The Importance of ‘Grounding’ Electrical Currents

"Grounding" is a term homeowners often come across when dealing with residential - and even business - electrical wiring systems.

Be it installations, renovations and repairs, grounding is sure to be frequently mentioned, as well as discussed by electricians, plumbers and even contractors.

However, a fair amount of us don't entirely know or understand what grounding is all about.

Grounding is vital because it prevents dangerous - and even fatal - electric injuries and shocks.

It protects everyone in the home, keeping them safe from harm and safeguards the property - appliances included - from fires and other electrical damage.
If your property isn’t properly grounded, this may be identified during an electrical safety check.

The Basics Of Electricity

To completely grasp what grounding is and its importance in any home, it will help to first fully understand how the electrical system running through your home works.  

Your city's utility company creates power via its generators. They deliver generated power or electricity to your home using a network of high-tension power lines that run from their power plant and through a series of substations and transformers until it reaches the electrical post on your street or in front of your home.

A main electrical wire will connect from the utility post to your home's electrical system, making you part of their service grid.

Every residential electrical system is made up of metal circuit wires where both positively and negatively charged electrons flow in a current.

The negatively charged electrons or the "hot/live current," run through thick black wires while the positive or neutral charged electrons use white wires.

These hot and neutral wires can be found together in every circuit or outlet as well as running through the main electrical service panel or breaker box in your home. 

The hot or black wires deliver the live current that powers up your appliances while the neutral wire acts as the return path of the current.

This electrical current is a never-ending cycle, and the flow of power will only stop if the circuit is broken - usually by a switch, removing the plug from an outlet or disconnecting from the main power grid.

What is Grounding?

Grounding is when an electrical circuit or appliance merges or connects with the literal ground or Earth.

The natural tendency of electricity is always to return or discharge all its negatively charged electrons back into the ground to maintain the balance between positive and negative.

To ensure that the circuit is allowed to do this is what we call "Grounding."

This return of excess energy to the Earth is done through a grounding wire that runs through your home's electrical system - until it literally goes into the ground to connect to a grounding electrode.

The third pin found in most appliance plugs (that correspond to that bottom, third hole in every convenient outlet) is called the grounding post.

All neutral or white wires are also connected to an earth ground as well, to ensure safety just in case the circuit breaks down. This grounding system acts as an alternative - and safer - path for the current to go back into the ground.

When a hot wire is exposed, or a circuit breaks down or 'short circuits' for whatever reason, the live current may find some other materials to continue the flow of electricity.

A short circuit is when the electricity leaves the wires it is meant to flow through and looks for a shorter route to the ground. 

Some of these materials include the metal frames or housing of many household appliances like microwaves and vacuum cleaners, for example, metal pipes, wood casings and frames as well as other, potentially flammable items. 

This is a dangerous situation that can seriously shock and injure anyone who happens to touch (or get "grounded") by these materials and can also lead to fires and more electrical damage.

The Advantages of Properly Grounding Your Electrical System

If your home is not grounded, you place yourself and your loved ones at risk from serious and even fatal electrical shocks and injuries.

In case of damage and short circuits, for example, a properly grounded system will lead all electrical currents down a safer, alternative path to the Earth - and not through other materials, appliances or even you, saving your life in the process. 

An electrical overload is one of the most dangerous situations that can take place inside your home.
If you receive an excess amount of electricity, from lightning during bad weather or a power surge, for example, your home's electrical system might not be able to cope. This sudden rush of extra electricity can cause all your appliances, outlets and everything else connected to your system to get fried or worse, start an electrical fire.
If your home is grounded correctly, all that extra, surplus electricity will go straight into the Earth, saving your appliances and your home from damage.

It is often challenging - and sometimes difficult - to measure and calculate the various voltage levels from these different sources, leading to potentially dangerous electrical hazards.
When your home is grounded, it can make a positive and significant difference in helping with voltage stabilisation.
The Earth becomes the common point of reference for these sources, ensuring that the right amount of power is distributed at any given time, where you need it. You can then be assured of your family's safety and that none of the circuits in your home will get overloaded.

Grounding is indeed an integral part in keeping your home and family safe and secure.

It serves an essential purpose in any electrical system and should not be overlooked.

It is, therefore, vital that you make sure that your current electrical system is grounded correctly.

To do this safely, call us now, and one of our professional electricians will quickly check your home for any grounding issues you might have.

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