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  1. #1
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    Default buried ground rods

    Gentlemen,

    How do you all write up an unverifyable ground rod and GEC connection to the rod? Many times I find a GEC that simply disappears into a concrete driveway, sidewalk, patio ect. or the rod is buried many feet below grade. I have in the past just stated I could not veryify the rod and GEC connection and the grounding means is not visible. I feel as though I should be giving better/different advise of some kind. At my inspection yesterday, the GEC disappeared into a boat garage driveway and I could not see the ground rod connection...not unusal...but my client asked me, "Well, how do we know there is a ground rod and the connection is ok"? I had no answer other than, this happens frequently. Do any of you advise further evaluation by an electrical contractor to verify its existence? If so, how does someone see through concrete? Is there a test to verify a rod is there? Afterall, an effective grounding means is critical to a safe home. Thanks for any advise or comments.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    If I can't see the rod and the conductor I write it as unknown and I don't make any issue of it. Technically, the entire rod is to be buried which I disagree with for the same reason you mentioned - I'd rather see the top of the rod and be sure myself, but then the code bubbas didn't ask me what I thought. I don't see a need to suggest further investigation since an out of sight rod would be "proper."

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  3. #3
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    I always stated to the effect of: "While the electrical contractor is on-site making other repairs, electrical contractor needs to verify and document proper grounding of the service."

    That way, it leaves it to the licensed contractor to actually verify ... and document ... that the service is in fact grounded, and is properly grounded.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Thank you gentlemen for the reply. I, too, am uncomfortable with the full burial of the rod to the point that it is not visible. How many times do we find the rod and GEC connection loose or severed or disconnected? Guess the suggestion that further follow up by the electrican on site for other repairs is a good route to take. There are almost no occasions where there are no issues worthy of an electrican's visit after one of my inspections anyway. Thank you both for replying


  5. #5
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    I usually give the ground wire a little tug to at least make sure it is secure.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Because I'm feeling ornery, I'll play Devil's Advocate.

    If you're going to recommend that an electrician verify proper grounding, because you can't see it, why not recommend that an electrician verify ALL of the hidden components of the electrical system? And a plumber, and a HVAC contractor, etc., etc.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Our local electrical inspector always required the ground clamps be visible for accessibility, during inspection and after


  8. #8
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Because I'm feeling ornery, I'll play Devil's Advocate.
    I was going to make that point as well but wasn't feeling ornery at the time. The wife and daughter tend to quell such tendencies in me.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    As a reply to devil's advocate...I rarely would recommend further evaluation to determine the main grounding means, although perhaps we should do this more often. It is such a critical component of electrical system and safety, why would we perhaps cringe to recommend it. I tend to bit more concerned about issues within a home that can actually do great harm to the occupants if there is a problem, a potential problem or even a hint of a problem-seen or unseen. Better to advise your client to have a matter looked into further by an expert than it is just to say, "well, I can't see it, so therefore my responsibility ends there''.

    For instance, I frequently recommend to clients purchasing older homes that have original undergound sewage drain lines to have them scoped. Even though everything appears to work ok, further evaluation many times reveals hidden issues, crushed lines, partially clogged with roots, ect. If I have no compunction about recommending further evaluation on something like drainage lines, I certainly would not when it pertains to something as important as proper grounding of the home's electrical system.

    Love this forum, so many different views, opinions, advocates for and against..good banter.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Because I'm feeling ornery, I'll play Devil's Advocate.

    If you're going to recommend that an electrician verify proper grounding, because you can't see it, why not recommend that an electrician verify ALL of the hidden components of the electrical system? And a plumber, and a HVAC contractor, etc., etc.
    Wouldnt the recommendation for further evaluation also reduce liability on the inspectors behalf?


  11. #11
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Ahh Im a few years behind the times


  12. #12
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by MARVIN TOWNSEN View Post
    Wouldnt the recommendation for further evaluation also reduce liability on the inspectors behalf?
    Possibly, but I don't see how that is a response to my post.

    Are you suggesting that we do call for verification of all hidden components, such as wiring, plumbing and HVAC equipment hidden in walls and ceilings?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    I agree with the foolish rule for having the ground connection buried. Of course every time I say a code is foolish I get a come back. Above ground with the clamp exposed. In a junction box in a wall that you can pull the cover off of etc. If I cannot verify a ground I will write it up every single time. The home I did this morning had an attachment in the slab of the garage to the metal under the slab. The builder says it is attached to 35 feet of copper under the slab. No junction box anywhere to verify but in my report I will say exactly what I told you here. The builder says that the connection is in the slab and it is attached to 35 feet of copper and the municipal inspector verified it.

