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This document discusses procedures the inspection of the grounding system components of a building electrical system when performed by trained building inspection professionals, home inspectors, electrical inspectors, and electricians. Also see DEFINITIONS of ELECTRICAL GROUND, Grounding Electrode, Grounding Conductor, Grounded Conductor, Ground Wire, Neutral Wire, Ground Rod, for definitions of these confusing electrical terms. The grounding system at a building provides an easy path for electricity to flow to earth should a problem, such as a short circuit, occur. Allowing current to flow to earth through the ground system helps assure that a circuit breaker will trip or fuse will blow should a problem occur. Should an electrical fault occur where no ground path is present, the electrical potential is just sitting there waiting for a person to come along, touch some component of the system, and by accidentally providing a path to earth through their body, receive a burn or potentially fatal shock. Details of why we need grounding, and definitions of electrical grounding and electrical bonding (what's the difference between these two terms) can be read at Why Grounding is Needed. Carson Dunlop's sketch shows how the electrical current in a building can find its way to earth by way of the electrical grounding system. As Carson Dunlop's sketch shows, the grounding equipment includes wires which bond the ground and neutral bus in the main electrical panel with an outdoor component that conducts electricity to the earth (ground). The outdoor component may be grounding electrodes (ground rods), or in some jurisdictions a metal water pipe or possibly other metal components. The reason we ground in-building plumbing is not to provide an additional grounding conductor in a building but to ground the plumbing. Picture someone knocking a toaster into a stainless steel sink or into any sink with a metal drain and drain piping. In a properly-wired building, the grounding conductor and bonding system do not normally carry current, and would not be blamed for copper pipe pinholing etc. In some communities, as Carson Dunlop's sketch shows, the metal gas piping in a building must be bonded to the electrical ground system. Bonding anything to the ground system, including metal gas piping, helps prevent an electrical spark that might otherwise result in an explosion in the case of a gas piping system. The bonding of the gas piping to the building ground system is not the same thing as attempting to use the metal gas piping as the primary or only connection to earth in a building.
See Definitions of Electrical Ground, Grounding Electrode, Grounding Conductor, Grounded Conductor, Ground Wire, Neutral Wire, Ground Rod, for definitions of these confusing electrical terms. At ALUMINUM GROUND WIRES we discuss proper repair of aluminum ground wires found in solid conductor branch circuit wiring. Carson Dunlop's sketch at page top shows where the electrical inspection starts at a residential property. More about the galvanic scale and corrosion between dissimilar metals is at GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION. Jumper wires to ground plumbing: As Carson Dunlop's sketch shows at (A), if the building plumbing includes DIELECTRIC FITTINGS or non-conductive sections of piping (such as plastic piping) then the building plumbing system may not be safely grounded. Spelling note that may help some web searches: it's not dialectic pipe fittings, but dielectric pipe fittings. A jumper wire is installed to assure that the building metal plumbing pipes are safely grounded to earth.
The purpose of the ground jumper is to ground the building plumbing, not to use the building plumbing as a grounding system. That is to say, we're making the plumbing safe, we're not using it to provide a ground for the electrical system. A dielectric separates two electrically conducting materials so that they can be at two different potentials, more formally an electric di-pole.
Grounding system jumper wire around the water meter: as the same sketch shows at (B), if the building water main piping is being used as a source to provide a ground for the electrical system, then the main ground wire between the electrical panel and the water piping should be clamped on both sides of the water meter. In this case the building water supply piping is being used as part of the electrical grounding system, and we need to be sure that that connection to earth is not interrupted by non-conductive components of the water meter itself. In our photo you can see that the meter bypass jumper has become disconnected (where our flashlight is shining) and that the system ground wire was also spliced.
We bond the building water pipe to the grounding wire on the street side of the water meter to be sure that the building electrical system is grounded to earth. We bond the building water pipe to the grounding wire on the building-side of the water meter to be sure that the building water piping is safely grounded too.
