4 ground wires into 1 in main panel

In a main electrical panel I found a group of 4 romex wires with the grounds wire nutted together with 1 line thats connected to the ground tap of the panel. Is this a write up?

Here’s a photo if it doesn’t show here:
<img src=“http://lexam.net/carnut/misc/ground-4into1.jpg”>

[FONT=Tahoma]It looks like this was probably done (assuming here) …because all the other ground blocks are already filled with ground wires? Therefore, a reasonable person (inspector) could identify that the home needs a larger electrical service box to hold all the added circuits that won’t fit in there. Also this photo shows three hot and three neutral wires joined as well. I would guess that there is 1 breaker running these three wires, which now goes to who knows where in the home?!?!?!?

In practical effect, what you have here with this setup is a double tapped hot, neutral and ground wire… one circuit is actually running two or (three?) separate systems or loads added on. At least that is what it appears may be going on in the photo. I would identify this situation as inadequate, and recommend an electrician evaluate the service panel.

Here it the situation… if all of those loads that are now pigtailed together shorted, could that “one” wire, and single ground lug take that combined amperage? I know this rarely happens, but what the heck, it will for you next week, when that family moves in… I’d defer it to an electrician.

Did the rest of the system look OK?

There was still some free spaces in the ground block. I suspect that whoever put the wire in cut the ground wire length the same as the breakers there for a woops. The ground block is on the other side of the panel from the join in question. It seems a bit like a power feed where its connected a few times but I also thought about if ALL circuits on that group failed could the one lead handle the ground needs. Probably not. If it were my home I might at least replace with a 10 gauge ground lead instead b ut I’m looking for a phrase for a report.

Here is the phrase I would use. “The present electrical service panel wiring appears to be inadequate, I recommend an electrician evaluate for adequacy and safety.” Defer this to an expert to make the call.

Good luck

It is perfectly acceptable to splice grounding wires together and pigtail one to the bus, provided the one pigtail is at least the size required for the largest of the circuits involved. Many times a junction box will have only one grounding wire run to it, spliced into many circuits. Again, no problem as long as it is sized properly.

As far as the neutrals, two can be pigtailed into one so long as the breakers are on opposing legs of the service. It’s no different than a multiwire circuit, just short.

If this is simply 4 complete circuits, pigtailed to a single breaker/bus port, it may be sloppy but I am not sure it is illegal. If it happened in a box outside the panel there wouldn’t be an issue at all.

… a terminal bar for the grounding conductors shall be secured inside the cabinet.

Splices of all grounding conductors in this manner is contrary to the industry standards.

A terminal bar is required …

Joe, when did this code come into effect as I have seen a huge number of panels that only have a grounding lug rather than a grounding bus bar?




I will research this question. I too have seen the older “cutout” boxes with both the EGC and Neutrals bugged together all in a bunch.

Note: Use of a split bolt, burndy, kerney, or bug nut allows only two wires per the present UL standards

The UL Panelboard Marking Guide

http://www.ul.com/regulators/panelboards.pdf gives the specific information that is found in the NEC Section 408.40, 20, or 384-27.


  1. Section 408.20 (384–27) of the NEC requires the installation and use of a terminal bar for panelboards used with non-metallic raceway or cable, or where separate grounding conductors are provided. This terminal bar may be installed on the panelboard or its enclosure. A terminal bar assembly kit must include instructions for installation and panelboard or enclosure markings.
    Unless it employs a wire-binding screw, markings must show all acceptable wire sizes and wire combinations for each terminal. A panelboard for use without grounding conductors is not required to provide for a grounding terminal bar. In this case, however, the panelboard must be marked to
    limit its use to installations having equipment grounded by connection to metal raceway or metallic cable sheaths.

  2. The equipment grounding terminal or assembly in a panelboard is identified by one of the following methods:

The terminal assembly or the heads of the terminal screws being green;

Marking adjacent to the terminal or on the wiring diagram indicating “Equipment-Grounding Terminal” or equivalent wording; or

Marking of the grounding symbol (see below) adjacent to the terminal or on the wiring diagram along with “Equipment-Grounding Terminal” or other words defining the symbol. The symbol may be used without the additional wording if markings provided with the Panelboard define the symbol."

I can’t get my hands on my 1965 NEC because we are just finishing up with my kitchen and bathroom remodel.

A Home Inspector is not a Hydro Inspector!
Most are not trade certified and are not familiar with the Code!
Therefore are not qualified to make any judgment as to the
integrity of the service.

Our job is to point out that wire splices are not standard of practice
and “could” be a potential problem. Make a “note” in the report.
You have done your job! No need to try and interpret the Code.

Note in certain cases wire splices in the panel are allowed.

What, may I ask, is a Hydro Inspector?

They had better be familiar with codes or they’re in the wrong profession.

That is precisely what we are hired to do - give qualified opinions as to the condition and integrity of specific systems/components of the home.

“Wire splices” are most certainly part of the standard installation process of an electrical system, and when installed properly, create no additional potential for problems.

“Hydro” is a term for the power company in the great white north.

Got it. Thanks.

Actually, not all of the great white north. Ontario Hydro used to be the name of the power utility servicing Ontario. I worked for them for 30 years. It was a pain because at conferences folks would assume I was representing the water company. The name originated due to the fact that when Ontario Hydro was formed, most of our power came from Niagara Falls. Most of our power is nuke now.
The name of the company was changed a while back to Ontario Power Generation