Switches not grounded?


Old 12-16-05, 09:44 AM
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Switches not grounded?

I am in the final stages of finishing my basement, and yesterday I had what I thought was going to be my final electrical inspection.

The inspector waved this wand thing in front of some of the switches and said they were not grounded. These were on two separate circuits. I had connected the bare copper wire to the ground post on the switches, so I am not sure what else to do. One other piece of info is that on one of those circuits (the 20A circuit in the bathroom) there are outlets connected in the same circuit. I checked the outlets with an outlet wiring tester, and they showed that they were properly grounded.

Any ideas on what to check? Also, I am not sure, if I do change something, how to check the switches to see if it fixed the problem and that they are grounded. I did not find this "wand" the inspector used at my local hardware store. Is there any easy way to check the grounding of a switch?

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Old 12-16-05, 01:11 PM
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I know of no wand that could detect the presence of a ground conductor connection.

Could you ask him what he means?
Old 12-16-05, 01:13 PM
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If you connected the bare copper wire to the green ground screw terminal on the switch, and the bare ground wire is properly terminated in the panel box, and it is properly spliced in all of the junction boxes throughout the circuit, then you have done your job.

The sure fire way to test if a switch is grounded is to measure the voltage between the metal face of the switch and a known hot using an analog meter or light-up tester. If it measures 120V, the switch is grounded.
Old 12-16-05, 01:40 PM
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As to the device that was used, I am not sure. I was not there. I was so confident that I would pass the inspection that I stayed at work and had my wife let the inspector in. She said he had this device that he held in front of the switch and a red LED came on. He told her that the LED indicated that the switch was not grounded.

I guess I will call the building department and ask how they check that. I called today, but the inspectors only take phone calls between 7:30 and 8:30 AM, so I will have to call back on Monday morning.

It actually sounds like I did everything correctly, and the switches are grounded properly, but for some reason the inspector doesn't think they are. Next inspection I will make sure I am there.

Old 12-16-05, 02:12 PM
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The inspector is probably using a Tic Tracer. He might not be using it properly and is mistaking a voltage proximity indication for an improper ground.

Or it could be that he is touching the yoke of the switch or a plate screw and experiencing an increase in the beep rate when the switch is turned off and on. If the is the case, you do have some problem with your grounding.
Old 12-16-05, 02:59 PM
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He might have tried to use a continuity tester. In a perfect setting he would touch the plate screw with the tester and his hand would complete the circuit. This is a totally bogus test since the screws could be plastic or they could be painted. This would give a false reading. Also, if he is on carpet or something non-conductive there would be no continuity.
If he gives you grief over this, remove the plate and let him try for voltage from the device yoke to a hot screw on the switch. That is a real test.

I really don't like the smell of this inspector. The whole thing is sounds fishy.
Old 12-16-05, 08:16 PM
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switches not grounded

One thing, are you using metal boxes? If so, you have to run the grounding wire to a grounding screw in the box prior to attaching it to the screw on the switch. But I'm like the others, if you have attached the grounding wire to the switch and it carries completely back to the bus in the breaker box, then your job is done.
Your inspector needs to put all his fancy led devices up and use logic and get on with business. Good luck with him, but be nice, since he stands between you and your CO.
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