Ground rod - angle of installation

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I found out recently that I failed a residential service upgrade for installing the ground rods "at too severe an angle". I've been doing this for over 45 years and I've never failed on a service upgrade no less for a ground rod installation. I got this info from my customer and I haven't spoken to the EI as yet so I'm taking this with a grain of salt (as the saying goes). This upgrade was pristine, properly installed and done in a workmanlike manner in all other aspects. While I'm a proponent of 3rd party inspections I find it hard to believe that an EI would come out to inspect an installation and rather than look to pass an inspection find ways to fail it. I placed a call to him and I'm waiting for a response. I will make every attempt to be calm and respectful but I'm hoping this doesn't get ugly. I'm nearing the end of my career as an EC and I don't like taking crap from EI's. I'll post what the end result is.

I don't live in a shore area where the earth is primarily made up of sand. I live and work in a mountainous area where the earth has numerous field stones and larger, sedimentary rocks embedded in the soil. All the EC's in the area drive rods at an angle.

If anyone else has experienced this please let me know what you did to correct the situation. Did you argue with the EI or just go ahead and drive new rods ? I'm prepared to file a complaint with the State DCA if need be but I'm hoping it doesn't get to that.

Thanks in advance
 
I found out recently that I failed a residential service upgrade for installing the ground rods "at too severe an angle". I've been doing this for over 45 years and I've never failed on a service upgrade no less for a ground rod installation. I got this info from my customer and I haven't spoken to the EI as yet so I'm taking this with a grain of salt (as the saying goes). This upgrade was pristine, properly installed and done in a workmanlike manner in all other aspects. While I'm a proponent of 3rd party inspections I find it hard to believe that an EI would come out to inspect an installation and rather than look to pass an inspection find ways to fail it. I placed a call to him and I'm waiting for a response. I will make every attempt to be calm and respectful but I'm hoping this doesn't get ugly. I'm nearing the end of my career as an EC and I don't like taking crap from EI's. I'll post what the end result is.

I don't live in a shore area where the earth is primarily made up of sand. I live and work in a mountainous area where the earth has numerous field stones and larger, sedimentary rocks embedded in the soil. All the EC's in the area drive rods at an angle.

If anyone else has experienced this please let me know what you did to correct the situation. Did you argue with the EI or just go ahead and drive new rods ? I'm prepared to file a complaint with the State DCA if need be but I'm hoping it doesn't get to that.

Thanks in advance
250.53(G) where it says " shall be driven to a DEPTH of not less than 8 feet" would seem to agree with the inspector. You drove them straight at first, but hit solid rock so had to drive them at an angle, right??? Wink wink.
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
250.53(G) where it says " shall be driven to a DEPTH of not less than 8 feet" would seem to agree with the inspector. You drove them straight at first, but hit solid rock so had to drive them at an angle, right??? Wink wink.
We are on the 2017 NEC. That section states the following :

(G) Rod and Pipe Electrodes.
The electrode shall be installed such that at least 2.44 m (8 ft) of length is in contact with the soil. It shall be driven to a depth of not less than 2.44 m (8 ft) except that, where rock bottom is encountered, the electrode shall be driven at an oblique angle not to exceed 45 degrees from the vertical or, where rock bottom is encountered at an angle up to 45 degrees, the electrode shall be permitted to be buried in a trench that is at least 750 mm (30 in.) deep. The upper end of the electrode shall be flush with or below ground level unless the above ground end and the grounding electrode conductor attachment are protected against physical damage as specified in 250.10.
So, in one case it states that the rod be driven at no less than a 45 degree angle but it also states that 8' of the rod be in contact with the soil and that it is. I didn't just lay the rod on the ground and throw dirt over the top of it. The rods were driven down into compacted earth. My gripe is with the EI. Look for ways to pass the job not ways to fail it.

Thanks for your reply.
 
We are on the 2017 NEC. That section states the following :



So, in one case it states that the rod be driven at no less than a 45 degree angle but it also states that 8' of the rod be in contact with the soil and that it is. I didn't just lay the rod on the ground and throw dirt over the top of it. The rods were driven down into compacted earth. My gripe is with the EI. Look for ways to pass the job not ways to fail it.

Thanks for your reply.
The way I read that is you must pound the rod vertically unless you hit rock, at which point you could then go up to 45 degrees to get the full 8 foot rod in
 

retirede

Senior Member
Location
Illinois
The way I read that is you must pound the rod vertically unless you hit rock, at which point you could then go up to 45 degrees to get the full 8 foot rod in
That’s how I read it as well.

