Friday, July 5, 2013

Ground Rod Installation: Gather Your Materials

For my situation, code requires two 5/8" copper ground rods, eight feet long, set into the ground at least six feet apart.  Even though my existing electrical system was already properly grounded, consultation with the County Electrical Permits office clarified that I was going to need to install two new rods.  They don't last forever, and being that my house is 30 years old who knows what shape the old rods were in, so for the marginal cost for two copper plated aluminum rods (about $11.50 each) I was happy to make sure that my new panel had new, fresh grounding.

Properly installed, a ground rod will be completely buried in the earth.  This is important for three key reasons:
  1. Depending on location, a protruding ground rod can pose a safety risk due to tripping or, worse, minor impalement if you manage to fall on it.
  2. A protruding ground rod will be subject to damage if you hit it with a lawnmower or weed trimmers, not to mention potential damage to the ground rod itself, along with the crucial conductor back to your distribution panel.
  3. While uncommon, it is not impossible for the ground rod to carry a charge, especially if there are undetected shorts somewhere in the household electrical system.  Exposed copper + electricity = BAD.

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