ground wire question

Could someone tell me if, not having any ground wiring in your home could cause computer problems? My PC would just shut down for no apparent reason.
I was told it could be the power source. I replaced that but it has shut down on me twice since then.
Thanks, DJ
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PCs are a lot more hardy than you would think. They convert the AC to DC and back to AC so most line noise is lost in the translation. The "line filter" is there to keep the trash from the PC supply, out of your TV and radio. That said, if your lights aren't flickering, and your TV flashing snow, your power is probably OK.
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Hi Greg Now that you mention it, the lights have flickered every once in a while. Could, no ground wire be the reason for that ? Thanks again DJ

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040604 2319 - DJ posted:

If your lights are flickering there is the probability of a loose connection in your wiring somewhere. It is also possible that there is a loose neutral connection somewhere and one side of the line is getting a higher voltage and the other side is getting a reduced voltage. This would be evident if some lights in the house get brighter for a moment while others get dimmer. This could cause a higher voltage to your computer for a moment if the computer is plugged into that circuit and may just overload the power supply for just long enough to make it crash.
You should get this fixed right away.
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Indago Hi, this house is pretty old. The flickering lights don't happen all the time, that's what's so puzzling. Just occasionally. I've never seen them get brighter though just dimmer. Thanks, DJ

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I have seen computers go unstable because the homeowner removed all safety ground wires in the breaker box. Once demonstrated to him, then he would blame me for his problems. Never did discover why that missing safety ground caused his intermittent failures. Normally missing safety ground should not because computers should be that robust.
But missing safety grounds can cause peripheral failure. This was a serious problem with HP LaserJet II printers. When some put mechanical switch boxes between printer and computer, then the switch box would disconnect ground. This caused LaserJet damage. A problem that would not have occurred if computer and peripheral both shared a common safety ground.
Lights flickering would be from something else such as wall receptacles connected using wires stabbed into receptacle rear rather than properly wrapped around screws or maybe a loose wire in breaker box. Flickering lights from a voltage drop more than 15 milliseconds long may cause a computer to reset.
The safety ground in a wall receptacle does nothing to make a surge protector effective. Many don't understand the different concepts of grounding. Surge protectors need earth ground - not safety ground. Missing earth ground is why a plug-in protector can even contribute to damage of an adjacent and powered off computer. To be effective, the protector must be connect to AC mains and less than 10 foot from earth ground - not safety ground. Ineffective and grossly overpriced protector just forget to mention that part.
But surge protector has nothing to do with intermittent computer problems. Surges are rare events - typically once every eight years. Is your problem more frequent?
DJ wrote:

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"w_tom" Strange, my PC is also a HP. I've been told the power supply that they use isn't the best. But like I said I replaced the power supply and it still shut down on me. The first HD ended up with bad sectors from all the outages that I had, so I bought a new HD and whenever it shut down on me also. I reinstalled the old HD just until I get the problem figured out. Surely don't want the new hard drive ending up like that. I do have a Decor-Surge 3 stage made by Snapit. It enables me to have 6 plugs instead of just the normal 2. Do you think this could be the problem? We live in Louisiana and do have severe weather that causes frequent electrical problems also. Thanks, DJ

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First if supply was in a brand name computer, then it was typically superior to what is found in most clone built machines. If you replaced the supply with something typically sold for less than $60 retail, then you probably installed an inferior supply. Furthermore, if someone recommended replacing a power supply without first taking numerical measurements, then suspect the worst. On this I must be blunt because so many computer repairs are recommended by junk scientists - people who cannot be bothered to first learn the meaning and power of numbers. A power supply need not be replaced when the numbers and manufacturer specifications say it was perfectly good.
Second, to further answer your questions, basic information must be provided. For example, what is the operating system and what is the disk filesystem? What peripherals are attached and how are those peripherals powered? Intel or AMD processor?
The Decor-Surge 3 stage protector would typically do same as every other plug-in power strip and UPS protector. It has no effect on your problem since it remains inert - does nothing - acts like it was not even connected unless a 300+ volt surge occurs. An event that occurs typically once every eight years. An event made obvious by other damaged electronics.
Its an HP. So download their comprehensive diagnostics for your hardware. What did diagnostics report? If using XP or any other NT based OS, then what is the important information in the system (event) log. What did Device manager report? Of course you have done the obvious - run a currently updated virus checker on the system.
And again, why is the AC circuit dimming out. Again, if loss of power is something more than 0.015 seconds, then the power supply must reset the computer. So why is that power flicking out periodically? This is sometimes directly traceable to bad household wiring, as described earlier, that is perfectly acceptable for electric lights and other simpler appliances. Describes previously is how to not wire a house (as too many electricians still do) because intelligent appliances now exist.
As for severe weather threat: concepts involve the essential earth ground with every incoming utility connected to that single point earth ground. A connection either via hardwire, or via a 'whole house' protector. The protector only effective; making a connection to earth ground during the rare extreme transient. Again, that plug-in protector does nothing for your current problem nor does it even claim to protect from surges typically created by severe storms. Plug-in protectors (that are also grossly overpriced) are recommended only by those who don't even understand what protectors do.
To solve your problem, first we must know why problem exists before even consider fixing it. Answers to above questions required.
DJ wrote:

