Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ground Rod

I installed the ground rod to the project house this weekend.

It's a half inch ground rod, eight feet long. Driven straight down into the ground. No, I didn't use a hammer. If you use a hammer, you'll swell the end of that soft copper ground rod and you'll have to cut or file it to get the connector to fit.

My daddy was a telephone man, and he installed a lot of ground rods. An old trick is to dig a small hole in the dirt and fill it with water. The hole doesn't have to be big, about the size of a cereal bowl, maybe four inches deep. Fill that hole with water and put the pointed end of the ground rod into the hole. Jab it into the bottom, then lift it and jab it again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The water flows down into the hole, making mud. Keep jabbing. You'll notice the ground rod sinking into the ground. Keep jabbing, gently, up and down. Refill the hole with water as needed.

Occasionally, pull the rod completely out of the hole, allowing the hole to fill with water. Keep jabbing the rod down in the hole. Repeatedly. Kneel down when necessary. In about a half hour, you'll be below kneeling level.

It took me and my son about a half hour to drive that ground rod into the ground. The grandkids helped, holding the hose and occasionally filling their dad's shoe with water.

Today while I was a Lowe's, I bought a ground rod connector and eight feet of 6 gage ground wire. The breaker box is installed and I have a good ground to that box. Tomorrow I start drilling holes and pulling wire.


Anonymous said...

Ok - I'll ask - why not simply put the connector on top before driving the rod (with a hammer)?

Thats a lot of time and silly work to simply drive a rod. Come on.

Anonymous said...

“From a union supervising electrician, with an electrical engineering degree…

I have installed hundreds of ground roads in my life and the normal thing to do is cut 2 inches off the top when your finished driving it in the ground, after 8 feet of rode nobody will care about the 2 inches, and it looks clean… if I came back to a job site and found my apprentice playing in the mud it would be his/her last day. C. Trout

Anonymous said...

Every one has his/her own way of doing things. What works for someone may not work for the other, given the physical capabilities, geographical/geological differences etc...So give the guy a break. I personally think his way it better than hammering it in at least he knows that the ground around the rod is wet and the mud will cause the soil to hug the rod.

Anonymous said...

Mr C Trout,

With all due respect sir. I have installed dozens upon dozens of 10 foot copper-clad steel grounding rods at both commercial and residential applications as a WORKING electrician. And I have always used a pair of gloves, my arms and an apprentice with a bucket of water or a hose. The hydraulics of the water and the chugging motion is the key. Stop chugging and the grounding rod is stuck. With all due respect your method encourages cutting off much more than a mere two inches of rod when the installers get stuck and damage the rod by trying to drive the rod into the ground with hammers and tools. That isn't exactly what the National Electrical Code had in mind. Btw, I am an IBEW member in good standing in LU716 in Houston. And you wouldn't last a day in our local if you ran off a perfectly good apprentice using a lick of common sense and an old timer's grounding rod trick. Degrees don't impress me as much as skill and finesse.

Sgt Rock
Waller Texas

The_Gwiggun said...

I just put in an 8 foot ground rod. I am in South Florida and the soil is very sandy. The jabbing into water did not work at all for me. I had to climb a little step ladder and hammer away for quite a while - with a normal claw hammer which is certainly not the ideal tool. I did pour water into the hole while hammering but I haven't tried it dry so I can't say if it made things any easier. I actually used a two piece clamp so there was no need to saw off the flared end of the rod to slip it on.

I am actually putting in a 2ndary rod to ground my cable TV service which Comcast decided to run in on the opposite side of the house to my electrical service entry. They grounded to a water pipe that turns into polybutylene once it enters the slab which explains why I have had a 2nd lightning strike through the coaxial in a year. I am hoping this and a few other precautions do the trick. I am tired or replacing cable modems and motherboards.

Anonymous said...

Hilti hammer drill with ground rod attachment. Nuff said.

boomer said...

i was told by a electrician that worked with high voltage that " mudding in " a ground rod was the worst thing you can do it's not a good ground ....

Anonymous said...

"i was told by a electrician that worked with high voltage that " mudding in " a ground rod was the worst thing you can do it's not a good ground ...."

What a load of nonsense! First of all we are not dealing with "high voltages" here, just single-phase residential.

Secondly, Ever hear of rain? How about dry conditions? Think that the water and/or the ground is going to stay wet and/or muddy?

The worst thing that one can do is attempt to hammer a ground rod in, with tools such as sledge-hammers and the like. And damage the heck out of the rod, get stuck and then cut the dadgum thing off short, thinking 'nobody ever will know'... happens more often than you think, especially with half the residential work force building homes being wetbacks here illegally.

Nothing wrong with chugging in a ground rod. I can do it myself with a garden hose and a little muscle. Great cardio!

Don't believe everything you are told.

Anonymous said...

Hi PawPaw

I just started installing a grounding rod. I just used the jab and pull method but was not putting water in the hole. The ground is soft and wet, the rod went down about 3 foot very quick and was pushing some mud up to the top of the hole. When it got down about 3 foot it hit a rock and I have not been able to get past the rock. I put the connecting clamp on the top of the rod then used a small sledge hamer, after about 30 hits it had gone down about another half inch.
What should be done now? Move over and start again?
Thanks for the tips,
Poppy Walker

local 5 pa said...

Local 5 here. Just us a jack hammer. It goes or it doesn't. It always takes me less than ten minutes for the first one and less than five for the next one or ten, including set up and clean up time. Time is money, and I don't waste money, nor anyone else's. And yes, I do own an electric jack hammer. Best money ever spent! Just think about how much time you wasted with the hundreds of rods you driven over the years and the ones to come, union brothers.

Anonymous said...

You are grounding the power company's secondary side of their transformer, which is low voltage. But look at the pole. One of their medium voltage hots to the can, and what's that.... A ground to the other side of the primary. Huh, wonder why they "require" you to put in one or two rods! It becomes part of their grid! If you don't understand, I'll understand your not much of an electrician.
PS how do lineman install ground rods. Not with their tanker truck!29

Anonymous said...

Take a 1"conduit pole 4' lonh. Cut the end off at a high angle. Use as a drill with water. Once you get down 4ft.use an 8' section. Haven't tried it yet but soon I will.