04: How to Ensure You’re Grounded

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How to Ensure You’re grounded

A Must-Have Article About Your Home’s Electrical System: Article 4 of 10

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”22″][video_embed url=”https://vimeo.com/335581159″ border=”yes”][vc_empty_space height=”22″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”hb-custom-sidebar-schedule-homeelectricedusale”][vc_separator color=”custom” accent_color=”#ffe300″ css=”.vc_custom_1577421655064{margin-top: 20px !important;margin-bottom: 20px !important;}”][vc_column_text]A properly grounded system helps protect people and property. In overvoltage situations, such as a lightning strike, grounding provides another path around the electrical system of your home to reduce damage from the excessive voltage. It also provides some protection from electrical shock or fires in instances of equipment damage.

Since grounding is so important, you should take steps to ensure you are grounded.

First, consider the age of your home. Homes built before 1950 typically did not have grounded electrical circuits. In the 1950s grounded electrical systems came into more and more frequent use, and by 1958 they were almost universal.

Second, consider electrical repairs or renovations that have been done over the years. If you have an older home, has there been work done to update the wiring to bring it into conformity with current code requirements? In homes of any age, have you undertaken DIY wiring projects that may have not been completed correctly?

These issues only address the probability that you will encounter a grounding problem, though. For safety, you need to take steps to ensure your home’s electrical system is properly grounded.

Many homeowners assume they are protected with proper grounding just because they have electrical outlets with receptacles for 3-wire plugs. Unfortunately, that proves nothing. In houses with no grounded circuits at all, the outlets can be replaced with 3-prong outlets without having a ground wire to attach to the ground connector on the outlet. In houses with grounded circuits, an outlet can be installed without even connecting the available ground wire. In both of those cases, the external appearance of a properly grounded outlet is an illusion and there is no protection at all.

That being the case, you need to check the circuits to verify that all connections are safe. Determining the presence or absence of a problem is simple. You will need a circuit tester, they are available in hardware stores, electrical supply stores, and home improvement centers for prices starting at about $5 to $10.

Use of the circuit tester is extremely simple. Plug it into an outlet and check its indicator lights. Compare them with the chart on the tester itself, and it will tell you if you have any problems with that circuit. It only takes a few seconds, so if you aren’t finding any problems you will be able to test all of the circuits in your home in less than a half-hour.

What if you do find a problem? What if you find an un-grounded circuit? Start by leaving the tester plugged in and turning off the breaker controlling that circuit. You will know if you turned off the right breaker because the lights on the tester will go out.

With the power off, remove the cover plate and pull the receptacle from the box so you can examine the wiring connections. Many times the problem will be a loose connection or a ground wire that was never attached to the receptacle. If you find either of those, fix the connection, then put the receptacle back in the box, and turn the breaker back on. If that was the problem, the lights on the tester will no longer indicate any problem.

If you have completed that step and the tester still shows a ground problem, check the wiring coming into the box. If the wiring is just a black wire and a white wire coming to the box through metal conduit, the conduit itself is the ground. It must be physically attached to the box with a clamp.

If you have done these checks and still haven’t found the problem, it is time to call an electrician to locate and fix the problem. You are moving outside the proper realm of DIY, and an electrician’s training in making repairs to bring circuits into compliance with local electrical codes will be needed.[/vc_column_text][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”hb-custom-sidebar-schedule-homeelectricedusale”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

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