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"w_tom" Hi, can't say how much I appreciate your help. I have a HP Pavilion 531w, purchased July 2002, Windows XP Home Edition, NTFS. HP DeskJet 3820 printer, HP PS2 Keyboard (2K-3), PS/2 compatible mouse, Sony CD-Writer (internal). Intel Celeron CPU 1.30 GHz. (The Sony CD-Writer was a replacement for the original CD-writer.)
I have the Norton's Anti-virus program and I keep it up to date.
I'm not sure what the problem is, with the house lights flickering.But like I mentioned before, this is an old house (over 55 years), also, it was built out of 2 old houses at that time. Just hope they didn't use the same wiring from the original 2 houses.
I will see what kind of diagnostic tests I can find and run and please let me know if you need any further information. I will let you know what I find out with the tests, K?
Thanks so much, Donna J.

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Its an NT based OS. Therefore the system (Event) logs are a major source of information. If you don't know where the event logs are, then use Windows Help to locate and read them. If they make no sense, then post the recent information from that log.
Also what sometimes provides information is the Device Manager. Locate and identify any devices the system has marked with a yellow encased exclamation point - indicating hardware or driver failure.
DJ wrote:

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"w_tom" Hi, I took the new hard drive out and have the original one back in. Just didn't want to take any chances with messing my new hard drive up. I've not had any shutdowns since I reinstalled the hard drive with the bad sectors. I checked the Device Manager and there are no problems there. I will change the hard drive out again and look at the system (event) logs and device manager to see what I can find. Thanks, DJ

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In another post, you stated:

You also mentioned flickering lights. There is a circuit on motherboard to control power supply. If power line voltage rises and falls too often too fast, then this circuit locks out. It is hardware protection that can only be reset by removing power cord from wall. Is that (type of surge) where your problem lies? Symptoms are correct. This type of surge could be creates by an intermittent arcing wire inside walls. Also typical of a surge that no surge protector would ever see because it is not a voltage transient.
Furthermore, could not safety ground make this circuit trip into safety cutoff? Maybe, but we don't have circuit details to say for sure.
Just another reason to first start with the dimming light phenomena that should not be happening. Your flickering is not just dimming? It is really flickering? Lights blinking off every for tenths of seconds is more than a nuisance. It may be a human safety threat. And it could trip that motherboard safety circuit.
DJ wrote:

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"w_tom" How can I have this "intermittent arcing wire inside walls" checked out? Would I need an electrician to check this or is it something I could do? Thanks, DJ

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One indication of internal and intermittent wire problems is how severe is the dimming. Placing a heavy load at the end of that circuit may tend to aggravate the problem. With a heavy load, then voltage at end of that wire would be significantly lower (which means of course you have the necessary too - 3.5 digit multimeter).
Heavy load (ie electric heater) at end of circuit would also cause a noticeable dimming of incandescent lamps that share same circuit - if wire in wall is a problem. Dimming of lights means something is wrong or weakened.
Electrician could discover why problem exists. But more important is to first make the problem reproducible - so that you have something to show the electrician. Better you do the easy labor rather than have him do it at electrician rates. Take inventory of what is on, what is off, and what changes (on to off, or off to on) when dimming occurs.
Seriously consider having a new circuit run to that computer so that computer has a safety ground, as computer was designed to need. Safety ground (or GFCI) should also be in kitchen and bathrooms. Additionally, electrician could install the upgraded (required since 1990) earth ground and a 'whole house' protector. Minimally acceptable protector can be obtained at Home Depot for less than $50. Some electricians instead install an undersized Square D protector that costs much more money.
IOW give him enough that he can create and therefore find reason for dimming. Then also take advantage of his arrival by having other basic stuff fixed. Even if kitchen grounded outlets are too expensive, still, get that earthing ground and 'whole house' protector installed. Much cheaper to have done when you have already paid for his traveling time on this dimming problem.
DJ wrote:

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"w_tom" Hi, I've never had any problem with the lights dimming in this room. In the kitchen, the light over the table flickers occassionally, also sometimes when I use the microwave it will make the light over the sink flicker. I will have this outlet checked to make sure it is working correctly, then will let the newsgroup know if I still have problems. My PC doesn't shut down everyday, I never know when to expect it. So it may take a few days before it happens again. Is it possible to add a new circuit with a ground just in one room of the house? if there is a problem with this outlet? We have a new Home Depot close by, so I will check and see if they have the protector you mentioned. Thanks again, I appreciate the help. DJ

