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Old 09-10-2008, 02:11 PM   #1
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Is this normal?


I had some plumbing work done last week, and while cleaning the basement, I noticed the plumber forgot to reattach the grounding wire to my water main. It's just a couple of screws, so I thought I'd take the two minutes and reattach it.

As I was slipping the copper wire through the bracket hole, I saw a few small sparks. It wasn't a big "zap". I was wearing leather gloves at the time, so I didn't feel anything.

Am I just seeing a small difference in charge between my house's wiring and the ground? Or... is something miswired somewhere in my house? It's an old house with some two prong outlets and some with the polarity reversed.

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Old 09-10-2008, 02:39 PM   #2
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Is this normal?


Something is wrong.

The grounding electrode conductor that hooks to your water main is somehow becoming energized (or your pipes are energized). If you hook it to your pipes that condition, you energize them, and that is not good.

You need to get an electrician to your home in short order to get this figured out. It might be something easy, it might not. Either way it is probably a big danger.

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Old 09-10-2008, 02:49 PM   #3
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Is this normal?


It could be a loose neutral on your home service drop. It could be a loose nsutral on your neighbours service.
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Old 09-10-2008, 02:52 PM   #4
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Is this normal?


Hmmm.. how would one troubleshoot this?

Perhaps I should cut all the breakers, disconnect the ground, and then turn them on one at a time and measure with a volt meter between the groundwire and the water main to see which circuit is causing the short?

A loose neutral..... is that something that should be repaired by my utility?
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Old 09-10-2008, 03:04 PM   #5
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Is this normal?


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Originally Posted by skipjack View Post
A loose neutral..... is that something that should be repaired by my utility?
In most service panels the ground and neutral are bonded, if the neutral becomes loose, the current must go somewhere...so it chooses the ground, because its the only path for it.

This could be in the service panel, in the meter, or on poco (power company) side.

To help me help you...what type of service do you have aerial or buried?

Are your lights brighter than normal?

Do motors spin "faster"

Id strongly recommend getting an electrician, and if he doesn't find anything, then call the poco.

But please, unplug expensive things...even a $4000 surge suppressor won't help them.

The plumber did not do this, it probably was already loose.

Even if the main breaker is off there is still dangerous electricity, and you can get electrocuted from neutrals if you come in between it and its path.

Last edited by rgsgww; 09-10-2008 at 03:07 PM. Reason: more things
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Old 09-10-2008, 03:15 PM   #6
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rgsgww, I have "aerial" service.

I just bought the place and have been doing some rehabbing/remodelling (nothing electrical) and I haven't officially moved in yet. I can't really tell you if lights are brighter or anything is running faster since I'm not living there.

I'll call the poco and have them check their stuff out... that's free. If they're cool, I'll call a professional to check the house out.
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Old 09-10-2008, 06:05 PM   #7
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I'll call the poco and have them check their stuff out... that's free. If they're cool, I'll call a professional to check the house out.
That is probably the smartest thing I have ever read here.

If you call someone out, ask for someone with a LOT of experience. It sounds like you know enough to narrow it down yourself by turning on one thing at a time. If you can't narrow it down to a single circuit, it will be system wide, either on the POCO's side or on your side.
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Old 09-10-2008, 06:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
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I have "aerial" service.

The wire that holds the 2 hots in an aerial service setup is the neutral...over time the wire gets loose, so right now it seems like its the pocos side.
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:58 AM   #9
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I think I know now why the plumber did not connect the GEC back up.
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Old 09-11-2008, 03:38 PM   #10
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I think I know now why the plumber did not connect the GEC back up.

Hes lucky the plumber didn't die from electric shock if he got in between the ground and the pipe...
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Old 09-19-2008, 10:29 AM   #11
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[UPDATE]: I had the POCO come out last week and trim some trees and check connections. They said everything looked fine. Yesterday I got my first chance to go downstairs and do some troubleshooting.

I disconnected the ground cable from the water main and touched the end on the clamp. Still a small spark. Hmmm... shut off all the breakers in the house so, only the main was on. Still a small spark. Grrr... turned off the main breaker... STILL a small spark!!!

I'm no electrician, but this seems to be on the POCO side, right? I'm going to measure it this weekend so I can give the customer service rep exact info when dispatching a tech. It's a small spark.. it can't be more than a few volts. I tried to explain it to the CSR the last time and she really had no idea what I was talking about... I mean, you work for the electric company.. shouldn't you at least be familiar with how electricity works? I wound up just telling her my lights were flickering and to have someone check the pole. Sheesh.
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Old 09-19-2008, 10:56 AM   #12
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STILL a small spark!!!
I want you to unscrew your cable connection right where it enters, keep the ground on, then unscrew the ground on the cable (MAKE SURE THE COAXIAL GOING TO THE REST OF THE HOUSE IS DISCONNECTED!!!) see if it sparks.

If you still spark, disconnect all phones, or computers or dsls from the phones, and remove the phone ground, do you still get a spark?

If these both have no effect, it still sounds like a poco problem.
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:28 PM   #13
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Is this normal?


You have metal water mains in your town then the problem could anyone of your neighbours with an open neutral. Their power is returning through their ground into the town water pipes and back to the transformer through your gound wire and neutral. If that is the cse then good luck finding it.
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:08 PM   #14
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rgsgww, at the moment I don't have cable.. or an active phone line. I'll double check, but the phone lines that are there I don't believe are grounded in any way... at least not inside the house.

I was just wondering about that too, joed. How do I know what end the charge is coming from?

If this is indeed something out on the pole... I'm not paying for this leak in electricity, am I?
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Old 09-19-2008, 03:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
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rgsgww, at the moment I don't have cable.. or an active phone line. I'll double check, but the phone lines that are there I don't believe are grounded in any way... at least not inside the house.

I was just wondering about that too, joed. How do I know what end the charge is coming from?

If this is indeed something out on the pole... I'm not paying for this leak in electricity, am I?
No, you shouldn't be.

Do you have a ground rod?

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