My house has no ground?!

Reply

  #1  
Old 10-12-20, 09:15 AM
Z
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: United States
Posts: 67
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
My house has no ground?!

I bought my house over a year ago but I'm just now noticing this. This house was built in 1983 but they moved the entire house (full stick/site built) down the road in 2006. Many things were replaced, and obviously the power service was new.

As a result of this and other remodeling I have 3 different subpanels around the house. I have standard underground 200A service provided by a dedicated ground mount 25kva transformer. From here it goes into my meter box, just a basic box with no disconnect or breakers.

Next to the meter box, is a separate outdoor breaker panel. On the other side of the wall is another indoor panel fed from the first one.

From what I can tell, the first main breaker panel does not have any ground! I see only 3 big wires coming in from the meter - 2 hots and a bare neutral. All neutral/grounds are terminated in the same neutral bus bar. For every panel after this, there is a separate neutral/ground bus.

The only exception is one single bare copper wire that comes out the bottom of the meter socket, looks like about 8ga. I don't know what it is hooked to, I can't open the meter socket with the tamper seal on it. After it comes out, both the phone line and the satellite TV lines are grounded to this little wire. It goes into the dirt but I'm not sure what it attaches to, I can't find anything but more wire when I dig.

Shouldn't there be an obvious ground rod directly below the outdoor breaker panel with at least 4ga wire?! Just for reference I have no metal pipes that could be grounded. And I tend to get a ton of lightning strikes on my property, I feel like a good ground is very important!
 
  #2  
Old 10-12-20, 09:35 AM
L
Member
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 1,558
Received 93 Votes on 81 Posts
Is your meter box and main breaker panel connected via metallic conduit?
If so and if bare wire from meter box is connected to the ground rod, then it is grounded properly.
However, 6AWG copper is the minimum for 200A panel ground.

Ground rod is and ground wire will be buried under ground, so you will have to dig to find the ends.
 
  #3  
Old 10-12-20, 10:08 AM
Z
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: United States
Posts: 67
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
The conduit is plastic. I don't know how this little ground wire got there but I don't think it was ever intended to ground the house...way too small...looks like it goes out with the satellite wires. Every house I've ever been in before had a fairly obvious ground rod with the ground wire terminated to the top, above ground.
 
  #4  
Old 10-12-20, 10:49 AM
Z
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 5,569
Received 161 Votes on 143 Posts
It sounds like everything is wired correctly.

The grounding is that bare wire coming out the meter pan and into the ground. I'm 99% sure it terminates to 1 or 2 ground rods. Depending on who does it, they may stick out of the ground an inch or two, or could be in a shallow hole for inspection, then covered over. Either is generally acceptable.

Around here, the ground wire always comes from the main panel, but some locales require (or optional) it to come from the meter pan. Electrically, it's identical and just reliant on the power company and building inspectors in your area.

Since you don't have metal piping, there's no need to bond the water piping to ground.

Lastly, it sounds like each subpanel has 4-wires going to it, which includes the ground.

The only addition I think you might consider is a whole house surge protector.
 
  #5  
Old 10-12-20, 11:11 AM
Z
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: United States
Posts: 67
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
It sounds like everything is wired correctly.
Except, like I said twice, this is a tiny little wire. 8ga, maybe even 10. Definitely not correct if this is the only ground for 200A service.
 
  #6  
Old 10-12-20, 11:52 AM
A
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 4,298
Received 110 Votes on 102 Posts
If you don't have the needed ground wire, you can add it. Six gauge copper is the maximum ever needed to ground rods.With rare exceptions you need two 8' ground rods at least 6' apart and pounded all the way in.

The skinny wire that goes out with the satellite wires is probably to ground the satellite dish to the house electrical system, as opposed to to ground the house electrical system to the soil or dirt ground.
 
  #7  
Old 10-12-20, 05:07 PM
Z
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: United States
Posts: 67
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
The skinny wire that goes out with the satellite wires is probably to ground the satellite dish to the house electrical system, as opposed to to ground the house electrical system to the soil or dirt ground.
That's what I was thinking. But if that is true...does the utility not check for a ground before they put in a meter?! Now that I think about it they just changed the meter a few months ago...not to mention at least 4 home inspections since the home was moved. And the electrical inspector when it was installed...

I'll try digging a little deeper to see if there is any rod under the wire, but given where it is at I can't see why anybody would take the time to bury it.
 
  #8  
Old 10-12-20, 05:59 PM
C
Member
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 382
Received 26 Votes on 24 Posts
Are you experienced enough to distinguish 8ga and 6ga wire by sight? If not, put calipers on that wire and see what the diameter is.

As others have mentioned, I'm pretty sure that wire is connected by clamps to one or two ground rods. Can't see my clamps or ground rods because they are buried. All you see is a 6ga copper wire running down side of house into the dirt. NEC requires 8ft in contact with earth. So a 8ft ground should be completely buried, which means you won't see it or the clamp.

I'll try digging a little deeper to see if there is any rod under the wire, but given where it is at I can't see why anybody would take the time to bury it.
Depending on soil, it doesn't take that long. I used a mini-sledge to pound a couple of ground rods in. Some can get by with a hammer drill and ground rod driver bit.

Check to see if there is a tiny amount of current on it. That will be a good indicator that the wire is connected to ground rods. Or just dig, and let us know what you find. Pretty sure it will be ground rods, but would be scandalous if a guy just stuck the wire a few inches into the dirt and figured no one would be the wiser!
 
  #9  
Old 10-12-20, 11:10 PM
Z
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: United States
Posts: 67
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
It's definitely 8 or 10 ga wire, not 6. Kind of hard to tell with the patina but either way it's definitely too small. Looks like something meant for the phone line/sat cables, which are obviously bonded to it in the sort of messy/cheesy way a satellite/phone line installer might do it.
 
  #10  
Old 10-13-20, 06:27 AM
Z
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 5,569
Received 161 Votes on 143 Posts
Can you share a picture?

(initial suggestion removed as I'm not sure it's correct)
 

Last edited by Zorfdt; 10-13-20 at 06:28 AM. Reason: Edited
  #11  
Old 10-13-20, 06:49 AM
Geochurchi's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: United States
Posts: 4,964
Received 88 Votes on 83 Posts
Hi, itís possible that the ground rod was buried between the footing and the foundation wall, if you dig down a foot or two and donít find a rod I would consider that a possibility, conductor should be a minimum #6 copper.
Geo🇺🇸
 
  #12  
Old 10-13-20, 06:58 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 13,808
Received 253 Votes on 221 Posts
First off the ground rod is not the main grounding source, it is #3 of the grounding system. The main ground is the neutral, also known as the "grounded conductor". This is the main source conductor for your ground path back to the transformer. It will be bonded to the steel can of the meter and the steel can of the main panel. The reason there is no ground wire between the meter and the main panel is that the conduit between them is PVC.

#2 on the grounding system would be the water pipe grounding. For a 200 amp service, this would be required to be #4 copper

#3, as mentioned, is the ground rod(s). They are only supplemental to the water pipe ground and as mentioned does not need to be larger than #6 copper.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: