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CapnSteubing 08-25-2009 12:05 PM

Grounding a mess!
The electricity setup here is kind of weird. I'll have to use pictures to explain what I'm talking about.
What I want to do is ground my garage and the building next to it. Here's How it looks:

The main panel has a grounding rod at it, but none of the others do. The main 200 amp breaker is fed from the meter, and under that is a 100 amp breaker that feeds Panel 2. The house also has a breaker here, but the house is fine.

This is inside Panel 2 which is a disconnect that was added because the 265' wire that was used wasn't quite long enough. There's a single 100 amp breaker in it:

Panel 3 is inside the garage, has a 100 amp main breaker, and feeds the building next to it with another 100 amp breaker. Also, the neutral and the ground rails look like they are connected at the top.. The ground wires are all connected to the ground rail. Should I remove that top piece?

Panel 4 is in the last building and has five 20 amp breakers in it. All of the ground wires for these circuits are hanging out of the box disconnected and out of view:

I didn't wire this, I just need to get it grounded as cheap as possible.
Could I just drill a hole in the slab under Panel 3 and put a ground rod there?

I don't see where the ground wires should even go on panels 2 and 4...
Any suggestions?

Sorry about the picture quality, I can take better pictures if you need to see better.

Stubbie 08-25-2009 01:20 PM

Something we need to know first....

Are there any metal water lines or gas lines or any other cables like phone or cable that run from the house to the garage and other building...?

BTW you have a couple other things that need to be done...all fixable.


CapnSteubing 08-25-2009 02:47 PM

There's a phone line that's not hooked up.. There's an ethernet cable that I use every day that goes right to slab 2... There's also some cable tv coax. The water lines are PVC.

CapnSteubing 08-28-2009 06:39 AM

Sorry to bump my own post here, but I really need someone to point me in the right direction. I was really hoping to be able to fix it while I'm on vacation this week.

Scuba_Dave 08-28-2009 07:17 AM

I was required to run (2) 8' ground rods at least 6' away
They had to be pounded into the ground & connected together & to the panel
My understanding is (each?) panel in a detached structure must have ground rods
What is holding panel 2 up? Just a post?
Not sure if grounding there is needed

Panel 3 that bar if it attaches both buss (looks like it) should be removed
Grounds & neutrals should be separate - looks like they are
But I see 2 white wires on the right - ?
2 ground rods are needed here

What feeds panel 4 (breaker) ?
Make sure that neutral buss is not grounded to the case
Add a grounding bus that is connected to the case
Add the grounds back in
Install 2 ground rods

That's what I can see - I'm not an eletrician

CapnSteubing 08-28-2009 08:39 AM

Yeah, panel 2 is just on a post.
Not sure about the white wires, I'll make sure those are right when I put it back together.
Can I buy just a grounding bus from home depot or lowes?
Panel 4 is being fed from one of the breakers on panel 3, a 100 amp breaker.

Do you mean the 2 ground rods have to be six feet from each other or from the panel?
Can I drill 2 holes in slab 1 under or near the panel and drive the ground rods through the slab, or do I need to run the wire out of the building and put the ground rods outside?

CapnSteubing 08-29-2009 10:00 AM

Going to try to buy the rods, clamps, and wire today.

I thought of another question though.. The 265 foot span of wire is 2 hots and a neutral with no ground... I don't have to run a ground wire all that way do I?

Stubbie 08-29-2009 11:04 AM

1 Attachment(s)

Going to try to buy the rods, clamps, and wire today

I thought of another question though.. The 265 foot span of wire is 2 hots and a neutral with no ground... I don't have to run a ground wire all that way do I?
You should if you want to be code compliant it would be a green #8 copper if feeder is on a 100 amp breaker. This is because of the phone line/data line. You say also unhooked coax..? Long story but will explain if you want.


Your conduit appears to be pvc if it is metal let us know. Assuming pvc conduit.....and you say you have no ground wire ran with the feeders between panels.

Your feeding those panels with 3 wire feeders...therefore you do not separate neutral and ground. You bond them and to the metal case of the breaker enclosure. All neutrals and ground to same bar. You must bond them because you don't have a ground ran with the feeder.

Just to note... without the ground ran with the feeder your installation is not compliant because you have other metallic paths between buildings.

IMO though best to comply with 3 wire feeder in your case and then consider the 4 wire if you want metallic paths other than the feeder.This should be done as soon as possible. It's not the end of the world but is required for code compliancy

1st panel on the post should have the neutral bonded to the metal enclosure. I can't tell if it is or not since it appears that the splicing lug is set on insulated standoffs. That unused lug can be used for this if it isn't. You will need to put another lug on the panel metal and run a jumper to it. This will bond the metal to neutral...clean the paint off under the lug. A ground rod should be set at this panel and bonded to the neutral. If the neutral is bonded already then that unused lug can be used for this.