This grounding wire should be continuous, through both pipe clamps securing it to the water piping before and after the water meter, and continuing into the main electrical panel where it joins the ground bus and neutral bus.
You may have to look closely even to find the grounding electrode, but following the ground wire should lead to it if an electrode is present. Corroded aluminum electrical ground wire - aluminum ground wires corrode through and ground can be lost. We've seen this happen, as shown in our picture at left, leading to loss of the local building ground connection when the bare aluminum ground wire was touching the edge of a masonry block foundation. Moisture in the foundation wall and probably the chemistry of the masonry block, mineral salts left by water entry, and the aluminum wire itself led to through-corrosion of the ground wire. Loose or missing ground connections securing the ground wire to a water pipe or to a grounding electrode.
As you can see in our photo, someone just skipped the clamp intended to secure the copper ground wire to the incoming water pipe, and left it wrapped around the pipe quite loosely.
Often we find this condition when someone needed to temporarily disconnect the ground wire, perhaps during a plumbing repair. The plumber may not have taken seriously the need to re-connect the building ground system.
No one may notice this problem because even if this ground connection is totally ineffective, the building may be still grounded through the service entry ground wire. The ground system wiring is for emergency-use only - it should never be wired so as to carry current during normal operation.
We've found cases in which someone used the ground path to complete an electrical circuit because the neutral wire was broken somewhere that could not be found. As a result, the ground path was electrically live when it should not have been, leading to an electric shock.
In our photo at left, someone used telephone wire to connect the neutral side of this electrical receptacle to the receptacle's steel mounting strap, knowing that that would in turn connect the neutral side of the receptacle to the steel junction box and through it, to the armored BX electrical cable, forming an electrical path back to the main electric panel.
Ground rod cut off or short - don't assume that because you see a grounding electrode that it has been properly installed. Grounding electrodes in some locales have an embossed code on their upper end - if the rod was cut off the embossed letters will be missing.
As we and our inspection client discovered (photos above), the bent-over grounding electrode made us wonder what was happening. Readers should also see Definitions of Electrical Ground, Grounding Electrode, Grounding Conductor, Grounded Conductor, Ground Wire, Neutral Wire, Ground Rod, for definitions of these confusing electrical terms.
Example of a potential shock waiting for someone: loose black wire in a metal junction box touches the side of the box.
But if the electrical box is not grounded, current flows through a person when the electrical box or anything connected to it (electrically) is touched, if the person has the bad luck to also be herself grounded (say by touching building piping or standing on a wet floor).
I am replacing my service panel,in my condo, and the conduit running from the sub panel is being used as the earth ground.
When the conduit is being used as the earth ground it must meet certain UFER specifications and impedence requirements.
If a local ground is isolated from the electrical company's ground (neutral wire in the panel) and does not conduct electricity or shows high resistance (or more generally, high impedence) it is not safe.
Watch out: this test needs to be performed by a trained electrician as there are shock and electrocution hazard risks. Fluke Corporation describes a simplified grounding electrode test in which the technician drives additional spikes into the ground to permit several measurements fof impedence that are compared at different distances from the grounding electrode under test.
Continue reading at ALUMINUM GROUND WIRES or select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below. Rikio I'm not sure I correctly understand the question but in general, if you are measuring voltage leaking say to ground, you want to find and fix the wiring error. The water has been ruled out so it has to be something else the pin hole was from the inside out and my house water connections are green and blue. With just the info in your note I can only guess at some possible causes for the pinhole leak in copper water piping under your building slab. If you do nothing but fix the pipe and the problem never recurs I'd suspect the pipe itself.
Yes, Anon, depending on the chemistry of the concrete and also moisture exposure there can be problems with corrosion - which is why for grounding conductor wiring the electricians I know use insulated grounding conductors.
Indeed it's common to see the electrical panel bonded to a lead water main entering the building.
Watch out: Lead conducts electricity but corrosion and unreliable connections within the piping make it an unreliable main electrical ground.
Good procedure would be to connect a ground to the lead water main but ALSO to install two (current NEC) driven ground rods at the property.
