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  1. #1
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    I am curious what others report when the only ground connection visible is in the main panelboard. That is, you cannot locate the cold water piping, driven rod, Ufer, halo or other type of terminus.

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  2. #2
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    I am curious what others report when the only ground connection visible is in the main panelboard. That is, you cannot locate the cold water piping, driven rod, Ufer, halo or other type of terminus.
    I just did one in dowtown Fort Worth where the only ground that was visible was at the ground rod outside the detached garage. The home had pex, no ground rod outside and of course no ground to any pipe being no copper. The builder was there when I was going over it with the client and he had this paper then that paer all showing where it all was. The only ground for the home was the ground wire coming out of the panel and the copper was actually into the concrete and supposedly attached to the slab steel. I saw the ground to the garage panel. I saw the another ground coming out of the panel and did not see where it went. I saw the netral going to the garage panel and I saw the ground coming out of the garage panel to the grounding rod.

    I write it all up just abnout like taht. Of course mixed in with everything else I found but had no choice but to write it up that there was no access to the connection in the concrete. I, personaly feel that this i one of the dumb connections. Why is it dumb. Because no ane can see the connection or even know if there is a connection there. I do not like that method at all. When I cannot see the ground connection I write it up and leave it at that and recommend a licensed competant electrician or trail of paper work be followed.

    In a shorter note. I want to see all connections. This crap of burrying it in the concrete just does not cut it with me. How good a connection is it ???????????? What is it actually connected to????????? etc etc


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Ted,

    I understand what you are saying about not being able to verify the connection. At least in my areas this would be verified before the footer was poured if a UFER or cee was going to be used.

    The chief inspector in one area said if rebar is installed and the concrete poured before you get the contract that someone will be getting a jackhammer and making a connection to it.


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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    The connection can be verified most of the time with a ground rod impedance tester..

    "Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret. " Robert E. Lee

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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    I understand what you are saying about not being able to verify the connection. At least in my areas this would be verified before the footer was poured if a UFER or cee was going to be used.
    .


    The problem I've seen with those clamps is that they are frequently not installed tight. A simple twist, less than would be by workers placing the concrete walking and stepping on them, exposes the clamps as not being tight. I would say probably 60% or more of the ones I've looked at I've had to have the electrician come over and tighten them down.

    Before telling the electrician it was loose, I would ask the electrician "Did you tighten this clamp down?", when they say "Yes, it is tight.", I would say "Okay, you need to install a ground rod too, because this clamp does not stay tight and I cannot have it come loose again before they pour the concrete."

    The electrician would try to argue that "Hey, I'll just tighten it again.", but there is that "again" part, to which I responded "Nope, if it came loose once, it could come loose again, can't have that, drive a ground rod."

    The ones which were tight? Nothing I could do, they were "compliant". As a code inspector you are not allowed to enforce above and beyond the code. Even when history has shown you that it will come loose.

    I am sure that two, possibly three people here will jump up and down and say I could not do that, that the clamp was the only that which was required, and they would be wrong. The clamp was not the only thing which was required, the clamp BEING TIGHT was also a requirement, and it the clamp cannot, will not, does not, stay tight, I'm not going to let the electrician rely on a loose connection. After all, *HE* said *HE* tightened it, that means *IT CAME LOOSE*.

    Besides, the ones I've looked at were all in slabs-on-ground on a plastic moisture barrier, meaning they probably should not have been there anyway.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    .
    Besides, the ones I've looked at were all in slabs-on-ground on a plastic moisture barrier, meaning they probably should not have been there anyway.
    So are you saying that you are knowingly approving something that is not a UFER? IE, no direct earth contact, not in the footer.


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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    So are you saying that you are knowingly approving something that is not a UFER? IE, no direct earth contact, not in the footer.
    Me, in my opinion, yes, that slab is not in direct contact with earth, however, if the AHJ states that they want that done, *I* have no choice (other than trying to educate the Chief Electrical Inspector on why that should NOT be done).

    There are many areas and AHJ ... probably MOST ... which still consider that to be a concrete encased electrode in direct contact with earth.

    Their reason: well, earth *does* touch the sides of the slab.

    That is not the NEC's intent, but, it is 'the wording', therefore it gets down to interpretation ... and 'how much' earth contact is required.