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DJ wrote: <snip>

Yes, but ground is not your problem. PC's do not need ground to operate properly. PC's are grounded for safety. Consider a laptop - the line cord is two wires with no ground prong - it has no ground connection, yet performs all the same functions as a "regular" PC.
A surge protector won't address your problem, either.
Address the flickering problem first. If you still have a problem with the PC dropping power after the flickering problem is resolved post again.
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I have seen where a computer would not work only when plugged into a house where someone had cut off all safety ground wires in the breaker box. If computer comes with a safety ground wire, then computer is designed on the assumption that safety ground will exist. If that safety ground wire is not connected, then stray 60+ voltage might exist - which causes other problem and failures when computer is connected to peripherals.
Some computers have worked just fine without that safety ground. I have seen another fail due to no safety ground. We know (even from the HP Laserjet II experience) that missing safety grounds can cause hardware failure.
Will safety ground fix the problem? Maybe yes; maybe no. Just because a laptop designed only to work on two wires exists does not mean that a computer designed for three prongs will not fail on two prong power. Those two computers (the three prong verses two prong) are designed differently.
A surge protector is not to fix the problem. The surge protector recommendation was because an electrician was already paid to appear, will already be working inside the breaker box, and should also be utilized to upgrade earth ground and install 'whole house' protector. Recommendation made to maximize value of an electrician for long term benefit to computer and other electronics.
snipped-for-privacy@bellatlantic.net wrote:

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w_tom wrote:

Tom - for lord's sake - he's got flickering lights. In addition, his PC powers off. How on earth can a missing ground casue either one of those problems? Which problem presents greater risk to him?
Your presentation contains no facts, and invalid assumptions. Saying a "stray 60+ voltage might exist" is a non-specific, unsupported speculation. It does not state where the voltage is, why the figure is 60+, where it came from, and whether it is a "bad thing", a "good thing", or an interesting but irrelevant item. Aside from the power supply, the electronics is NOT designed with a three prong plug in mind. That third wire is there for safety. The NEC does not allow you to consider the grounding wires as a current carrying conductor (article 400-5 1999 NEC) - a manufacturer must not intentionally introduce any current to that grounding conductor.

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Does he have flickering lights or just dimming lights? Until he answers the question that was posted previously, then do you really know?
In the meantime, 60 Hz AC leakage voltages can cause problems with the power supply controller on motherboard on some computers. I have seen it as previously posted. If you don't why it can happen, well then you were not a digital logic designer (IOW where does that leaking 60+ AC go?).
Instead of invoking the lord, look at the original post. He asked if missing safety ground can cause computer problems. The answer is yes. In addition to addressing the flickering light problem (which was already done and apparently does not occur when computer has problems), he also has a potential problem that is described as quoted:

Yes, a missing safety ground, in some cases, can also create this problem AND cause hardware damage. Will you focus blindly on the flickering lights and ignore all other potential reasons for that computer problem? The flickering lights possibility has already been addressed and is awaiting further information from the OP. No reason for you to now bring the Lord's Sakes into this discussion.
Yes that third wire is for safety. But some designs use it to carry away the 60 hz leakage. You have never seen an Intel USART destroyed because that leakage (120 microamp) 60+ volts found another path when safety ground was missing? USART damaged, in part, because safety ground was missing - irregardless of the lord's sake.
snipped-for-privacy@bellatlantic.net wrote:

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w_tom wrote:

He said flickering. Whether you wish to quibble on flickering vs dimming, he's got a symptom that could be a disaster in the making, and is a probable cause of his PC problem. It is the first thing to address.

Again, a non-specific reference to leakage voltages. Specify the leakage: where is it and what causes it? For example, lets say you have 60+ volts on the PC chassis with respect to ground, due to a leaky capacitor. The correct fix is to replace the capacitor. You need to specify what you are thinking of when you talk about "60 Hz leakage voltage"

You may have seen it, but you have not identified the source of the leakage, nor stated where the voltage existed. Where did you connect your meter leads? How did you determine it was "leakage" voltage and what do you mean by "leakage"? How did you determine it was 60 Hz?
If some component is leaking such that it creates a condition where 60+ volts (with respect to some point you have not yet identified) exists where it shouldn't, then isn't replacing the defective component the correct fix? (I mention 60+ volts, as that is the figure you used in a previous post. ) If the chassis of a PC is at 60+ volts (or some other objectionable voltage) with respect to ground due to a leaking capacitor, and that is causing the PC to drop power, installing an equipment grounding conductor very well might make the PC stop dropping power. You haven't resolved the problem, you've only hidden it. The correct thing to do is determine the source of the problem and fix whatever is causing it.

Because you are unable/unwilling to specify what you are talking about, you deremine that someone else is not a digital logic designer (or a piano tuner or a farmer or whatever)??? That makes no sense.

The answer is NO, with no equivocation. You need some condition other than a missing equipment grounding conductor, to cause a PC to drop power when it should not. The NEC prohibits using the egc as a current carrying conductor. Perhaps you don't understand the distinction, since it is NEC terminology. It means that manufacturer and designers cannot intentionally design or build a PC that requires the egc to carry current under normal conditions. It is for safety only.
Look, this should be simple. You claim that some PC's need the egc to avoid the symptom that the OP asked about - dropping power. You say designers use the egc to prevent that. What are the specifics you have in mind? How do the designers use the egc to accomplish this? What is the circuit?
<snip>
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