I even seen it in one house but show the signs of trouble in a neighbors house because of a common city water pipe. The excessive solder flux corrosion problem is not one I'd realized -thanks for that tip.
You show a jumper wire across a dielectric plumbing connection (between copper & galvanized pipe). If we don't jump across a non-conductive dielectric fitting on water piping then the water piping is not grounded.
For protection from lightning and possibly leakage from a high voltage transformer, the current National Electrical Code (NEC) requires two grounding electrodes at a building.

The reason people ground in-building plumbing is not to provide an additional grounding conductor in a building but to ground the plumbing. Incidentally, as we discuss pinholing and bad neutral connections, keep in mind that the return path for current in a building's electrical system is not intended to be primarily through the building's local grounding electrodes. See LOST NEUTRAL Shocks Homeowner for details of what can happen when this connection is not made or goes bad. A circuit tester should show that there is an open ground IF 3-prong grounded outlets are installed.
In some such installations we find that the wiring is BX (armored cable) that along with metal junction boxes, actually provides an (improper, that is not to be relied-on) ground path from the metal electrical box, through the BX cable sheathing, back to the main electrical box, through a panel jumper or connection to the panel ground bus, to ground.
In that (UNRELIABLE) "ground" path, current flows from the hot wire through the electrical receptacle hot tab or slot, through the neon tester, to the wall plate screw, to the metal strap on the face of the receptacle, through the receptacle mounting screws, to the metal electrical box, through the BX cable to ground. Since this fall, after a smart meter was installed on our home, we have had a ringing noise in our electrical wiring, dimmer switches, water pipes. It can be confusing figuring out if your water piping is actually serving as an electrical ground (it would have to be continuous metal, into soil outdoors, for a suitable distance and depth) or if instead the connection you see is intended as a safety feature to ground the building piping.
Certainly we wouldn't expect a workable ground connection for the electrical system to run through piping and the water heater.
As you will read in this article series, current codes want two grounds at the home - via grounding electrodes, for safety reasons. I did not open the circuit box, but inspecting all the wires coming out of it, this one seemed to be the only one consisting of a few exposed copper wires twisted around each other. PS: While I was down there I found another wire going from the phone line also to another hot water pipe for grounding. Question: how often should the electrical earthing system be inspected in erratic power areas? In developing countries where power supply is erratic, what frequency would you advise inspection of electrical and earthing systems? Watch out: Anon, you really should call a licensed electrician - a ground fault such as the one you describe could kill someone.
In general, I have never, in thousands of inspections, come across a welded ground wire-to-electrode connection at a building.
A shortcut might be to check with your local building department to see what they will accept.
I'll post further when I can find an authoritative citation on the connection we are discussing. If there is work done that bumps into the outside component of a water meter (my meter is in the basement and it's the new type that can be read as drive by) but I understand there is an outside component somewhere.
If I understand the question correctly, you ask if damage to an outdoor water meter would affect the proper operation of a subsequent water meter that is down-stream from the damaged one. Generally grounding wires can be spliced, with some exceptions where use of a continuous conductor is recommended. A trained electrician (that is someone who knows how to avoid getting electrocuted while messing with wiring) might use a DMM or VOM to check for current flow from hot to ground; if the ground is disconnected no circuit would be completed and no current would flow.
I also check that the metal box is grounded and as we warn in these articles, we emphasize the importance of following NEC on grounding and grounded conductor wiring and connections - e.g.
POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to install and wire electrical outlets or receptacles in buildings. Starting here, this article series describes how to choose, locate, and wire an electrical receptacle in a home.
Our photo at page top illustrates other wire connections shown out of the electrical box and thus is not an example of a proper electrical outlet installation. With a few simple tools, electrical wiring of an electrical receptacle is not difficult, but there are a few details to get right in order for the electrical receptacle to be safely installed.
