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Old 01-21-2013, 07:56 PM   #1
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


So, I have one last thing I need to do before my inspector comes out...

Got my 4/0-4/0-2/0 main service drop installed, new meter base hooked up, and am all set with the new load center - just going to switch it in as soon as power company shuts main power off. Shouldn't take me more than an hour to pull the old center and wires and drop in the new center and all of the circuits I'm ready to have inspected and turned on.

So... Based on local codes and in checking with the city and power company, I need to add ground rods to my new service - grounding to plumbing isn't sufficient.

Lowe's sold me the rods and the connectors so I have everything I need.

Except, here in MN, temps are currently sitting below 0...

I've heard of a few different ways to get this done mid-winter... Some people have talked about using some form of heater and letting it sit there for several days, but this may not be the best option due to the time needed, not to mention I'm not sure how much something like that costs...

I've also heard of using either a masonry or auger bit on a hammer drill just to get below the frostline, but others have said that this won't work and would probably damage the bit and the drill before actually getting anywhere.

I've also heard about just using a plain sledgehammer and working until the rods finally break through, but this seems like it wouldn't work too well - the ground is obviously pretty solid and I'd probably bend the rod before getting any real depth.

I don't know if the inspector will approve anything to be energized without these as they are required by code...

Anyone have any advice on this?

This honestly was a little (but significant) oversight - I got my permits and everything in order long ago, but didn't get going with the electrical until it was starting to get cold out... and now it's way TOO cold!

If the inspector won't approve it, I'm afraid to have the old service shut off, because I'd be without power (And thus without heat!) But at the same time, the old system is horribly unsafe, and I don't feel at all comfortable using it any longer than it needs to be used!

Advice please? Thanks!

F

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Old 01-21-2013, 08:00 PM   #2
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


Ayuh,.... In my experience, the rod itself can be driven by a big enough hammer drill, will sink a rod, as quickly as you can push it down,....

Frozen or not...

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Old 01-21-2013, 08:17 PM   #3
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


Rent a hammer drill with a ground rod attachment.
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:18 PM   #4
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


As long as it has not been below freezing for a couple of weeks, you should be fine right now. Now of course if you wait until this Saturday, you may have an issue if it does not warm up. Especially that MN is getting -20 to -50 below, depending on where you are.
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:22 PM   #5
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


Hammer Drill a hole thru the frozen ground, then insert the rod and drive it the rest of the way with your sledge. If a hammer drill bit can punch through concrete, why not ice?
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:47 PM   #6
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


Here is a map of current ground temps at 6" below the soil http://gis.mda.state.mn.us/maps/csgsoil.htm Looking at it, you have nothing to worry about, so get driving.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:00 PM   #7
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


A heavy duty roto-hammer will get the job done in no time.
There is a difference between a hammer-drill and a roto-hammer or demo-hammer btw. You want a big roto/demo-hammer set to hammer only mode.
It will go through that ice like it isn't even there.

Once you start trying to drive 8 foot rods through hard ground with a sledge hammer you will quickly be willing to give power tools a try.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:21 PM   #8
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


If you can rent a tool to drive them I would do it because I have driven them in the winter with a sledge and it's not a pleasant experience.

They have a point and you can make it a little sharper to help you get started.
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:37 AM   #9
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


Great advice guys

Gonna try renting the roto-hammer, I think our tool rental place has them.

Do you recommend I get a bit and pre-drill down into the ground? That's what I was thinking made the most sense... I was also seeing that some roto-hammers can actually just grab the grounding rod in the chuck and hammer it without any extra attachments... so sounds like what I'd do is pre-drill down into the ground as far as I can go, and then just throw the rod in and start hammering away.

Actually looks like this may be simpler than it seemed.

Thanks

f
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Old 01-22-2013, 01:52 AM   #10
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


It's the middle of winter here.....really cold....I wouldn't have any trouble driving a ground rod....

Good advice above.........
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:29 AM   #11
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


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Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
It's the middle of winter here.....really cold....I wouldn't have any trouble driving a ground rod....

Good advice above.........
Good god, ddawg, you live in southern Cal, have you seen frost other than in your refrigerator?
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:30 AM   #12
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


The OP area, they are showing low 30's for ground temps, so really not what I would consider frozen yet.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:39 AM   #13
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


Quote:
Originally Posted by jbfan View Post
Rent a hammer drill with a ground rod attachment.
This. I watched a tv show about lightning protection being installed in a house, and something like that was used for the ground rods. I couldn't believe how fast they went in. Literally less than a minute.

As a retired military generator guy, I've pounded in my fair share of ground rods by hand. It generally isn't much fun.

Last edited by md2lgyk; 01-22-2013 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:29 AM   #14
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


Quote:
Originally Posted by md2lgyk View Post
This. I watched a tv show about lightning protection being installed in a house, and something like that was used for the ground rods. I couldn't believe how fast they went in. Literally less than a minute.

As a retired military generator guy, I've pounded in my fair share of ground rods by hand. It generally isn't much fun.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:49 AM   #15
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Install ground rod - middle of the winter!


Use one of these on a jack hammer or large hammer drill. Let the tool do the hard work.


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