My house is about 20 years old and I do not have a grounding rod installed. Although all the wiring is grounded to the water pipes, I would still like to install one. My question is how close or far from the main electrical box should the grounding rod be installed?

On on the other side of the wall of my electrical panel is a water facuet, my AC Compressor and also my Gas meter. So I have two questions.

I'm pretty sure the gas line is about 4 feet down underground, but how far away from the house do they run the line before it goes parallel to the backyard? I know my gas line runs to the backyard cause when I had sprinklers installed, the guy found the gas line with a metal detector and showed me the location. Would a surge running to the grounding rod trigger anything near the gas line? Like and explosion?

Also does it matter if the grounding rod is placed near the AC Compressor? Would having it too close to the compressor cause problems if there was a surge? Like short out my brand new compressor?

Also, does anyone know the best way to get the grounding rod in to the ground other than pounding it with a 5 pound hammer? Its 8 feet long and 5/8" in diameter

I can provide a picture of the area if anyone is confused.

Thanks a bunch