You will see the hot black wire connected to the bronze or darker-colored screw on the receptacle shown at below right. The bare ground wire - this wire connects to the green ground screw usually found on the bottom of the electrical receptacle (photo at left). That's a perfectly acceptable use of the second pair of screw terminals you see on the receptacles. The ground wire can be continuous, tying the two ground screws on the receptacles together and onwards to the circuit ground. However a better practice when wiring up a quad-plex of electrical receptacles is to place left and right or upper and lower receptacles on separate electrical circuits - thus reducing the chances of overloading the circuit when many things are connected simultaneously. If your two receptacles are in different locations and thus in different electrical boxes, your circuit that wires the second or "downstream" receptacle can be powered by those same extra terminal screws on the first or "upstream" receptacle. In some jurisdictions electricians to not "daisy chain" receptacles in the same box together by using the second pair of screws on each one. Anon, the position of installation of an electrical outlet won't affect its operation and should not normally affect its approval by the electrical inspector. In some areas I see the outlet installed with the ground connector always "up" as in our photo at left, though to me that's less attractive than the position shown in our electrical outlet photo at far left. I've also seen arguments expressing the OPINION that the position of the grounding pin connector might help resist the tendency of a plug to fall out of its connection.
When wiring multiple boxes in series, how do you connect both incoming and outgoing ground wires to the back of the receptacle?
Bob, similar to Greg's question, I see two approaches to hooking up the ground wire in junction boxes and at electrical receptacles. If the incoming ground wire from the feed circuit was left long enough, it can be run continuously, connected to a grounding screw that connects the wire to the metal junction box (skip this step if plastic junction boxes are in use), on to the ground screw terminal at each electrical receptacle, and ending with a ground clamp crimp connector that ties the incoming ground to the ground wire of the outgoing wire that continues to the next junction box.
If the incoming ground wire is not long enough to run as above, then an additional length of ground wire is pigtailed to the incoming ground and makes the other connections I've described above. In sum, all of the grounds are tied together in the box: the incoming ground, outgoing ground, and ground wires to each of the electrical receptacles.
Watch out: while the electrical receptacle ground may also be electrically connected to the metal strap that mounts the receptacle to the junction box (photo at left), and while the junction box may be metal, do not rely on the receptacle mounting screws and receptacle strap-to-box contact to serve as the grounding connection. It's easy for the receptacle mounting screws to be deliberately left loose or to work loose - making that ground connection unreliable. Continue reading at ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE CONNECTION DETAILS or select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below. OBO is een Duitse producent van systemen voor gebouwinstallatie zoals verbindings- en bevestigingssystemen, inbouwapparatuursystemen, kabel- en wandgoten, brand- en bliksembeveiliging en meer. Questions & answers or comments about how to install and wire electrical outlets or receptacles in buildings. Timothy Hemm has provided photographs of various electrical defects used at the InspectAPedia TM Website. John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. Our recommended books about building & mechanical systems design, inspection, problem diagnosis, and repair, and about indoor environment and IAQ testing, diagnosis, and cleanup are at the InspectAPedia Bookstore. Recommended books on electrical inspection, electrical wiring, electrical problem diagnosis, and electrical repair can be found in the Electrical Books section of the InspectAPedia Bookstore.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. When checked, Shutterstock's safe search screens restricted content and excludes it from your search results. The electric meter located next to your main service panel is what the utility company uses to gauge the amount of energy you have consumed from the grid. The electric company charges you for the number of kWhs you have used that particular month.
What about all those annoying inserts that are included in the envelope with your electric bill? Yet, I read this one just before I read the accompanying monthly electric bill for my home. OK, so you went ahead and like us installed a PowerCost Monitor to provide you with real time information on the amount of electricity consumed in your home. Then, also like us, you received the notice that your local electric utility was soon going to be switching your electric meter to a Smart Meter.
In our new series on determining if the Ontario Power Authority's (OPA) microFIT was financial viable within our personal risk tolerance for our house's roof, we detailed the OurPower online solar site assessment.