    Now, the only problem I have with all that is there is a strap connecting the ground to neutral bar in the remote panel as well as neutral and ground wires on both bars. There is a ground on what would be the ground bar going back to the main and the same with the neutral. That was inspected by a fee paid inspector and the municipal inspector. They both said the electric is fine. That will also go in my report.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Possibly, but I don't see how that is a response to my post.

    Are you suggesting that we do call for verification of all hidden components, such as wiring, plumbing and HVAC equipment hidden in walls and ceilings?
    I understand what your saying, I was just curious about the liability end, Although the ground rods are a main part of the electrical system, and you do verify the connections at the main panel.

    I think the connections should be visible but protected that makes the most sense. nec code or not, I have seen more than one ground clamp work loose. but thats my opinion not code


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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Ground rods are supposed to be 8 foot into the ground, correct? If its sticking up 8 inches then it isn't 8 foot into the ground. so it's incorrect installation.

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  16. #16
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by David O'Keefe View Post
    Ground rods are supposed to be 8 foot into the ground, correct? If its sticking up 8 inches then it isn't 8 foot into the ground. so it's incorrect installation.

    I've been building in Oregon and Idaho since 1980, soon to be a certified inspector in Oregon, and couldn't tell you how an electrician verifies the grounding rod is doing it's job. Can anyone tell me??? I could call my electritian but I thought this wold be a good question for this discussion.

    >>>>Upon further investigation there is a past discussion on this subject dated 6-2-2010 that answers my question.
    As a "newby" I find this site fascinating.
    Thanks. Bode

    Last edited by Bode Cavallaro; 06-08-2011 at 12:52 PM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Bode Cavallaro View Post
    I've been building in Oregon and Idaho since 1980, soon to be a certified inspector in Oregon, and couldn't tell you how an electrician verifies the grounding rod is doing it's job. Can anyone tell me??? I could call my electritian but I thought this wold be a good question for this discussion.
    I have never seen and inspection fail for a 2 or 3" protrusion above the ground, but i am a little behind the times.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Ok, let's try this. The ground rod is fully concealed by the grading. Someone digs around and finds the rod with a proper connection. Now, how would one know that the rod is actually 8 feet long? I know - pull the rod out and measure it.

    Seriously guys, give a little leeway here. You're getting too focused on the liability issue and trying to cross too many t's and dot too many i's. I've been doing this job since 1993 full time and I have yet to see a need to get so concerned (paranoid) over such issues. No matter what you do there will always be things you miss because they were not visible - a fact of H.I. life you need to accept and is likely spelled out in your contract.

    If ya can't see the ground rod then mark it as unknown and move on. If you have a specific reason to question its presence then raise it but don't do so solely as a defensive posture.

    Last edited by Eric Barker; 06-08-2011 at 01:49 PM. Reason: correct typo
    Eric Barker, ACI
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Not sure why it happened, but somewhere along the line the wording changed ... (bold and underlining are mine)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I always stated to the effect of: "While the electrical contractor is on-site making other repairs, electrical contractor needs to verify and document proper grounding of the service."

    That way, it leaves it to the licensed contractor to actually verify ... and document ... that the service is in fact grounded, and is properly grounded.
    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Because I'm feeling ornery, I'll play Devil's Advocate.

    If you're going to recommend that an electrician verify proper grounding, because you can't see it, why not recommend that an electrician verify ALL of the hidden components of the electrical system? And a plumber, and a HVAC contractor, etc., etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bronner View Post
    As a reply to devil's advocate...I rarely would recommend further evaluation to determine the main grounding means, although perhaps we should do this more often. It is such a critical component of electrical system and safety, why would we perhaps cringe to recommend it. I tend to bit more concerned about issues within a home that can actually do great harm to the occupants if there is a problem, a potential problem or even a hint of a problem-seen or unseen. Better to advise your client to have a matter looked into further by an expert than it is just to say, "well, I can't see it, so therefore my responsibility ends there''.

    For instance, I frequently recommend to clients purchasing older homes that have original undergound sewage drain lines to have them scoped. Even though everything appears to work ok, further evaluation many times reveals hidden issues, crushed lines, partially clogged with roots, ect. If I have no compunction about recommending further evaluation on something like drainage lines, I certainly would not when it pertains to something as important as proper grounding of the home's electrical system.

