Just a quick question. I don't know much about electricity, so here it goes. I got an apartment where there is no grounding. In fact, there is no grounding for the whole building. I have 110v and 220v appliances installed.

Do I need to be worried about potential electric shocks?

The apartment is on the 6th floor, so it could be really hard to install a proper grounding wire.

Any suggestion will be appreciated.


  • 1
    ... where is this that the local authorities would permit this? – Daniel Griscom Apr 4 '16 at 10:53
  • @DanielGriscom, it is safe to assume this is an existing older installation and not nearly new. – Speedy Petey Apr 4 '16 at 13:16
  • @SpeedyPetey Interesting. Guess I don't have much experience with old housing. – Daniel Griscom Apr 4 '16 at 14:17
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    Thanks for the replies. I am from Ecuador. Yes, the building is 40 years old. – freethinker6 Apr 5 '16 at 4:23

Ungrounded systems have existed for 100 years and still do in the USA and Europe.

The National Electrical Code in the USA still allows many systems to remain ungrounded including older systems installed before grounded systems in dwelling units became the norm.

Many areas in a home have no exposed metal piping systems or water and therefore no way to get between a hot wire and a grounded object. However, a 6 story apartment building could have a steel frame and may have other metal framing that is bonded to that (i.e. balcony handrails). These items could pose a hazard if you are in contact with an energized conductor and touch one of these grounded metal objects.

If the interior of your apartment is finished with drywall or plaster and carpet or wood floors there is very little risk of this happening.

Good luck!

  • And, if the OP is concerned, he could replace two prong outlets with ungrounded GFCI outlets, properly marked, of course (as noted by @redgrittybrick below) . – bib Apr 4 '16 at 13:54
  • @ArchonOSX thanks for your reply. The kitchen floor has ceramic and the rest is all covered with wood. The things that could conduct electricity are the window frames and the sink, besides from the kitchen appliances. I am more concerned with the 220v electric heater under the sink and the 220v kitchen and oven, all three of them have glass and metal cases. All the water pipes are plastic, but I wonder if the water can conduct electricity, for example to the sink. – freethinker6 Apr 5 '16 at 14:11
  • Any appliances or heaters with metal frames should already be properly grounded. It is probably just the receptacles that are ungrounded. – ArchonOSX Apr 5 '16 at 15:58

It is a question of risk level.

People in the USA have lived with ungrounded circuits for decades. With care and proper maintenance you might reasonably expect to live with them without incident.

In other parts of the world, grounded circuits have been the rule for more than half a century.

There is a reason that grounded circuits are now required. That reason is mostly sufficiently large numbers of dead bodies or badly injured and incapacitated living ones.

An approved work-around in the USA is the fitting of GFCI outlets, which reduce the risk of fatal electric shock. But check local code.

  • thanks for your reply. Do you know if there are GFCI outlets for 220v, 60 amperes? I have only found the 110v outlets. Thanks – freethinker6 Apr 7 '16 at 4:09

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