Earlier this week I wrote an article on Smart Meters and how old electromechanical electric meter was swapped out by our local utility for a new smart meter. My personal subjective view is that yes, if every house has them we would be in much better shape environmentally. A short while ago we received a notice in the mail from our local electric utility that they would be replacing our current 23 year old electric meter with a smart meter. Yesterday we introduced you to the PowerCost Monitor™, a device which provides a homeowner with real time data, in both Kilowatts and in dollars & cents, on the electricity being consumed in their home.
With this information, a homeowner can monitor action taken to reduce the amount of electricity consumed in the home and same them money. The 1st Edition was recognized by The Toronto Star on April 09, 2009 in their Personal Bailout Survival Tips series. The 2nd Edition was part of a CBC News' The National news segment on March 2, 2010 in which Dan was interviewed. But as you may want to read in our case study of loss of all ground connections at a building, don't assume that the current will always find its way to earth. The grounding system is intended to conduct electrical current only in the event of a fault or emergency [such as a lightning strike or a hair dryer dropped into the bath tub or sink].

That's why new electrical work that uses aluminum ground wires should be performed only using wires that are insulated. As we demonstrated at DOUBLE FAULT, LOSS OF ELECTRICITY, it's not safe to rely on just the utility company's ground connection.
A conventional plug-in circuit tester will not find false grounds, as we explain at False Ground at Receptacles where we provide details. If a grounding electrode cannot be fully driven into the soil the electrical code provides procedures for driving the electrode in cut-sections to achieve sufficient total earth contact. If the electrical box is connected to ground lots of current will flow (this is a short circuit) and the fuse or circuit breaker protecting the electrical circuit will blow or trip. How much is "high impedence" when testing an electrical ground system at a building? As Fluke and other experts point out, to perform testing of the local grounding electrode it must be disconnected from the building.
I recall a ground water sourced air conditioning system that kept blowing out a very expensive cooling coil for which the problem was finally traced to just this issue. But if it were me, I'd also have a licensed electrician check that the home's grounding and neutral systems are properly wired, that the grounding electrodes are properly sized and installed, and that there are no stray currents on the neutral system nor shorts or leaks in the wiring system (an AFCI or GFCI can help detect these too). The excess flux lays in the bottom of the pipe and corrodes the copper, hence pin holes on the bottom only.
I suppose we could confirm that problem cause after the fact by noticing just where the copper piping leaks are occurring - all at solder joints - and then disassembling or cutting one of those joints apart to inspect the interior of the pipe.
By current NEC, metal piping may not be used as a grounding conductor, but metal water piping in contact with the earth for a length of ten feet or more, that piping is indeed connected to the electrical ground system. If one of these is water piping it is tested and must show less than 25 ohms of resistance to earth. I'm not sure where your surmise takes us, since there are both code and basic safety reasons for grounding house plumbing. But with just 2-prong outlets installed in a home, the circuit tester cannot reliably test for ground and you must assume that no ground is present.
Did they just not care back in the day what pipe they were grounding to, or was it actually better to use the hot water pipe than the cold one? Send me some sharp photos so i can see the ground wires coming out of the panel and where they go. Certainly I can't imagine diagnosing the problem by message exchange - you need an experienced eye on the scene. The more I read about what it takes to ground all three legs of the mast correctly for lightning protection, and to then properly bond it to the house electrical ground, the more I am inclined to realize I need an electrician to supervise my work and an inspector to bless the whole project. I don't have an answer but will do some research - as you might too, using Google Scholar or NEMA or the NEC. Most often we see a few inches of grounding electrode above ground and a clamp connecting the grounding conductor to the ground rod.
I prefer to se the ground electrode tip above ground to confirm its presence and status of the connection.
That might cause leaks at or damage to building plumbing system components including piping, valves, or even a meter. An example of the latter is the wire connecting the building metal water supply piping around a water meter an onwards to the grounding electrode. You can see our white neutral wire connected to a silver screw on the receptacle in our photo, below-left. The receptacle we used for these photos happens to be a 20-A rated device that permits the wire to be inserted straight into a clamp that is tightened against the wire by the screw.
You can also see our ground wire connected at the left side of our previous photo, above-left.
