I had an electrician over and asked about grounding an outlet (early
'60s house with grounded wire only to baths and kitchen).
This was an outside wall with a water pipe faucet near. He said he
could just poke a hole through the wall and run the ground wire to the
pipe and attach it there. So he does this and I end up with a green
ground wire coming out of the wall about a foot up. He then said he
could just have it go straight down to the ground and then over to the
pipe, which is about 6 feet away. I was surprised when he offered to
just make a very shallow impression in the dirt and then just cover
directly with dirt. So basically it is just put on the ground with a
little dirt thrown on it. I did ask if this was code and he said
"sure" (just so you know, he is licensed and has been around for
Well now I don't feel so comfortable with this. Is it ok to have a
wire like that in/on dirt with no hard weatherproof casing? Is this
considered normal practice for a ground wire?
Interested in opinions on this and what problem(s), if any, would you
be concerned about. Note: to be clear, this is not bare copper, it
does have the green sleeve.
Get a new electrician you ground to the house ground which should be a
copper ground cable near your panel. If you are having no promblem
with shorts just ground the new plug switchs or whatever to the ground
screw of you boxes in the wall, then install gfi pugs which are
manditory in these parts ,
The wire itself is fine for retrofitting a ground conductor to a non
grounded outlet. Connecting it to an internal water pipe was acceptable at
one time but isn't anymore. It can be connected to any part of your electric
service's grounding electrode system, including the first five feet of metal
water pipe, where it enters the building
Are you saying that you have no problem with the wire laying on the
dirt, but just a problem with where it is connected?
What is so special about "the first five feet of metal water pipe,
where it enters the building."
I should note that this particular water outlet runs from the water
supply entry then under a concrete slab (garage) then up and on the
wall. So if it's the fear of someone replacing a part of it with
plastic, that is not going to likely happen (rest of house has
crawlspace with opportunity for changes). Also, the phone company
grounded the phone service with a clamp on this pipe also (in 1960).
The problem with it laying in the dirt is just sloppiness. The first five
feet of a buildings underground water supply is part of the grounding
electrode system, which grounds everything electrical in the building.
Internal piping is not necessarily contiguous
Now I am confused about something. When you say "the first five feet
of a buildings water supply", do you mean the first five feet AFTER it
enters the building or BEFORE it enters the building?
I assumed this meant after entering the building. If that is true,
then I could see where you could go into the crawlspace and have
access to that pipe to connect a ground clamp. But if you mean before
the building, how in the world could this be done without excavating
the area before it enters the building?
The first five feet after it enters the building,of metal water pipe, along
with the required driven ground rods and sometimes other things as well, are
the grounding electrode system, which grounds your electric service. A
separately run grounding conductor can be run and attached from the non
grounded existing receptacle, to any point along the grounding electrode
system. This also includes the neutral/ground bar in your service panel
You've been cheated. That outlet is not safely or correctly grounded if
you description is correct. Ask the "electrician" when he's going to install
the grounding rod. Bare wire is ok, not having a grounding rod isn't. A
little dirt thrown around a wire does not make a ground. 8 ft. of grounding
rod pounded into the ground is the usual way.
I think there may be some confusion here about the wire in the dirt
"being the ground." To be clear, the wire ends up on a clamp that is
affixed to the water pipe. My concern was with the wire being directly
on dirt (not that just putting wire in dirt would ground something).
OK, just re-read your answer and you said the bare wire was ok. So you
are not against the wire laying on dirt, but are only opposed to where
it is connected? Just to make sure, suppose he drove in a ground rod
at the other end of the house and ran the ground wire on the ground
under the house with just some dirt thrown on it. Would that be OK
Can you explain what you mean? I know it is not thought highly of
here, but I thought that grounding to a metal water pipe would give a
ground. And like I said before, the phone company grounded the phone
system to the exact pipe!
That's not an electrician, it's a nutcase.
DONT PAY THE FUCKER.
Tell him if he wants to be paid to come and do it right.
If he refuses, and if you already paid him, call your local building
inspector and show them the job and your receipt from this asshole.
His license will be revoked.
Again, I want to be clear and point out that the wire DOES end up on a
clamp on a water pipe (I didn't mean to suggest he was grounding it by
just putting the wire in the dirt). Did you understand that or are you
saying the laying the ground wire on the dirt would "get his license
It has to be grounded to the grounding bond IN THE MAIN PANEL. The
pipe may or may not be a "usable" ground. If it connects to plastic
pipe or has a dialectric union, you have no ground. If this is a gas
pipe, this is even worse. Either way, this is NOT legal according to
the code. His license should be revoked for violating the code. No
other reasons are needed. I am not an electrician, but even "I" know
more than the asshole that claims to be your electrician. How do you
know he is even a licensed electrician? Did you see his license? If
he really has one, it should be revoked.
It's not even legal to run a green wire alongside of a non-grounded
romex to the breaker box grounding bond. However, that is at least
safe and to be honest, I think it should be legal. But the code is
the code and you got an "electrician" who is an idiot. Sounds to me
like he's be better working as a garbage man or paperboy.
It actually might be OK if it's 6 gauge solid wire (or if the wire was
protected by a conduit) and it connects to the main water supply line
with a listed clamp.
From your description, it's probably not kosher but it's probably not
dangerous either. And it's not clear if the green wire does anything at
all. Is it actually connected to a water pipe?
If the water pipe all metal to the feed and is grounded it will
I don't know if it is code or not.
But if it is a bare wire, I would worry about corrosion after a few
years of the wire where it touches the dirt.
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