How to Ground a Dust Collection System

Three elements are needed for fire: air, fuel and an ignition source.
If your dust collector isn’t properly grounded, you have all three in your shop. Plastic hoses and PVC pipes are non-conductive and will build and hold a static charge just like a capacitor. Without a grounding path, an electrical charge can build up until it finds a place to arc. When that happens, there is a good chance it will ignite dry wood dust–and your shop along with it. You can make your dust collector safe by grounding the entire system with bare copper wire.

Step 1

Unplug the dust collector.

Step 2

Plug in the outlet tester to check the ground on the plug. If you have a bad ground connection, turn the power to the outlet off at the breaker panel. Check the wiring on the outlet and in the service panel. Repair any problems with the wiring before restoring power to the outlet.

Step 3

Disconnect all plastic hoses or PVC lines.

Step 4

Pull copper wire through the length of each pipe or hose. Use the pliers to cut the wire, leaving 2 inches extra at each end to attach to the metal gates or fittings.

Step 5

Drill a 1/4-inch hole on each fitting just past the end of the hose collar.

Step 6

Insert a bolt into the hole. Wrap the copper wire around the bolt and secure it in place with a hex-nut.

Step 7

Replace hose or line on fitting. Repeat until you have a copper wire inside all plastic and PVC members of your dust collection system. When you are finished, you should have a continuous conductive path from the intakes to the unit’s discharge port.

Things You Will Need

  • Outlet tester
  • 14-gauge copper wire
  • Pliers
  • Drill with 1/4-inch bit
  • 1/4-inch bolts and hex nuts

Tip

  • If you continue to get static buildup on the outside of any non-conductive hoses. Tape a copper wire to the outside of the hose or pipe and fasten the ends in the same manner as the interior grounding wire.

Warning

  • Do not work on or adjust any machinery while it is plugged in.

About the Author

Finn McCuhil is a freelance writer based in Northern Michigan. He worked as a reporter and columnist in South Florida before becoming fascinated with computers. After studying programming at University of South Florida, he spent more than 20 years heading up IT departments at three tier-one automotive suppliers. He now builds wooden boats in the north woods.