Is Your Home Electrical System Safely Grounded .pdf
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Is Your Home Electrical System Safely Grounded?|
Back before the days when parents "baby-proofed" their homes, my wife's little sister got quite a shock.
Little sister was the mischievous type and stuck her finger into an electrical outlet. It's not actually a very
easy thing to do, but at three-years-old, her fingers were small. Fortunately, no lasting damage was
done. But my wife will never forget her little sister's blackened finger and the stern warnings by her
parents that those mysterious little holes in the wall can kill you.
Now that my wife has married an electrician, she insists that I take every possible measure to ensure
that the electrical system of our Los Angeles home is safe. One important step was to ensure that its
wiring is properly grounded.
What is electrical grounding, anyway?
Grounding adds a safety factor for your family and your electronics. Here's how it works. Electricity
travels the path of least resistance. If an appliance like a toaster breaks, electricity can flow on the metal
outside of the toaster. Touching it could result in a serious shock, causing injury or even death. But if the
electrical system is grounded and the toaster is plugged in with three prongs, the electricity won't flow
to the outside of the toaster. Instead it will flow through the third prong back into the wires and
harmlessly into Mother Earth. Thus, the term "grounding."
An electrical system can be grounded with various types of devices. A "ground wire" is simply a wire
attached to your electrical system that's been pushed securely into the ground. Metal pipes (electricians
call them "conduit") that hold and protect your electrical wires can also act as a grounding device.
Sometimes, grounding is provided by running a wire from your electrical system and attaching it to
metal plumbing pipes that run into the ground.
Grounding protects not only people but also sensitive electronics. Without grounding, electrical charges
build up in wiring and create slight but continuous damage to delicate electronics. This damage can
shorten the lives of computers, phones, and any electrical appliance that has "smart" (computer)
components, possibly your fridge or dryer.
How can I tell if my electrical system is grounded?
Homes built before 1950 were sometimes grounded. Homes built after 1950 were usually grounded.
Even if your system was originally grounded, wiring mistakes may have rendered the grounding
ineffective. Even with outlets that accept three prongs, it doesn't necessarily mean that your electrical
wiring is grounded. The only way to know for sure is to have a qualified electrician check out your
electrical system with a special tester. Know more about NJ Electrical Contractors.