know @mexipike mentioned Romex. We sure about that? Since forever ago, NYC electrical code has required armored cable—known variously as “AC” or “BX”—in buildings of any size. Three stories max, I believe—with only very small dwellings permitted to use Romex. (And yet our apartment building in Greenpoint is only three stories, and it’s wired completely with BX, so maybe that’s a clue as to its entrenchment.) If mexipike is truly looking at Romex, then I’m lost. Otherwise, very few of us are going to find separate/identifiable grounds—instead, just hot and neutral in the box, with the box ostensibly grounded back to the panel via the flexible metal conduit.

    Still, I believe a neon tester like the one being discussed should identify an armored cable type of ground—shouldn’t it? I wonder if the problem may boil down to the fact that this can be an unreliable grounding method—at least in some of the ways it’s practiced, with some of the cabling used, and especially as it ages. I guess what I’m saying is that there may well be a grounding scheme in place, here—or at least some ancient intent to have one—even if the tester now disagrees.

    (On the separate issue(s) of surge protection, power conditioning, and audio quality, let me just say it: I’m a little skeptical of plugging a beautiful amplifier like this into a $250 surge protector. And the idea of adding an extension cord, a separate power strip, and a mains noise eliminator? Yikes. In a nutshell, my experience says to be cautious about assuming that more is better—or even that there’s something better than nothing at all.)
     
    jea48 likes this.
  14. Danmar

    Danmar Forum Resident

    Mexipike, It can't be Romex because you WOULD see the ground wire. Like I said before, " they use the Armor as a ground".
    I've been working in the 5 boroughs & surrounding area's for 50 years, & grew up in Bklyn.. If you give me a street, I could tell you what kind of houses are there. LOL "Gosh I'm old"! You sound like you know watca doing, just have some shrink wrap handy with that cloth wire. Make sure to shut the MAIN & not just the breaker to the outlet. Sometimes they SHARE the neutral. :wave:
     
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  15. mexipike

    mexipike Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks Bill. I'm actually from Austin though I moved to Brooklyn in March from LA where I was for the last 5 years.
     
  16. Wayne Nielson

    Wayne Nielson Forum Resident

    Location:
    My House
    You do not need a ground.
     
  17. mexipike

    mexipike Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Sorry to confuse things by mentioning Romex. I'm sure, based on what you are both saying, that it isn't Romex. I didn't see any Romex, I just guessed if it had been re done sometime it would be Romex, which seems clearly incorrect for NYC apartment buildings. I'm more familiar with stand a lone home wiring as I used to help people I knew who owned homes in Austin years ago with various projects. So we can forget the Romex, and assume I either have old cloth insulated wires or one of the armored cable situations mentioned.
     
    jea48 likes this.
  18. jea48

    jea48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest, USA
  19. jea48

    jea48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    All the plug in polarity/ground tester will tell the user is if there is an EGC (Equipment Grounding Conductor) earth ground is present. It will not tell the user if the EGC is a low resistance high conductivity path back to the source. Under an actual high current ground fault it could fail due to a poor loose and or corroded connection in the steel interlocking BX armor to box connector or the connector to the steel box connection.

    FWIW early AC, BX, steel armored cable without the internal grounding bonding strip was not meant to be used as an EGC. My understanding the steel armor was for fire protection. Back in the early days of BX cable there were not any grounding type 120V electrical receptacles.
     
    Jim Hodgson likes this.
  20. jea48

    jea48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    "You sound like you know watca doing, just have some shrink wrap handy with that cloth wire."

    Yes he can sleeve the bared current carrying conductors (hot and neutral) with shrink tube or possibly tape the bared area with electrical tape.

    It is even possible the electrical wiring is installed in heavy wall rigid conduit. If that is the case I have seen, experienced, the insulation to break off the wire at the conduit iron bushing. In that case all you can do is push the shrink tube sleeve up in the pipe a few inches.

    As old as the building is it must have been updated several times over the years. Heck the wiring could very well have at least TW PVC insulation covering the copper wire.

    "Make sure to shut the MAIN & not just the breaker to the outlet. Sometimes they SHARE the neutral. :wave:

    Good advice!
    MWBC (Multi Wire Branch Circuits) were quite common in the old days. Quick visual check if there is 3 insulated conductors passing through the outlet box.
    Quite common in the old days of 2 wire duplex outlets the side terminal screws were used for the in and out, pass through, wiring connections. The circuit feeding the outlet may be off but if the other(s) circuits of the 3 wire or 4 wire MWBC are still energized and the outlet being worked on is up stream of the hot energized circuits breaking the neutral connections on the duplex receptacle could be a shocking experience.
     
    Danmar likes this.
  21. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Going with the flow...

    Location:
    PA
    With VOM and without opening anything

    V
    H to N 120
    H to G 120 (if 0 no G)
    H to screw 120 (if 0 no G)

    Ohm
    N to screw
    N to G
    G to screw
    All should be 0 (or very close)
     
    Danmar likes this.
  22. jea48

    jea48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    Sounds good...

    An electrician would need to be hired to check them out.

    Just curious how old do the grounding type duplex receptacles look like? Fairly new? You would be surprised how many 2 wire duplex receptacles are changed out because the contact pressure is shot an the plugs will not stay plugged into the worn out outlet. Code to this day says they can be replaced with another 2 wire duplex receptacle or a GFI duplex receptacle. What often happens in DIY cases the home owner or a renter replaces the 2 wire outlet with a grounding type outlet. Hey, it has a metal box. It is grounded.:confused:



    Could be rubber tape tape but more likely vinyl electrical tape.


    If you find there is an earth ground when you check with the multimeter you could then make up a DIY short adapter polarity reversing power cord. Just buy a short piece of 14awg copper rubber cord, (8" to 12"), a male 15-5P grounding type plug and a female 15-5R grounding type cord cap. Reverse the Hot and Neutral wires on the male plug only.

    Examples:

    https://www.amazon.com/Hubbell-HBL5266C-5-15P-Black-White/dp/B081K21MZ9

    https://www.amazon.com/HUBBELL-WIRI...29453&pd_rd_wg=Psef0&pd_rd_i=B00DJUH7XG&psc=1

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Southwi..._-pipsem-_-204633006-_-204632918-_-N&#overlay


    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
  23. mexipike

    mexipike Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
     
  24. mexipike

    mexipike Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    If it does end up testing like this, I would definitely love to just make a polarity reverser like this and not mess with the wiring at all at the box. Would this still allow the Zero Surge to work properly despite them recommending it be plugged directly to the wall?
     
  25. jea48

    jea48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    YES.
     

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