Is the Electrical Installation in Your New Place Properly Grounded?

Have you just taken ownership of a "fixer-upper" home that is in need of some significant work? If so, you may have questions about its electrical installation and may not be happy with what you see. Your first job will be to ensure that the installation is properly grounded, otherwise, you may be facing significant risks. What do you need to know about grounding?

Electrical Fundamentals

In order to harness electricity for domestic use, the system needs to be able to supply, return and ground the power. This requires an active wire and a neutral counterpart in any electrical circuit, with the grounding wire providing the safest route between the outlet or other electrical device and earth.

Safe Grounding

If a grounding wire is called for and is not present or damaged, it presents a significant danger in the event of a short circuit. The grounding wire would typically gather any errant power and cause it to flow to earth, tripping a breaker or blowing a fuse. This means that the process of grounding is essential if you want to protect against electrical overload.

Furthermore, a properly grounded system allows the right amount of power to be sent to individual circuits to distribute electricity across the property. If there is an error in the grounding system, individual circuits could be overpowered, leading to failure.

Path of Least Resistance

When possible, excess electricity always takes the path of least resistance, and a grounding wire will ensure that that path goes into the earth. After all, the earth is the greatest conductor of all and, in a split second, will defuse a potentially deadly situation.

Safety First

Always ensure that major appliances have a three-pin plug with an intact cable in place to be as safe as possible. They should only be used in serviceable outlets designed for those specific plugs. The third prong contains a grounding wire that will connect with the property's grounding system when inserted into the outlet.

Be Suspicious

If some of your outlets, baseboards or drywall in the immediate area are in poor condition, think twice before proceeding. Look at the main switchboard and see if that is securely connected through a metal rod driven into the earth outside. Alternatively, the system could be connected to an underground water pipe. But in every case, be wary if those connections do not look sound.

Best Solution

If you have any degree of uncertainty, call in an electrical contractor right away. They will be able to advise you and, if needed, can carry out work before you proceed.