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Thread: Ground Wires Only Twisted

  1. #1

    Default Ground Wires Only Twisted

    I have been replacing the 22 year old receptacles and switches in the house I just moved in to. The house has plastic boxes.

    Downstairs the ground wires are wire nutted together as they should be. However, upstairs they are only twisted together with no nut, with one wire folded back on itself leading to the ground screw.

    Is it worth the effort to go round and putting a wire nut on these ground wires?

  2. #2
    Electrician ElectricKing's Avatar
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    Honestly, I have been questioning this for years until i discussed it with many city inspectors city-wide. The purpose is to assure that the ground wire is interconnected but as well as connected to the outlet.

    now, one time an inspector asked me to put ground clamps on the ground wires because there was no wire nut that was holding them together but they were twisted together and then one wire went to the outlet. that inspector did not like that. the other 100,000 houses i have worked on, the inspectors had no problem. so i asked a few inspectors after what they think about that inspector that made me put ground clamps on all the grounds and they said it just depended on the inspector.

    short and simple as long as the ground wires are connected tight and has strong continuity between the ground and neutral, then your safe. dont worry about it. the electrician still knew what he was doing.

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    Electrician Chris75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kraftwerk View Post

    Is it worth the effort to go round and putting a wire nut on these ground wires?

    YES!, I'm not saying I've never seen the method you described, but it is a code violation, they need to be spliced or joined within the box or to the box with devices suitable for the use.

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    Electrician Chris75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElectricKing View Post
    Honestly, I have been questioning this for years until i discussed it with many city inspectors city-wide. The purpose is to assure that the ground wire is interconnected but as well as connected to the outlet.

    now, one time an inspector asked me to put ground clamps on the ground wires because there was no wire nut that was holding them together but they were twisted together and then one wire went to the outlet. that inspector did not like that. the other 100,000 houses i have worked on, the inspectors had no problem. so i asked a few inspectors after what they think about that inspector that made me put ground clamps on all the grounds and they said it just depended on the inspector.

    short and simple as long as the ground wires are connected tight and has strong continuity between the ground and neutral, then your safe. dont worry about it. the electrician still knew what he was doing.

    Why are you asking the inspector what he wants? why not look it up yourself what code actually requires? Not what a inspector wants...

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElectricKing View Post
    short and simple as long as the ground wires are connected tight and has strong continuity between the ground and neutral, then your safe. dont worry about it. the electrician still knew what he was doing.
    No, not so much. Some form of mechanical connection IS/was required.
    Would I go around and fix every one? Probably. Depends on how well they were twisted.

  6. #6
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris75 View Post
    Why are you asking the inspector what he wants? why not look it up yourself what code actually requires? Not what a inspector wants...
    I AGREE...

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    Electrician Chris75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    I AGREE...
    Cant stress that one enough.....

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member Wrex's Avatar
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    Yup no wire nuts is just bad practice.

    What's next neutral wires without wire nuts?

    Even the best twisted wires can come apart if a wire nut isn't holding them together.

    I also use the method described above I twist all of the grounds together and cap them off with a wire nut. One of the wires is a little pigtail connected to the recepticles ground screw.
    Last edited by Wrex; 08-03-2008 at 11:16 PM.
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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    Some form of mechanical connection IS/was required.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wrex View Post
    Even the best twisted wires can come apart if a wire nut isn't holding them together.
    I do not know about the NEC and all of that, but two or more wires properly twisted together are definitely "mechanically connected", and no wire nut is necessary for keeping them that way ... and a simple coat hanger is an excellent example of those two facts. Personally, I have *never* seen wire nuts added to solid ground wires twisted together, and I cannot imagine anyone substituting them where clamps are actually required.

  10. #10
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leejosepho View Post
    I do not know about the NEC and all of that, but two or more wires properly twisted together are definitely "mechanically connected", and no wire nut is necessary for keeping them that way ...
    The NEC and all of that huh???
    Well I DO know about the NEC and a mechanical connection IS most certainly required, and twisting alone is NOT a mechanical connection.

    I'm sorry, but advice like your last post is what is dangerously wrong with internet message boards. There is no accountability for knowingly giving incorrect or erroneous advice.




    250.8 Connection of Grounding and Bonding Equipment
    Grounding conductors and bonding jumpers shall be connected by exothermic welding, listed pressure connectors, listed clamps, or other listed means. Connection devices or fittings that depend solely on solder shall not be used. Sheet metal screws shall not be used to connect grounding conductors or connection devices to enclosures.

  11. #11
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    And people wonder why this thread got started!!!!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by kraftwerk View Post
    ...Is it worth the effort to go round and putting a wire nut on these ground wires?
    I would put it on your to do list to install wire nuts on these as a ground connection could potentially carry the same current as the other wires (if malfunction somewhere).

    A mechanical connection is better than a twist. A twist *and* a wire nut or crimp connector is best in my opinion, as opposed to no twist and a wire nut.

    Some electrical connections (large amperage) also need to be tightened with a torque wrench to a certain tightness or the connection can become warm/hot! For example read the label on a new electric panel and it should say how many foot pounds the main lugs should be tightened.

  13. #13
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    [I]... advice like your last post is ...
    Slow down a bit and look more closely: I gave no advice at all. Rather, it is a mechanical fact that two wires or ends (such as with a coat hanger) properly twisted together are "mechanically connected" and not going to come apart even if that expression means something different or more in the NEC. Now, my personal practice is to crimp sleeves around twisted ground wires, but that is only to assure the integrity of the mechanical connection already established ... just like when soldering electrical wiring: The mechanical connection is first, then the solder is applied to assure it.

  14. #14
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Whatever bud, but this certainly looks like advice to me:
    Quote Originally Posted by leejosepho View Post
    ..., but two or more wires properly twisted together are definitely "mechanically connected", and no wire nut is necessary for keeping them that way ....

    You can convince yourself to to do anything you feel justified doing.

    Giving advice on boards like this, or giving examples of how to do something, that is not code legal is simply wrong.

    Your "coat hanger" example holds no water in my world of soft copper wire.

  15. #15
    Like an engineer alternety's Avatar
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    My thought on why you should use wire nuts (not arguing with code). When you put on a wire nut it essentially creates multiple gas tight electrical connections from the pressure, small contact area size, and rigidity of the inner wire cone pressing into the softer copper. When you twist wire together (say with pliers) you do not have conditions that will necessarily create a gas tight contact. Over time, wire without a nut can develop surface oxidation that can degrade the connection. Since the ground only carries appreciable current when something goes wrong, you are unlikely to notice any problem developing over years. All the current carrying wires will have nuts to "insulate" the wires and they will be fine. The current carrying wires would be more prone to failures of simple twist connections because of thermal cycling and possibly small arcs or heated areas as the interfering film develops. Mostly the nutless connection would perform OK. But there are a lot of them out there, and eventually Murphy will pick one to bless.

    Codes are a lot about fixing things that might happen. Without it being a code requirement, wire nuts would still be "best practice".

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