TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Supplemental Grounding Electrodes

Re: Supplemental Grounding Electrodes

Neal McLain (
Tue, 05 Jul 2005 18:54:45 -0500

Choreboy <> wrote:

> Article 250.54 of the NEC says local supplemental grounding
> electrodes (such as the one for phone service) must be
> bonded to the primary electrode. Where does the NEC apply?
> According to what the telco man admitted seven years ago, I
> assume our county code says the same thing.

As other readers have noted, NEC applies in any jurisdiction that
adopts it by reference. The adopting law or ordinance identifies the
edition of the code, and sometimes includes modifying clauses to
clarify certain requirements, create additional requirements, or omit
certain requirements. Some state governments adopt it
(e.g. Wisconsin); most counties and municipalities also adopt it.

In your case, I'd guess that if you live in the City of Rutland, the
Building & Zoning Department enforces it. If you live in one of the
surrounding towns, either the town government or the Rutland County
government enforces it.

> Is this a recent addition to the NEC?

It certainly existed in 1987, according to "The National Electrical
Code 1987 Handbook" (published by NFPA as a companion to the code
itself; includes the complete text of the 1987 code, plus numerous
drawings and annotations to clarify the text). The annotation at
Article 250-71(b) states:

The Code requires that separate systems be bonded together
to reduce differences of potential between them, which can
result from lightning or power contacts. Interconnection
is required for lightning rod systems (Section 250-46),
communications systems [Sections 800-31(b)(5)], and CATV
systems [Section 820-22(f)]. Lack of interconnection can
result in severe shock and fire hazard.

"Communications systems" includes telephone.

> How is a citizen supposed to find out local code
> requirements?

Contact the city, town, or county building inspection department.

> How is a citizen supposed to know his electrodes are not bonded or
> that it's necessary?

The average citizen is not expected to know; the contractors who
install the stuff are supposed to know. And the city/town/county
building inspector is supposed to make sure that it's done correctly.

The problem, of course, is that inspectors only inspect when a
contractor pulls a permit and then calls for an inspection. If work
is done without a permit, there's usually no inspection. Telephone
and CATV companies rarely, if ever, pull permits for residential
installs; from what I've seen, even electricians don't pull permits
for branch-circuit work. Building inspection departments probably
don't approve of this arrangement, but in my experience they're
usually too overworked and underfunded to do much about it.

> If the telco assures a customer that there is nothing wrong with
> grounding which in fact is a code violation, does the telco have any
> liability?

I can't speak for the telco industry, but in the CATV industry (where
I used to work), we certainly assumed that we'd be liable for faulty
work done by our own employees. Our contracts with subcontractors
included insurance and hold-harmless clauses to protect the customer,
the CATV company, and franchising authority, and all property owners
where CATV facilities were located.

Of course, if I were a personal injury lawyer, I'd be keeping a close
eye on that telephone company ...

Neal McLain

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