    It was, and still may be, a discussion which went on for a few years in South Florida before I moved, there was no consistency there either, and down there we had monthly educational meetings at the monthly IAEI meetings, where this was discussed at length at many meetings and not everyone could agree.

    Question for you: 'How much' earth contact is required for that to be called a concrete encased electrode in direct contact with earth?

    I love starting debates as they bring forth much information that not any single person thinks of.

    You go first.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Does it have to run to earth to get a solid ground. Doesn't the mass of concrete with all that steel pose as a big enough ground/dispersement? The side of the edge of slab touches earth quite a bit in most cases after the backfill?


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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    At least 24 inches in a 20 foot section at the level of the footer. Or the equivalent of 6" X 6" X 20' at the level of the footer. Footer meaning below frost level..

    It is the connection with the earth that makes it work

    "Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret. " Robert E. Lee

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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland Miller View Post
    At least 24 inches in a 20 foot section at the level of the footer. Or the equivalent of 6" X 6" X 20' at the level of the footer. Footer meaning below frost level.
    "At least 24 inches ... " in which direction? Why 24 inches, where did you get that from?

    And why "in a 20 foot section"? Unless you mean "for a 20 foot section?

    "Or the equivalent of 6" x 6" x 20' at the level of the footer." Why 6" x 6" and where did you get that from?

    Here in Florida, frost level is above ground, so being down 12 inches to the bottom of the footing is considered as being 12 inches below frost level, which is the requirement for footings.

    It is the connection with the earth that makes it work
    Yep, I know that part.

    Looking for why and where you got your numbers.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland Miller View Post
    At least 24 inches in a 20 foot section at the level of the footer. Or the equivalent of 6" X 6" X 20' at the level of the footer. Footer meaning below frost level..

    It is the connection with the earth that makes it work
    I was thinking more like 200 feet around the perimeter of the slab that there is 8 inches all the way around touching the soil.

    Frost level??????? Whats that??????????????????? You must live up North or something. We just have nice moist clay here.


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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    1/2' rebar 20 feet long encased in 20 feet six inches of concrete. Three inches of concrete all around to make it Building code compliant. So the minimum would be 6" X 6" X 20' 6". Certainly there would be other configurations based on footer design. But this meets all intended purposes..be it horizontal or vertical.. Sorry I was off by 2 X 3 inches of concrete on the ends

    "Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret. " Robert E. Lee

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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland Miller View Post
    1/2' rebar 20 feet long encased in 20 feet six inches of concrete. Three inches of concrete all around to make it Building code compliant. So the minimum would be 6" X 6" X 20' 6".
    What could use a footing that small?

    If it is not a footing for part of the structure, then it does not count, and if it were to be counted, then the steel or 20 feet of copper would only need to be encased in 2" of concrete, or 4" x 4" by 20' 4".

    Of course, though, as you correctly pointed out, reinforcing in concrete exposed to earth is required to have 3" minimum concrete cover, which puts us back to ... what can use a footing which is only 6" wide and 6" deep x 20' 6" long horizontally? Or, 6" x 6" x 20' 6" deep vertically? A light pole? Then that would not be part of the structure's footing/foundation, unless it was strictly a light pole, and I would suspect that even 6" x 6" is too small for that.

    After all, the minimum width of a footing for a structure in the IRC is 12 inches, and the minimum depth would also be 12" to attain the minimum depth below grade and frost level. Also, with slab on ground monolithic slabs, the bottom of the footing is required to be at least 12" below the top of the slab.

    After all, the monolithic slab on ground would be the most problematic in getting a proper "in direct earth contact" condition for the concrete encased electrode.

    I do follow, and was expecting, that train of thought though. Just wondering what a footing that size could be used for as part of a structure which could serve as, and would need, a concrete-encased electrode.

    I was really thinking more along the lines of what Ted mentioned: a slab on ground, but on plastic moisture barrier ... so how deep would the side of the slab need to be, and that would also mean that the slab edges in contact with earth were not protected by a moisture barrier as they should be (but is seldom ever done).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Regarding the moisture barrier up the sides of the beam edges, I agree it should be done. However, in my area, the engineer usually specifies only the interior of the beam and the bottom to be covered. The exterior side is left uncovered by design. I don't understand the logic, but they are engineers and I am a lowly inspector.

