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Why Does Electricity Need a Ground?

You often hear about how electricity needs a good ground, but what does that even mean? Allow Mr. Electric to lift the curtain. Learn more today!

Proper grounding is an essential component of electrical safety in your home. Why does electricity need a ground and what does that mean? The experts at Mr. Electric are here to take the mystery out of ‘grounding,’ explaining it in plain English so you can be sure your home and family are safe.

What Does a Ground Do?

The ground wire connected to your outlets and from your electrical panel is literally dug into the earth outside your home, essentially providing a ‘safety valve’ for excess or undesirable electricity within the wiring of your home. The positively charged energy in your electrical system is attracted to the negative charge in the ground, giving it an attractive place to go in the event of excess.

Why Does Electricity Need a Ground?

Giving the excess positive charge in your electrical lines an attractive place to go - the negatively charged ground wire - eliminates the dangers of fire and electrocution, which are high in ungrounded home electrical systems. How common is excess electricity in the home? Quite common. Each time you plug something in, power is typically not consumed in entirety, requiring a safe ground path. There are also a myriad of electrical excesses emanating from power lines and created from appliances cycling on and off within your home - not to mention lighting strikes - which all depend on good ground access to ensure the safety of your home’s inhabitants. Another interesting fact about ground: It’s essential for surge protection. Do you use them to protect expensive electronics in your home? Surge protectors are useless and do not offer any protection without adequate ground.

What Happens if I Don’t Have Adequate Ground?

The earth absorbs current excesses safely, and in doing so, eliminates the threat of other, dangerous paths to ground. What ‘other’ paths? If your outlets and electrical box are not properly grounded, appliances and electronics you are using could end up passing excess current through you, using your body as a means to complete the path to the negatively charged ground, and shocking or electrocuting you in the process. Any contact with an electrical panel or appliance that has no ground could potentially turn YOU into the ground connection.    

How Do I Know if My Home is Properly Grounded?

The best way to be sure your home is properly grounded is to have an electrical home safety inspection. Though household electrical systems are required by National Electric Code to be connected to the earth via a ground rod, a lack of proper ground is common in historic and older homes, which were constructed before grounding was required. Mistakes can also happen, and corners can be cut, effecting safe ground, and it is better to be safe than sorry. One of the most common mistakes is failure to bond a home’s copper water lines to ground, which can lead to the electrocution of those using faucets in the home when electrical shorts jump the path to water pipes.

Schedule an electrical safety inspection with Mr. Electric and ensure your home is properly and safely grounded today.

Want to know more about electrical safety? Check out this information from Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighborly company, on electrical safety month.

This blog is made available by Mr. Electric for educational purposes only to give the reader general information and a general understanding on the specific subject above. The blog should not be used as a substitute for a licensed electrical professional in your state or region. Check with city and state laws before performing any household project.