Civilized society relies heavily on electricity. Unfortunately, electricity is dangerous. It injures thousands of people every year. This is why electrical tape is so popular. People use it to cover exposed wires because they know the dangers bare conductors pose. But can you trust electrical tape in every situation?
Can Electrical Tape Be Used on Ground Wire?
You can use electrical tape on ground wire. It has low conductivity and decent durability. You can trust the item to protect you from electrocution. Though, if your cable has large tears, you are better off cutting the wire.
If your target is a ground wire, some professionals may question the need for electrical tape. After all, the ground is the safest of all the conductors. Ground wire doesn’t shock anyone because it only carries electricity some of the time.
But don’t forget: the ground is a security component. When a surge or short circuit occurs, the ground creates an alternative path for the current to follow, protecting consumers and their assets. In other words, most of the time, the ground doesn’t have any current.
Some people confuse the ground with the neutral. You can blame this on the fact that the neutral wire is also called the grounded conductor. This is different from the grounding wire, which is a conductor that disperses excess current.
If you wired your electrical system correctly, a ground wire is unlikely to shock you. This is why the notion of leaving a ground wire exposed doesn’t concern me at all. Grounding wires are relatively safe.
You are free to use bare ground wires. The NEC doesn’t have an opinion on the issue. Your local code may compel contractors to use insulated ground wiring. But if they don’t, you can use the bare options.
Admittedly, there are several benefits associated with insulated ground wires, including:
- Insulation makes the wires much easier to identify. You can assign different colors to different cables depending on their location and the task you want them to perform.
- Insulation makes conductors more slippery, which, in turn, simplifies the process of pulling them through a conduit, especially if the conduit has sharp corners.
- Insulated grounding wires in panel boards are appealing because the busbar is uninsulated. Therefore, the insulation keeps the busbar and wires apart.
Despite these advantages and more, people gravitate towards bare ground cables because they are cheaper.
Is It Safe to Wrap Electrical Tape Around Ground Wire?
If you have a bare ground wire and think it poses a threat, electrical tape is better than nothing. The pressure-sensitive tool prevents electrocution by creating a barrier between dangerous conductors and the human body. It can also prevent electricity from running between wires. However, electrical tape is a temporary solution.
Additionally, you use this tool for simple cracks and abrasions. For instance, if the outer jacket has a hole with exposed conductors, you can cover the gap with electrical tape.
But that is not a long-lasting solution. Eventually, you must replace the wire. Otherwise, the cracks and cuts will spread, and the cable will become a fire and electrocution hazard.
If the electrical tape remains in place for long periods, it will dry out and shift from its original position, exposing the conductors you wanted to hide. Again, ground wires are not inherently dangerous.
But if you think they pose a threat for some reason, electrical tape is not the best answer. You have other options, including:
1). Wire Nuts
Wire nuts and electrical caps are great tools for making electrical wires less dangerous. The caps will cover the exposed strands at the end. They have a firm grip that prevents them from falling off. Wire nuts are even better.
2). Junction Box
You don’t have to choose a junction box over wire nuts. In fact, you don’t have to select wire nuts over the electrical tape. You can apply the tape to wires after using the nuts and caps. This provides additional protection.
Junction boxes are the same. They work hand in hand with wire nuts. Once wire nuts and caps are in place, you can shove the cables into a junction box.
3). Heat Shrink
Heat shrink tubes are probably the best solution on the market. You slide the wire through the polyolefin tube before using a heat source such as a hairdryer to shrink it, sealing that particular section of the cable.
You can apply the technology to wires you have soldered together. Like electrical tape, heat shrink tubes have low conductivity. They are also waterproof.
If you don’t have any of these tools, fight the temptation to use masking tape. It doesn’t have the adhesive or insulating attributes you need. Don’t expect masking tape to resist water or corrosive elements.
Duct tape is a far better option because it is non-conductive and insulative. It isn’t as effective as electrical tape because it responds poorly to heat and moisture. But it can accommodate the needs of a ground wire because it rarely carries electricity.
When Not To Use Electrical Tape On Ground Wire?
You can apply electrical tape to ground wires in most situations because ground wires are not dangerous. However, electrical tape is a solution to small cracks and cuts. Significant damage requires superior tools such as heat shrink tubing.
How To Cover Ground Wire With Electrical Tape?
- De-energize the circuit using the main breaker. Even though the ground wire is unlikely to shock you, don’t take any chances. Switch the power off before you proceed.
- Find the frayed or loose connection. Try to identify the factors that caused the problem. If you don’t eliminate them, they will cause more complications later on.
- Apply the electrical tape to the tears, cuts, abrasions, and exposed conductors. Apply multiple layers.
Precautions To Take While Wrapping
- Don’t Leave Gaps
You shouldn’t leave any gaps when wrapping the wire. Pull the tape firmly, stretching it as you wrap the cable to make the layers as tight as possible. Electrical tape is elastic. The tighter it is, the longer it will last.
- Apply multiple Layers
Apply multiple layers of tape. The tape should be thicker than the insulation of the wire. Otherwise, you cannot trust the electrical tape to do its work.
- Use Black Tape
Use black tape on wires that have to sit in direct sunlight. It is resistant to ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, it will last longer.
- Select Appropriate Grade
Some types of electrical tape are better than others. Consider the environmental factors. Is the wire inside or outside? Will it sit above ground or below ground? What kind of weather do you have in the area?
Do you expose the cable to corrosive substances? Look at the packaging of the electrical tape before you buy it. It will show you the elements the product can withstand. Pay close attention to the temperature ratings.
- Use Pigtail Splice
When you apply electrical tape to a pigtail splice, continue past the end of the conductors and then fold the tape back. A wire nut is a better solution in this situation because the heat a current generates as it runs through copper can degrade the tape.
Wire nuts are much safer. But if you don’t have wire nuts, fold the tape backward, as noted above.
- Apply Dielectric Spray
You apply the spray after wrapping the wire with electrical tape. The spray adds a layer of protection. Make sure the power is off before you spray the wire. Wait for the spray to dry before you turn the power on.