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Old 07-11-2012, 09:09 AM   #1
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Grounding to pipe inside garage


Just bought a house and have decided to clean up the unfinished garage and drywall it. In the process, I'd like to move around a couple of outlets and the lights.

Currently these connections are made via armored cable that run along the joists and walls, but I'm planning on replacing with 12/2 romex and moving it inside the walls.

One concern I have is with the ground.

Currently, there is a single 20A circuit being fed into the detached garage via conduit from the main panel. 2 wires only however. This conduit enters the building through the wall about 6 feet off the ground (running along a patio trellis), and is attached to standard metal junction box just a foot above the garage door header.

Also entering the garage, directly underneath the conduit but closer to the ground, is a cold water pipe that services the garden hose on the far side of the property. It runs along the rough opening of the garage. I guess this was easier than digging up the driveway and putting it underneath.

When I got the house, the previous owners had just finished completely rewiring it. Their electrician used this cold water pipe as a ground, connecting it from a clamp with an #8 bare wire to a nut on the outside of the junction box.

I had hoped to move this junction box a few feet over so that the wiring could be completely enclosed by the drywall (I'd have a plate over the box so the wires are still accessible). I can't encase the water pipes, but what I can do is move the junction box over and then run a ground wire inside the wall to where the water pipe enters the building.

That would make the ground wire about 5 feet long.

My concern is that I've never seen a grounding wire encased like this before. However I've never seen a water pipe routed this way before either.

If this isn't a viable option, what would be best?

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Old 07-11-2012, 09:16 AM   #2
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Grounding to pipe inside garage


The water line cannot be used as a grounding conductor. You might need to rewire the feed to the shed. What type of conduit contains the feed now?

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Old 07-11-2012, 09:25 AM   #3
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Grounding to pipe inside garage


My first question would be why they grounded to the water pipe? If there is conduit between the garage and house, what kind of conduit. Metal conduit would carry the ground to the garage and you wouldn't need to run a wire to the water pipe.

My second question would be what do you plan on doing in the garage? Is it just for parking cars, or are you going to be using it as a workshop? Do you ever plan on using it for more than just parking cars?

You need to find out what code cycle you are on as well. If you are on the 08 NEC, you won't be able to use romex in the garage if it is detached. If you are on the 11, you will be allowed to use it.
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Last edited by k_buz; 07-11-2012 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:41 AM   #4
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Grounding to pipe inside garage


Conduit is EMT, which runs from the service panel, along the house, then up and along the trellis between the house and garage. About 50' of conduit in total. I'm at work right now so can't pop open the panel to see if or how he grounded the conduit. It's clear the electrician did pull new wire through it however, opting instead to concentrate on the inside of the structures. For right now, the single 20A circuit is fine for my needs (1 4' wrap and powering a small chest freezer). However if a ground wire needs to be run from the service panel to the detached garage anyways, it might make sense to add another circuit at the same time. Not sure a sub-panel would be needed however, since at most I'd only be running power tools one at a time.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:46 AM   #5
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Grounding to pipe inside garage


If you have a freezer and a door opener in there I would make sure they were on separate circuits.

If you have EMT above ground continuous from the panel to the garage, the EMT will carry the ground. I would, however, pull a separate #12 green thru the pipe to ensure you have a ground at the garage. You can then eliminate the jumper from the J-Box to the water pipe.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:51 AM   #6
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Grounding to pipe inside garage


Thanks. No door opener...just a manually operated pull up door. Literally all that will be run in there is the freezer, the wrap, and the occasional power tool.
However down the line we might want to add a fridge as well to store food, and that will definitely require another circuit. Might as well add it now I reckon when I pull through a ground wire.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:53 AM   #7
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Grounding to pipe inside garage


Now that more details were provided it does not sound like someone knew what they were doing by adding the connection to the water line.

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