Close that open knockout hole, put a locknut on the conduit at the bottom wrap white tape on the neutral to identify it. Get rid of the red stuff.

2nd panel in 1st building. Do not remove that bar...scuba is thinking 4 wire feeder you don't have that you have 3 wire feeder. It does however to NOT appear to be bonded. That hole you see in your image to the right of your arrow I believe is your bonding point to bond the metal of the panel to neutral. You need to get the green screw that came with that panel or get one from the supply house and bond the neutral to the metal of the panel in that panel thru the bonding point. The green screw should thread into the panel after it goes thru that bar...should be a predrilled swaged hole in the panel metal behind that hole in that bar. I don't think it is bonded because the neutrals aand grounds appear to be separated in that panel. Bond that panel!! Mark the neutral white. I come back and try to take a closer look at the panel . The white wires connected to breakers need to be marked white at the connection points but don't make this your proirty.

3rd panel... Need to make sure main bonding jumper is installed (green screw) if that panel is feed by 3 wire feeder. I don't think the green screw is installed. I believe it goes in that slotted hole just left of the neutral lug. Check it!
Both buildings need main disconnects it appears you are in compliance at the 1st building and 2nd building considering the 6 disconnect rule for that building. However if you are way off from the entry of the feeder to those buildings with your panel locations you are in violation of not having the panel at or near the entrance of the feeder.

Ground rod at both buildings.

See below attachment this is a guide for you to follow you should have all this looked at by a qualified electrician soon....:thumbsup:

Stubbie 08-29-2009 11:06 AM

For the first panel on the pole use a #4 copper jumper to the panel if that neutral isn't bonded already. # 6 is fine to all ground rods.

CapnSteubing 08-30-2009 01:33 PM

Well, I put a ground rod in just below the surface at panel 2 with 4 awg ground wire, through a lug connected to a bare metal part of the box i sanded then into that open lug that was there. That red stuff was actually a mass of red ant corpses around all the wires going into that breaker.. I cleaned them all out of there. Odd thing.

On Panel 3, I ran the 6 awg ground wire outside and buried the ground rod. I also found the screw for that top bar in the bottom of the panel and screwed it in. I just put the ground wire right into the ground wire bus with the other ground wires.

On panel 4, I put in the ground rod and ran the 6 awg ground wire straight into the neutral bus, and put another 6 awg jumper wire, also from the neutral bus, to the panel case itself. The rest of the ground wires for the various circuits also went into the neutral bus.

The battery backup unit I have in the building powered by panel 4 has a wiring fault light on it. Before, the light would be on dim until I plugged in the computer, and then it would be bright.
Now the light is off completely no matter what's on.

Hopefully I did everything right.
Thank you for the help, I appreciate it very much.

Is there anything I can do to make my cat5 cable and my coax cable tv cable safely grounded? The coax wire comes off the pole and is buried without conduit the whole 270 feet. Also, the cat5 cable has no conduit.

Stubbie 08-30-2009 11:42 PM

Sounds like you did everything fine that needed to be done with the grounding and bonding. The other cables in the ground is a tough one. If you don't run a ground from them to the panel or its ground rod you lose some protection to your computer equipment in case of lightning strike etc...high voltage events. If you do then you have the chance (though remote) that if the neutral opened in one of your feeders and those cables are also grounded at your homes main panel or ground rod then the cables metal ground sheath in the coax will start carrying the neutral current back to the main panel in the home to get back to the transformer. In other words it becomes the neutral. If you draw it on paper it will make sense to you.

Glad to help

Stubbie 08-31-2009 01:46 AM

Looking at panel 4 where are all the ground wires of the branch circuits? I only see neutrals.

I'm not sure about the battery backup light.... is it light on = no faults??

CapnSteubing 08-31-2009 06:53 AM

The ground wires were outside the top of the picture... They were all just bent up out of the way and hanging there unattached.

The light is on when there's a fault and now it's off all the time. :thumbsup:
If I put a grounding block on the cable tv coaxial line outside slab 2 and tied it to the ground rod at panel 4, would that be good for that wire? Would I need another one at the other end of the wire? (in the grey cable tv box with all the splitters at the side of the main house)
I keep the cat5 cable unplugged when I'm not using it or it starts to thunder, so that should probably still be ok, I think.

Stubbie 08-31-2009 10:07 AM

I think that is a reasonable option for you on the other cables.

Don't put a ground in the same terminal hole with a neutral on Panel 4. Neutrals cannot share termination points with ground wires. Grounds can be doubled in the same hole if the same size.

good luck

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