Ask Your Question

Angie's List Answers is the trusted spot to ask home improvement and health questions and get answers from service companies, health providers and consumers. For ratings and reviews on companies in your area, search Angie's List.

Top 30 Days Experts
Rank Leader Points*
1 kstreett 240
2 Guest_9020487 110
3 Guest_9190926 105
4 GoldenKid 100
5 ahowell 95
6 KnowledgeBase 95
7 skbloom 80
8 Guest_98024861 70
9 Guest_9311297 70
10 Guest_9400529 70

*Updates every 4 hours

Browse Projects By Category

Question DetailsAsked on 9/4/2015

How much should it cost to add an electrical grounding wire to a 1950's era house?

Assuming that the interior wiring, outlets, and breaker box are in good condition, how much work and money does it take to ground the entire house to earth?

Do you have the same question? Follow this Question

4 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Depending on what issues you are addressing, you may not need to ground your house.

If you use only 2-prong applicanes then you wont' need grounded receptacles.

Grounding costs

1. Sink ground 2 ground rods and wire into main panel. $250 - $500

Cost depends on whether grade near service panel is dirt or asphalt or concrete.

If asphalt or concrete, then add ashpalt or concrete repair. Many jurisdictions require 2 rods wired together so you have to trench between the 2 rods.

What this accomplishes for you.

1. You can connect a lightning rod(s) to to these ground rods.

2. The ground rods help to establish a consistant voltage to ground for the utility company.

3. The ground rods allow you to rewire the house with grounded cable.

2. Rewire house with grounded cable.

First, you need to sink 2 ground rods as mentioned above.

Electricians cost will be $6,000 - $12,000 for a 3 bed, 2-bath 1 story house.

The electrician will need access to all outlets so furniture will have to be moved

There will be extensive wall and ceiling repair required from a drywall contractor.

It will be dusty.

You will need to paint.


Answered 5 years ago by Kestrel Electric


Good comments by Kestrel as usual. A couple of additional thoughts and one clarification on what he said:

Clarification - he said the ground rods could be used to connect lightning protection system (lightning rods) to. That is NOT correct - lightning protection systems are required to have their own grounding rod(s) or buried wire ring or, in some cases if rebar and foundation is correct size and bonded, to the building foundation rebar or steel structure. That lightning ground system IS bonded by a wire to the electric system ground rod, but in that case should have an approved lightning surge protection unit hooked in-line between the rods and the electrical system (and to communications ground wires too) to minimize lighting surges from going back into the household wiring. There is a lot of discussion about this bonding of lightning grounds to the electrical system - there may be a code change coming to keep lightning ground totally separate (and at least 20 feet away) from electrical/communications system grounds.


1) is you replace the wiring with new 3-wire wiring, his cost sounds appropriate for houses with the wiring run in enclosed walls and floors and such. Note he said that was the ELECTRICIAN cost - NOT including possibly several to quite a few thousands in plaster/drywall repair (or heaven forbid, woodwork) and repainting (which usually involves at least entire ewalls if not entire rooms to color match. If your wiring is run bottom-up and top-down - with the wiring runs in exposed crawlspace or basement and attic spaces then directly up/down to the individual outlets and fixtures, it can run as low as about half his ballpark number if there is easy access - and of course this assumes a roughly 2000 SF house - obviously much less if a small cottage.

2) in some cases, if the wiring is in good shape and has good insulation (which a 1950's house would NOT qualify as, since your wiring is almost certainly asbestos or fabric or maybe even paper wrapped), you might just run separate ground wire to each fixture and outlet. Not necessarily by the same routing as the original wiring, so can be much cheaper at times, especially in one-story houses with open floor joists over crawlspace or basement, or with knob-and-tube (which your house should be too new to have) attic wiring distribution.

3) bear in mind, though he said you can go 2-wire if you use 2-wire appliances and such, any three-wire equipment you use will NOT be protected in the event of an internal short, so technically would be illegal to install - the three to two wire adapters are legal ONLY if the box is metal and grounded, which yours is evidently not. Also, it is illegal to have three-wire outlets if you do not have ground wire conencted to it, so many power tools, computers, appliances etc you might buy would be unprotected and very dangerous in the event of an internal short or insulation failure if you did use a three prong to two prong adapter to plug them in.

4) of course, consider how long you are going to live in this house and what it is worth before doing the upgrade - many people get into the full wiring and plumbing replacement only to move out in a few years or less, recouping none of the benefit in the sale price if the house is being bought as a total gut and refurbish or as a tear-down, which might well be the case with a 1950's house.

5) in case this question comes up - if your existing wiring runs in BX (metal flex) conduit, no it cannot be used as the grounding path. Code requires a separate internal grounding wire if the distance that the conduit is acting as ground exceeds 6 feet.

6) one thing that might bite you - in some areas, if the electric system is being upgraded and over 50% of it is being replaced, then it ALL has to be replaced to current code. Also, in some code areas if ground is being added to circuits, the local code amendments require that that wiring be upgraded to current code wiring, not allowing just adding a separate ground wire.

