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What is Grounding? Why is it Important?

Have you ever experienced an electrical shock when turning on an electrical appliance in your home? One reason this could be happening is that your house is not properly grounded or it has no grounding at all within the branch circuit wiring. Having an electrical contractor look into this issue is vital, but before you do so, you should learn some basic information.

What is grounding?

Grounding refers to the direct physical connection between electricity and the Earth’s surface. This connection allows for a safe passage of excess and misdirected electricity into the Earth and lack of a proper grounding can lead to electrical fires or shocks in a home or building.

Why is it important?

Without proper grounding, you could be at risk of a potentially dangerous accident, including the possibility of electrical shock. When you touch an outlet that has current in an ungrounded electrical system, if you yourself are grounded, for example in your bare feet on a patio or ground, you can subsequently serve as the ground connection, and electrical charges are passed through your body to make a connection the Earth. This situation can result in a serious injury or even death.
Grounding options for older homes

Even in older homes, the main service panel was generally grounded to a water pile. But older homes often lack branch circuit grounding after leaving the panel because the concept was largely unknown at the time of construction. If you live in such a home, call an electrical contractor for a proper inspection.

If you confirm that your older house lacks grounding, some things you should know & several options to consider:

  1. Installation of electrical receptacles with three prongs is illegal on an ungrounded circuit. All new devices for use with grounded circuits have 3 holes. Only GFCI receptacles may be legally installed on ungrounded wiring.
  2. Rewire the entire home or building. There are 2 ways to do this. You can leave the existing wiring in place and add a single ground wire from outlet to outlet, fished inside the walls. OR you could eliminate the existing wiring and add new, grounded cable. The labor to go either way is about the same, but a complete rewire with grounded cable is the best way to go. Older wiring left in place may cause other problems later on.
  3. Replace old breakers that are in the main panel with new GFCI breakers, thereby allowing the use of three prong standard receptacles on an ungrounded circuit. However, GFCI receptacles or breakers are not recommended for any appliance using a motor, such as a refrigerator, washer, dishwasher, garage door opener. GFCI’s are very sensitive and trip easily.

Get an electrical inspection

Regardless of how old your home may be, you should hire an electrical contractor to inspect your home and determine if it needs grounding, which could prevent serious problems like electrical fires, or injuries or death due to electrical shocks.

If your electrical system is over 30 years old, it should be checked out for potential safety issues or age related problems due to wear & tear.

Plugged In Electric will help you take precautions to help you prevent electrical fires or electric shock due to faulty wires or appliances. Taking proactive safety precautions is a great way to prevent injury and loss.

For your safety and peace of mind we offer an electrical safety checkup for your homes electrical wiring and panel. Contact Plugged In Electrical today to schedule your appointment and attain peace of mind.


Use our form to estimate the initial cost of renovation or installation.

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