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Old 09-21-2008, 12:28 PM   #1
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Amps on only ground? - Danger?


I am going to be replacing my panel as we have been discussing, however, I have a handful of thing ahead of the panel replacement that need to get dealt with first, so in the real world, it may take me a couple more months before the panel gets replaced.

This is a pushmatic panel installed in 1963. It was a licensed, inspected install. There is one 6 gage bare wire that run from the panel to the water pipe on the water co side below the meter where it is clamped on.

To my horror, I discovered just now that there are NO grounding rods connected to my system.

I put a clamp meter over the 6g copper wire and I read Amperage on that line. The amperage is depending on what I have running in the house, but last night when I was testing, I was seeing between 2 and 3 amps continuously running on that ground wire.

I read the article about open neutrals that SD515 posted a couple days ago. I have seen our lights flicker a bit more than I think they should (i.e. when the laser fax runs - I know laser printer can draw a lot of amps, so I wasn't overly concerned, but did not notice it doing this in the past), but no major dimming and no power drops on one side of the panel vs the other that would indicate the power co having a open neutral.

I am concerned about the amps I am seeing on the ground wire that runs to the water meter. I am also concerned that there appears to be no other path to ground in my system. I fully understand this is not up to current code, and will be fixed when the panel is replaced. I just want to know what is going on, and if there is an immediate danger present.

I can easily pound in a couple rods now (I want to make sure I put them I the proper location and proper distance from the panel / house so they don't have to be re-done when I do the new panel - I plan to video the install of the rods so there is no question about the full rods being installed if the inspector asks). If that would be a smart thing to do.

I checked the voltage on the water pipes / the ground wire to the water pipes, and it was hard to get a reading, when testing to neutral (didn't have a consistent voltage reading), I did see a reading of 1.8volts at one point, but nothing higher. The amperage readings are consistent.

Thanks for any insight on this issue.

Jamie

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Old 09-21-2008, 01:07 PM   #2
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Amps on only ground? - Danger?


Your water pipe IS a grounding electrode. A far better one than any ground rod.
Newer codes simply require an additional supplemental electrode for a water pipe electrode.

Pounding a ground rod will only mask whatever problem there is now, it will NOT solve it.

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Old 09-21-2008, 01:53 PM   #3
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Amps on only ground? - Danger?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Pounding a ground rod will only mask whatever problem there is now, it will NOT solve it.

Thanks for the response. I will continue to trouble shoot. I put a meter on the ground wire and watched my amps as I flipped off breakers. The amps pulled do vary with my load.

However, when my main is off, I still read .62 amps coming across the ground wire. Does this indicate a Power CO problem or a open neutral at one of my neighbors houses?

Any suggestions on how I can further trouble shoot the problem? I am a bit confused as to how amperage, but not voltage (or very low voltage) makes it onto the grounding wire. Unless it is feeding in from some outside source via the ground, but if that is the case, then why do I see additional amps being put on the ground wire when I energize my panel and pull a load?

I know this is a complicated issues, and again thank you very much for the suggestions.

Jamie
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Old 09-21-2008, 03:40 PM   #4
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Amps on only ground? - Danger?


Quote:
To my horror, I discovered just now that there are NO grounding rods connected to my system.
The ground rods are not an "active" part of your electrical system. They are there to give lightning a place to go.


Your system is designed to carry power in and back out. The bonding and grounding are safety features.

The .6 volts is not significant and may not even be "real".
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Old 09-21-2008, 03:44 PM   #5
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Amps on only ground? - Danger?


Quote:
Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
The .6 volts is not significant and may not even be "real".

Is the 2.5 Amps I am seeing on the grounding cable when my panel is hot significant?

Is it normal to see amperage on your grounding cable when there is load on your panel?

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Old 09-21-2008, 03:59 PM   #6
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Amps on only ground? - Danger?


Quote:
Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
The ground rods are not an "active" part of your electrical system. They are there to give lightning a place to go.


Your system is designed to carry power in and back out. The bonding and grounding are safety features.

The .6 volts is not significant and may not even be "real".
She said .62 AMPS NOT .62 VOLTS. Im my opinion call the power company may be a loose neutral on the transformer?
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Old 09-21-2008, 05:55 PM   #7
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Amps on only ground? - Danger?


Yeah, sorry ....I meant amps.

You can clamp the meter around your finger and sometimes get a reading.

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