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Why are ground wires wound together and not attached to electrical switches?

Why are ground wires wound together and not attached to electrical switches?

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Old 01-06-19, 12:06 AM
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Why are ground wires wound together and not attached to electrical switches?

My home was built in 1998, Phoenix, as I've been upgrading electrical switches (motion sensor, wifi, etc) I've noticed all of the grounds wound together and never attached to the original switches. In researching what I found was in older homes it was permissible to do this? Is that true?

It's a pain to unwind and attach to a ground, but for the new upgraded switches it is required. Should I just go ahead and attach the grounds to the old switches as well while I have it all open? The box is plastic, does that make a difference in how it was originally wired? I've been cursing the previous owner lol, but probably they've been like this since the build. Appreciate all the help and advice in advance.
 
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Old 01-06-19, 06:27 AM
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The first question I was going to ask was if all the boxes are metal until I saw you say they are plastic. If they were metal and the ground wires were bonded to the box and the electrician had used self grounding switches and receptacles it would have been fine. But you can't do that with plastic boxes. The easiest way to fix this would be to make a 6 to 8" jumper wire. Attach it to the bundled ground wires with a wire nut and then attach the other end to the switch or receptacle. Use the same gauge wire that the ground wires are when doing this.
 
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Old 01-06-19, 06:59 AM
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To continue what AFJES said the best way to do the wiring is to bundle the wires and use a jumper to switches. Do not use the holes in back of switches, outlets etc. when connecting.. We are constantly finding a lot of problems are bad connections there. There are several different sizes of wire nuts to attach a ground wire.
 
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Old 01-06-19, 07:03 AM
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All the grounds need to be spliced together.

The requirement to ground switches is a more recent change.
 
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Old 01-06-19, 07:37 AM
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Just twisting and/or taping the ground wires together has been but is no longer considered adequate. Compression fastening such as wire nuts or crimp rings must be used.

A long enough ground wire or jumper can loop around the green screw on one switch and continue on to another switch but one of those green screws cannot take two wire ends.
 
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Old 01-06-19, 09:15 AM
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Wirenuts with a pigtail might be an easy way to add what you need.

Term-A-NutŪ Twist-on Pigtail Wire Connector
 
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Old 01-06-19, 01:50 PM
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Thank you for helping to clear that up for me, thought that including they are in plastic boxes would help differentiate.

I had looked into jumpers a little. So definitely make sure the jumpers are the same gauge? I do like the pre-made pigtail ones in the link. I had considered buying the smallest length of copper wire and just making my own. Is one better than the other or more economical?

The current grounds are all together with a wire nut, but what I've found is that it is sometimes hard to get the jumper to wind around well without multiple attempts. I give it a light tug to make sure it's in there well. Probably going to need larger wire nuts if attaching in a 3 gang, but the ones that are in there already are huge.

Last night I just unwound a couple grounds from the wound group and attached them the switches. It was clean and didn't make a mess of the boxes. Is a ground simply a ground and that's ok (that was my thought)? Or should I use jumpers because of some way they work when wound together?
 
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Old 01-06-19, 01:56 PM
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Just thinking after I posted that, is that maybe some of the ground wires that are part of the wound group are coming from the light fixtures and when I attached the wires last night maybe I just ungrounded the light fixture and provided no ground to the fixture and no ground to the switch, which is why the jumpers are preferred?
 
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Old 01-06-19, 01:57 PM
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Since they are plastic boxes just be sure that all the grounds are secured to each other. Also be sure that no matter what particular jumper you use is secured to the bundle of grounds. That is all that should matter. I prefer making my own jumpers but then again I have the extra wire to do so. Sometimes those pre-made jumpers are not long enough especially if you have to twist the one end of the jumper in with a bunch of other grounds. Also, sometimes those connectors are a bit too large to properly be secured around the ground screws of the receptacles or switches. A good solid twist and the right size wire nut should do the trick.

Also, in the box no matter where the grounds are going to, all grounds should be grouped together and bound.
 
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Old 01-06-19, 02:09 PM
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Thank you for helping to clear that up for me, thought that including they are in plastic boxes would help differentiate.
Definitely. Devices installed in plastic boxes have always had to be grounded. That's nothing new.
The newer code change is with metal boxes.
 
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Old 01-06-19, 02:23 PM
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  #12  
Old 01-06-19, 02:48 PM
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No. That will not work.
That is for bonding metal boxes.

If you cannot find what Tolyn suggested or want to save money, using this with bare 14 or 12 AWG (match with existing wire) copper wire will work.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Ideal-Gr...192P/202894282

Feed bare copper wire through the hole and twist it on existing ground wire bundle.

If you have a crimping tool, then you can use crimp ring instead. That will be even cheaper and also takes less space.
 
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Old 01-06-19, 07:16 PM
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Last night I just unwound a couple grounds from the wound group and attached them the switches.

You shouldn't have done that. Those ground wires are required to be connected together. You could have just used a jumper from that bundle to your switches. The jumper doesn't have to wind around like the rest of the wires, just lay it straight next to the bundle and install the wire nut over it. The wire nut mechanically connects the jumper to the bundle.

Just thinking after I posted that, is that maybe some of the ground wires that are part of the wound group are coming from the light fixtures and when I attached the wires last night maybe I just ungrounded the light fixture and provided no ground to the fixture and no ground to the switch, which is why the jumpers are preferred?

Yes, that's it exactly!
 
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Old 01-06-19, 07:22 PM
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Pigtail -- Jumper wire that connects two things in the same box.

If all the wires you need to bundle together won't fit in one wire nut then you can divide them up between two wire nuts with a pigtail connecting the bundles.

If none of the ground wires are long enough and a pigtail is needed, is is usually easier to have the pigtail come out the large end of the wire nut with the rest of the wires instead of go through the hole in the small end if you use that style of wire nut.

Ground pigtails you need to add have to be at least the same gauge as the ground wires already there,
 
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