Electrical Grounding for Your Home

Electrical Grounding for Your Home

Electrical Grounding for Your Home

Apr 18, 2024

Electrical Grounding Wire

Grounding Basics

The electrical current in your home's electrical system consists of a flow of electrons within metal circuit wires. The current comes in a negative and positive charge. This polarized charge constitutes the flow of the electrical current. The negative half is the "hot" current and the positive half is the positive charge. Electricity always goes the path of least resistance. Normally, the current will return to the ground through the neutral wires. Should there be any breakdown in this equilibrium, however, the hot current could flow through other materials, like metal framing or pipes, and cause a short circuit. This is where most shocks and electrical fires come from. A short circuit is when electricity takes a shorter, unplanned path to the ground. 

To prevent this, your home wiring should have a back up plan in the way of grounding. This provides an alternate pathway should the current not follow the plan of flowing through the hot and neutral wires. If a wire becomes loose or gets damaged, for example, then the grounding system will channel the stray current back to the ground rather than pumping it back into the wiring and leading to a hazard. 

Home Grounding Systems

The grounding system is usually a system of bare copper wires that connect to every electrical box in your home. These all lead back to a grounding bar in your main service panel which is connected to a grounding rod that is deep in the earth outside your home. In most homes, you can see evidence of a grounding system at each receptacle in the form of the 3rd hole in each outlet--3rd prong for plug-in devices. When you plug anything into these 3-prong outlets, that means it's connected directly to the system of copper grounding wires. 

Not all homes are equipped with this system. Some homes that were built before 1965 will have another kind of grounding system with metal conduit or metal cable. Homes built before 1940 may not have any kind of grounding at all, as is likely with knob-and-tube wiring. If your home is full of 2-prong outlets, this is an indication that your home may not be grounded. 

Appliances with Grounding

Many appliances come equipped with their own grounding - this is what that 3rd prong in any device is for. This third prong is for grounding the appliance, ensuring that you will not be shocked and electrical fires will be avoided should there be an issue. Never try that age-old trick of cutting off the bottom of an extension cord to avoid the grounding prong. This is extremely dangerous. 

If you are unsure of whether or not your home is properly grounded, give us a call today for an assessment!