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Old 08-01-2011, 08:59 PM   #1
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smaller ground


I have run into this small ground wire and I know this is not suitable for a good ground. I was just wondering if it is okay to just attach it to the ground screw or to just cap it or what? It looks it is the stage before romex because its not a plastic sheathing.

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Old 08-01-2011, 09:19 PM   #2
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When ground wires first came into existence in romex cable the ground wire was one size smaller than the conductors. The cabin we tore down last summer had an electrical inspection sticker from 1961 and all the wiring had grounds one size less than the conductors. Most of the cabin was #14 romex with #16 ground. Use it as is and treat it like any ground wire.

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Old 08-01-2011, 09:41 PM   #3
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You just can't extend the circuit off it.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:07 PM   #4
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smaller ground


Does anyone know why they make it smaller? Just curious
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Old 08-02-2011, 07:47 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by jmans8666 View Post
Does anyone know why they make it smaller? Just curious
The smaller ground romex has been out of production for quite awhile - 40+ years, I'd guess. Current production cabling in 10, 12, and 14 have the ground the same sized as the conductors.
Remember, the ground is there for safety and in normal conditions has zero current flowing. On a dead short, it only has to handle current until the breaker trips.
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Old 08-02-2011, 03:22 PM   #6
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The smaller ground romex has been out of production for quite awhile - 40+ years, I'd guess. Current production cabling in 10, 12, and 14 have the ground the same sized as the conductors.
Remember, the ground is there for safety and in normal conditions has zero current flowing. On a dead short, it only has to handle current until the breaker trips.
I know why its there and all but I meant like why was it made smaller back then
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Old 08-02-2011, 04:35 PM   #7
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I know why its there and all but I meant like why was it made smaller back then
Think about what was happening between the late 1930's and early 1950's really hard.
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:05 PM   #8
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I know why its there and all but I meant like why was it made smaller back then
That's a pretty tough question.
Could have been:
Cost of materials
Probably felt that one size smaller was safe, which it is.
Didn't know any reason to make it equal.
Got along for years without a ground.
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:12 PM   #9
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smaller ground


Well as long as it works its good
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Old 08-02-2011, 06:41 PM   #10
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Umm, how much smaller is it?

My house is about 125 years old. What few grounds I've found seem to be iron wire about 1mm in diameter. Is that possible?

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Old 08-02-2011, 06:47 PM   #11
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Are you sure that it is not carbon wire? Iron would have corroded away a long time ago.
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:34 PM   #12
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Funny that in the US, a reduced ground was eliminated when the 1971 Code took effect.

But in Canada, romex (they call it "loomex") still has a reduced grounding conductor in it, and they have not burned down, nor experienced mass electrocutions up there.
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:43 PM   #13
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Funny that in the US, a reduced ground was eliminated when the 1971 Code took effect.
Wow, you remember back that far
Maybe time for dessert
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:13 PM   #14
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Carbon wire? I'll definitely have to web search that one.

Well, steel wire, whatever, and maybe 2mm. Maybe copper or even nickel coated copper. But as I recall stiffer, and yeah it's rusting and busting up all over the place. Hence only 1 in 5 outlets are grounded. Kind of a big bummer. The electrical was upgraded in '76 with a bunch of new rigid runs and boxes in the basement, but few if any new circuits. I assumed for years they'd gone the last foot with NM or something. When I found the knob and tube stuff in the switchboxes I just figured they left the switch legs in the old wire. But when I started finding it in outlets on the first floor I got suspicious, sure enough I peeked up behind the boxes in the basement and they had left the last foot or three in the old wire, and didn't pull new grounds. That's ridiculous considering that even the K&T in my house was all retrofit and not nailed in. It's trivial to use the old wire to pull NM into place.
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Old 08-02-2011, 10:05 PM   #15
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Old houses, you never know what people use, especially if it was a old farm house. When we redid our bath, we found a nice taped up mess just stuffed into the wall cavity. Old trailer I bought from my sister, the person that wired the front light & heat tape outlet, used 16awg lamp wire from an extension cord. Carbon wire is really not made out of Carbon, it looks like that after it ages, due to the coating from the air getting to it over time.

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