Need newbie explanation on grounding components.

Ive read all the threads on grounding components, but I must admit I dont understand it completely. My goal is to prevent hum in the system. Can someone explain how to do it in very simple language. Am I tying wires to my components and running them to a pipe? Am I running wires to my fuse box? .....Am I running wires from the fuse box to a ground rod outside.?..Im confused. So at the risk of sounding stupid....Can someone explain it without getting too technical...Thanks !
Hi Darryl,

People on this site have done all of the above, so don't feel bad about being confused. Some people have completely designed and installed a dedicated power line for their audio system, so they arranged for a seperate ground at the same time. They weren't necessarily having ground loop problems...they were just trying to minimize any sort of potential electrical interference and keep their audio power source as pure as possible.

Are your outlets properly grounded?? (you can easily tell if you have some sort of surge protector or line conditioner...they usually have a "ground OK" light on them) IF they are...plug everything in "as is" and see what happens. Are you having any ground loop problems that are causing a hum?? If not, don't worry about a thing. If you are, the most logical step is to methodically go step-by-step and figure out which two (or more) components are causing the loop. Once you discover the source of the loop, you can use a ground-lifiting "cheater plug" on one of the components. That should break the loop and end the hum. Some people recommend using cheater plugs and lifting the ground on all components except for one...this should eliminate any potential for loops and still leave the system grounded (all the components are hooked up via interconnects, so they should share the single ground).

Things get more complicated if your outlets aren't grounded properly. If that is the case, some of the situations you mentioned may be necessary. I'm sure someone else on this site can help you with that, because I'm not the least bit qualified.
Darryl the hum-hunting game is basically a process of elimination. Begin with your amp (or receiver, or integrated) plugged into AC with speakers only connected, no input cables connected yet. If clean, then next add the preamp only, no AC connected, no sources connected, see what happens. If amp-only is not clean then begin trying some of the ideas that you've read about. Continue adding connections & eliminating the hum (via tweaks) as it may occur. That's the basic process.
I assume from your post that you've having some hum problems & you don't know exactly why (welcome to the club). Please experiment & make some notes, then if you're still stumped you may shoot me an email & we'll best discuss your specifics via a phone call. Click on my username to initiate email contact & simply follow the hyperlink.
I had some hum once. I tracked it down to a pesky pre-amp. When I replaced the pre-amp the hum went away. You can imagine how ticked I was after adding three dedicated circuits with dedicated neutrals and an isolated ground.

Being an electrician by trade the circuits only ran me about $100.00 in material and half a day in labor.

My point being the cleanest power in the world won't always help your hum problem.
Hi Darryl,
Before you do anything, call your power company and have them come out and check the ground to your service. They will (should) do this for free and most times the power company will check the outlets as well as a customer service. If that checks out ok, proceed to what Phild said. And what he said about the adapter plugs that eliminate the ground pin is absolutely correct. You need only one component grounded at the outlet, all others ground through interconnects that are properly designed. These adapters are very inexpensive. Probably less than the shipping on a "tweak", and a lot more effective. If after that you still have problems, power down, remove the adapters and plug back in, remove 1 pair of interconnects completely from the system and power back up. Repeat this, removing a different pair each time. Once a pair passes, they are plugged back in after power down, and the next pair removed prior to power on. It's a process of logical elimination. It could be a bad interconnect, or it could be a component, and that would not be discovered until you fail this test. It's a process of elimination, keep logically eliminating more until you find the culprit. The absolute last thing you should do is buy a tweak. This is a problem, that is a bandaid, and electronics don't heal well. Tom
As a total non techie, is this mainly an issue with older amps or kit? I say this as I have the "play around with different equipment itch" and I have had the humming issue only twice.
The first was putting in an OLD Bryston 4B amp. Eliminated by cutting off the earth prong in the plug.
My current (ha ha) issue is now with a pair of OLD Threshold Nelson Pass monoblocks. The are both  buzzing loudly but I suspect that the single ended Audioquest subwoofer cable (the amps do not have balanced inputs) that I put in temporarily may be the issue as I had nowhere to hang the little earth wire. My cable techie has suggest I put in his own built single ended cables which should eliminate the (probable earth) hum. The chances are against BOTH monoblocks being faulty somewhere. I will find out next week when I am next in situ.