Grounding connections not to code — how much to worry?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by blhoward2, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. blhoward2

    blhoward2 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2018
    Location:
    VA
    I spent some time in my panel this weekend installing AFCI breakers (not required but I wanted them for safety...). It seems that my panel doesn’t have enough terminals to properly terminate neutrals 1:1 even if you triple up grounds. It’s an older Westinghouse BR panel circa 1987. (Rated for 30 circuits, only has 31 terminals between the connected neutral and ground buses.)

    Because of this a large number of ground wires (~10) are twisted into a massive, tight cable and inserted into a single large terminal. Now I know that’s not to code, but honestly how dangerous could that be at this point? I checked and it (and everything else) is solidly connected to the terminal. The panel has been inspected at least once when I added a circuit and pulled permits. And the home inspector never flagged this.

    I added a new ground bus bar while I was at it and moved enough untwisted grounds around so the neutrals are all 1:1 now. I could eventually sort out the twisted ground bundle but I ran out of time to do so this weekend. I’m tempted to leave it until we finish our basement in the spring and let the electrician deal with it then if need be. Particularly as I’m closing in on the rated capacity and may just pay to swap the panel for a new one anyway as part of that. (Or I’d need a subpanel.) Am I wrong that this would be safe for now?

    Also, just to triple check...I don’t need a jumper to the new ground bar, correct? No neutrals are landing there. I did have to drill one of my own holes (am using the supplied screws) as the Eaton ground bar holes didn’t line up, but both screws are tight and I read 0 ohms of resisstance from the new bar to the old one.
     
  2. Stuff

    Stuff Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Yes, the concern is that the wires wont tighten down properly when you have too many in one hole. Most panels spec 3 grounds per hole. I would not call it safe as it is against code but I wouldn't worry about it either. Two threaded screws are enough to bond the ground bar to the box and no jumper needed. Easiest might be to get a longer ground bar. Also could add a second ground bar. More involved and cheating a bit is to replace the neutral bar with a bigger one.
    If you envision doing any other work then swapping the panel makes sense. Adding a sub is easy but can have its own issues.
     
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  4. blhoward2

    blhoward2 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2018
    Location:
    VA
    Sort of my thoughts. There is a good 20” of bare ground wires twisted together so one wire isn’t going anywhere, and if anything the twist locks it into the screw even more. Obviously pulling out one circuit would be a nightmare, which is why I didn’t try untwisting it. Eventually it needs sorted out.

    It’s sort of an odd rule. What exactly is the difference between a tight coil twist and the jacketing on a stranded wire, which can land under one screw and has multiple wires. This, for example, is a 2/0 lug, whose internal wires would be what...#10 wire or something?
     
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