The difference between these long cylindrical objects may appear to be a matter of semantics, but when it comes to electricity they are clearly defined.
A pipe is a tube, meaning it is hollow, used to transport liquid or gas. A rod would be solid and has many uses including an electrical ground.
Just to confuse things a pipe can be used for a main electric ground and they often were and still are today. Most everyone is familiar with the ground wire on the main water pipe from the street. But that can not be the only ground today. There should be a second ground on the system. In the case of a home with a well that pipe is often plastic. Plastic is not a conductor of electricity so an alternative is required.
In the photo the ground pipe pictured is for a home with a well. The electric service had been up dated fairly recently, but not the grounding. Or at least it looked as if a cursory attempt was made to "update" the ground.
On the exterior a rod is required, not a pipe. It must be driven into the ground eight feet (tell me how you check that!). The yellow arrow is pointing to a rod right next to this pipe that would be a good candidate for a ground.
The red arrow is showing the ground wire that goes back to the main electric panel. This wire is supposed to be in direct contact with the rod. The problem here is the "electrician" used an electrical pipe clamp and the wire is not contacting the pipe.
Following the wire back to the main panel it was discovered the wire itself was significantly undersized. In addition there was only one ground wire. This newer system was render basically unsafe by the grounding being improperly and inadequately updated.
Fortunately this problem can be fixed fairly easily and inexpensively by a qualified electrician. So remember just because something looks newer doesn't necessarily mean it's right or safe.
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC
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