What better way to process a big project than … blogging! ?
Today I had the Pacific Power guy come over tell me what tree trimming was needed to reconnect the service Panel that I’d installed some time ago but had been disconnected. The Electrical inspector was by the other day and told me I would need to add a ground to the water pipe (this is in addition to the ground running to two 8′ iron grounding rods!) I think this is standard Electrial Code stuff. I’ve certainly got nothing against the inspectors personally – most are courteous and professional around here.
However what seems to me to be a lot of unneeded change and overkill in the regulations is very interesting and I think can only be explained if you assume that there is a sort of “priesthood” of contractor/inspector folks who make these rules and want to both cover themselves against the slightest chance of problems arising combined with the fact they make more money and have more power if the rules are more complex.
The difference in mishaps in houses that have ONE 8′ grounding rod (old code) vs TWO 8′ grounding rods has GOT to be unmeasurably insignificant, yet those extra rods represent a huge amount of time/expense. Believe me, pounding an 8′ rod into the soil here is not fun and not educational!
Hmmm – let’s assume it takes a contractor a total of 30 minutes extra to install that extra rod, plus materials at $15, and the contracted labor is $60 per hour. This is $45 per install extra. So, one way to determine if this extra cost makes sense we could use the value of an American life according to the Dept of Transportation, about 2.7 million, and try to answer this question:
Since it costs folks about 2.7 million to install a second ground rod in about 60,000 houses, we’d expect to see at least one life saved by the second rod. This seems EXTREMELY unlikely given that electricity is not a major cause of death at all (There are typically under 500 electrical fire deaths per year from ALL causes. I’d bet there is not a single death attributed to the lack of a second ground rod).