    Love this forum, so many different views, opinions, advocates for and against..good banter.
    Quote Originally Posted by MARVIN TOWNSEN View Post
    Wouldnt the recommendation for further evaluation also reduce liability on the inspectors behalf?
    It is one thing to make an observation and state that such-and-such needs "to be verified and documented" and quite something else asking for "further evaluation" ... especially of EVERYTHING.

    Heck, if you are going to recommend "further evaluation" of EVERYTHING you might as well drive up to the house, collect the check, then write the report without bothering to actually look at anything, just write "further evaluation" at EVERYTHING.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Originally Posted by Jerry Peck
    "I always stated to the effect of: "While the electrical contractor is on-site making other repairs, electrical contractor needs to verify and document proper grounding of the service."

    That way, it leaves it to the licensed contractor to actually verify ... and document ... that the service is in fact grounded, and is properly grounded."


    You are palying with words Jerry

    There is no getting around it. It is just a play on words. You do not like "further evaluation" so you are saying it by say "verify and document"

    What exactly do you think the electrician is going to do? Look into the sky, wait for a word from the big guy, pass that word onto the buyer in writing?

    No. The electrician is going to do his own "evaluation" of every concern you list. Put a proposal together after his evaluation so the buyer or seller knows what they are facing.. Not just walk in and do the repairs you tell him to in a report. Not just walk in and wait for the big guy to pass the word onto him about how the ground is or is not connected. His is going to do his own evaluation on every item you write up including the grounding of the system before he does anything what so ever. To begin with it is not even the buyers home yet so he would not just walk in and start fixing "what you told them".

    Not just you but countless play the word game all the time in these matters. It is to make yourself, theirselves, sound much more educated and knowledgable as if the electrician is going to take your athoritative word about anything. If he does walk in and just fix items you list with out his own evaluation then he is a schmuck.

    To "actually Verify" he will do his own "evaluation". He cannot "actually verify" with out doing so.

    Testing, evaluation, verifying , looking at think, poking around, pissing you off??????? It is all just a word game. He will not just take your word for it and should not. It may be way more involved than what you or any inspoector found on the surface.

    He will evaluate! Now, that being said. How are you? I hope everything is going well for you and the family. I am doing great. Could always be better. I just have not cashed mu Lotto ticket yet

    Have a nice day.


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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    You are palying with words Jerry

    There is no getting around it. It is just a play on words. You do not like "further evaluation" so you are saying it by say "verify and document"
    Ted,

    You are totally correct ... just like saying "The dog bit the man." and "The man bit the dog."

    SAME EXACT WORDS ... but they mean completely different things.

    WORDING IS IMPORTANT, and THAT is one of the things I CONSISTENTLY POINT OUT.

    In this case it is "VERIFY AND DOCUMENT".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  22. #22
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Code requires that the rod be at a minimum flush with grade. Don't worry about the clamp being buried! If you look at the acorn clamp used to connect the GEC to the rod it very clearly states "suitable for direct burial". The connection will stay more secure if it is not exposed to the environment and the yard man.

    If you can't see it, neither can the electrician! So know your job and what code the house was built under by the date of construction. Unless it is out in the Alaskan Tundra it should have had a building permit and an electrical permit. If it passed inspection at the time of construction and was built under a code that required ground rods they should still be there. Never heard of or seen anyone pull them out.

    Erik's got the right idea, don't make a big issue out of it. Unless they are buried in concrete, either get your shovel out and dig them up yourself or note that you couldn't see them, but that that is not uncommon and move on. To have an electrician verify every aspect of your inspection means the client is paying double. Why don't they just call the electrician to do the electrical inspection and the plumber to do that inspection and so on? What is the benefit to the client to have you, the license HI that they are depending on, say that you could not verify such a simple detail? You don't need to be a licensed electrician to use a shovel!

    Damn...I'm on a roll today!


  23. #23
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    I guess I need to correct some of my above statements to a point. I was commenting on buried grund rods where you can also not see where the grounding coductor comes out going to a ground rod and also the completely buried in concrete and cannot see where the entry is or for that matter not even noted in the panel as to where the ground is/how connected.

