Greetings. I bought a dimmer switch to replace the standard light
switch in my kitchen. I identified that it needed to be a 3 way
switch since there are multiple locations to turn these lights on/
off. When I removed the current switch, I noticed that the bare
copper ground coming out of the wall isn't connected to anything -
it's just covered in a plaster-esque substance. Is this a hazard?
Should I be concerned? If this is a problem, would it simply trip the
breaker, or should I be worried about a fire?
Romex (which I'm guessing was used in your installation) carries a
ground wire. (Well, halfway recent Romex does...) Often at the switch
end of the cable there's nothing to attach this ground to. A thoughtful
electrician will at least leave it in place at that end, and ground it
at the other, so that future components have an available ground. This
is not a problem at all.
If your replacement switch has a ground terminal, use this wire to
ground it, but first I'd check to make sure it's connected to ground (at
the other end of the cable).
If the box is metal, it should have been connected by a screw or clip. If
the box is plastic, it should be attached to the grounding conductor of the
device you install. As Bob Barr suggested, you should verify that it's
connected at the other end.
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