Another ground question


  #1  
Old 07-05-04, 07:35 PM
H
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Another ground question

A friend of mine in FL had a "mound" septic system installed last year. Several "helpers" assisted in the electrical portion... too many cooks, I think. In any event, a 12-2 UF wire was ran to the main breaker box on his pole. A ground rod was driven in next to the outlet that the pump was plugged into, rather than running a separate ground back to the panel. The whole thing had a plastic bag over it to keep the rain out. Apparantly, no inspection was required. When I visited, I asked where the GFI was. After being asked to "make this safe", I replaced the standard outlet with a GFCI, and put it all in a proper weatherproof enclosure, with the type cover that allows an item to be plugged in. I was uncertain, however, about the safety of the ground rod. I left it connected, but now wonder if this in itself might be an unsafe situation. I have learned since (through this forum) that a GFCI will function without a ground connected. Given the fact that the pump is a sewage pump, and already underground, I assume the ground rod neither adds nor subtracts from the safety. Am I correct? Or should I disconnect the ground on my next visit? Thank you, once again....
Jess
 
  #2  
Old 07-05-04, 07:49 PM
J
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Why would you install a ground rod? That's not a good idea. Surely there was a bare grounding wire in that 12/2 UF you put in. The grounding rod is not a suitable replacement for a grounding wire. Not by a long, long shot. The resistance of the earth is about a billion times that of copper. A direct hot-to-ground short at the pump won't even trip the breaker.

You cannot just use a plastic bag. You need an weatherproof box and a weatherproof "in-use" cover.

The GFCI should ideally go at the panel, before the cable goes underground. That way, you only need to bury the cable 12 inches deep, instead of the 24 inch trench depth you need with the GFCI at the far end of the cable.

You should have a grounding wire. But unless this cable has been sitting in your garage for forty years, you do. Tell me you don't have 12/2 without a ground. Although this cable does still exist, it's not easy to find. Certainly Home Depot doesn't sell it.

I don't think you had too many cooks in the kitchen. In fact, it seems you had no cooks at all in the kitchen. You had a bunch of plumbers instead.
 
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Old 07-05-04, 08:06 PM
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Sorry I wasn't a little more specific... I didn't do the initial installation, only replaced the non-weatherproof outlet with a weatherproof GFCI. I don't know why he didn't use 12-2 with ground, or how deep they buried it, or why a GFCI breaker wasn't used. When I arrived for a visit, I asked why they had a plastic bag tied over a post. He didn't want to replace the wire, in fact, he was content with the plastic bag! His wife asked if I could make it a little safer for her, so I was limited in my options. Had I done the installation, I would have started by replacing the leaky, rusty panel on the pole. I'm sure that won't happen until it all shorts out, and they find themselves without power. I was just trying offer better protection than what I was faced with on arrival.
Jess
 
  #4  
Old 07-05-04, 08:15 PM
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Jess, you made substantial and sigificant improvements to the safety of the installation. It is still not as safe as modern code says it should be, but you can take comfort in the fact that you made it safer. But if I were you, I wouldn't admit to anybody that you had done any electrical work at all on the place. If something goes wrong, you opened yourself up for some liability. Unless you're a licensed electrician, you cannot legally do electrical work on somebody else's property. Be careful.
 
 

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