Electrical Grounding: What You Need To Know

When it comes to home maintenance, there is one primary thing you should be concerned with: safety. Safety, more than polished aesthetics or proper plumbing or having a nice looking lawn, is the first thing you should think of before you go about any sort of house renovation. One of the biggest safety mishaps is not ensuring your electrical work is properly grounded. This is not an entirely difficult task, although some tend to believe this is the case.

You should know what electrical grounding is, what improper electrical grounding is, as well as the dangers of improper electrical grounding in order to keep your home safe.

What Is Electrical Grounding?

Essentially, electrical grounding is the point where a circuit is at zero electrical voltage. When a wire is touching the earth, it is solidly "grounded" and therefore has zero electrical voltage. However, a wire need not necessarily be touching the earth to ensure it is properly grounded.

Essentially, there must be a solid connection between the ground and your home's electrical components. This is usually very easily accomplished. Any appliances in your house with a third prong electrical inlet are automatically grounded. It is worth investing in such appliances.

If you live in an older home that only supports two prong outlets, then it might be worth the trouble to have a three-prong system installed by a licensed electrician. A home properly electrically grounded is also an incredibly safe home. An improperly grounded home can lead to a number of tragedies, including electrical fires.

What Is Improper Electrical Grounding?

Improper electrical grounding occurs when there is not a physical connection present between both the ground and the electrical system in your home. The denser an area you live in, such as an urban or suburban environment, the greater chance you have of living in a home improperly grounded. This is because the demand for electricity – and when you live in a highly congested area, that demand will be that much greater – causes a lack of grounding due to space.

This also means the space in which electricity can be properly grounded makes it harder for electricians to deal with. Improperly grounded electrical systems can come into contact with metal pipes in the recesses of your home, making it difficult for an electrician to do his or her job in properly grounding the electricity in your house.

The Risks Of Improper Grounding

Improper grounding is a serious issue and can lead to a number of very dangerous situations that can befall your home. The biggest risks an ungrounded home pose are fires and electrical shock. Electrical shock, of course, being much more common. The fact of the matter is electricity travels across the path of least resistance. If your home or appliance is not grounded, then the chances are, if you're using an ungrounded appliance, you could easily be shocked. This is because the human body is an excellent conductor of electricity and electricity will come across very little resistance if it so happens to travel throughout the course of the human body.

Your electronic equipment can also be damaged if you allow your house to be ungrounded. Fuses can short and electrical sparks can ruin a perfectly good video game system or DVD player. Improper electrical grounding causes electrical fires due to the fact that when you plug an appliance into an improperly grounded outlet, it causes sparks. These sparks can catch your insulation or drywall on fire, leading to a whole-house fire.

An improperly grounded house is a dangerous one to be in. If you think your home doesn't have the proper electrical grounding, contact an electrician to come inspect and fix your electrical system.