No Ground in Apartment. Anything to fix noise?

Messages
433
Hey all, before getting into the discussion I 100% am fully aware how bad it is to not have a ground while playing through a tube amp & the dangers. I have had this problem ever since moving into my apartment in San Francisco. The building is super old (think early 1900's) and, while they have 3 prong plugs, they're not grounded (checked with one of those cheap tools).

Because of the safety concerns, I've switched to a wireless guitar setup. Yes, it was expensive but it is definitely worth my life in case something actually DID happen - so I do feel safe now, but the problem still remains that no ground connection is likely causing some super loud and irritating buzz in my amp. I can't record with it and playing on it isn't as fun because the buzz is so loud and annoying as well.

I looked into my landlord having to fix the ground but after looking up the policies in my city, it appears that any building that was built to code at the time of its construction doesn't have to update to new code unless the landlord is doing a major remodel of the units. No matter if I want him to, he isn't required by law to actually get an electrician in and fix the mess.

So, with all of that being said, I want a solution to the noise. Is there ANYTHING I can do or am I pretty screwed?
 

woof*

Member
Messages
7,465
Your buzz is likely not a ground. Ground issues commonly are hums. It's common for fluorescent lights, fridges, lamps, poor guitar wiring etc to cause buzzes.
As for safety....thousands of us played two prong everything for years in clubs and basements with no grounded plugs and nobody died. Step on a wet carpet barefoot and you will get shocked holding your guitar...just use common sense.
Check for other sources of your buzz.
 

blackba

Member
Messages
10,831
Its been a while since I looked at the latest NEC, but it used to be that a 2 wire plug was still in code and if you replaced the 2 wire plug, you had to do so with a GFCI (add a sticker to say no ground) or rewire to add a ground to the standard 3 prong plug. This could be done by either rewiring the outlet or running a separate wire to a pipe or another grounded plug. The landlord should have never put in 3 prong plugs without adding a ground and should at least put back in 2 prong plugs. Sure the 2 prong plugs wouldn't fix your issue, but at least than you would know for sure the outlets were not grounded.

Technically in house wiring neutral and ground are tied together in the box. However while they are the same voltage level, they have a big key difference. Under normal operation, neutral carries current and ground should not carry current. So while you can tie them together in the plug like to 'fool' your checker its still not a good practice.
 
Messages
3,857
Its been a while since I looked at the latest NEC, but it used to be that a 2 wire plug was still in code and if you replaced the 2 wire plug, you had to do so with a GFCI (add a sticker to say no ground) or rewire to add a ground to the standard 3 prong plug. This could be done by either rewiring the outlet or running a separate wire to a pipe or another grounded plug. The landlord should have never put in 3 prong plugs without adding a ground and should at least put back in 2 prong plugs. Sure the 2 prong plugs wouldn't fix your issue, but at least than you would know for sure the outlets were not grounded.

Technically in house wiring neutral and ground are tied together in the box. However while they are the same voltage level, they have a big key difference. Under normal operation, neutral carries current and ground should not carry current. So while you can tie them together in the plug like to 'fool' your checker its still not a good practice.
damn, thats surprising. all the damn hoops they make people jump through with building codes and then they allow that? im guessing thats a result of some very rich/powerful people owning a lot of very old buildings so the law was written according to their whims. crazy.
 

oldhousescott

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,641
For starters, you could try one of these hum eliminators between your amp and wireless receiver (or pedalboard, whatever is closest in line before your amp).

I was going to also propose a more expensive solution, if the hum eliminator didn't work, of a balanced power transformer, but if you don't have a real ground connection, I'm not sure it would actually buy you anything except an extra layer of galvanic isolation from your wall voltage.
 
Messages
433
Your buzz is likely not a ground. Ground issues commonly are hums. It's common for fluorescent lights, fridges, lamps, poor guitar wiring etc to cause buzzes.
As for safety....thousands of us played two prong everything for years in clubs and basements with no grounded plugs and nobody died. Step on a wet carpet barefoot and you will get shocked holding your guitar...just use common sense.
Check for other sources of your buzz.
Thanks everyone for your responses thus far! If it's not the ground causing the buzz & its fluorescent lights or the fridge is my only option to eliminate buzz a balanced power transformer or something along those lines? Trying to avoid one because they're ridiculously pricey.
 

blackba

Member
Messages
10,831
damn, thats surprising. all the damn hoops they make people jump through with building codes and then they allow that? im guessing thats a result of some very rich/powerful people owning a lot of very old buildings so the law was written according to their whims. crazy.
There are so many houses/buildings that if the NEC force peopled to rewire them all, there would be an uproar due to the expense, not to mention that the current code is safe. What is not safe is just blindly putting a 3 prong outlet and not having a ground. So lets separate this landlord from other property owners.

Here is a link that talks about the options of what to do with a 2 prong outlet that needs to be replaced.

http://diy.stackexchange.com/questi...e-2-prong-receptacles-in-a-code-compliant-way
 
Last edited:

amphog

Member
Messages
4,087
Not a permanent fix, and you should check for any voltage between ground and neutral.
 
Messages
433
I'm pretty sure that's a building code violation despite what you say if he wants to continue renting the building. Your super definitely wants to have that fixed for a whole lot more than just the hum in your amps.
Here in San Francisco a GFCI is all you need to be compliant though and we DO have GFCI outlets but just no ground :-/
 

Meriphew

Member
Messages
6,834
I used to live in a small old building in Seattle that only had the old 2 prong outlets. I had an electrician come out and he found one of the outlets which he was able to re-wire to a more modern 3 prong outlet.
 

Ramblin Hymns

Member
Messages
696
Usually if the house is not being rewired, the structure falls under the grandfather clause so it doesn't have to be rewired. Your landlord should have used ground faults and labels receptacles. Most of your old, old houses have what's called knob and tubing for wiring and that's two wires ran and wrapped around insulators. Then you have the two wire cloth shield romex. It builds from there.
 




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