How to add a ground wire to an old house?

After buying an old house, there are usually renovations to be done. Most people usually focus on structural remodeling and making the house more beautiful. While making your house look more beautiful is great, electrical renovation is more important. So, how do you add a ground wire to an old house?

Adding ground wire to your house is essential. So, the first thing is to check. If it’s not there, here are steps for adding it: Get approval, assemble the tools and materials you need, test the receptacle for power, switch off the house’s main power, and install a GCFI receptacle with ground wire.

You can add a ground wire to an outlet. But it gets a lot more complex when it’s for the whole building. In this case, you’re better off calling an electrician. Here, we discuss the step-by-step process of adding a ground wire to an old house.

What is a ground wire?

A ground wire is an electrical wire that goes into the ground below the house. It carries all the excess electrical charges to the earth where it’s safe rather than letting it damage any electrical appliances or even cause physical harm. The earth has a negative electrical charge which means positive electrical charges are attracted. Excess electrical charges are quite common. So, many homes use a surge protector to protect electrical appliances. These charges could result from transformer malfunctions, lightning strikes, or even when you start a powerful electrical appliance. When the house has a grounded electrical system, all excess electricity goes into the ground. But if it’s not, it could go in various ways, some of which can damage your property or even be dangerous to you.

How To Know If Your House Has a Ground Wire

Knowing whether your house has ground wire helps you determine if you have to add one or not. It’s easy to see if the house is grounded because grounded outlets have three outlets rather than the two for an ungrounded house. One of the three outlets contains the ground wire, which goes directly into the ground. If you check your house receptacles and notice that it’s not properly grounded, then it’s time to get your house grounded to ensure maximum protection against the hazards of electricity.

How To Install Ground Wire in A House

If you plan to ground your house, you could call an electrical contractor and save yourself the trouble. But you do it yourself in some situations if you don’t mind getting handy. Here are the steps for adding a ground wire to your old house by yourself.

1.      Get Approval from Authorities

All electrical works, even the ones in your residence, require the permission of your local authorities. You should check the electrical codes to see what’s necessary and make sure you do it. You may also need to arrange some inspections during the whole project, so they’ll confirm that it’s up to code. There are regulations on wiring your home and where to install GFI or GCFI. You should only start any work when you’re familiar with all the requirements and you have gotten all the approvals you need.

2.      Get the Necessary Tools

You’ll need several tools and materials when you want to add a ground wire. The most important is a circuit tester which you must make sure you have. It detects the electrical configurations of the receptacle, and some can also test the GFCI receptacle to detect excess current. So, a tester is what you need to identify if it’s a wiring malfunction or if an outlet isn’t currently grounded. You can get the tools you need at any local home repair store. Make sure to add rubber gloves to any tool you’re getting to ensure your safety.

3.      Test The Receptacle

Use the circuit tester to see which receptacle is correctly connected and which one has issues. You’ll see an indicator light on the tester once you plug it in. the tester usually has three prongs for hot, neutral, and ground. When testing, you can use tape to mark the issues with the ground wire.

4.      Switch Off the House’s Main power

Once you’re done testing, it’s time to switch off the house’s power before you start working. This is the safest thing, but if you’re only fixing the ground wire issues in some rooms, you can switch off the circuit breaker for that particular room.

5.      Remove The Cover Plate and Test the Receptacle

Carefully remove the cover plate on the receptacle using a screwdriver. You should be gentle as possible when doing this to avoid damaging the wall or wallpaper and spoiling the room’s appearance. Once you’ve removed the cover plate, bring out the receptacle, and you should find three wires normally. But if your house isn’t grounded, you’ll only find two. That means you have to add a ground wire. You’ll also need to add GFI or GCFI receptacle if the house uses a 2-prong receptacle.

6.      Add Ground Wire to The New Receptacles

If you’re installing a new receptacle, you’ll need to know the electrical wire color codes and which wire goes into which terminal. The white wire goes into the silver terminal, while the black wire fire goes into the brass terminal. Then you’ll have to attach a green grounding wire to the ground terminal and wrap each terminal with electrical tapes while separating them before putting them back in the box.

Adding Ground Wire to the Whole Building

If you’re adding ground wire for the whole building, you don’t need to remove all the old wiring. Just disconnect it from the service panel, and you’re good to go. But you’ll likely still face the challenge of passing the cable through the walls, ceilings, and floors as you seek to install a whole new electrical system. It may be impossible to bypass some obstacles, which means you may have to break through some parts of the house and cause some damage, no matter how minimal.

You also need to install a new 125-ampere circuit breaker panel and service drop. While you can do this yourself, you’ll need a professional electrician to connect it to the new service drop from the utility company.

In Conclusion

Adding ground wire to outlets in an old house is quite easy, and you can do it on your own. If you’re confused about anything, you can easily check video tutorials online to get back on track. But if you’re planning to ground the whole building, you might consider calling a professional electrician to make the work easier and faster.