    Also the statement that the home had a building/electrical/municipal inspector already inspect the grounding of the system ..... man that is a statement all in itself. I find things on every single new home that has already been inspected by a municipal/building/fee paid inspector all the time, every home. To say that no ground can be verified as in even a simple permanent marker or such noting it in the panel/ grounding conductor coming out of a brick wall, junction box where the ground can be verified, like absolutely nothing, no where, then there is very good reason for questioning the grounding of the system. I do not think anyone here is suggesting blanket "have electrician verify/eval or at least I do not think so.

    Now as far as finding electric faults/problems/concerns with the electric system ????? what the heck else would you do but recommend that they retain an electrician to fix/verify/evaluate, what ever the wording. There is no other course of action.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Lou Romano View Post
    Code requires that the rod be at a minimum flush with grade. Don't worry about the clamp being buried! If you look at the acorn clamp used to connect the GEC to the rod it very clearly states "suitable for direct burial".
    Lou,

    You are making a presumption that a proper clamp was used ... which is once reason for needing to see the connection - it is likely to be a pipe clamp on a ground rod, and a pipe clamp is not listed for that use, and the pipe clamp is also likely not listed for direct burial either.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  25. #25
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bronner View Post
    Gentlemen,

    How do you all write up an unverifyable ground rod and GEC connection to the rod? Many times I find a GEC that simply disappears into a concrete driveway, sidewalk, patio ect. or the rod is buried many feet below grade. I have in the past just stated I could not veryify the rod and GEC connection and the grounding means is not visible. I feel as though I should be giving better/different advise of some kind. At my inspection yesterday, the GEC disappeared into a boat garage driveway and I could not see the ground rod connection...not unusal...but my client asked me, "Well, how do we know there is a ground rod and the connection is ok"? I had no answer other than, this happens frequently. Do any of you advise further evaluation by an electrical contractor to verify its existence? If so, how does someone see through concrete? Is there a test to verify a rod is there? Afterall, an effective grounding means is critical to a safe home. Thanks for any advise or comments.
    Driveway? Protection from damage includes vehicular contact, and that of vehicular appartuances such as plows, etc.

    There is more than one means to ground besides a rod. Loops, plates, UFERs, etc.

    Remote structures via feeder would have a ECG, and eq.pot. reference, not a GEC, GEC would be at the service. How was the remote structure feeder wired?

    Is this boat "garage" near a body of water (launch, etc.)? Is the "boat garage" a service/buisness activites/ location? Classified location/activities? More rules apply.

    Can get a pro out there to perform testing and tracing. Megger work is reasonably expensive. Xray and sounding can be as well.

    Oftentimes less expensive to simply pull service, retire and remove all old connections, and create and install a new complete GE system, attach GEC, protected from damage, inspect and correct EGCs, e-p grids, etc. and re-establish service.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 06-18-2011 at 06:19 PM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    I've read the ROPs and the comments by the CMPs. I don't need to read the editorial non-official Handbook commentary which screws the pooch after all the dillegent work of the CMPs in clarrifying the train wreck of the 2008 incomplete correction work.Apples and oranges.


  27. #27
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Okay, to begin with, I apologize in advance if I am restating the obvious, but here goes anyway.

    The primary grounding should be the metal cold water pipe extending at least 10' beyond the wall of the building. The ground rod is a secondary means of connecting to earth.

    I understand that in some locations a metal cold water pipe is not there and then we start looking for the grounding connection.

    I also realize that I am slightly off topic of the original post, but bare with me please.

    Shouldn't the first step in the Grounding and Bonding process be the following of the equipment grounding conductor from the main panelboard to the equipment grounding electrode.

    I ask this because in a former home, I added a circuit. The inspector looked for the ground and could not find it so he was going to flag the change.

    Now, and I swear to this, there was a sign with 2 inch lettering stating that the supplemental ground rod was located under the home in the crawl space.

    After I found the EGE, I showed the inspector where it was. It was sticking up just enough for the acorn to be attached. Then he decided to fail the inspection (unless I pre-paid for a follow-up inspection) to verify that it was protected.

    I gave up and challenged him. How much more protection do you need then the building itself? No response and I passed the inspection.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Lou,

    You are making a presumption that a proper clamp was used ... which is once reason for needing to see the connection - it is likely to be a pipe clamp on a ground rod, and a pipe clamp is not listed for that use, and the pipe clamp is also likely not listed for direct burial either.
    Jerry,

    The point I am trying to make is that it is the HI's job to at least attempt to find the rods and verify that they do or don't exist before incurring additional expense to the homeowner or prospective buyer by telling them to hire and electrician.

