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high desert. small house.

Days 196-198: Grounding Setup Shenanigans

Tuesday, 1/26 (Part 2)
Upon completion of the excavation, Brian went back to project grounding rod.  Thankfully, the materials needed were in stock locally so he was able to start working on it immediately.  Additionally, our electrician friend lent us his Bosch SDS rotary hammer and two different sledge hammers.

The grounding rods are 5/8″ wide and 8 feet long.  In New Mexico, they must be hammered into a 30″ deep trench, so Brian had to drive them in about 6 feet to put their tops 6″ underground.  The copper wire that will connect them is 2 gauge bare copper.  As you are likely aware, we are dealing with some HARD soil so this was not the world’s quickest task.  Additionally, the rods are thin and springy and with each hit, they may or may not whip back and forth like a big antenna.  The  T-post hammer was good for getting started, but for finishing the job, the best tool ended up being the flat side of a 24 oz ball-peen hammer.

Note that Brian was unable to get the Bosch SDS going because he hadn’t fully allowed quick release chuck to re-engage and the tool won’t operate with it half engaged because it might launch the bit like a missile.

Battle wound from the t-post hammer. It caught the edge of the rod and bounced back into Brian's face. ouch!

Battle wound from the t-post hammer. It caught the edge of the whipping-back-and-forth rod and gently bounced back into Brian’s face.

Grounding trench with BRIAN

Grounding trench ends near meter box to minimize digging to reach meter box.

Super-pounder thing that didn't work.

Awesome Bosch SDS rotary hammer that Brian didn’t get to work.  In this picture, the quick release chuck had decided to fully engage while Brian wasn’t looking, and if plugged in at this point, the unit would have worked.

Rod stabilization device and the hammer that ended up being very useful.

Rod stabilization device and the 24 oz ball-peen hammer that ended up being the key to success.

Grounding trench with rods in place. Checking height f the near rod.

Grounding trench with rods in place. Checking height of the near rod.

Grounding rod clamp

Acorn clamp on grounding rod.

Wednesday, 1/27
Brian took some time in the morning to review the electrical code with regards to grounding rod depth under soil.   He also connected with the electrical inspector and scheduled the ‘underground inspection’ for that very afternoon.  What a lovely turnaround.

We had underestimated the wire needed for the grounding operation, so after a quick trip to the electric supply depot, Brian got to it.  The wire was clamped in place.  To anyone doing this:  put the acorn clamps on the grounding rods before they mushroom (Brian did this) and thread the bare copper wire through the clamp closer to the breaker panel first (Brian didn’t do this).  It ends up being kind of a wire-bendy hassle to thread the far clamp first because 2 AWG copper is so stiff.

The local inspector arrived on the scene around 3:45pm and gave us the green light.  He also told Brian he needed to clamp the mast higher than we had thought.  To do this, Brian will have to ‘build out’ a bracket with lego-like strut products.  Should be interesting.

Before calling it a day, Brian started to dig out the connection from the grounding trench to the electric box.  It basically needs to be 24″ deep and is probably a 6′ stretch of dirt.  That’ll put the wire (encased in a PVC conduit) directly underneath the electric box.

Hammering result on east rod

Hammering result on the rod in the uncooperative east end.

Hammering result on west rod

Hammering result on easy-peasy west end.  The mushroom is still too big to fit an acorn clamp over, so Brian was glad he slipped it on at the first sign of resistance.

Thursday, 1/28
Planned out the bonding to ground all the structural metal parts and incorporate the extra 2 gauge wire from the grounding project.  Purchased bonding parts.  Drilled holes in foundation beams for the bonding.

We examined the bonding options – run bonding wires directly into a clamp on the near ground rod or up through the wall into the panel.  This decision needed to be made prior to filling in the trench.  We ultimately decided to run the wires in the wall, which will keep things hidden and tidy looking from the outside.

Lastly, Brian worked more on digging out the connection trench.  He hit some cement-slab-like pieces of compacted dirt that did not want to crumble.  Again, not the fastest task.

Deer visitors. They seem to be more comfortable with us these days. That'll likely change once the dogs are living here full time. Nice ears guys.

Deer visitors. They seem to be more comfortable with us these days. That’ll likely change once the dogs are living here full time and biting them. Nice ears guys.

Connection trench between the grounding setup and the electrical panel.

Connection trench between the grounding setup and the electrical panel.  The ground here has an 8 inch thick armor layer.

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