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I'm moving into a "new" apartment in a very old house. Most of the rooms have one 2 prong ungrounded outlet which nowadays just isn't enough (or safe for very high draw electronics imo).
I've already discussed swapping those out, with the landlord, to GFCI outlets to at least have some fault protection to which he is fine with. My question however is, is there a safe way to add additional outlets to each room by daisy chaining outlets and installing a wiremold raceway?
The start point for the run will obviously be an ungrounded outlet and I'm just trying to find a safe way (if one exists) to be able to add outlets instead of having to run extension cords across every room or having to daisy chain power strips to plug every single thing in the room to one outlet.
The landlord has no issue with modifications at my expense (as long as it is safe and up to code). Am I just SoL? or are there any legitimate options? Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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    In most jurisdictions for rental properties, neither the renter nor the landlord can make electrical modifications. It requires a licensed electrician to do the work.
    – Milwrdfan
    Commented Jul 10 at 3:44
  • You're completely SOL. BTW note that GFCI sockets are annoyingly expensive, apart from anything else. Would it be possible to find a new place to rent?!
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 10 at 17:03

2 Answers 2

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Since this is a rental, it is highly unlikely that either you or the landlord can do this work. (assuming USA's typical jurisdictions)

If this were your house and you were allowed to do this work yourself, here's what you could do:

Wiremold raceway systems have starting boxes with an open back that sit on top of and screw to the existing in-wall box. One can stick the wiremold channel into pre-stamped holes in the starting box, then continue the mold around the room using surface-mount boxes for extra outlets, etc. One can then re-mount the existing outlet in the front of the starting box, or swap out the existing device with a new one.

In the USA, one would probably need to use separate THHN wires for power, neutral, and ground. (The average DIYer might feel tempted to grab the usual house Romex-style cable, but that kind of cable may not be allowed in a conduit-like wiremold. THHN wires are always allowed in conduit.)

Since the project starts with a no-ground outlet, one could replace the no-ground outlet with a GFCI. GFCI's are good safety response to no ground being present. The GFCI would have the existing power and neutral wires attached to the LINE terminals, and the wires going into the wiremold attach to the LOAD terminals. Then install standard 3-prong outlets in the rest of the boxes in the wiremold chain. Use the GFCI's "No Equipment Ground" stickers on each outlet downstream of the GFCI, probably on the GFCI, too.

You should use plastic wiremold systems when there is no ground in the in-wall box. Even when starting the run with a GFCI in the starter box, a failure in the GFCI's LINE-side power cable could touch the wiremold. A metal wiremold would be electrified, and the GFCI would not catch the failure current. Plastic wiremolds don't have this failure situation.

If the wires coming to the existing outlet are copper:

  • If the wires are 14 gauge and the circuit breaker is 15 amps, continue to use 14 gauge THHN wires and 15-amp GFCI and outlets.
  • If the wires are 12 gauge and the circuit breaker is 20 amps, use 12 gauge THHN wires, and you can put in 15 amp or 20 amp GFCI and outlets. (15 amp outlets are allowed on a 20-amp outlet circuit.)
  • If the wires are 12 gauge but the circuit breaker is 15 amps, there could be 14 gauge wire elsewhere on the circuit. Cintinue to use 12 gauge THHN wires, but put in only 15 amp GFCI and outlets.

If the wires are aluminum, do a search or ask a new question about how to handle aluminum wires.

Don't use the backstabs on the outlets for the wires, use the screws instead. Try to get solid THHN instead of stranded THHN, it will make using the screws better. If you cannot get solid THHN, get the outlets with a clamp plate under the wire screw, so the wire can be screwed down under the clamp instead of being wound around the screw. Use a torque screwdriver to tighten the wire screws to the specification for the outlet.

However, to reiterate, in a rental situation, it is likely that you and the landlord cannot do this work. In most jurisdictions, by law you'll have to hire an electrician.

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    The additional benefit of a real electrician is that they will have the ability to flag incidental issues that the ordinary diy-person might not be aware of. Commented Jul 10 at 13:15
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    It would be pretty tricky to do this safely in (metal) wiremold with just a GFCI at the (metal) starter box. The GFCI can protect against load-side faults, but it cannot protect against the line-side wires making contact with the metal conduit system and electrifying the whole thing. A real ground back to the panel is really a must here, unless the entire extension is done with non-metallic material.
    – nobody
    Commented Jul 10 at 15:51
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    Oh, and… old school junction boxes are frequently too small for gfci receptacles, so one would have to be prepared for extra destruction/rebuilding. Commented Jul 10 at 18:05
  • @nobody Good point! Will revise to recommend only plastic wiremold systems to prevent line-side failures from getting out of the in-wall box. Commented Jul 10 at 20:14
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate I found that at least one wiremold system has a deep starter box that looks like it could hold a GFCI, for those really tiny in-wall boxes. Good thought! Commented Jul 10 at 20:15
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Wiremold raceway is expensive and as noted you are not allowed to install it in a rental even if the landlord agrees.

If the goal is to avoid messy extension cords, consider a solution that plugs in to the existing outlet, adds GFCI, and uses plastic raceway or clamps to keep things along the walls and baseboards.

You can do a lot better (eg white ones) but here's a straw man... A this and a this. The outlets each have two attachment holes, you can hang these on the walls and remove them when you leave.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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    Welll.... if OP calls up an electrician and says "hey, could you come in and finish this Wiremold installation that a prior tenant physically mounted but never ran wires through? He seems to have left all the covers and here they are" that sounds OK to me. Commented Jul 10 at 18:55

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