    The HI is getting paid to do the inspection but doesn't want to get his hands dirty?

    In most cases you can find the rod/s by simply stepping on the ground in the obvious locations where they should be or scratching around with a shovel. We're not talking about digging up the lawn, just scratching the surface in the obvious areas. 5-minutes work!

    You can also look to see that there is a conduit with the proper sized GEC conductor for the size of the service leaving the service equipment and also check to see if you can find where it is attached to the water pipe. These are all things the HI can do and is being paid to do.

    If once you have checked all the above and have still not found the rod/s then advise your client that you recommend having a licensed electrician check further but state what you did find. I'm betting more often than not you will find the rods and save your client the cost of an electrician.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Ken Horak,

    Yes, you are going off half-cocked and missing the boat, so to speak, completely. Apparently you are also confused. Perhaps your weekend refreshments further triggered your misdirected anger, frustration, and ad hom. diatribe.

    READ Chapter 1, DEFINITIONS. Note what has been redefined, new definitions, and what has been REMOVED.

    Then Begin Reading ARTICLE 250 Starting at the BEGINNING.

    Terms have been removed, defined, and redefined in 2011; clarifying what was begun but not completed in the 2008.

    Handbook itself, and commentary therein, is neither "official" nor enforceable. The standard is ANSI/NFPA 70.

    Where are you trying to go with this?

    Maintaining a properly installed and maintained system under a prior edition and pick that condition and edition

    OR

    Dealing with and/or correcting an improperly maintained and/or installed system under a previous edition - and determining which more recent edition one would be working under

    OR

    Understanding and applying the 2011 NEC, errata, and TIA.

    OR

    Addressing the OP.

    What is it you wish to discuss?

    Bonding conductors and jumpers, GECs, or EGCs (can't be both under 2011), load side overcurrent device, feeders and branch circuits; to, at, or downstream of the structure supplied by feeder or branch circuit's disconnect.

    Originally 3-part series in EC&M. Perhaps you'll untwist yourself if you review (again?):

    Grounding and Bonding Part 1 - Based on the 2011NEC

    Part 2: Mike Holt Newsletters

    Part 3: Mike Holt Newsletters

    And try some perspective, remembering where this was first heading in the development process from incomplete changes in the 2008:

    Analysis of Changes, NEC-2011 Part 1 | IAEI Blog

    Pick the edition. You lumped 2002, 2005 and 2008 together, claiming identical requirements in all three = wrong!

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 06-19-2011 at 11:43 AM.

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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by ken horak View Post
    ...

    ...If the conductor going from the disconnect means/panel to the grounding electrode ( ground rod) is not a grounding electrode conductor, then what is it called ????


    I apoligize to the rest of you for "yelling", but when someone goes of half cocked with out even reading what is clearly written in the official code........... I did not say to read the commentary - I said to read the code section. I posted the commentary as it explains the code section( well to the rest of us who are not above admitting to being incorrect )
    Oh yeah by the way my reply is based on the most current dode edition 2011. (It is also in the 2008,2005,2002....)
    The Overcurrent Device protected feeder or branch circuit supplied remote structure's disconnect? Under 2011? Is THAT what you're asking about?


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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Lou Romano View Post
    Jerry,

    The point I am trying to make is that it is the HI's job to at least attempt to find the rods and verify that they do or don't exist before incurring additional expense to the homeowner or prospective buyer by telling them to hire and electrician.

    The HI is getting paid to do the inspection but doesn't want to get his hands dirty?

    In most cases you can find the rod/s by simply stepping on the ground in the obvious locations where they should be or scratching around with a shovel. We're not talking about digging up the lawn, just scratching the surface in the obvious areas. 5-minutes work!
    It may be that simple where you are, but in many areas that I've been in the act of trying to follow the GEC to the ground rod proves futile and wastes time, a lot of time, and ... this is the important part you seem to be missing ... being as an electrical contractor needs to come out and do other repairs, let the electrical contractor verify proper grounding.

    Maybe that electrical contractor is the one who installed it, and after looking for it for a while maybe, just maybe, he will think about hiding it the next time. There is no reason to hide it, it should be easily found.

    You can also look to see that there is a conduit with the proper sized GEC conductor for the size of the service leaving the service equipment and also check to see if you can find where it is attached to the water pipe. These are all things the HI can do and is being paid to do.

