I was working outside around my main, single ground rod and noticed it was a bit wiggly. Closer inspection shows that what appears to be a 12-18” piece of rebar was used as a grounding rod.

Now, I haven’t noticed any issues in the house, but I’m also not sure what to look for. What problems could a bad grounding rod cause? I can be lazy about replacement and borrow a driver from a friend and get a new one installed in a few months, but should I prioritize this more? Again, I don’t know what the dangers are so not sure how fast I should act. It’s been fine for 30 years the way it is (I assume), but I do want to make it right.

  • 2
    A driver is handy if you are a pro and need to save time. For a one-off (or preferably two-off) dig holes to start, then hammer it in using a sledgehammer (or hand sledge if a full scale one intimidates you.) Two (appropriately separated) is preferable due to code language...
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 24, 2021 at 2:48

2 Answers 2


You're "safe" until there's a electrical fault that needs the ground rod.

By "safe" I mean in no immediate danger.

  • 3
    I bristle a bit at the hyperbole people state here that if there is a ground fault WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE. For one thing, if there is a ground fault, nearly all the current would be carried by the ground wire back to the ground/neutral bus bar in the main panel (assuming a typical panel). In an older home without grounded outlets, it barely matters if you have adequate grounding or not, since there is no way to use it. That said, current code requires 2 8' ground rods at least 8' apart or a Ufer ground. To improve the safety, install them and connect with #4 copper wire. Jul 24, 2021 at 13:30
  • That’s really the point of the question tho - what electrical fault needs a ground rod? For all outlets in the house, there is a ground that leads back to the panel and the neural side of the panel. So when does that ground rod come into play?
    – JPhi1618
    Jul 25, 2021 at 3:25
  • One fault would be a supply side open neutral, this is dangerous with a working grounding system. really bad without one.
    – Jasen
    Jul 25, 2021 at 4:15
  • Code doesn't require two ground rods. It requires one, unless that one doesn't pass a resistance test. I have no idea how likely that is, but the two-rod standard is just a catch-all that's often unnecessary.
    – isherwood
    Jul 29, 2021 at 12:49
  • If you don't prove the resistance of the one rod (which is costly to do: expensive specialized meter and the test process is time consuming of professional paid time) the second rod meets code and is inexpensive in both cost and time.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 19, 2021 at 17:07

It seems to me the bigger question isn't one of safety (as others have noted, you're probably safe with the current arrangement, although something better might be preferable if your house is actually hit by lightning). The question is do you want your house to be up to code should you decide to sell it? Installing the proper copper rods is easy and fairly cheap, assuming you own a sledgehammer and have a sturdy son or nephew handy to bang a couple of 8-footers into place and clamp your ground wire to them. You can leave the old rebar - it won't hurt anything. Then if a potential buyer hires an inspector, it's one less thing to worry about. Otherwise, forget it.

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