Grounding is a very important part of your electrical system. When an electrical system is grounded and an overload occurs, grounding gives the electrical current the shortest path to the Earth.
Electrical current runs from the electrical panel through circuits to receptacles around the home. Each circuit has a maximum amperage rating it cannot exceed. In other words, there is a maximum amount of electricity that a circuit can safely handle. When the electrical load on a circuit exceeds this amount, either due to faulty wiring or too many devices being plugged in at time, a circuit overload occurs.
A circuit overload means there is too much electrical current flowing on a circuit. The “extra” electrical current the circuit cannot accommodate needs to go somewhere and grounding provides a safe route for it to get to the ground. Without grounding, there is no safe path for electrical current to travel and it can potentially use a person to complete the loop.
"A circuit overload means there is too much electrical current flowing on a circuit."
For example, if an appliance is plugged into a receptacle that is NOT grounded and an overload occurs, anyone touching that appliance would complete the loop and become the ground. In this case, the chance of electric shock and/or electrocution would be highly likely.
But if the same appliance were plugged into a grounded receptacle, the electrical current would flow through the ground wire and cause a fuse to blow or a circuit breaker to trip, which is what they are meant to do.
A home’s main electrical service must be grounded using a neutral wire. This wire is usually green or bare copper and it connects a home’s electrical system to a Ground Rod (outside the home and driven into the ground), Ground Plate (usually buried under the concrete slab) or Ground Clamp (installed street side of the main shut off valve before the water meter).
Grounding helps protect anyone working on a home’s electrical system against electric shock and electrocution. It can also protect the electrical system itself, as well as any appliances and equipment connected to the system.
All non-current carrying metal parts of an electrical system, including light fixtures and device boxes, must be bonded back to ground.
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