    If once you have checked all the above and have still not found the rod/s then advise your client that you recommend having a licensed electrician check further but state what you did find. I'm betting more often than not you will find the rods and save your client the cost of an electrician.[/quote]

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  32. #32
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Chalk another one up when Watson won't admit that someone else was correct and he is not.

    It is quite feasible and also code required for an outbuilding to have a GEC. Any outbuilding served by a feeder would require a grounding electrode. As Ken stated the conductor connecting the electrode to the panel would be the GEC.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bronner View Post
    Gentlemen,

    How do you all write up an unverifyable ground rod and GEC connection to the rod? Many times I find a GEC that simply disappears into a concrete driveway, sidewalk, patio ect. or the rod is buried many feet below grade. I have in the past just stated I could not veryify the rod and GEC connection and the grounding means is not visible. I feel as though I should be giving better/different advise of some kind. At my inspection yesterday, the GEC disappeared into a boat garage driveway and I could not see the ground rod connection...not unusal...but my client asked me, "Well, how do we know there is a ground rod and the connection is ok"? I had no answer other than, this happens frequently. Do any of you advise further evaluation by an electrical contractor to verify its existence? If so, how does someone see through concrete? Is there a test to verify a rod is there? Afterall, an effective grounding means is critical to a safe home. Thanks for any advise or comments.

    Yes, there are devices, some not too expensive which can tell, not if the rod is present, but if the ground is working as intended. I Googled "ground resistance testers" as an exercise and found many. They are used in the 2-way radio industry to verify the integrity of lightning grounding systems.

    Stan


  34. #34
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by stanley labinsky View Post
    Yes, there are devices, some not too expensive which can tell, not if the rod is present, but if the ground is working as intended. I Googled "ground resistance testers" as an exercise and found many. They are used in the 2-way radio industry to verify the integrity of lightning grounding systems.

    Stan
    If anybody is interested in a cheap way to tell if there is a minimum of 25 ohms of resistance in the ground rods as required by code here it is.

    Warning this is not for the weak, meek or absent minded!

    25 ohms of resistance to ground will blow a 3-amp fuse at 120-volts. If you can't figure out on your own how to accomplish this feat with what I have given you here I certainly won't tell you


  35. #35
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by stanley labinsky View Post
    Yes, there are devices, some not too expensive which can tell, not if the rod is present, but if the ground is working as intended. I Googled "ground resistance testers" as an exercise and found many. They are used in the 2-way radio industry to verify the integrity of lightning grounding systems.

    Stan
    The testers, often referred to "Meggers", are also used extensively in the communications industry to verify a grounding system prior to acceptance, and also on a scheduled maintenance program. So, if you referred to a megger test when talking to a sparky he would know what you want.

    Just to add to the fire... I prefer cad welded cable connections, not clamps. Anyone seen them?

    Rich


  36. #36
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Lou Romano View Post
    If anybody is interested in a cheap way to tell if there is a minimum of 25 ohms of resistance in the ground rods as required by code here it is.

    Warning this is not for the weak, meek or absent minded!

    25 ohms of resistance to ground will blow a 3-amp fuse at 120-volts. If you can't figure out on your own how to accomplish this feat with what I have given you here I certainly won't tell you

    Lou,

    You are scary!!!


  37. #37
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Gentlemen,

    All I can say is WOW. Another simple comment requesting a simple answer that is blown way out of proportion by people who like to argue with others for the sake of excercising their fingers.

    As an electrical inspector, I expect ground rods to be level with finished grade. Code does not state that they can be buried deeper but as an AHJ you can require that such be verifiable by disturbing the earth slightly rather than having to excavate such. If I can't find it, it's not there!

    As previously mentioned, the ground rod is often supplemental. Here in the northeast, where basements are prevalent, most primary grounds in residential applications go to the water service electrode. How do we prove that this electrode is 20 feet long and in contact with the earth as required? We cannot, however; the Code dictates that such is an acceptable means of GEC. Do we dig up the water service? I think not.

    For ground rods, whether it is supplemental or primary, proving that the original rod length has not been compromised is a matter of visual inspection. When an electrician chooses to alter a ground rod because they have struck the footer or whatever, one can detect such by the fact that the top of said ground rod bears evidence that it has been cut. Sometimes the remainder of that ground rod is left behind by such hapless contractors or as in several incidents, the metal shavings have been left behind.

