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What is the purpose of this thin metal wire? It attaches to a nailhead on the other stud, which is securing an electrical box.

Is this a grounding wire or something else?

wall

  • Hard to tell from just the small section in the photo, but it looks similar to retaining wires I've seen to hold things like insulation in place before the wall is finished. – Comintern Jan 21 '16 at 23:28
  • Is it bare wire? Bare copper wire? Can you trace it any more? Take a better picture? What's the age of the house? Is the house knob & tube? – Bryce Jan 22 '16 at 6:08
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I believe it is as you surmised an ground wire for the houses (old?) electrical system. My first thought was wire for the exterior wall stucco, but there would have been several levels of wire.

This type of ground wire would have been typical for a 1950's residence.

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