We recently started renting an older house. We were installing a dryer when we noticed we were getting electric shocks when we touched the back of the dryer while it was plugged in.

After some testing, I determined the house isn't properly grounded at all.

I made a maintenance request to my landlord last night, but I wanted to make sure I was correct in demanding they send an electrician immediately.

I found some laws stating the home must be within all applicable building codes, one saying grounding is required for all 240v plugs, and another specifically calling out laundry areas needing grounding.

Am I in the right for demanding an electrician immediately? I consider the home to be unsafe, but I'm not an expert in any regard to building codes.

We are located in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

  • Building codes usually have grandfather clauses - if the house was built before that part of the code went into effect, it may not be required to comply. Nov 19, 2018 at 20:25
  • 1
    Incidentally, this indicates that your dryer is defective. If it's your dryer, that's your problem, but if it's part of what you're renting, a replacement is the landlord's responsibility.
    – user6726
    Nov 19, 2018 at 22:10

3 Answers 3


Older U.S. dryer and range plugs were three-prong: two hots and a combined neutral/ground, the neutral being connected to the chassis within the dryer.

If you're getting chassis shocks, either the dryer has a problem (as user6726 says) or the receptacle's neutral has become disconnected somewhere in the wiring. The latter would be a significant wiring fault in the apartment which requires professional repair (I don't believe any US or Canada jurisdiction allows DIY repairs on rental properties).

If it's a fault within the dryer, then as others have said it will come down to who owns the dryer.

A co-incidence of faults (disconnected neutral and hot-to-chassis contact within the appliance) has caused documented deaths with these 3-wire hookups. Unplug the dryer until this gets resolved.

Have the electrician check your kitchen range plug while they're onsite.

The wiring being inherently ungrounded may actually be beside the point.

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    The issue ended up being the dryer was wired incorrectly, the delivery people wired the plug with a 120 line going to the neutral Nov 26, 2018 at 14:29

This is outside the scope of landlord-tenant law and the obligation of the landlord to make the premise habitable. Building codes are not imposed retroactively on existing housing, so while it is true that you cannot legally build a house without service grounding, you do not have to install service grounding when that becomes part of the electrical code (which was decades ago). The law is here; the state could have impose an obligation on landlords to always update plumbing, electrical etc. so that rental housing always conforms to current codes, but it did not. If the electric does not work properly, that has to be repaired, but if there is a functioning but less than ideal electric (knob and tube wiring; ungrounded; no GFI circuits in the bathroom, incorrect receptacle covers, overburdened or improperly placed service panel, too few receptacles), that's not something you can legally force a landlord to change.


Follow up to this. My municiple code requires that "Electrical equipment, wiring and appliances shall be properly installed and maintained in a safe and approved manner."

I would interpret this to mean that a refrigerator with a 3 prong plug must be plugged into a grounded 3-prong outlet as described in the user manual.

So this code would imply that grounded wiring is required if 3-pronged appliances are provided.

  • Pls ask as a new question - you have posted this in a location for answers - this is not an answer. Oct 16, 2022 at 2:09
  • My understanding was that a grounded house can make certain installation errors harmless, that a properly installed device is safe even in an ungrounded house is safe, and faulty installation in an ungrounded house can kill you.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 16, 2022 at 19:05

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