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Old 07-06-2009, 12:20 PM   #16
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shock in shower


I would say you shouldn't have a ground going to any part of your copper water lines. The only place it could get energized is at the water heater. Even there I don't think it should, so there is no reason to bond it there.

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Old 07-06-2009, 12:25 PM   #17
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I MADE A MISTAKE IN THE POST ABOVE. SEE CORRECTION BELOW.

Also - Here are some more measurements I took. Without the water heater connected (white, black or ground), I measure voltage from the electrical box ground bar to the shower drain and get about 5 Volts. It GOES UP SIGNIFICANTLY TO 30 + VOLTS OR MORE AS OTHER ITEMS ARE TURNED ON such as the electric stove, base board heaters, etc.. BUT WHEN I MEASURE BETWEEN THE SHOWER HEAD AND SHOWER DRAIN, THE VOLTAGE STAYS CONSTANT AT ABOUT 5 VOLTS EVEN THOUGH OTHER ITEMS ARE TURNED ON OR OFF.

But when I hook up the water heater, now the voltage between the shower water supply plumbing (faucet/head) and shower drain goes up as additional electrical items are turned on. For example, the electric heater may cause a rise of 15 volts, then the stove is turned on and it voltage goes up more, then the well pump kicks on and goes up even more, ETC. UNTIL YOU ARE AT 50 VOLTS. With everything on, I can see up to 50 volts AC. WITH WATER HEATER CONNECTED, THESE READINGS ARE THE SAME AS IF I WAS MEASURING BETWEEN THE BOX GROUND AND THE SHOWER DRAIN. BOTH GO UP AS ADDITIONAL ITEMS ARE TURNED ON. But totally disconnect the water heater (white, black, and ground) and I only get 5 or 6 volts no matter what else is turned on. I see no rise or fall with other items on or off when measuring betseen shower head and shower drain.
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:30 PM   #18
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Also, in case there is any confusion, I have all copper in the house but is fed by a plastic line from the well.
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Old 07-06-2009, 01:22 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by jbberns View Post
I would say you shouldn't have a ground going to any part of your copper water lines.
My friend, you are DEAD wrong here. All electrically conductive materials that form parts or pieces of any mechanical system, be it an appliance or building method, should be bonded. Metal water lines SHALL be bonded to the grounding system, as per 250.4(A)(4) and 250.104(A).

Bonding metal water lines and using them as grounding electrode conductors are two different, but related subjects. IF a water line is in contact with the earth for more than 10 feet, it is required by 250.52(A)(1) to be used as a grounding electrode.

In the OP's case, the incoming water line is plastic, so it is not required to be used as an electrode. However, it transitions to copper, which is required to be be bonded by 250.4(A)(4) and 250.104(A).

A journeyman should know that metal piping, above almost anything else, should be bonded. See post #4.

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The only place it could get energized is at the water heater. Even there I don't think it should, so there is no reason to bond it there.
No sir, not true. It could get energized literally anywhere. I think the most likely spot is the water heater, but it is simply not true that it can't be from a fault somewhere else.
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:33 PM   #20
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Two things cause you to get shocked in the shower when touching metal...

1.) Fault current.....

2.) NEV.....neutral to earth voltage

Since the pipes serving your home from the well are plastic then neutral to earth issues become less of a possible cause. Your pipes are not bonded to the service grounded conductor so it becomes even less of a possible cause.

Don't forget communiction/data cables but again neutral current cannot get to the pipes in this case if they are not bonded to the GES or to the system grounded conductor. Assuming the grounding of these cables is correctly done.

This pretty much leaves us with number 1. And you have already found your problem it would appear. Turning off or disconnecting the hot water tank is reducing 50 volts to 5 volts if I read you correctly......very high possibilty of a failing heater element as previously mentioned I believe. Not likely a hot to ground in the wiring compartment if the ground wire (egc) is terminated correctly.....if so your voltage would be closer to line voltage if somehow the pipes got energized.

Next culprit is your well pump. When the pressure switch closes and water is pumped (the pump turns on..). When pump is off no shock...not necessarily in this order but lets just say the well pump can be a cause. I didn't go back in read if you get reduced voltage with the well pump circuit opened.

The voltage elevating as the other appliances are turned on with the water heater connected is an expected result of the added load to the system electrical.

INPHASE 277 IS CORRECT

YOU MUST BOND THE METAL WATER PIPES to the GROUNDED conductor at the service equipment!!! So that a breaker will open if they get energized. 250.104 (1) specifically requires this and especially in this case where the pipes are plastic supplying the house (well supplied). If the pipes are metal as in 250.52 (A)(1) and 250.4 (A)(4)&(5) then you must run a water pipe bonding/grounding conductor from the pipe to the grounded conductor at the service equipment neutral bar or in some cases to the metal case (lug) of the service entrance enclosure. then you must supplement that with another grounding electrode.
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:20 PM   #21
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Thanks INPHASE277 AND STUBBIE and everyone else who helped here.

Is it hard to "bond" a system? I am fairly competant at electrical and mechanical work. Does this act as some form as ground fault?

Also, I remember one detail that I hope does not throw a curve ball here. I was in the well pit and my arm touched on a metal valve and I did feel a tingle there. I'm assuming that the electric heater issue could be sending current through the water in the plastic pipe. Or can this be a pump problem. .......... though the heater seemed to be a smoking gun? I don't believe the pump was running at the time but can't remember for certain.