Don't remove the screws - it's not necessary, they are deliberately hard to remove completely, and they could be needed in some future wiring change. There are two approaches: you can wire the left and right duplex receptacles each to different individual electrical circuits, or you can wire the upper and lower half of the pair of duplex receptacles to different electrical circuits. You'll need to run a wire from the first receptacle through the wall into the second electrical box of course. Be sure that your junction box is big enough to contain all of the wires and twist-on connectors.
OBO is een familiebedrijf dat in 1911 werd opgericht als stansfabriek voor bevestigingstechniek, en wordt inmiddels geleid door de vierde generatie Bettermann. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Although the meter may look somewhat intimidating, it is actually quite easy to read once it is broken down and explained. If you split your electric meter into three sections, top to bottom, it is easy to understand.
They simply subtract the previous months kWh reading from the current month's reading to get the total number of kWhs you used the current month. Armed with this information, you found that you were more pro-active in reducing the amount of electricity used in your home.
They allow electric utilities to obtain more information about your household's personal electricity consumption habits. Similar hazards exist at other building locations such as basement laundry equipment & sinks, at building tubs and showers, etc.
Our client was kind enough to demonstrate just how ineffective this electrical ground system was, thanks to someone's shortcut. The ground testing instructions that we cite below include additional important safety warnings and procedureal details from which we excerpt. I have seen this before and traced it to bad grounded (neutral) connections at the utility transformers or tap boxes causing all the neutral loads to be carried on the grounding system such as the copper plumbing. Also I am nor sure which jumper you saw, but connecting a ground between similar metals ought not create the concern youncite. I mention this connection because we can, for example using a neon tester, often confirm the existence of that path by connecting the neon tester between the hot wire or hot slot in the 2-slot receptacle over to the wall plate mounting screw. There are also sparks jumping out of some outlets when we plug in our laptops (we now use surge protectors).
My question is, would it be better if the grounding was done to the cold water pipe, since then it would not have to go through the water heater, and be more directly connected to the city main water supply line?
My question is, when it comes to connecting the recommended #4 solid copper wire to each grounding rod, is it true that the grounding rod can only be fully buried in the ground if the wire was cad-welded, and if it were clamped on, the grounding rod top needs to remain slightly above ground so that it can be inspected annually?
If a plug is falling out of a receptacle, one of the two objects is worn or damaged and should be replaced to assure a safe, mechanically secure connection.
Understanding your electric meter is key if you want to keep track of your energy consumption and production each day, after having a solar energy system installed. The top portion is the most important, as it shows you the current kWh count, and is explained in detail below.
From reading the literature our opinion is that this test is technically difficult, requires expertise, and should not be attempted by a homeowner nor by anyone else who lacks the necessary expertise.
Even if this was meant to ground the piping, would it be better if it was connected to a cold water pipe? De vele producten van OBO worden gebruikt in bijvoorbeeld de scheepsbouw en voedingsmiddelenindustrie. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. The middle is the dial that spins forward (to the right) when you are using power from the grid, and backwards (to the left) when you are feeding power to the grid, such as with a solar power system. Looking at the picture to the right, each of the dials represent a digit in the kWh reading, most significant to least significant going from left to right. When our assistant plugged in and began using a vacuum cleaner in the same room we got an electrical surprise - a shock while touching the BX cable! There is a transformer on a phone pole at the foot of our driveway which they also checked. Other than what may be in the hot water heater, there is no other non-metallic materials in between it and the water meter, and then its metallic piping going out of the house from there.
Ook worden OBO-producten onder meer toegepast in zonne-energie-installaties, energiecentrales en tunnelbouw. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. In the particular sense of the phrase's context, the dielectric blocks the flow of electrons between the dissimilar metals, thus preventing the flow of dissolved ions from the water to the cathode and (metallic) ions from the anode into the water. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
I am wondering if this is an easy (not too expensive) or difficult (expensive) problem to fix and am assuming I need an electrician. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. I checked whit a meter and I do have continuity between the main panel and my plumbing and my gas pipe to the hot water.

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