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Unread 11-26-2009, 11:33 PM   #16
uhale
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No ground wire!

Okay, a year later, I'm finally ready to hook up the heating mats. As this is my first dealing with electric heating cables, I have been learning as I go. Unfortunately, I just realized that the "mats" I have (NEVER BUY FROM EASYWARMFLOOR!) do not have a ground wire, and other mats out there do. I don't know if this is a big deal or not. I sliced open the splicing sheathing, and found a ground wire (yellow+green stripe) buried/hidden under black plastic or rubber sheathing---clearly NOT intended to be used (see pic 1 and 2). Is it a problem that these heating mats will not be grounded? At the other end of the mat, the very end of it (shown in pic 3), I also cut open to see the wires. The small copper ground wire comes to an abrupt end, and the two copper wires connected to the red and white leads are joined. (Yes, I know I should not be cutting it open--but I wanted to find out if there was a ground or not).

I appreciate any comments or advice. Hope ya'll had a happy Turkey day!!!
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Unread 11-27-2009, 09:36 AM   #17
Edthedawg
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Elahu,

This is just me talkin, so take it for whatever you feel it's worth...

but...

- you potentially damaged the product beyond possible use.

- you definitely voided any warranty you could ever possibly have had.

- and you obviously question the integrity of the product.

so... mebbe at this point you just go get yourself a different mat?

OR - mebbe you could 'splain how a year later, the mats that were s'posed to be buried under tile are still sitting on your berber carpeting?

Are these the same mats? another piece of the same type you used elsewhere, and just hadn't hooked up yet?

bottom line is if the mfr made it w/ out a ground wire, you probably coulda/woulda/shoulda left it that way and moved on with life. Now it'd be anyone's guess what happens next.

good luck to you!
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Unread 11-27-2009, 11:05 AM   #18
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Like Ed, I am also assuming that you have an extra cord that you could dissect?

I'm wondering the exact same thing as you, however. That ground doesn't do too much if it ain't hooked up to anything. As you probably know, the ground is there in case the insulation is ever broken on the wire, then the electricity has a safe place to go back through the ground rather than through a person standing barefoot at a plumbing fixture. Grounding is especially important in bathrooms.

I was under the impression that electric heat mats, like most other bathroom electrical applications, had to be GFCI protected by code. A GFCI circuit should be grounded even though it's supposed to protect against a ground fault, I'd think code would call for that too. I'd call up the manufacturer and see if they didn't mess up the green wire on yours, or ask them how you're supposed to install to code. My inclination would be to hook up the green wire to a ground, but consult an electrician if you are unsure.
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Unread 11-27-2009, 02:12 PM   #19
uhale
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Thanks for the feedback Ed and Jeff. Here are some more details:

1. I struggled with the company, EasyWarmFloor, for months over this purchase--basically, I made a purchase over the phone, but when it arrived, it was NOT what I purchased (inferior product). They flat out lied, saying it was what I agreed to over the phone. Finally, they sent me a replacement product after Visa disputed their charge, (for more info see: http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/...ad.php?t=69507).

2. I thought everything was fine once I received replacement cables.

3. Installed wires, SLC, tile, should have expected a ground wire coming out of the mats, but I did not.

4. Now, ready to hook the mats up, I realized that other mats on the market have ground wires, and are also shielded.

5. I have an extra mat, and cut the rubber/plastic off the ends to see what the deal was with my mats--knowing it would void any warranty (although I'm 99% sure this company would not honor a warranty anyway).

6. These do require GFCI circuit.

7. I purchased multiple heating mats, and ALL of them look identical, and lack a visible ground wire in the cold lead.

I need to know:

1. If I can hook these up without a ground, and expect them to run safely. The thermostats have GFCI, and I may put the breaker on GFCI as well.

2. Is it legal to sell electric heating products that lack a functional ground?

I know this is a tile forum, and not electric, but if anyone has any advice, I would appreciate it.
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Unread 11-27-2009, 09:14 PM   #20
Edthedawg
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the legalities of the situation are most certainly outside my expertise. they sold it, you bought it, that's binding i'm pretty sure.

if it has a UL rating on it, then they either got that, or are fraudulently selling it as such.

Would it work? almost certainly. life went on for many decades before the advent of the ground wire. in your house, all those three prong outlets? the larger spade and the round ground wire go back to the exact same chunk of metal in your electrical panel.

is it very safe? well, arguably not. you could certainly do better. but i'd like to think you'd probably be ok with it, provided it is installed per the mfr's instructions.

note: if those instructions mention hooking up the ground wire in the box, then you got a can of problem there.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 09:25 PM   #21
astrojeff
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There are other internet forums where you can get electrical advice (at your own risk), or you can always consult an electrician. You run the risk, of course, of an expert telling you not to install an ungrounded heat mat, period. Then you have to decide whether you want to go ahead and install it anyway. You can also just reassure yourself that there's lots of shoddy devices and shoddy wiring out there and it "usually" doesn't end up killing anybody. A GFCI should protect you, but GFCIs go bad over time (that's what the "test" button is for). Ground wires usually don't go bad--that's why they're still the standard of safety and why they're still required in GFCI circuits. Consider this: without a ground, a GFCI circuit has to shock you for a milisecond or so before it works, since you become the ground. Sorry we don't have a better answer for you--it's a risk based decision you have to make, but there's no good way of knowing what your risk is, so we're all kind of in the dark here.

You could also investigate the matter more and take legal action against the company if they truly are selling items that are potentially dangerous and not to code.
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