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Old 06-12-2014, 10:50 AM   #1
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Grounding Boxes Keep Changing


Sorry if this has been brought us elsewhere.

It seems that every time a new version of the NEC comes out, the box manufacturers make changes. Past examples are, the boxes used to have no ground terminals or even holes pre-drilled for grounds. Then they started putting ground holes in the boxes, but it was up to the electrician to tap it when used. Then they started putting unlabeled tapped 10-32 holes in for ground screws. Then they started putting a ground symbol or the word "ground" next to these holes. Then they started putting a raised platform in the box, so the ground screw would not project beyond the back of the box (and dig into anything behind the box). That change reduced the volume of the box but I don't know if it really had any effect on box fill requirements. (I now see box volume stamped on new boxes.) Then they started putting multiple ground holes on these raised platforms. Now, I am starting to see boxes with ground screws already installed in these holes. I just picked up a four gang metal switch box and it had eight ground screw points and four ground screws already installed.

With regards to the boxes -- in the past, I would take all the incoming grounds and also grounds that went to outlets (or whatever) and wire nut them all together, along with a short bare copper or green jumper wire which was appropriately sized and attach that wire to a ground screw. In the 1970's an inspector even "failed" an installation when I used two ground screws (one to the power, one to the outlet), saying that the wire nut way was the only approved way to do things, and that the box could only be grounded in one place. These new boxes would seem to be a violation if this 1970's rule is still in place. My current inspector (who was a pipefitter for the village and was transferred to inspection services after an injury) said he would prefer to see each incoming cable's ground wire run to a separate ground screw in the back of the box (if enough exist) and only use wire nuts when not enough grounding screw holes are present. He also said he would prefer to see the grounds from each cable to go to only ground screws in that gang, and to make them as short as practical since they should never have to be changed.

My second question about grounds is that sometimes I run into switches that mount in switch boxes that have ground screws on them even when the switch also has the spring-grounding on the mounting screw. Is it necessary to add a ground wire to that terminal if the box is grounded, or is the grounding attachment screw sufficient? (My local inspector said the grounding screw was for use if the switch is used in a plastic box and not necessary in metal boxes as long as the spring-grounding attachment feature was in place and the metal box is grounded. He has been wrong a few times in the past.)

Another minor box issue is that my current inspector says I should leave all unused clamps in the box. He wants me to screw them closed but leave them. He says the reason is they might be needed in the future and should be left in place. I always in the past have taken them out and thrown them away since they take up room.

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Old 06-12-2014, 11:09 AM   #2
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Grounding Boxes Keep Changing


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Sorry if this has been brought us elsewhere.

It seems that every time a new version of the NEC comes out, the box manufacturers make changes. Past examples are, the boxes used to have no ground terminals or even holes pre-drilled for grounds. Then they started putting ground holes in the boxes, but it was up to the electrician to tap it when used. Then they started putting unlabeled tapped 10-32 holes in for ground screws. Then they started putting a ground symbol or the word "ground" next to these holes. Then they started putting a raised platform in the box, so the ground screw would not project beyond the back of the box (and dig into anything behind the box). That change reduced the volume of the box but I don't know if it really had any effect on box fill requirements. (I now see box volume stamped on new boxes.) Then they started putting multiple ground holes on these raised platforms. Now, I am starting to see boxes with ground screws already installed in these holes. I just picked up a four gang metal switch box and it had eight ground screw points and four ground screws already installed.

I have never seen boxes with that many grounds.

With regards to the boxes -- in the past, I would take all the incoming grounds and also grounds that went to outlets (or whatever) and wire nut them all together, along with a short bare copper or green jumper wire which was appropriately sized and attach that wire to a ground screw. In the 1970's an inspector even "failed" an installation when I used two ground screws (one to the power, one to the outlet), saying that the wire nut way was the only approved way to do things, and that the box could only be grounded in one place. These new boxes would seem to be a violation if this 1970's rule is still in place. My current inspector (who was a pipefitter for the village and was transferred to inspection services after an injury) said he would prefer to see each incoming cable's ground wire run to a separate ground screw in the back of the box (if enough exist) and only use wire nuts when not enough grounding screw holes are present. He also said he would prefer to see the grounds from each cable to go to only ground screws in that gang, and to make them as short as practical since they should never have to be changed.

It doesn't matter what he prefers, it is what is code compliant, and connecting them by wire nuts is fine.

My second question about grounds is that sometimes I run into switches that mount in switch boxes that have ground screws on them even when the switch also has the spring-grounding on the mounting screw. Is it necessary to add a ground wire to that terminal if the box is grounded, or is the grounding attachment screw sufficient? (My local inspector said the grounding screw was for use if the switch is used in a plastic box and not necessary in metal boxes as long as the spring-grounding attachment feature was in place and the metal box is grounded. He has been wrong a few times in the past.)

If the ground screw and wire are there, use them

Another minor box issue is that my current inspector says I should leave all unused clamps in the box. He wants me to screw them closed but leave them. He says the reason is they might be needed in the future and should be left in place. I always in the past have taken them out and thrown them away since they take up room.
Let the next person worry about where the clamps are.
I pull them also.



Answers in red.

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Old 06-12-2014, 11:24 AM   #3
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Grounding Boxes Keep Changing


If the box is metal, and the device says "self grounding" you can just connect the grounds to the metal box and let the receptacle ground via the screws. Of course if you prefer you can have a ground wire to both. As long as the box is grounded your ok and its to code. If the device isn't listed as self grounding then ground both.
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Old 06-12-2014, 11:29 AM   #4
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I think the OP might be in Canada.
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Old 06-12-2014, 11:54 AM   #5
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Oh come on now guys. We all know when it comes to electrical, inspectors can go above and beyond code if they feel like it, especially with grounds. I have an inspector 15miles away in the next county that insists buchanans are used on grounds and not wire nuts. In our county, they only want the green wire nuts, no other color allowed, and in a different city, that inspector wants all the grounds tied together with a green wire nut with the hole in the middle for a wire to tie to the box.

