I live in a old house (built in 1918), and because their was no electricity back then, all electricity was added after, and weird enough, nothing has a ground.

enter image description here

So, I'm having problem with my washing machine, and suspect that having a ground would improve the handling and the problem it is having could be gone (some kind of short-circuit that after 5 seconds of being ON, it fires the electric board in the house).

My idea, as the machine is in a small house outside was to create the ground only for that part of the circuit, but what do I need for this?

I think is just a iron poll with the wire solder to it, but what length? diameter? and it's only attaching a new yellow/green wire to it and drive it through the circuit?

enter image description here

  • If you do opt to ground your electrical system, be advised that this is not a DIY project and should be completed by an electrician. Mistakes can be dangerous or even fatal. – Steven Jan 23 '12 at 16:29

In the US we need to conform to the NEC code. That code requires two copper ground rods 10' long to be driven into the ground with only a couple inches exposed.

  • The rods must be placed a certain distance apart.
  • The ground must also be connected to the main cold water copper pipe entering the house
  • The water meter must have a wire jumper across it of the same required gauge of the main ground
  • The main breaker panel must be equipped with an approved grounding bar and the breaker box "bonded".

I don't know the codes where you are, but I suggest you get an electrician that knows the local codes. Improper methodes of grounding can be dangerous and lethal!

Also I can tell you that your washing machine problem is not due to a missing ground. The machine should be grounded for safety, but it will not cause the problems you have.


Basically yes. The exact details should be found in local codes. Here's an example which I cite from my question on Electronics SE:

Here's how good earthing was described in one domestic pump manual (I'm pretty sure that it correlates well with local building codes): three steel pipes each at least one inch in diameter and twenty feet (six meters) length must be driven into earth vertically in a triangle pattern with at least two feet distance between each two pipes. The top of each pipe must be at least two feet below the ground surface. A common steel rod must be welded to all three and the equipment being earthed must be connected to that rod. Welding spots must be painted to protect them from corrosion.

Again, that description is from a rather old manual of a pump sold in Soviet Union in 1980s, you have to find exact details in your local codes. Answers to that question say that it's a far more impressive grounding that usually used.

That said, it's unlikely that having grounding will stop short-circuiting. The whole point of grounding is to connect the parts exposed to humans to ground so that if for any reason those parts are energized the current flows freely into the ground and that often enforces a short circuit and trips the breaker. So grounding is more likely to enforce short circuiting (for the sake of protecting the innocent) than prevent it.

The likely problem is that something is wrong with either the machine or with the wiring. Since you say it trips the breaker after several seconds of operation it maybe that the wiring and the breaker are undersized - when the machine turns on it slightly overloads the wiring and the breaker trips.

Breakers don't always trip immediately - the reaction time depends on overload percentage. When you have a short circuit the overload is extreme and the breaker trips instantly but when you have several dozens percent overload it may take some time to trip.

  • I will give a 16A fuse a try as, it's all old, I only have 2 10Amps fuses for the hole house, and yes... still fuses, not breakers :/ need to change (been telling me this for ages now). – balexandre Jan 23 '12 at 12:16
  • 7
    @balexandre: The same logic with tripping time applies to fuses as well. Currently washing machines consume something like up to 2,3 kilowatts when warming water up (you can look up exact consumption figure on your machine). You're in Europe, so perhaps you have 230 volts mains. Therefore you need at least 10 amps for the washer alone to operate and in fact you need more - something like 16 amps and an appropriate size wiring. Replacing a fuse without replacing the wiring is very risky. – sharptooth Jan 23 '12 at 12:22

In the U.S. when creating a new grounding electrode system we usually drive 2ea 8' rods or 3/4" galvanized pipe 6' apart and connect them with #6 awg copper wire your rules may be different, if you have metal water supply plumbing that is in contact with earth for at least 10' this can be used and for many years was all that was required but with much of the old metal pipe being replaced with plastic the driven rods or pipe are a safer long term solution. Only 1 rod or pipe is required by our code if the earth resistance is less than 25 ohms but the test setup unless you have a 1500$ clamp on meter takes almost as long to do as driving a second rod so most just drive 2 and then testing is not required here in the U.S.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.