No Ground Wire In Junction Box (Add One & Use PigTail!)

no ground wire in ceiling junction box

You must connect your wires inside a junction box. If you don’t have a junction box, you should add one before connecting the cables. In other words, if you want to understand your electrical system, you should look inside the junction box. You will find all the important wires inside this box, including the ground wire.

What if There Is No Ground Wire In Junction Box?

The NEC expects consumers to ground their electrical systems, especially if those systems supply exceeds 120V. The NEC’s rulings will keep you safe. They know that a ground wire prevents fires and electrocutions, which is why inspectors in commercial settings enforce the NEC’s clauses.

If you cannot find a ground wire, use this instruction to add one to the panel. The process involves the following:

1). The ground wire will connect to a grounding rod. Therefore, before installing the ground wire, you should first plant the rod. Bury it eight feet below ground. You only need three inches of the rod above the surface.

2). Connect one end of the grounding wire to the rod. Run the other end to the panel.

3). Switch the power off at the main breaker. Check the wires with a tester to ensure that the panel is safe. Even with gloves, working on energized panels and wires is dangerous.

4). Connect the ground wire to the grounding or neutral bar, depending on which one you have. If your panel doesn’t have a grounding bar, you can use the neutral bar.

5). Switch the power back on and test the wires to see if you can detect the grounding.

This method works if you have a conventional electrical panel.

But if your goal is to ground a basic box that holds electrical wires, you can experiment with the following options:

1). Metal Box

If you have a metal box, you can splice the ground wires together before connecting them to the grounding wire nut using the pigtail method. Some manufacturers make the grounding nut green to simplify its identification.

But even if the color changes, you cannot miss it. Don’t panic if you cannot find the grounding screw. You can install one. Some consumers prefer to clamp the ground wire to the box using grounding clips.

2). Plastic Box

From what Better Homes & Gardens have seen, if you have plastic boxes, you should connect the grounding wire to the receptacles or fixtures you want to ground. But they have targeted their instructions towards consumers that want to ground receptacles and light fixtures.

If you have a conventional plastic box that houses your spliced wires, you need to ground the box by connecting the ground wire to a grounding screw using the pigtail method.

Use Of Ground Wire Coming From Junction Box

A ground wire gives the excess electricity a path to the earth. The earth has a negative charge. Therefore, it attracts the positive charge of an electrical current. If a malfunction happens, the grounding wire will send the extra charge to the earth rather than spreading it through the cables to the rest of your system.

Wiring Without Ground Wire In Junction Box – How?

You shouldn’t do this. It is dangerous to wire a junction box without a grounding wire. But people do so all the time. If that sounds like you, your options will include:

1). No Connection Point

 Some people don’t have a choice. They don’t have anything in the junction box to connect to the ground wire. Roll the ground wire into a coil and push it into the box if this is your situation. Don’t cut it. Just leave it alone. Better yet, talk to a professional. Ask the electrician if they can provide an alternative.

2). GFCI

Do you have GFCI protection? Don’t confuse yourself with GFCI technology with grounding. You cannot replace proper grounding with a GFCI.

However, GFCI is better than nothing. It will provide a modicum of protection, shutting the power off and preventing fires and electrocution whenever it detects a ground fault.

The NEC wants homeowners to use grounding systems. But older homes don’t have grounding, and the NEC doesn’t expect their owners to replace the wiring for the sake of adding grounding. The NEC has given them a pass. If you rewire an old home, add grounding. Otherwise, you’re fine.

But that is not an excuse to become lax. An ungrounded electrical system can still kill you. For that reason, people in older homes that cannot afford to add grounding wires rely on GFCIs.

They cannot defend against arcing, but they provide a significant amount of protection. You should also add AFCI technology to counteract arcing.

3). Conduit

Don’t be so quick to harass your contractor because you think they failed to install a grounding wire. Do you have a metal conduit? If you do, the metal conduit will provide grounding. Many commercial settings prefer conduits to conventional grounding wires.

If you have a conduit, you don’t need a ground wire, especially if the pipe has a secure connection to the box. If you have doubts, ask a professional to look at the box. They can determine whether or not you have a conduit and if that conduit has grounded the junction box.

The average homeowner doesn’t even know what a conduit looks like, let alone what it does and how you can use it to ground the junction box. Depending on the setup, a professional electrician will either put you at ease or encourage you to install a proper ground wire.

Is It Okay To Not To Have A Ground Wire In Junction Box?

No, it is not okay. A ground wire provides a safe path for excess electricity to take. It protects you and your home when a short circuit or malfunction occurs. People trust circuit breakers to protect them.

But you must ground the circuit breaker to give the excess current a means of escape. If you don’t have a ground, you could burn your house down. The excess current can destroy your appliances or cause overheating in the wiring.

If you touch a conductive component such as the metal plate of an outlet, it could shock you. All in all, a grounding wire will keep you safe. Without one, you cannot trust your electrical system.

But this is not an excuse to add a grounding wire to your house without consulting an electrician, especially if you don’t have experience in this field. You could raise your electrical bill by connecting the hot wire to the grounding wire because all the current is running to the ground. Miswiring a grounding wire is just as bad as having no grounding system. 

Junction Box Wiring Guidelines

  • Make sure the junction box matches the setting. For instance, you need a weatherproof box for rough environments that expose the junction box to extreme elements.
  • If your junction box doesn’t have internal clamps, install locknut-type clamps to secure the cables.
  • Make sure the cable’s outer jacket extends a quarter to half an inch past the clamp into the box.
  • Use screws to tighten the clamps around the cables. Don’t damage the conductors by overtightening.
  • If you have a metal box, The Spruce recommends using a pigtail to connect the ground wire to the ground screw.
  • Use a wire nut to join the neutral wires together. Do the same for the hot wires.
  • Conceal the wires in the box with a solid cover that doesn’t have holes.

Do Junction Boxes Need To Be Grounded? If There Is No Ground Wire, How Is It Possible?

You should ground a junction box. The grounding protects you by providing an alternate path for the excess current to take. If your junction box doesn’t have a ground wire, the contractor forgot, or the house is ancient.

Some people built their houses decades ago before the NEC made grounding mandatory. If your house has a ground, you will see a green wire in the junction box. Manufacturers in the US use green to differentiate the ground from other cables.

If you cannot see a green wire in the junction box, follow this instruction:

  • Shut the power off at the breaker
  • Select a switch and remove it from the electrical box.
  • Look at the wires connected to the switch. If you have three wires, including a green or copper wire, your home has a ground.

You can do this with an outlet. If you still have doubts, use this method:

  • Shut the power off at the breaker
  • Remove the screws of an outlet and pull the outlet out of the wall.
  • Disconnect the outlet from the wires
  • Turn the electricity back on
  • Connect one end of the tester to the hot wire. Connect the other end to the metal box in the wall.
  • If the display shows a voltage, you have a grounding system.

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