Hoping this is the correct exchange. At the moment I'm currently renting my house in Canada (120V), and it seems the landlord has attempted to try pull a fast one. From what I understand, or possibly before the previous tenant, there were only two prong outlets installed in the house. The landlord decided to install three prong outlets with of course not having a ground connected.

This is obviously terrible for pretty much everything in my house, but unfortunately the rental board won't do anything about it and I can't afford to do anything myself for the entire house, so instead I'd like to attempt to ground a single outlet or atleast myself (then possibly move on to the rest of the house slowly).

I'm putting together a recording studio in the basement, only to find I get zapped by my instruments and can hear popping and the "sound" of electrical current on my tracks. Would anyone happen to have a suggestion to help clear this up? I used to build computer for a living, so wiring I can get away with, but this I'm a bit stuck on. Any help is appreciated!


Just to make sure I'm not crazy, here's a few images of one of my outlets. Got hot and neutral, but no ground.




  • \$\begingroup\$ Is any prong in your house grounded at all? \$\endgroup\$ – Vladimir Cravero May 31 '14 at 22:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't taken apart every single outlet, but the breaker box doesn't have fuses so it must be a bit newer, so I'm gonna suspect at least a few have to be. \$\endgroup\$ – Dustin May 31 '14 at 22:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ well if you are 100% positive that you have a good ground wire going around you can just connect your ungrounded prongs ground to it. You say you used to build computers so this should've come easy... Maybe there are other problems? \$\endgroup\$ – Vladimir Cravero May 31 '14 at 22:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Get yourself one of those three-bulb outlet testers and give it a go. \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 31 '14 at 23:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you suspect stray voltages, don't ground yourself :) \$\endgroup\$ – bitsmack Jun 1 '14 at 4:19

The boxes should be grounded. In the old days people would jumper the ground to the box screw (potentially dangerous if the box is not properly grounded).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting, I'll check that out once I'm home! Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – Dustin Jun 1 '14 at 20:40

The recording studio's hum and click problems may be ground loops and surges on the line rather than lack of a safety ground. Get everything plugged into a single circuit and sharing a ground, even if that ground doesn't go to earth.

Getting zapped by your instruments shouldn't happen. Something in your setup is damaged and unsafe. Isolate it and fix it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If it was one instrument and amp, I would agree with you. However it's six guitars, four amps, and an external audio box all tested within different outlets of the house. Same issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Dustin Jun 1 '14 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you're getting zapped, that's a malfunction in the equipment, not the outlets; isolate the particular device which is leaking current to signal ground, and repair or replace. Fixing that may also fix your hum. \$\endgroup\$ – keshlam Jun 1 '14 at 21:14

Getting small zaps from unearthed equipment is normal because modern EMC rules "suggest" the use of AC input filtering. This usually involves capacitors to earth and the chassis. So, on your unearthed chassis you have approximately half the AC supply voltage and this is easily felt.

What I'd do is use an AC power isolation transformer and connect one of the outgoing feeds to an earthed metal rod - this creates a neutral wire and the other wire can be regarded as "hot" or "live".

Take care though - you can get a nasty "belt" from 120V.


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