    As a home inspector, it should be self evident that that which is concealed is beyond the ability of an individual to certify as being porperly installed. How do you handle the internal wiring, plumbing, etc?

    If for some reason you have questions about such, it should be acceptable practice to merely mention that you cannot verify proper gorunding of an electrical service without a fairly expensive piece of test equipment. How about "Grounding appears to be compliant."

    If the service previously passed an electrical inspection then the onus of that burden is on the electrical inspector and as one I will admit that I cannot verify the integrity of such beyond what I have previously reiterated. At some point you have to be able to trust that a licensed contractor has a modicum of integrity.

    I'm sorry if I missed something but when a post becomes a diatribe, unlike code language, I just stop reading it. I can only assume many others do as well.


  38. #38
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Goeken View Post
    The testers, often referred to "Meggers", are also used extensively in the communications industry to verify a grounding system prior to acceptance, and also on a scheduled maintenance program. So, if you referred to a megger test when talking to a sparky he would know what you want.

    Just to add to the fire... I prefer cad welded cable connections, not clamps. Anyone seen them?

    Rich

    Hmmm... Back in the olden days, when I went through a motor rebuild course as part of my Tech H.S., Meggers were used to test insulation looking for MegOhms of resistance, hence the name "Megger", (a manufacturer's trade name).
    May I assume that the term Megger is now understood to encompass all electrical resistance testing devices regardless of the expected amount of measured resistance, either very, very high or desirably low?

    Stan


  39. #39
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post
    As an electrical inspector, I expect ground rods to be level with finished grade. Code does not state that they can be buried deeper ...

    If I can't find it, it's not there!
    As an electrical inspector, I expect the ground rods to be below the level of the finished grade. Code REQUIRES that the 8 foot ground rod be a MINIMUM of 8 feet in contact with the earth.

    Actually, this is incorrect: "Code does not state that they can be buried deeper".

    The code DOES state: (bold and underlining is mine)
    - 250.53 Grounding Electrode System Installation.
    - - FPN: See 547.9 and 547.10 for special grounding and bonding requirements for agricultural buildings.
    - - (A) Rod, Pipe, and Plate Electrodes. Where practicable, rod, pipe, and plate electrodes shall be embedded below permanent moisture level. Rod, pipe, and plate electrodes shall be free from nonconductive coatings such as paint or enamel.

    "Where practicable" is almost everywhere except for solid rock where the rod is impractical to be driven further.

    I doubt that the permanent moisture level is "level with finished grade".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  40. #40
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post
    Gentlemen,

    All I can say is WOW. Another simple comment requesting a simple answer that is blown way out of proportion by people who like to argue with others for the sake of excercising their fingers.

    As an electrical inspector, I expect ground rods to be level with finished grade. Code does not state that they can be buried deeper but as an AHJ you can require that such be verifiable by disturbing the earth slightly rather than having to excavate such. If I can't find it, it's not there!

    As previously mentioned, the ground rod is often supplemental. Here in the northeast, where basements are prevalent, most primary grounds in residential applications go to the water service electrode. How do we prove that this electrode is 20 feet long and in contact with the earth as required? We cannot, however; the Code dictates that such is an acceptable means of GEC. Do we dig up the water service? I think not.

    For ground rods, whether it is supplemental or primary, proving that the original rod length has not been compromised is a matter of visual inspection. When an electrician chooses to alter a ground rod because they have struck the footer or whatever, one can detect such by the fact that the top of said ground rod bears evidence that it has been cut. Sometimes the remainder of that ground rod is left behind by such hapless contractors or as in several incidents, the metal shavings have been left behind.

    As a home inspector, it should be self evident that that which is concealed is beyond the ability of an individual to certify as being porperly installed. How do you handle the internal wiring, plumbing, etc?

    If for some reason you have questions about such, it should be acceptable practice to merely mention that you cannot verify proper gorunding of an electrical service without a fairly expensive piece of test equipment. How about "Grounding appears to be compliant."

    If the service previously passed an electrical inspection then the onus of that burden is on the electrical inspector and as one I will admit that I cannot verify the integrity of such beyond what I have previously reiterated. At some point you have to be able to trust that a licensed contractor has a modicum of integrity.

    I'm sorry if I missed something but when a post becomes a diatribe, unlike code language, I just stop reading it. I can only assume many others do as well.
    What you say is very true. The difference in a code inspector and a HI is that a code inspectors are protected by the local government and a HI is fair game when they miss something.


