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redline 06-24-2006 02:42 PM

Electrical ground
Can a ground wire be connected to a copper plumbing pipe from an outlet that only has two wires without the ground? The wiring is the older two wire style.

The copper plumbing is continous to the main panel ground wire.

Speedy Petey 06-24-2006 02:58 PM

Only if the water pipe is used as a grounding electrode...meaning it is metallic all the way underground AND the wire from the panel is connected within 5' of where it enters the house. THEN you connect your ground wire to the pipe also only within 5' of the entry.
This is not really advised since in this case you can just as easily connect to the ground coming from the panel.

So the answer is NO, you cannot simply connect to any old water pipe in the house.

redline 06-24-2006 03:05 PM

thanks for the reply.

It may be better if I explain in more detail.

A friend wants to run a ground wire from his bathroom outlet to the copper pipe that supplies water to his bathroom sink. The wiring in the batroom is the older two wire style without the ground. He is unable to run a new wire with the ground included without doing major damage to get access.

He was hoping to just run a copper wire from the outlet (green ground screw) and connect it to the copper plumbing below the sink. This is less than 3 feet away from the outlet to the copper pipe. This way he will be able to have a gfci with a ground.

Does this make sense or must he run a new wire from the main panel?

redline 06-24-2006 03:31 PM

Further info.

The main panel has a five foot(?) ground rod outside and a ground wire to the copper water line. This is not the issue. The question relates more to a single outlet in the second floor bathroom which only has a two wire outlet and he wants a ground to this single outlet in the bathroom.

Speedy Petey 06-24-2006 04:32 PM

NO. No way can he do what you propose.

Just install a GFI and use the "No equipment ground present" lable that comes with them. I doubt there is very much that will get plugged into a bath receptacle that has a ground pin.

Sparky Joe 06-24-2006 10:39 PM

When did people get the idea that an electrical system is not safe if it does not have a ground wire, A ground wire is just a means to trip the breaker if the equipment you are using has a fault. In no way is a ground wire intended to save someones life.

If whoever was giving this 'superhero' reputation to ground wires would also be informing people of GFI's and that they are the only thing designed for personal safety, with or without a ground wire, you'd probably see homeowners installing those everywhere they could.

IvoryRing 06-26-2006 08:11 AM


I don't know for sure, but I guess it goes something like this (said without the benefit of having 'been there' or research or anything of the kind)...

1.) somebody decides EGC is a good thing.
2.) said somebody now has to convince the US to spend approx 1/3 more for copper in (nearly) all new residential wiring from this point forward.
3.) said somebody decides the best way to do this is to push the dangers of ungrounded systems (this would be something like a negative ad campaign)
4.) subsequently 'the ground wire' becomes the superhero to slay the villan of 'ungrounded houses'.
5.) years later the GFI/GFCI folks saw the success of the strategy and used it
6.) years later AFCI folks saw the success of the strategy and used it
7.) years in the future there will be some other *FCI device which will use the same strategy.
8.) I can't see ANY way to make it (GFCI/AFCI included) such that both A.) it is impossible for a person to be electrocuted by residential wiring and B.) residential wiring can be used to get any useful work done.
9.) Same thing as 8, but replace 'for a person to be electrocuted' with 'start a fire'.
10.) GFI/GFCI and AFCI are a good idea anyway, as they address specific faults (though I don't fathom why the GFI portion of AFCI is set to a higher amperage than a standard GFCI)

RobertWilber 06-26-2006 08:27 AM

and if NASA had to answer to OSHA, they would have been required to fill "those large, potentially explosive containers" with inert material, lest someone be injured or killed in a fire, and bolt the rockets to the ground in the event that they fall over on someone ...

Not to mention the impact that these agencies would have had on the invasion of Normandy ... the Germans would probably have been required to provide "receiving stations" to allow the safe unloading of anticipated "visitors"

Sparky Joe 06-26-2006 06:15 PM

:p Very funny stuff:p

Ever tried changing a ballast with 30cal. gloves(or whatever it is they require) yeah right.

sgt809 06-27-2006 12:11 AM

I'm sitting here rolling on the gound reading your posts, but now I feel like an idiot. I have a 20's cottage home and just paid a contractor 95 dollars to put in a grounded plug in an ugly spot for my new fridge. Was this a waste of money? SHould i simply change the rest of my 2 wire plugs to 3 prong plug in's and save me a couple of hundred bucks, or suck it up because the ground is necessary. PLEASE let me know, I pulling out my hair over this....

Speedy Petey 06-27-2006 06:05 AM

You have been distracted by the last few posts. They are funny,but don' get the idea that not having a ground is as safe as having one. And don't get the impression that we are saying you can simply sawp three prong receptacles for two prong.

If an appliance has a plug with a ground pin it should be grounded. Period.
The point I made was it is a bathroom. Very little used in a bath has a ground pin. The bath requires GFI receptacles anyway, and it is code legal to use a GFI to replace ungrounded receptacles, they just need to be labeled "No Ground Present".
IMO this is a bandaid fix as you still have no ground.

For you, you did the right thing. The right thing being either find a ground and use it (MANY times a ground is present but not being used), or run new circuits.

IvoryRing 06-27-2006 12:59 PM

It all gets down to the devices you plug in, as Petey said. Any device with only a 2prong plug will be perfectly happy on a 2 wire no-EGC(ground) circuit, no matter what the plug is. Equally, any device with a 3prong cord does so specifically to make use of the EGC.

Given the higher cost of using a 3prong cord & plug, it is conservatively safe to assume that any device with one requires it for proper operation. Given that, you do not want to 'cheat' anywhere... "2-3prong adapter" or "drive a ground rod at the outlet" or "clamp to any ole water pipe" are all cheats.

So either never use a device with a 3prong plug OR make sure that when you use that device you are using it with a properly grounded system.

Sparky Joe 06-27-2006 07:09 PM

Good answers, but one more thing, if you wanted to go the cheap route, you could replace your 2prong receptacles with GFI's, this is code compliant, safe and cheap, just looks silly in most people's opinion.

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