Also, I called the water heater company and they say that no way can a water heater have a failure mode to cause such a problem. I don't believe that.
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:34 PM   #22
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FWIW

I like to think of bonding as it relates to ground (earth) as the connection of a metal conductor..ie...to a grounding conductor (that is not part of a system circuit) that in turn is intentionally in contact with the earth via an electrode or whatever for grounding purposes. Bonding provides electrical continuity nothing more nothing less for whatever purpose is intended.

Using the term grounded to me means connected to earth or connected/bonded to a conductive material that is intentionally connected to earth. So grounded and grounding to me are basically the same thing as far as the NEC is concerned.

Grounded Conductor is a system or circuit conductor that is intentionally grounded (earthed).

Connecting or bonding a circuit conductor to the service grounded conductor makes it a grounded intentional current carrying conductor or grounded leg or neutral.

A non circuit conductor that is connected to earth even though it is bonded to the service grounded conductor like a grounding conductor of the electrode system is simply grounded or earthed. It is not a 'grounded conductor'.

The equipment grounding conductor is oddly named IMO ...
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:52 PM   #23
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I have seen water heater elements with the casing around the actual resistance wire corroded away. Once that happens current can leak from the element to the water, and then to the plumbing. Turn the power off to the heater, remove the cover plates from the element areas, and disconnect the two wires that go to the element. With your meter set to the ohms or continuity setting, test between the two connection screws. A 4500 watt element should read somewhere between 10 and 15 ohms. Then check each between each connection screw and the plumbing metal. A good element will read infinite. A bad element will have a high reading, meaning a conductive path from the element to the plumbing through the water. You have two elements to test, usually.

What you should do, after replacing any defective elements, is jump the hot and cold pipes together with a couple of ground clamps (see attached pic), and continue the wire on to the panel ground/neutral bus. Do this with the main breaker turned OFF, and STAND TO THE SIDE when you turn it back on! A continuous piece of #4 copper, bare or insulated, is what I would use. Here is a pic of a typical ground clamp used on pipes:
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Old 07-06-2009, 04:01 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbwoods View Post
Thanks INPHASE277 AND STUBBIE and everyone else who helped here.

Is it hard to "bond" a system? I am fairly competant at electrical and mechanical work. Does this act as some form as ground fault?

Also, I remember one detail that I hope does not throw a curve ball here. I was in the well pit and my arm touched on a metal valve and I did feel a tingle there. I'm assuming that the electric heater issue could be sending current through the water in the plastic pipe. Or can this be a pump problem. .......... though the heater seemed to be a smoking gun? I don't believe the pump was running at the time but can't remember for certain.

Also, I called the water heater company and they say that no way can a water heater have a failure mode to cause such a problem. I don't believe that.
Thats what a manufacturer is going to say everytime... A heating element is no more than a resistive material with voltage pushing current through it to create heat. It is part of the electrical circuit. If it cracks or deteriorates it can and will to a degree energize the water causing a voltage potential on the metal pipes and shower fixtures. This potential will not be the same as the system electrical and you will get shocked. Bonding properly will equalize normal voltages to below touch potential. But you need to find the source of this unwanted voltage and current (yours is way out of range). Do not mask it by trying to bond the water pipes to make it unnoticeable. You do need to bond them though....

The tingle in your water pump plumbing valve could have several causes I'd focus on the water heater first. See if that solves your problem with the shower then move to the pump and get some measurements. You can test the element/elements for their resistance but I'd just replace them.

INPHASE answered your other questions.....
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Old 07-06-2009, 04:23 PM   #25
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I have seen and repaired this problem more than once.

Generally it is an open neutral somewhere is the culprit. The 120v current is not able to return thru the neutral so it takes another path, thru the bonding/bootlegged ground or whatever is available..


OK...I read more of your posts and the problem appears to be in the service conductor neutral (wire/connectios or lugs)

The power isn't able to "return" on the compromised neutral so it seeks an alternative path thru your bonded piping, ground rods or ufer.

The more 120V load you add, the higher the voltage gets.

Bonding the piping systems is required but can result in dangerous situations when a service neutral fails.

Last edited by 220/221; 07-06-2009 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 07-06-2009, 04:41 PM   #26
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Thanks again to all. I will follow up on these suggestions an see where this takes me.

Stubbie - Is bonding a difficult task?

I'll check the neutrals too. Good point 220/221.



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Old 07-06-2009, 04:51 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbwoods View Post
Thanks again to all. I will follow up on these suggestions an see where this takes me.

Stubbie - Is bonding a difficult task?

I'll check the neutrals too. Good point 220/221.



While 220 has brought up a situation that can occur, in your case it is very unlikely, because you would have symptoms such as some lights getting very bright, while others going very dim when you, say, started up the clothes dryer or turned the oven on.

Is bonding a difficult task? Well, you said your panel and water heater are near each other, so not likely. It is far more difficult to understand than it is to do. See the second paragraph in post #23.
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Old 07-06-2009, 05:29 PM   #28
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This is not a DIY problem. If you get a shock in the bathroom call an electrician immediately. DO NOT use anything in the bathroom until a professional has checked it out and repaired it. This is a potentially fatal shock situation. Get it fixed by somebody who knows what he or she is doing.
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Old 07-06-2009, 06:06 PM   #29
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Old 07-06-2009, 07:57 PM   #30
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I'd call in the power company and have them check all their connections back to the main pole with the transformer attached. OR pad mount, which ever the case may be.

A bad "concentric" can cause the symptoms you described here, which is the high-voltage "neutral" connection on the primary side of the utility transformer.

Anything from a loose or burned connection to a bad neutral conductor in the main SE cable can be suspect.

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