  41. #41
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post

    As an electrical inspector, I expect ground rods to be level with finished grade. Code does not state that they can be buried deeper but as an AHJ you can require that such be verifiable by disturbing the earth slightly rather than having to excavate such. If I can't find it, it's not there!
    The code also does not say it cannot be deeper. The NEC is a permissive document. If it doesn't say you can't, you can.

    As previously mentioned, the ground rod is often supplemental. Here in the northeast, where basements are prevalent, most primary grounds in residential applications go to the water service electrode. How do we prove that this electrode is 20 feet long and in contact with the earth as required?
    I would hope that the 20' you typed is a mistype or a local amendment. The NEC only requires a minimum of 10' of direct earth contact for the metallic water line electrode. The requirement for 20' is for a UFER ground.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  42. #42
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    The code also does not say it cannot be deeper. The NEC is a permissive document. If it doesn't say you can't, you can.



    I would hope that the 20' you typed is a mistype or a local amendment. The NEC only requires a minimum of 10' of direct earth contact for the metallic water line electrode. The requirement for 20' is for a UFER ground.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    As an electrical inspector, I expect the ground rods to be below the level of the finished grade. Code REQUIRES that the 8 foot ground rod be a MINIMUM of 8 feet in contact with the earth.

    Actually, this is incorrect: "Code does not state that they can be buried deeper".

    The code DOES state: (bold and underlining is mine)
    - 250.53 Grounding Electrode System Installation.
    - - FPN: See 547.9 and 547.10 for special grounding and bonding requirements for agricultural buildings.
    - - (A) Rod, Pipe, and Plate Electrodes. Where practicable, rod, pipe, and plate electrodes shall be embedded below permanent moisture level. Rod, pipe, and plate electrodes shall be free from nonconductive coatings such as paint or enamel.

    "Where practicable" is almost everywhere except for solid rock where the rod is impractical to be driven further.

    I doubt that the permanent moisture level is "level with finished grade".
    Jim, as previously stated, "If I can't find it...it's not there."

    Thanks for catching my typo....10 feet of water electrode not 20 feet.
    Keeps me on my toes. I'm still not digging it up to measure.

    Jerry,

    Are FPN's enforcable as code? They can't possibly expect an inspector to ascertain permanent moisture level.


  43. #43
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Actually, this is incorrect: "Code does not state that they can be buried deeper".

    The code DOES state: (bold and underlining is mine)
    - 250.53 Grounding Electrode System Installation.
    - - FPN: See 547.9 and 547.10 for special grounding and bonding requirements for agricultural buildings.
    - - (A) Rod, Pipe, and Plate Electrodes. Where practicable, rod, pipe, and plate electrodes shall be embedded below permanent moisture level. Rod, pipe, and plate electrodes shall be free from nonconductive coatings such as paint or enamel.

    "Where practicable" is almost everywhere except for solid rock where the rod is impractical to be driven further.

    I doubt that the permanent moisture level is "level with finished grade".
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post
    Jerry,

    Are FPN's enforcable as code? They can't possibly expect an inspector to ascertain permanent moisture level.
    First, yes, FPNs are enforceable, but that requirement is not in a FPN, it is (A) of 250.53.

    No, they don't expect an inspector to ascertain permanent moisture level, but you stated "Code does not state that they can be buried deeper" and I simply pointed out that the code DOES state to bury it deeper ... all the way down to permanent moisture level.

    How far down is "permanent moisture level"? If you are talking about a lake bottom, then the surface is okay, however, if you are talking about your typical installation on DRY LAND ... then YOU KNOW that "permanent moisture level" is "down below the surface" someplace.

    Again, just pointing out that the code DOES say to bury it deeper than flush with the surface.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  44. #44
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    Being an AHJ and not being of the HI persuasion, may I humbly suggest the following; 'the grounding electrode system is buried below earth as required by code, therefore the type and connections of the system cannot be verified by this inspection'. Or something to that effect.


  45. #45
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    Default Re: buried ground rods

    An equipment Bonding Jumper, not a GEC.A remote structure supplied via the primary, has neither a supplemental nor a primary GEDq. Potential not part of the primary GE system to service. Hint: You might try checking the changes (absence of those priorly included and the changes to those still included, as well as the newly defined phrases/terms - distinctions with a difference).

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 06-26-2011 at 11:15 PM.

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