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Old 08-29-2008, 01:39 PM   #1
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


I am in the process of upgrading my overhead electrical service entrance from 60a to 200a. It is 95% done (almost ready for cut & tap, which requires an E1 and the power company).

How do I drive the ground rod? Local code requires at least 1 (sometimes 2... still need to ask my town) eight foot ground rod, driven flush. This is an existing house. The old ground wires were connected to copper pipes in the basement... not sufficient for modern code. So we're talking New England farm land... complete with an unknown array of New England potatos (glacier-deposited rocks). It's not on ledge, so a ground rod may deflect around such obstacles if pounded hard enough... what have other people done? Think limited budget.

Thanks!
Don in CT

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Old 08-29-2008, 01:52 PM   #2
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


Hit it hard. Rod is copper clad re-bar and will deflect some.

If you hit the mother of all boulders before you get it all down...pull up the rod and try a new spot. If it won't come back up...cut it and try another rod in a new spot.

Inspectors have been known to check for fresh cut marks at the top of the rod... so don't be tempted.

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Old 08-29-2008, 02:01 PM   #3
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


Don't forget, you can drive it at up to a 45 deg angle.
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Old 08-29-2008, 02:38 PM   #4
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


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Inspectors have been known to check for fresh cut marks at the top of the rod... so don't be tempted.
I've certainly pulled up a few 18" ground rods in my day. Certainly a lot of 5 and 6 footers. I actually took pictures of an electrician cutting one down with a sawzall before installing it...Saw him while I was in an adjacent house doing an inspection. I took the pics, then went over and asked him if it was 8' long...He lied! His day got worse from there.

If you have access to a small (35#) demolition hammer, chuck the rod in it and drive it home. It runs them down like they're going into butter.

The rod can also be buried horizontal in a trench at least 2-1/2 feet deep, if it cannot be driven vertically or at a 45 degree angle. The inspector would have to inspect the rod before the trench was backfilled, and the power company may want to verify its installation.

Last edited by Termite; 08-29-2008 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 08-29-2008, 02:45 PM   #5
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


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I've certainly pulled up a few 18" ground rods in my day. Certainly a lot of 5 and 6 footers. I actually took pictures of an electrician cutting one down with a sawzall before installing it...Saw him while I was in an adjacent house doing an inspection. I took the pics, then went over and asked him if it was 8' long...He lied! His day got worse from there.

If you have access to a small (35#) demolition hammer, chuck the rod in it and drive it home. It runs them down like they're going into butter.

The rod can also be buried horizontal in a trench at least 2-1/2 feet deep, if it cannot be driven vertically or at a 45 degree angle. The inspector would have to inspect the rod before the trench was backfilled, and the power company may want to verify its installation.
You beat me to it!! yes it always has worked for me remember to keep the rod away from the foundation at least 12" as to not hit the foundation footing.
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Old 08-29-2008, 03:51 PM   #6
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


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The rod can also be buried horizontal in a trench at least 2-1/2 feet deep, if it cannot be driven vertically or at a 45 degree angle.
I know there is that annoying "..if it cannot be driven..." tidbit, but we always just throw the ground rod in the trench with underground services.

I have never heard of any electrician anywhere having a problem doing it this way.
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Old 08-29-2008, 04:18 PM   #7
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


In the olden days we used a 12# sledge hammer.

Bad idea.

Rent a demo hammer with a gnd rod driver attachment and be done in less than a minute. A smaller roto hammer will probably work too but it will take a bit longer.

You can try a fence post driver to get it most of the way in and finish with a sledge.
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Old 08-29-2008, 04:27 PM   #8
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


One of my guys had a POCO inspector SWEAR that the rods were cut off and wouldn't authorize a reconnect unless we drove 2 more.

He showed him the demo hammer and driver attachment and said "why would I cut them" The inspector saw some 1/2" copper in the trash pile and thought they were g rods. Inspector would NOT back down and my guy stayed tough.

Clients went to a hotel for a few days. Inspector shows up with a line crew and a rig to pull out the rods. 1st one was 8' but he stayed stubborn till the end and pulled the other one out. My guy was commenting the whole time, counting off 5', 6', 7'.....

Inspector then had the balls to tell my guy to re install them.

POCO paid for a couple of hours and the homeowners expenses.
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Old 08-29-2008, 07:12 PM   #9
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


I've felt silly a time or two when they come out easily. And then they just keep coming.......And they're 8' long. They never go back in as easily as they came out. I usually find something to beat them back in. I did have one I couldn't get back in and I felt so bad I contacted the electrician and apologized. He was really cool about because I had caught his guys putting in cut off ones a few times in the past.

When I find a short one now, I bend it. There's no electrical use for a short ground rod, and they won't be able to re-drive it on the next job with a nice bend in it. It has made a few guys mad but the way I see it, by installing a short rod, they've already proved that I can't trust them.

I also had a guy try to cut and 8 footer in half and drive two four footers 6' apart.
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Old 08-29-2008, 10:51 PM   #10
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


In my part of the country you could drive it with a 12 oz. hammer!
That is why I had to use a 22 ft. well casing to get a good ground. Nothing but sandy soil. Everytime it dried out I would have grounding problems and start burning surge protectors.(lightning)
Do whatever it takes to get a proper ground. This is not where you want to take short cuts.
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Old 09-16-2008, 01:20 PM   #11
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


Just wanted to follow up with this thread. I used a combination of the above advice. I found a friend with a hammer drill (an apprentice level electrician actually) who has driven tons of these... but some elbow grease was required to finish the job.

We tried about 25 different spots... first area weren't able to get past 3'. So we tried a different side of the house. We got most of them to sink 5' there, but no more. When both got stuck at 5' we gave up for the night. I went at it again with a 20# sledge. The sledge actually worked it deeper. My hands are sore as heck, but I got the job done! I'm thinking there's a layer of clay down there that I had to muscle through.

Before I tried the sledge, I talked to the inspector (who wasn't surprised) and he suggested burying the rods in separate trenches 2-1/2' deep... as someone here mentioned.

Thanks all for the help!!
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Old 09-16-2008, 04:27 PM   #12
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


Hmmm? most lineman I know use a manual ground rod driver. You make them out of 2" high pressure steel pipe that's about 33" long. The inside diameter is a bit larger than the rod. One end of the driver is welded closed with a blank. When the rod get's driven to under 33", we use another rod 33" long with a widened end as a guide. When your finished the two parts go together and are easily transported.

-pete (sorry for no drawing)
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Old 09-16-2008, 07:28 PM   #13
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


Radon, sounds like you are good to go...unless the inspector pulls it up and can't get it back down...
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Old 09-16-2008, 10:53 PM   #14
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


If the soil is deep and there is no rock layer within 8', this might be a help:

I watched an electrician put an 8' ground rod into the ground with nothing but his bare hands and a garden hose.

He got the rod started and then put the garden hose down where the rod entered the ground, letting the water trickle down the hole made by the ground rod. When he wanted to put that rod in, all he had to do was leave the hose running and just spin the rod between his two hands, sort of like using a bow and a piece of wood to start a fire.

It went into that sandy, KS soil like it was made of butter!

Just curious to know of anyone else uses this trick or has seen it work?

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Old 09-17-2008, 10:46 AM   #15
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Eight foot ground rod, how to?


Have someone else hold the ground rod, stand on a ladder, then drive it into the ground with a sledge hammer.

Don't hit the fingers of your helper!

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