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Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 7533
Experience:  Proven Professional 48 years Experience
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I just bought an old home and I dont have the money to replace

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I just bought an old home and I don't have the money to replace the wiring or panel at this time, but I would like to make my system as safe as possible. My main question relates to the grounding and bonding of my system.

At my house the power feed comes into the meter outside and then runs under the crawlspace to the main service panel in a kitchen closet. There is no external shutoff to my service before it reaches this 100 amp breaker in the main panel indoors and no ground rod at the meter. There is a #6 grounding wire leading to a ground rod under the house, but many of the individual circuits did not include grounding wires when they were installed. On these circuits grounding wires were added and drop down from outlets and connect with the bonded cold water pipes. The neutrals and grounding wires in the panel are bonded.

Many of these circumstances are not ideal, but it's what I have to work with at the moment. I know that the use of the added grounding wires to the water pipes makes my system not properly grounded and I am adding GFCI outlets at the start of each circuit to address that problem. But here are my questions:

An electrician who was giving me a quote for a new panel said that the neutrals and grounds were not separated in my panel and that this was problematic. I thought about it after he left and have become very confused because I thought the neutrals and grounds must be bonded in the main service panel. But is what the electrician said about the unseparated neutrals and grounds somehow true in this case?

Also, he said that no grounding wires should be connected on the load side of the GFCI's. I think that makes sense to me, but what do I physically do with the grounding wires. Most of the electrical boxes are small and metal. Do I just cut if off and wrap some tape over the exposed end? Otherwise it could touch and ground the metal box potentially.

Hi, I'm Mike and I'll be glad to assist you. Neutrals and grounds are always connected in the main service equipment. For a 100A service, today's code, requires that a #6 copper be ran from the panel to the street side of the water service and a bonding jumper placed across the water meter. This make the grounding not dependent on the plumbing. If there is a ground wire attached to the individual outlet boxes and it is continuous to the panel, the system outlets are grounded and all that is necessary is to install a jumper from the box to the device. If there is no ground continuous to the panel and a GFCI is installed to provide protection of a grounded outlet, then the ground wires are not connected after the GFCI. Ground from outlets should not be attached to the plumbing. They may be attached to the #6 grounding electrode conductor.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Mike- Thanks so much for your answer and I apologize for my delay. I'm still not sure I understand what the proper way is to leave a ground wire disconnected in a metal box in the instance of "If there is no ground continuous to the panel and a GFCI is installed to provide protection of a grounded outlet, then the ground wires are not connected after the GFCI". I know it may seem like a silly question, but I just don't understand what the proper way is to cover it up since it would be so easy for the bare grounding wire to touch the metal box. Do I fold it and tape it? Cut it off as far back as possible and tape it? If you could clarify that for me I'd really appreciate it. Thanks! Russell

If there isn't a ground from the panel to the GFCI, you don't connect grounds to any device downstream fron it. That's code. All downstream outlet have to be markes as being GFCI protected without ground.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I must not be making my question clear enough, Mike.


Let's say you have a circuit that goes from the panel to a metal gang box with a neutral and hot and no ground. But let's say the next leg of the circuit was wired later with newer romex that included a bare copper grounding wire that is wrapped around a screw inside this metal box. I go to install a GFCI in this box. The line side has no grounding wire, but the downstream load side does have a grounding wire. I understand that in this case I do not want to attach this grounding wire to the GFCI, but what do I physically do with this grounding wire that is attached to the metal box??? Like I asked, do I fold it and tape it or cut it back as far as possible or what? I can't get fully rid of it without cutting open the wall and yanking it out of the box.


So what is the proper way to isolate this grounding wire from the metal box and the GFCI? Thank you

Just push it to the back of the b.boxboxboxbobo