As part of some investigation into the systems of the house I live in, I was looking at the grounding and bonding wiring for the house, as most of it is accessible from the basement utility room.

In particular, I found that there is a bare 6AWG wire that runs from the casing of an abandoned-in-place well in a cellar-space under the back yard, up to the ceiling, through the back foundation wall alongside the old water line from the wellhead equipment (all of which was abandoned in place as well), along the utility room ceiling, and off into a finished ceiling space in the basement, but in the right direction to be connected to the panel, which is located in the garage. This wire is also connected through a tap splice of some sort to a second copper wire (which appears to be 10AWG or so?) that connects to a ground clamp on the cold water pipe system.

How can I verify that this wire is connected to what it appears to be connected to (aka the main panel in the garage)? I would like to use it as a place to tap retrofit equipment grounding conductors, as I should be able to reach down there from the range and especially the laundry equipment (dryer and washer) with relative ease, and there is also an improper (run to cold water pipe) retrofit ground wire on the furnace circuit that I would like to convert to a proper (albeit possibly redundant) retrofit ground wire.

Note that the furnace circuit is run in EMT for an unknown length, with metal boxes, so I do have effective access to both ends of that retrofit EGC. Also, the electrical panel is flushmounted into a finished garage wall, so I have no access to that end of the purported GEC.

  • "all of which was abandoned" - so your ground rod is a steel pipe of unknown quality and condition, and now you want to tap some more stuff off of it? How 'bout we finish abandoning that and drive a new ground rod? You're worried about making a ground loop?
    – Mazura
    Feb 6, 2019 at 20:31
  • @Mazura -- the well was abandoned when (and likely because of) the house being connected to city water -- that casing isn't going to go anywhere any time soon, either. Feb 6, 2019 at 23:18

3 Answers 3


I was taught to step back and take a good look at what I was trying to accomplish. The two reasons for grounding are:

  1. To limit voltages caused by lighting or by accidental contact of the supply conductors with conductors of higher voltage.

  2. To stabilize the the voltage under normal operating conditions (which maintains the voltage at one level relative to ground, so that any equipment connected to the system will be subject only to that potential difference).

That's right out of the Handbook.

Personally I can't think of a better grounding electrode that a metal well pipe sunk over 30' in the ground, and even though some of the system is possibly not exactly code (the #10 ground) any ground is better than no ground. I think if I could verify that the grounding conductors that you mentioned were actually part of the grounding electrode conductors, then I would make any necessary corrections and use it. You are allowed to tie grounding electrode conductors together other than the panel so long as they maintain a single point of ground.

One final comment, reading and studying NEC Article 210 all these years, I believe that saying there is redundancy in the grounding system is from the department of redundancy department (joke).

Hope this helps and good luck.


I read this several times and thought about it, it's a good question.

If I follow, the main mystery is what happens to that #6 from the old well that disappears into the finished ceiling in the remote part of the basement. I could think of some tests that may or may not shed some light on what goes on up there but bottom line you can't be confident everything's as it should be.

Abandoned or not the old well pipes are grounding electrodes and as such must be bonded to the GEC. So what's the likelihood that whatever happens above the finished ceiling etc. is compliant? I think low. The presence of the #10 splice jumper to the cold water pipe makes adds to my skepticism on that point.

So I am sure you already thought of this but if you bite the bullet and extend the GEC from the well pipe where it comes enters the remote part of the basement, out the foundation and along the outside perimeter to the garage panel, and use an H crimp to connect it to the GEC, you know you have that electrode bonded properly and easy for anyone to inspect in the future, and easy to tap for retrofit grounds.

  • The garage panel is located inside the garage, on the wall between the garage and the house, so that won't help. Feb 6, 2019 at 12:45
  • The #10 probably jumps the plastic water meter. It's a good thing ;)
    – Mazura
    Feb 6, 2019 at 20:35
  • @Mazura -- it bonds to the current water piping on the indoor side of the water meter. Feb 6, 2019 at 23:19

How to figure out if a wire is my Grounding Electrode Conductor?

A bare 6AWG is a pretty good candidate.

How can I verify that this wire is connected to what it appears to be connected to?

Pull on it. If you can't verify it and you're doing new work, then I'd assume you can't use it. Do you have reason to suspect you have a faulty ground?

furnace circuit is run in EMT

Assuming the run goes all the way back to the panel, then it doesn't even need a ground (where I live you must use EMT).

The electrical panel is flushmounted into a finished garage wall, so I have no access to that end of the purported GEC.

Drywall is the enemy. Take no prisoners.

I'd be looking up if #10 is sufficient to ground a piping system, and whether or not there should be a jumper across the water meter. And if for whatever you're doing, a #6 is sufficient for any new equipment that requires a direct connection to a GEC. And a UL listing on: some abandoned well you're using as a ground rod....

  • Don't need a UL listing for the abandoned well -- it's covered under 250.52(A) point 8 AIUI. The good news is I don't have reason to suspect it's bad, just want to make sure I'm right before proposing changes... Feb 6, 2019 at 23:53

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