How to Fix an Electrical Ground Wire

Electrical outlet, cover, screwdriver and wires
What You'll Need
Grounding wrist strap
Voltage meter
Continuity tester
Wire cutter
Wire stripper
Wire caps
#14 insulated copper wire

An electrical ground wire could be the most important aspect of your home wiring. If the electrical ground wire is torn from its connection or corroded beyond its use you could be in trouble. It may only be a matter of time before a short circuit causes an electrical fire that could have been avoided with an electrical ground wire. Besides the protection of your home, there is also the safety of yourself to consider. With an electrical ground wire that is not properly connected you could risk getting yourself electrocuted when working with something as simple as a power outlet. The article that follows will show you how to properly fix a broken electrical ground wire in a switch or outlet.

Step 1 - Safety First

Before you begin working on any electrical outlet or switch you need to make sure that the power is completely off. Go to the main electrical junction box and shut off the proper switch to the area you will be checking. If the junction box is not properly labeled you are better to side with safety first and turn the electric off in the entire house. Before beginning to work on the wires make sure that you have the grounding wrist strap affixed to your wrist with the alligator clamp attached to something metal. It’s also advisable to test each outlet as you work to make sure it is not receiving power.

Step 2 - Open the Outlets and Switches

Removing an outlet cover with a screwdriver

Use your screwdriver and remove the screws that are holding the plates in place for your outlets or switches. Carefully remove them without disconnecting any of the wires inside the wall. Make use of the voltage meter and the continuity meter. Touch each of the wires and the spaces in between with the voltage meter to check for current. Use the continuity meter to check for connection from the lines. If there is no connection from the electrical ground wire, it is corroded or torn out then you will have to replace it.

Step 3 - Fix the Electrical Ground Wire

three wires surrounded in conduit

Use the wire cutter and cut the wire close to where it comes from the wall. Use the wire stripper to remove the insulation (if present). Twist the end of the wire so that it is tightly wound. Remove the snipped wire from the switch or the outlet cover. Cut a piece of wire from the spool of copper wire. Remove insulation from each end (or the entire wire if insulation was not present) and twist the wires so that they are tight. Twist one end of the copper wire you cut to the electrical ground wire in the wall and use a wire cap to keep it neat and together. Wrap the other end of the wire around the screw of the switch or outlet and tighten the screw. Carefully replace the wires inside the wall and place the cover in place. Replace the screws and turn on the power.