In a county north of me, the inspector hates when a homeowner does his own electrical work and makes his life a living hell. He told one homeowner that wired his new addition that he wanted gold plated ground screws on all the outlets and switches. The guy went all over searching for them, went to an electrical supply store, asked them. The guy at the counter looked puzzled, said "yeah, I can get them, but you have to order 5000. Why do you want them?" The homeowner said the inspector told him they were needed. The counter guy smiled and shook his head, went in back, made a phone call. Came back and told the guy, he talked to the inspector, and the green screws that came with the receptacles will be fine.....
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:39 PM   #6
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Actually the inspector cannot make demands like that. They need to show a local amendment or enforce the adopted code. If not someone needs to go over their heads and report them.

It sounds like some have let their egos get in the way of doing the job they were hired to do and no one has stepped up to stop it.
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Old 06-12-2014, 06:13 PM   #7
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Grounding Boxes Keep Changing


Well, honestly, would you want to get on the bad side of the inspector? Or just do it the way they want, as long as it's safe. In general, the building inspectors around me are the same way. You have to know what inspector you are dealing with to know how to build something. A house you build here will be different from a house you build in the next city 15 miles away. And we don't live in some tiny hodunk town. There's 200,000 people here and in the similar towns nearby.
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Old 06-12-2014, 06:54 PM   #8
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I hate those green wire nuts; they take up to much real estate. I use copper crimp ferrules. If an inspector told me I was wrong, I would call him on it.
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Old 06-12-2014, 07:42 PM   #9
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Well, honestly, would you want to get on the bad side of the inspector? Or just do it the way they want, as long as it's safe. In general, the building inspectors around me are the same way. You have to know what inspector you are dealing with to know how to build something. A house you build here will be different from a house you build in the next city 15 miles away. And we don't live in some tiny hodunk town. There's 200,000 people here and in the similar towns nearby.
Um, I would make him do his job, or go over him... plain and simple. The NEC is a permissive document, so unless he provides a code section violation, they can pound sand.
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:18 PM   #10
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Grounding Boxes Keep Changing


that post was too blanch
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:25 PM   #11
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Blanch? what's that?
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:28 PM   #12
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Blanch? what's that?
Sitcom B=Blanch

B: You used to be so considerate. Since you got married to me you haven't got any sympathy at all.
J: I have, too. I've got everybody's sympathy.
B: Believe me, there's better fish in the ocean than the one I caught.
J: There's better bait, too.
B: I don't see how you can go to bed without kissing me good night.
J: I can do it.
B: You'd better say you're sorry for that, John.
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B: You are not.
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J: I took a bath in it.
B: Why didn't you eat it?
J: I've told you a million times I can't stand the sight of rice.
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J: Because it's connected to the saddest mistake of my life.
B: You stopped loving me the day we were married.
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Old 06-12-2014, 10:00 PM   #13
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Actually the inspector cannot make demands like that. They need to show a local amendment or enforce the adopted code. If not someone needs to go over their heads and report them.

It sounds like some have let their egos get in the way of doing the job they were hired to do and no one has stepped up to stop it.
I'm outta THANKS... but Thanks Jim.....

We can all tolerate a BO's error or even strict but questionable interpertation (subject to damage... wet or moist condition)... but when they are just authoritarian, non-well intentioned, ignorent overpaid civil pigs at the trough, it is time to speak up and make an issue... or else it just continues to get worse.

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Old 06-13-2014, 09:34 AM   #14
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Ah yes. Gotta love them sparkys! Always 10 feet tall and bulletproof! So, when you are on a job, and the inspector says you need to use the green wire nuts, and you tell him to please cite the code saying they need to be green, and he tells you that he wants them green and that's all you need to see. So what then? He's not going to pass you unless you change them. You want to go to his boss? Ok, well you can start at the township, or the county, but they will tell you they don't know anything about it, and that you will have to take it up with the construction board of appeals, which meets once a month. So are you going to hold up finishing your job to meet with the board in 3 weeks? Do you think the contractor is going to be happy to hear your work didn't pass and that it will be at least 3 weeks before it may get passed? Or do you just use the green wire nuts and be done with it? I can tell you what happens around here....comply or pay the price.
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Old 06-13-2014, 04:09 PM   #15
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Ah yes. Gotta love them sparkys! Always 10 feet tall and bulletproof! So, when you are on a job, and the inspector says you need to use the green wire nuts, and you tell him to please cite the code saying they need to be green, and he tells you that he wants them green and that's all you need to see. So what then? He's not going to pass you unless you change them. You want to go to his boss? Ok, well you can start at the township, or the county, but they will tell you they don't know anything about it, and that you will have to take it up with the construction board of appeals, which meets once a month. So are you going to hold up finishing your job to meet with the board in 3 weeks? Do you think the contractor is going to be happy to hear your work didn't pass and that it will be at least 3 weeks before it may get passed? Or do you just use the green wire nuts and be done with it? I can tell you what happens around here....comply or pay the price.
Let me give you a more realistic example; Wiring 200 condo's, each condo contains a air handler in each attic space, each air handler requires a receptacle, which is provided by the electoral contractor, inspector demands GFCI's in attic space, take into consideration, this was all BID work, so 200 units times $10 dollars, plus labor to change out so called code violation equates to $2000.00 dollars just in material, so YES, i am that bold.... and I will not fold to bull**** inspector request, I only have to make a phone call in connecticut since we only have one AHJ, pretty simply process if you ask me.

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