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Just found out when the electrician came today that the entire house I am renting is not grounded. I really like this place and real estate here is a nightmare. But, we have some iridescent lights he said need to be grounded to work properly. I called the leasing agent right when we moved in because when we initially started plugging cords in a few outlets sparked and one smelled hot. We have three prong outlets, but apparently they are not properly installed. We also have outdoor fixtures and switches that do not work because they are not protected from the weather. I knew it was an older house, but I was told by the agent before I leased the property that they had just had the entire electrical system checked. Turns out that there is no way that could be the case. The electrician wouldn't add much more information when I asked him what we should or shouldn't do currently to stay safe because of liability. What needs to be done for my family to be safe? What are my options as a renter in Hawaii?

  • What tools do you have to investigate this? – ThreePhaseEel Oct 15 '16 at 3:10
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    If you have ungrounded 3-prong outlets (that aren't protected by an upstream gfci), that's a code violation. Your local building permits office might be able to help. (Though of course, action like that will make you very unpopular with the landlord.) – Aloysius Defenestrate Oct 15 '16 at 13:54
  • Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. What are "iridescent" lights; do you mean "fluorescent"? – Daniel Griscom Oct 16 '16 at 0:31
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I agree with Aloysius. Many homes in the U.S. Are 2 wire when the 3 wire outlets were added each circuit should have been protected by a GFCI and the outlets marked no equipment ground. Other that "touch lamps" I don't remember seeing lights that required the ground to work. The hot smell is not a good thing make sure you are not overloading the circuit. I would guess that the electrician only checked the polarization of the outlets with a outlet tester like this or one with a GFCI test button. If the circuits are GFCI protected with a GFCI outlet on the first outlet in the circuit or a GFCI breaker the system would meet code. The second tester cost ~10$ and you could verify the polarity and push the test button to see if there is protection.

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Maybe there is someone you can contact at the local council. In England, it's the local council's environmental health department that would deal with it.

Strikes me as terrifically unsafe, anyway, but we have 240V mains, which kills you. If you have 110V, there might be different regulations.

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  • The 110/120 circuit is still deadly. Typically anything 50V or higher is considered dangerous. A 48V power supply is the standard maximum you would use and still consider it safe if anyone touched it. I would be a little cautious around 48V but 24V is routinely worked on without extra protection. – Scott Whitlock Jan 10 '18 at 17:47

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