It’s essentially saying that a rod driven at an angle is only sufficient if you hit rock on a vertical attempt first. There are no laws of physics or engineering to support that, that I know of!
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Location
-
Occupation
Engineer/Technician
The way I read that is you must pound the rod vertically unless you hit rock, at which point you could then go up to 45 degrees to get the full 8 foot rod in
In the mountains your almost assuredly going to hit rock before 8’. Why waste the time...
If you try to drive it straight and get 6’, trying to get it back out can be a Bear. Cheaper to leave it. But then that’s a problem...
I’ve had installs pass that the rods were set into 8’ holes drilled in rock with a rock drill... the rod does no good, but it passes...

ever been to upstate Alabama? It seems like that part of the state is solid rock about 3’ below the ground..

just my take on it..
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
No rock then it must go straight down, if there is rock then you can go up to 45° which will effectively shorten the vertical length if the rod which may help to get in the entire 8'.
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I wasn't looking for anyone to agree with me on this but I see that many of you stated "if you hit rock". I don't know any other way to explain this other than my work is primarily in the mountains. Every time you stick a shovel in the ground up here you hit a field stone. There is also a large amount of sedimentary rock in the area. That said, when an EI inspects a job and 99.99% of that job is exceptional why pick something like a ground rod angle to put a red sticker on a panel, causing your customer to think you did something so severe and dangerous that a red sticker was put on the panel and above all your $$$ gets hung up until you correct the violation.

Regarding the 45 degree angle, where did the NEC CMP come up with that as a solution ? What difference would it make if the angle was 90, 45, 35, 25, etc. Rock is rock. Changing the angle does not guarantee that the rod will be driven properly into the earth anyway. Just out of curiosity, do you think the EI came out to the job with a protractor ?

I'm just repeating myself here, I'm looking for solutions or remedies and not the FACT that I drove the rod incorrectly. Thanks you all for your replies.
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
I don't know why 45° is acceptable but 50° isn't, after all you're permitted to bury the rod horizontally if you encounter rock. I don't think that you'll find any technical substantiation for this but it is what it is. If you had dug down a foot around the rod and bent it straight with a hickey no one would ever know what angle it was installed at.

So back to the original installation, could you have driven it all of the way in at 45° or less? If the area is known for problems with driving in rods then another type of electrode may be necessary like a plate electrode.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Often EI's somehow are brainwashed on the significance of ground rods, even ones that were good electricians at one time before becoming an inspector.

When they die I think they all should be buried with a rod at every corner of their grave, but no less than 6 feet between rods, with minimum #6 bonding wire between them and a jumper wire to their casket as well.

If also in a concrete burial vault need to also tie to any metallic reinforcement in that vault.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I find it hard to believe that an EI would come out to inspect an installation and rather than look to pass an inspection find ways to fail it.
This statement surprises me; I work like I expect exactly that, and make sure the inspector won't be able to fail me on anything.

You do have the options of horizontal burying of rods or plate electrodes.
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
I think that in general the inspector wants to pass the installation because a red sticker means that he has to come back. Coming back to reinspect a ground rod is a 60 second inspection so maybe because of that he wouldn't let it go.
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
If you had dug down a foot around the rod and bent it straight with a hickey no one would ever know what angle it was installed at.
That's what one of my fellow EC's suggested. But, I'll wait to talk it out with the EI first. Good to know for the future.

So back to the original installation, could you have driven it all of the way in at 45° or less? If the area is known for problems with driving in rods then another type of electrode may be necessary like a plate electrode.
The terrain is very hilly and backs up into a highly wooded area. In order to put my extension ladder up I had to shore up one foot of the ladder with some slate that I found in the area. It wasn't on the driveway side of the house. Kind of treacherous BTW.
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Often EI's somehow are brainwashed on the significance of ground rods, even ones that were good electricians at one time before becoming an inspector.

When they die I think they all should be buried with a rod at every corner of their grave, but no less than 6 feet between rods, with minimum #6 bonding wire between them and a jumper wire to their casket as well.

If also in a concrete burial vault need to also tie to any metallic reinforcement in that vault.
I'm with you 100%. Very funny :)
 
In the mountains your almost assuredly going to hit rock before 8’. Why waste the time...
If you try to drive it straight and get 6’, trying to get it back out can be a Bear. Cheaper to leave it. But then that’s a problem...
I’ve had installs pass that the rods were set into 8’ holes drilled in rock with a rock drill... the rod does no good, but it passes...

ever been to upstate Alabama? It seems like that part of the state is solid rock about 3’ below the ground..

just my take on it..
The code says what it says, don't shoot the messenger! I have about 18 inches to shale on most of my property. There certainly "field tricks" like presumptively driving at an angle and bending end vertical, cutting a ground rod in half, pounding vertical until refusal and cutting the extra off, etc....
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
This statement surprises me; I work like I expect exactly that, and make sure the inspector won't be able to fail me on anything.
That's easy to say until you fail for something as trivial as this. I'm a lot like you Larry in that I take a tremendous amount of pride in my work. I'm sure you've done 100's of upgrades like I have. I look over the entire job with a fine tooth comb, even at the end of the day when I'm sweaty and exhausted to make sure everything is as perfect as can be. Failing a job for this reason is pure BS - IMHO.
 

SSDriver

Member
Location
California
This is total BS. The code is BS the way it is written. If you can put a rod in horizontal at 30" I would think any angle ( somewhere around 15*-16* that puts the deepest part of the rod below 30") would work. I think they just came up with an arbitrary number out of thin air. Similar how you can put an 8' ground rod thats 5/8" in diameter OR a structual steel member I-beam that is HUGE and it has to be at least 10' or deeper. Where did they come up with 10'
 
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