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Adding a ground to my breaker panel
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Adding a ground to my breaker panel

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Adding a ground to my breaker panel
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Thread: Adding a ground to my breaker panel

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Smyrna GA
    Posts
    4

    Default Adding a ground to my breaker panel

    Hello:

    I am new to the group. I would like to add a ground wire to my breaker panel. The panel is a GE TM1615S dating from the 1970's and I don't see where the panel is grounded at all. Also the neutrals and ground share the same buss. The lug for the ground is empty. Also the meter is encased in brick so I can't see if it is grounded. The system is copper.

    The reason I want a ground is that I am a ham radio operator and I need to tie all of the house grounds and my station ground together using a ground circle around the house connected to a single point ground.

    It seems that I could run a ground wire from the ground lug in the panel to a 8 foot ground rod outside and tie that to my ground system.

    I am going to attempt to attach pictures of my panel.

    Any help would be appreciated!

    Thanks.


    Adding a ground to my breaker panel-ge-tm1615s-2-panel-jpgAdding a ground to my breaker panel-ge-tm1615s-3-panel-jpgAdding a ground to my breaker panel-ge-tm1615s-4-panel-jpgAdding a ground to my breaker panel-ge-tm1615s-panel-jpg
    Last edited by chrisb; 01-01-2013 at 08:36 AM. Reason: delete double pictures

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
    398

    Default

    That should work fine.
    Operation Overlord.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    216

    Default

    Your system is grounded ultimately as the neutral at each power pole transformer is grounded. The utility also typically grounds every X power poles (perhaps 6) if there are that many poles before encountering a transformer.

    I see no fat wires, so wonder how that was forgotten since you have grounded branch circuit wiring. Maybe it was done at the meter. I saw no fat wire leaving your panel. Do you have copper or galvanized water piping? That also needs to be bonded with a #4 copper wire back to your common neutral/ground bus.

    You can ground again at your house (current codes would require that) and one or two rods (spaced a rod length apart) would be typical. #6 copper is the minimum for ground rods, but I'd run #4. I would discourage the ground ring unless you really think you need it. It is a bunch of work and I don't think you'll notice any difference. You can always add a ring later if you need to.

    As much as people ask for it and think they have it, a single point ground is hard to achieve. This is because utility transformers have both the primary and secondary grounded via a solid conductor connection. So your ground reaches your neighbors ground via a wired path and can also go from your dirt to your neighbors dirt, up their rod and to the transformer. Keeping the neutral and grounding functions separate in your equipment is the best solution (hope for 3 prong plugs on your equipment).
    Last edited by suemarkp; 01-01-2013 at 11:21 PM.
    Mark
    Kent, WA

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Smyrna GA
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Thanks to both of you for the help. I do have copper piping and I do not see where that is grounded anywhere to the panel. There is pipe close to the panel but the entrance to the house is about 20-30 feet away from the meter. There is a pressure regulator which I think that I will need to bridge.

    I will plan to ground the water pipe and run a # 4 to 2 8ft ground rods. What would be the best way to secure the ground wire to the concrete block in my basement? Can I ground the water pipe by grounding to the pipe that is near the panel or does it need to be closer to where the water pipe enters the house?+


    Thanks again

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    216

    Default

    The pipe, if continuous metal and buried in the dirt for 10' or more, is treated as a ground electrode and must be connected to the grounding system within 5' of where that pipe enters the house. If the buried pipe is plastic, then you can connect to any location on the interior metal piping (it is just getting bonded in this case and is not a ground electrode). I would expect a pressure regulator to be continuous metal (look at the housing where the pipe attaches unless they transitioned to non-metallic piping there). Jumpering across a water meter is also a common thing to have to do (only if the outside pipe is metal and therefore a ground electrode). Would have thought those were solid metal too and wouldn't need a jumpter... Most people jumper between hot and cold pipes at the water heater, especially since many shutoff to faucet pipes are now flex plastic instead of bent metal tubing.

    The best way to secure the ground wire is to run it under or through your floor joists. If for some reason you need to go down the wall more than a few feet, you may want to attach some type of board (pressure treated 1x4, 2x4, etc) to the wall and then just staple the wire to it. That's one of the reasons for suggesting #4 wire -- it has the lowest threshold of required protection. I don't believe there is a minimum securing distance specified in the code book, but I'd try to staple it at least every 4 feet (bored holes generally count as securing and supporting).
    Last edited by suemarkp; 01-01-2013 at 11:25 PM.
    Mark
    Kent, WA

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Smyrna GA
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Another question and a big concern:

    Should the #4 ground wire be bare stranded or solid?

    Also, I had someone on another electrical forum stated that he was concerned that the red main wire coming in from the meter had discoloration which indicated heating and also stated that my panel used aluminum busses and had been known to be prone to fires. (1970's GE Panel). He strongly recommended that I replace the entire panel. Could someone look at the pictures again and give me your opinion.

    Thanks

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
    398

    Default

    Type of wire used for the ground I don't think matters as long as it is the proper gauge.

    I do see the discolouration on the red but I can't tell if it is from heat or dirt. I do also see what look like a lot of wires double lugged in the neutral bus. Neutral wires are required to be one only per terminal.
    Operation Overlord.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    216

    Default

    Code allows either solid or stranded, insulated or bare, for grounding wires. From an impedance point of view, it should be lower with stranded wire so that is what I generally use.

    I agree with Chris about the discolored wire and all the double lugged neutrals. Old wire discolors, even without being over heated. Neutrals are limited by code to one per terminal. The bare grounds can usually be doubled or tripled up if they are the same size and material. Make sure you turn off all the circuits (or main breaker) if relocating the neutrals, as undoing a live one can cause major voltage fluctuations in certain circumstances. And a live one will shock you just as much as a hot wire when it is disconnected.

    I've never been a fan of GE equipment (ever their better copper ones). Many panels have aluminum buses. Not my favorite material, but many work just fine. Certain panels have a bad reputation (for good reasons -- Zinsco and Federal Pacific), but I've not heard that for GE panels. I'd avoid large breakers on the bus (such as a 100A feeder), and make sure they are all securely connected to their bus stabs. If they flip out easily, you may want to replace those breakers.
    Mark
    Kent, WA

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Smyrna GA
    Posts
    4

    Default

    SueMarkP,

    Could you clarify on how to ground to the copper water pipe? From reading your post I need to sink a 8 ft ground rod within 5 feet of where the copper water pipe enters the house and dig and find the water pipe and attach a #4 wire between the two. Then on the inside of my house, near to where it enters my basement from the outside, clamp a #4 wire to the copper pipe and then run that wire (25-30 ft) along the cold water pipe then to the panel. Is that correct?

    The water entrance is on the other side of my house from the electrical panel about 25-30 feet apart from each other.

    Then to ground the panel itself run a #4 wire to the outside nearest the panel and attach that
    wire to two 8 ft rods at least 6 feet apart. Correct?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
    398

    Default

    The ground rods can be anywhere and connected direct to the ground bus in the panel. Usually they are right near the panel. Newer ones are made right into the foundation of the house.
    The water line, if metal needs to be bonded as it enters the house. No need to dig outside. It gets connected to the rods by the connection at the panel.
    Operation Overlord.

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