7) there has been arguments for years about this one and the code committee has yet to resolve it - the ground wire is commonly bare in the wiring sheathing or conduit, but if run separately there is a code section that appears to require it to be insulated just like a normal wire. Personally bare ground wires make no sense to me because of the possibility of power jumping to adjacent metal if it is carrying juice,so I would use insulated wire regardless.

8) be sure when if house is grounded, that all communications (TV dish, cable TV, phone, etc) ground wires are also properly bonded to the electrical ground (#6 wire is required in most jurisdictions) - and in most but not all jurisdictions, the ground bus in the distribution panel has to be grounded to metal water pipes. In some jurisdictions the metal gasline outside where it comes out of the ground and/or into the hjouse past the meter also has to be bonded to the electrical ground - but other jurisdictions specifically prohibit that. Your electrician should know, except the last item you might have to contact your gas company. In our area you see about half and half on houses, but the gas company emphatically does NOT want their piping potentially energized by a ground fault or lightning strike.

8) with that age house, there is a significant possibility that your wires are exposed braided asbestos covered, which makes the tearout a job for an asbestos removal contractor - adding a couple thousand $ to the job for a whole house rewire. Generally (though not always) looks like a somewhat fuzzy white or grayish (sometimes almost smoke gray with aging and dirt) tightly woven or braided fabric sleeve. However, early fiberglass woven insulation also looks pretty similar though usually a bit yellowish, so should be tested to be sure. Most electricians are not ACM certified so will not mess with it, but a few larger companies will handle it themselves or hire an ACM removal expeart to work along with them doing the removal.

Here is also a link to a related info that might be of interest, regarding resale issues with 2-wire houses - and you might talk to your favorite realtor about the impact on sale price and number of potential buyers who might walk away too -

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


Excellent advice from both companies. One small note on the clarification on the lightning protection system. Yes they should include there own grounding rod or grid, but also always bond to the existing system or ground rod. We have our own new grounding technology but always bond to existing rod.

Emergent Protection Solutions

Answered 3 years ago by EmergentProtectionSo


Emergent - a couple of questions on your response and lightning rod connection in general:

1) when you bond the lighting arresting system ground rod to the electrical system ground rod, do you install any sort of lightning arresting protection on the electrical system side to prevent the surge from feeding back into the electrical system also - especially if electrical system is ground to water pipes as required in some areas, so that route can provide about as good a ground path as the grounding rod - even better in dry soils like desert areas ?

2) aside I guess from the lightning system viewpoint of another ground can't hurt, have you ever heard a rational explanation why someone would (albeit required per code) connect an intentional lightning ground to the household system with anything more than a nominal small gage (say #18) wire to equalize the household static charge with the lightning rod so the house could not accidentally become more attractive as the lightning initiation/contact point, but to not provide a good high-amperage route for the lightning charge to take. Small gage wire (for static discharge only) or a lightning surge protected connection I could see, but it always seemed like using heavy wire to connect the lightning ground to the electrical system ground (and I have seen a lot of 4/0 twisted strand wire and sometimes larger pieces of scrap utility drop main feed wire used for this, same as a lot of code areas require for the electrical system ground to its grounding rod) just defeats the purpose of the lightning ground rod and the lightning system being wired and insulated to seperate from the house. Any thoughts on that ?

3) do you recommend insulating your lightning rods from the house on non-metallic roofs to reduce the risk of shorting to the presumably wet roof and risk of fire from that ? (Obviously metal roofs are bonded because they are just one large lightning rod anyway).

4) I have always used two ground rods at least 20 feet apart and outside the eave overhang (to ensure damper soil) for lightning grounding (bonded between them with same gage wire as from the lightning rod) to ensure (at least improve the odds) that at least one will have good contact when needed - what are your thoughts on that ?

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


One thing I noticed in reviewing this question and my response for possible use on another question - in my initial answer, item #2, I stated (about adding grounding to ungrounded internal house wiring) - "you might just run separate ground wire to each fixture and outlet. Not necessarily by the same routing as the original wiring..."

Under the current code provisions used by most jurisdictions - National Electrical Code and International Building Code - running an added circuit ground by separate routing is now prohibited, on the premise that it might be disconnected or cut without cutting the circuit itself - thereby giving the impression (with grounded outlets and a ground wire coming into the boxes) that the circuit is grounded when in fact it is not. Of course, any electrician worth his salt would check that with a circuit tester or VOM - but the code is to protect mostly the resident, who normally would not do that before using a circuit.

What is NOT clear in the code is whether running a new insulated groundwire alongside the original 2-wire circuit and tying it to the original circuit wiring with phone ties is legal or not, or if the circuit wiring itself has to be 3-wire within the insulation. That used to be legal for grounds and added wires for 3-way and 4-way switches - does not specifically say one way or the other that I can see now. However, since now having to run it with the circuit wiring all along the route makes that pretty much a no-brainer - if you have to access the previous circuit wiring all along, just bite the bullet for the typically $25-50 (maybe $50-100 for 208/220/240V wire) additional for the new wire and replace it with new 3-wire (or 4-wire for 208/220/240V circuit) wiring and have the peace of mind of having all new wiring in place for that/t

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

Related Questions

Terms Of Use
Privacy Policy