Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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The More You Know: Electrical Grounding

As a New York City landlord or property manager, you may have heard professionals discussing electrical grounding when they service your pumps and other vital building infrastructure. If you’re not sure how electrical grounding works, Antler Pumps is here to explain it all to you, including the reasoning behind grounding and why it is so important to the safety of your building and all who occupy it.

First, Some Basics

Understanding circuits

Before we can launch into the intricacies of electrical grounding, it’s helpful to understand some basic electrical circuitry concepts first. The electrical current that moves through your property is made up of electrons, or charged particles. “Hot” current, which is usually carried on black wires, is negatively charged. Neutral white wires carry a positive charge. These wires run together, side by side, throughout the building.

It’s the physical nature of electricity for it to try to ground its electrons. This discharges negative energy and rebalances the current. The neutral wires should permit this to be accomplished.

However, sometimes damage to the wiring allows hot current to make its way to wood and other building materials, creating a short circuit, which in turn results in the risk of shock and the potential for an electrical fire. Electrical grounding is a safety mechanism to help avoid those dangerous scenarios.

How Electrical Grounding Protects Your Building

Channeling stray current

An electrical grounding system is a backup in case there is “loose” electricity. Say, for example, a rodent chews through a wire. The grounding system creates another channel for the stray current to go back to ground safely before it can become a hazard.

Typically, copper wires perform this service. They lead to a grounding bar on the main service panel, which is usually connected to a grounding rod outside the building. Think of it as a path of least resistance for stray electrical current.

Everything you plug into electrical outlets is connected to the grounding system via the third round opening in the receptacle. It should be noted that some older properties may not have this feature, especially pre-war buildings. Renovation usually involves bringing the electrical grounding network up to contemporary safety standards. A good clue that outlets may not be grounded is if they can only accommodate two prongs, not three.

A Brief History of Electrical Grounding

A controversial topic at first

It’s hard to imagine today, but using electrical grounding in residential buildings in New York City, where domestic electricity was first pioneered in the US, was originally a hotly contested idea. Ironically, the New York Board of Fire Underwriters initially denounced neutral grounding in the late 19th century, although the Edison companies disagreed. Fortunately in 1913, mandatory grounding was finally included in the building code.

In those early days, metal water piping was used as a grounding material. However, in the mid 20th century, only secure pipes 10 feet or longer could be used for this purpose. The code was then revised several times in the 1970s and 1990s, often adapting to new technology as it reached mainstream usage. Items we now take for granted, like garage door openers and personal computers, were novelties of their time and served as drivers for new residential electrical safety requirements.

Practical Pump Grounding Applications

Safety for wet environments

As you can probably imagine, electrical grounding is of particular importance in locations where water is present, such as boiler rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and the like, due to the increased risk of electrical shock. You might recall that water conducts electricity much more easily than other substances, which is why it’s unsafe to swim or sail during an outdoor electrical storm.

Because pumps are often used to move water and other liquids, it’s essential that all your pump equipment be properly grounded and that your electrical system is up to date. The larger your building, the more pumps you likely use, such as pumps for your boiler feeder, steam straps, hot and cold water distribution, and fire suppression.

If you have low-lying areas of the building, you may also have sewage ejector pumps or sump pumps to remove waste and rising stormwater. In fact, national industry experts cite submersible pumps as one of the places where they most often see improper grounding, along with lack of ground fault interrupter (GFI) outlets and old non-grounded receptacles.

With recent storms like Elsa and Ida causing massive flooding in the city, it’s more important than ever that building owners rectify these hazardous situations.

Additionally, most submersible pumps need special grounding features. The system should be divided into two zones, surface and downhole, each with its own grounding components and pathways.

Watch for these signs that your pumps’ electrical systems, including grounding, may need professional service:

  • Employees or residents reporting incidents of electrical shock
  • Old two-prong electrical receptacles or use of “cheater” adapters (adapters that convert two-prong outlets for devices with three prongs)
  • Lack of GFI outlets in wet areas of the building, including basements where submersible pumps are used
  • Pump operation triggering circuit breakers
  • Worn or frayed electrical wires or cords
  • Partially melted or burnt plugs
  • Pump not operating properly but the pump components are fine
  • Pump controllers not operating correctly
  • Flickering lights or routine power outages
  • Loose receptacles and switches
  • Outdated electrical panels or old-fashioned knob and tube wiring

If the steps for repair or maintenance are too much for you, especially when it comes to electrical grounding for any of your building’s pumps, Antler Pumps and our partners at the Omnia Mechanical Group welcome the opportunity to help you improve safety on your property.

Call Antler Pumps today at 212-534-2500, or use our easy online form to schedule a service call at your convenience. Don’t wait until you have an electrical fire or someone gets shocked to fix electrical grounding problems. Reach out now.


Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of Sanitaryplumbing.com.

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of Antler.nyc (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with Antler.nyc). We may collect and store the following personal information:

  • Name, email, address, telephone number, and (depending on the service used), move-in dates;
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Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

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We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with Sanitaryplumbing.com.

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13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: info@omniagroup.nyc.