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Ground rod with acorn clamp and wire

Grounding Electrode System

Dear Mr. Electrician: How do I install a grounding rod as part of the grounding electrode system for my house?  An electrician told me that the grounding electrode system for my house did not have a good grounding rod and gave me a ball park price to fix it up.  Why do I need this and what is involved with fixing or installing a grounding rod? Answer: To install a grounding rod some tools and muscle will be needed.  NOTE: Some text links below go to applicable products on EBay, EMP Shield, or Amazon. A grounding rod is a very important component of the electrical wiring in your home or place of work.  It is part of the grounding electrode system for voltage stabilization and lightning protection.  A ground rod is also referred to as a grounding electrode or anode.  It is required by article 250.53(D)(2) in the National Electrical Code. The power company has their power transformer grounded with a grounding rod.  If the neutral conductor from the transformer to your house ever got disconnected, the return current would travel through the earth to get back to the transformer.  In addition, when lightning strikes on or around your house the rod creates a path for the high voltage electrical charge to go directly to the earth and avoid causing damage to your home. Whenever you hear of someone's house getting struck and damaged by lightning it is usually because the grounding electrode system was deficient. The grounding electrode system consists of a wire or two that originate on the grounding terminal in your main electrical panel or disconnect switch.  From there the wire(s) will connect to the home's water pipes and to one or more grounding electrodes. The grounding electrodes can be ground rods, concrete encased rebar, copper plates, copper wire in the footings, concrete embedded steel or other means that provide an approved electrical path to earth.  See article 250.52(A) in the National Electrical Code. GROUNDING ELECTRODE SYSTEM The main grounding electrode connection for many houses is at the metal water pipe at the point where it enters the home before the water meter.  Look at this area and you should see a copper or aluminum wire; bare, insulated, metal armor jacketed, enclosed in conduit, or taped green.  It should be connected to the water pipe using an approved ground clamp.  The connection should be tight and free of corrosion. The ground clamp in the above photo is attached at the point where the water pipe enters the basement.  An armored grounding conductor requires a ground clamp with an extra clamp on it for the armor to be secured with. If the ground clamp and wire appear corroded or feels loose you should remedy this right away.  A new ground clamp costs only a few dollars and can be purchased at any electrical supply company and at many home improvement stores.  You will also need some emery cloth or sandpaper to clean the pipe. A good precaution when doing this would be to shut off the main circuit...