What is Electrical Grounding?

Electrical grounding is a backup pathway that provides an alternating route for the current to flow back to the ground if there is a fault in the wiring system. It facilitates a physical connection between the ground and the electrical equipment and appliances in your home.

The electricity in a residential wiring system consists of electrons flowing through metal circuit wires and this electricity is always looking for the shortest possible route back to the ground. So, if there is a problem with the neutral wire, grounding your electrical system will provide a direct pathway to the ground and prevent power surges that can invite electrical hazards.

How does electrical grounding work?

In an electric circuit, there is an active wire which supplies the power, a neutral wire which carries that current back and a ‘grounding wire’ which provides an additional path for electrical current to return safely to the ground without causing danger to anyone in the event of a short circuit. A copper conductor is connected from the metal rod of the wiring system to a set of terminals for ground connections in the service panel.

If the wiring systems use electrical cables that are covered in metal, then the metal usually serves as the ground conductor between the wall outlets and the service panel. However, if the wiring systems use a plastic-sheathed cable, then an extra wire is used for grounding. Electricity always looks for the shortest path to the earth, therefore if there is any problem where the neutral wire is broken or interrupted, it is the grounding wire that provides a direct path to the ground. This direct physical connection allows the earth to act as a path of least resistance and prevent an appliance or a person from becoming the shortest path.

Importance of Electrical Grounding

  • Protects Against Electrical Overloads

    You may experience power surges at times or you may be exposed to lightning during extreme weather conditions. These events may produce dangerously high electricity which can completely damage your electrical appliances. By grounding the electrical system, all the excess electricity will go into the earth instead of frying the appliances connected to the system. The appliances will be safe and protected from large electrical surges.

  • Stabilizes the Voltage Levels

    When you ground the electrical system, it makes it easier for you to distribute the right amount of power at the right places. This ensures that the circuits are not overloaded at any point and get blown as a result of it. The earth can be considered as a common reference point for the voltage sources in any electrical system. This helps in providing stabilized voltage levels throughout the electric system.

  • Earth Conducts with Least Resistance

    One of the main reasons why you should ground your electrical appliances is that the earth is a great conductor and it can conduct all the excess electricity with least resistance. When you ground the electrical system and connect it to the earth, it means that you are giving the excess electricity to go somewhere without resistance rather than going through you or your appliances.

  • Prevents Serious Damage and Death

    When you do not ground the electrical system, you will put your appliances and even your life at high risk. When high electricity passes through any device, it will be fried and get damaged beyond repair. An excessive amount of electricity may even start a fire, putting your property and the life of your loved ones at risk.

Determining if Current is Grounded or Not

You can check if an electrical appliance is designed to be grounded or not. If the appliance is equipped with a three-wire cord and a three-pronged plug, then the third wire and prong will provide the ground link between the metal frame of the appliance and the grounding of the wiring system.

To check if the electrical system is grounded or not by checking your power outlets. If there are three prongs in the outlet, then your system should have three wires, one of which will be a grounding wire. To get assured if the current is getting grounded or not you can do the electrical grounding test as mentioned below.

Electrical Grounding Test

You can follow this 5-step checklist using a receptacle testing device with complete caution for electrical grounding test:

Step 1 – The first sign of proper electric grounding is your outlet. If it is a three-prong outlet with a U-shaped slot, then you can safely conclude that it is a grounding component.

Step 2 – Insert the red probe of your circuit tester into the smaller slot of the outlet. This outlet is the hot wire that supplies power to your appliances.

Step 3 – Insert the black probe into the bigger slot of the outlet which is the neutral slot. This will complete your circuit.

Step 4 – Check for the indicator light. It will light up if your outlet is grounded and if it does not light up, reverse the black and red probes. If the indicator does not show up in either the electrical grounding test, then the outlet is not grounded and is not safe for use.

Step 5 – Repeat all the 4 steps in all the outlets of your home to ensure each and every outlet is safely grounded. Most old properties have undergone a lot of work and renovation and so, not every outlet may have been redone.

Electric grounding test is very important to raise the electrical safety levels in your existing accommodation and ensures that all your electrical installations are safe and stay safe over their entire service life.

Do not use a three-prong outlet with faulty wiring because it can invite a fire. Call a certified electrician and fix the issue immediately. We stock an extensive inventory of safety switches, electrical supplies and materials that can greatly minimize the risk of short circuits and fires. Call us at (800) 458-9600 and talk directly with our sales professionals.