    Darrel Hood
    DILIGENT PROPERTY SERVICES


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    JP:

    Here in Wonderland, the vapor barrier is not required to cover the bottoms of the footings (as per PTI). Additionally, most beams are required by their designers to be 10" wide and 28"-30" in depth. So then, on a typical 60'X60' footprint with a perimeter and several interior beams, you have a lot of slab in contact with the soil.

    But, you never answered your own question, much less mine:

    Question for you: 'How much' earth contact is required for that to be called a concrete encased electrode in direct contact with earth?
    OK, I give up. How much?


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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrel Hood View Post
    Regarding the moisture barrier up the sides of the beam edges, I agree it should be done. However, in my area, the engineer usually specifies only the interior of the beam and the bottom to be covered. The exterior side is left uncovered by design. I don't understand the logic, but they are engineers and I am a lowly inspector.

    Darrel Hood
    DILIGENT PROPERTY SERVICES
    If the plastic wrapped the beam there would be no way for moisture to escape once it got inside. It seems to me, lowely HI that I am, that it would be better to water proof the exterior and leave the bottom uncovered.


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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    If the plastic wrapped the beam there would be no way for moisture to escape once it got inside. It seems to me, lowely HI that I am, that it would be better to water proof the exterior and leave the bottom uncovered.
    Well, I ain't no engineer neither, but ... the moisture barrier is not there to address moisture coming down from inside or above the slab, but from coming up from the ground, thus the moisture barrier should protect the slab (and for monolithic slabs, the thickened edge footing too) from contact with earth all the way under and around it. In which case the slab is not in contact with earth, meaning it should not be used as a concrete encased electrode.

    Now, given the realities of the moisture barrier *not* going all the way out and *not* protecting the full slab from earth contact, the question becomes "how much earth contact" makes that slab suitable for use as a concrete encased electrode.

    - The vertical edge around the perimeter of the slab to the extent that it is exposed to earth, which varies on how well (poorly) the moisture barrier was installed?
    - - How much of that vertical edge would need to be in contact with earth to make it work?
    - - - Assuming and accepting that the slab is not properly protected from earth contact by the moisture barrier, of course.

    - Pulling the moisture barrier horizontally back from the vertical edge?
    - - Pulling it back how far?
    - - - How much degradation is allowed in the moisture barrier to accomplish the concrete encased electrodes requirement for earth contact?

    I've been addressing (trying to address) this for many years, mostly falling on deaf ears, until the IAEI News came out with an article on the same thing, then some of those who read the article agreed (others still disagreed). As I recall, the IAEI article recommended that there be *no* moisture barrier *under* the footing in which the steel for the concrete encased electrode was located. The problem is that doing so violates the requirement for the moisture barrier under monolithic slabs.

    Under footings and stem walls, no problemo, the slab is raised up on compacted fill with the moisture barrier under it, not the footing.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    I am curious what others report when the only ground connection visible is in the main panelboard. That is, you cannot locate the cold water piping, driven rod, Ufer, halo or other type of terminus.
    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    But, you never answered your own question, much less mine:
    The answer to my question is still blowing in the wind and being discussed.

    The answer to your question is: "Have electrical contractor verify proper grounding at the electrical service while on-site performing other repairs."

    That way, the electrician is there to verify the proper grounding, and there is no harping by anyone about paying the electrician to do so because 'the electrician is already on-site', no "service call charge" to come out and look for proper grounding.

    Now, a question for you: How much steel is exposed to concrete running around the perimeter of your footings on your monolithic PT slabs? Plenty for use as a concrete encased electrode?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    The answer to my question is still blowing in the wind and being discussed.

    The answer to your question is: "Have electrical contractor verify proper grounding at the electrical service while on-site performing other repairs."

    That way, the electrician is there to verify the proper grounding, and there is no harping by anyone about paying the electrician to do so because 'the electrician is already on-site', no "service call charge" to come out and look for proper grounding.

    Now, a question for you: How much steel is exposed to concrete running around the perimeter of your footings on your monolithic PT slabs? Plenty for use as a concrete encased electrode?
    JP: Yes, usually.


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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    This is what I am referring to.

    See photo on first page, then see first paragraph at top of page 5.

