One of the most common problems we find with electrical installations, whether it be a do it yourself renovation, or even new construction, is finding that the ground connection is not properly terminated to light fixtures, switches and outlets. They will work without making that connection, but for devices that include a ground connection, it is very dangerous to leave it disconnected.
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What does the ground connection look like? It’s the green screw on light switches and receptacles, and it is usually a green or bare wire on light fixtures and ceiling fans.
Why is it important? The ground wire is used to make sure that the metal surfaces a person could come in contact with in an electrical system do not become energized, creating a shock hazard. When properly connected, the ground wire creates a “short circuit” pathway for electrical current to flow in a large enough volume to trip the circuit breaker off in the event that the “hot” wire comes in contact with any metal it is not suppose to. Without this ground pathway, current can’t flow, and the breaker can’t trip. The metal would then become energized, waiting for someone to touch it. When a person touches the energized metal they become the pathway for current to flow, leading to injury and sometimes death.