    (underlining and bold are mine)
    "Let’s address a couple of other common questions since we’re into this topic fairly deep now anyway. Where a footing is separated from the earth by a plastic or other insulating (vapor) barrier, the concrete-encased electrode is not present (see photos 1 and 2). The Code defines grounding electrode as "a device that establishes an electrical connection to the earth." The other challenge that will be encountered in the field is the expanded use of encapsulated or coated reinforcing bars in footings. Obviously, footings utilizing coated rebar would not be suitable for use as concrete-encased grounding electrodes."


    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 02-24-2009 at 01:07 PM. Reason: correcting wrong size and style of font
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    I am curious what others report when the only ground connection visible is in the main panelboard. That is, you cannot locate the cold water piping, driven rod, Ufer, halo or other type of terminus.
    Aaron,

    As you know, with our new sop rules a qualified electrician should be recommended to go out to each and every property inspected, unless it complies to the 2008 NEC, haven't seen one yet, have you?

    here's mine until someone re-words it better

    It is imperative that while the qualified electrician is on site estimating, evaluating or completing the other noted repairs in this report to have them verify that the ground connection, that was only visible during this inspection at the main panelboard, is properly installed and functioning to the current NEC standards or make any required repair necessary.

    What are you saying?

    Last edited by BARRY ADAIR; 02-24-2009 at 11:00 AM.
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by BARRY ADAIR View Post
    Aaron,

    As you know, with our new sop rules a qualified electrician should be recommended to go out to each and every property inspected, unless it complies to the 2008 NEC, haven't seen one yet, have you?

    here's mine until someone re-words it better

    It is imperative that while the qualified electrician is on site estimating, evaluating or completing the other noted repairs in this report to have them verify that the ground connection, that was only visible during this inspection at the main panelboard, is properly installed and functioning to the current NEC standards or make any required repair necessary.

    What are you saying?
    Barry: No, I have not seen a 2008 NEC-compliant house. I don't expect I ever will.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by BARRY ADAIR View Post
    Aaron,

    As you know, with our new sop rules a qualified electrician should be recommended to go out to each and every property inspected, unless it complies to the 2008 NEC, haven't seen one yet, have you?
    Texas is requiring a house built before the 08 adoption to meet the 08 Code? Is this regardless of age?

    What happens when the upgrades are not possible or are cost prohibitive? How do they plan to integrate AFCIs on MWBCs or a fused service?


  24. #24
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by BARRY ADAIR View Post
    Aaron,

    As you know, with our new sop rules a qualified electrician should be recommended to go out to each and every property inspected, unless it complies to the 2008 NEC, haven't seen one yet, have you?

    here's mine until someone re-words it better

    It is imperative that while the qualified electrician is on site estimating, evaluating or completing the other noted repairs in this report to have them verify that the ground connection, that was only visible during this inspection at the main panelboard, is properly installed and functioning to the current NEC standards or make any required repair necessary.

    What are you saying?
    Two inspection yeserday and one today had pretty close the same write up. Something is found in every home with the electric.
    y comments always have a list of goods for the electrician to varify and not out of hand in deferring these items.

    As you know there is not going to be any changing of almost anything to bring 90% of all older homes up to todays standards. Todays standards, hmm, nah, aint going to happen. Some will change some items but Changing the entire home to todays standards may just require a complete system change over.

    As far as the old FPE panels, some change or have the sellers change them out. I am not sure any electrician would put arc fault breakers if they could in an old FPE panel. Yeah, I know all should be changed out and I always state so. The older homes with the mix of panels and wiring may actually be fairly safe but to change them to the same standards will will require the entire home to be rewired and a new service and equipment. I seriously doubt that this vast amount of money just to seel or by a home is going to take place in most case.

    I commented on 2 prong receptacles as in need of repair. I misstated that and I probably should not have. In fact they are in need of repair/change out with sticking to todays (2008) Can arc fault breakers work on two prong receptacles????? without adding a ground to all the receptacles??? which while your at it change them out to 3 prong receptacles.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Ground, Where Foreart Thou?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Texas is requiring a house built before the 08 adoption to meet the 08 Code? Is this regardless of age?
    Nope

    What happens when the upgrades are not possible or are cost prohibitive? How do they plan to integrate AFCIs on MWBCs or a fused service?
    As with all HI, no repairs are required.
    We as HI are required to REPORT lack of AFCI compliance with the 2008 NEC as a "deficiency"
    Remember, we have no power to REQUIRE anything.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

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