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Old 02-23-2016, 12:53 AM   #1
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Strange Electrical Occurence


Recently I was working on an old exterior light fixture and accidently blew the fuse in the old style panel. Not surpising but what did surprise me was that a the exact same time th4e fuse blew, (and I mean exactly the same moment of blown circuit) a needle size opening blew out in a copper water pipe where there was some possible corrosion. Coincidence??? Or did it have to do with the grounding system of the structure?

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Old 02-23-2016, 03:03 PM   #2
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Hopefully one of the electrician will be along shortly to try and give you a sound answer.

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Old 02-23-2016, 04:12 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitch3306 View Post
Recently I was working on an old exterior light fixture and accidently blew the fuse in the old style panel. Not surpising but what did surprise me was that a the exact same time th4e fuse blew, (and I mean exactly the same moment of blown circuit) a needle size opening blew out in a copper water pipe where there was some possible corrosion. Coincidence??? Or did it have to do with the grounding system of the structure?
It seems very unlikely to be related, but it's a heck of a coincidence for it to happen at exactly the same time. How do you know the two things happened simultaneously? That makes me think the pipe was right next to where you were working. If so, is there any chance the fault current from the short circuit you caused went through that section of the pipe? Was there another metal object touching the pipe where the hole occurred? More information would be helpful.
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Old 02-23-2016, 04:21 PM   #4
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The coincidence doesn't necessarily mean a cause-effect relationship.

But another cause could be as simple as gentle bumping/banging on the wall. That could have dislodged pre-existing corrosion, opening the pinhole.
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Old 02-23-2016, 05:26 PM   #5
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I actually already figured out and corrected the electrical problem. I just don't get how it would cause a pin hole sized breach in a copper water pipe
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Old 02-23-2016, 06:36 PM   #6
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What was the electrical problem?

Current flowing in the water system pipes could have corroded it.
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Old 02-23-2016, 06:40 PM   #7
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Without getting into any speculation, water pipes are effectively part of the electrical distribution system in areas with all metal pipes. The NEC requires connecting the service neutral to water pipes. So neutral current flows on the pipes (in addition to neutral wires).

Also, there could be some electrical appliances that are connected to water pipes: water heater, dishwasher, etc. So that's another way that current could get on water pipes.
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Old 02-23-2016, 07:19 PM   #8
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The NEC requires all our plumbing to be neutrals ?

Since when?

recent change...?
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Old 02-23-2016, 07:20 PM   #9
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[quote=Luke M;3047281]Without getting into any speculation, water pipes are effectively part of the electrical distribution system in areas with all metal pipes. The NEC requires connecting the service neutral to water pipes. So neutral current flows on the pipes (in addition to neutral wires). {/quote]

Quote:
Also, there could be some electrical appliances that are connected to water pipes: water heater, dishwasher, etc. So that's another way that current could get on water pipes.

But if those appliances are wired correctly this does not result in current on the metallic piping.
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Old 02-23-2016, 07:23 PM   #10
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What was the electrical problem?

Current flowing in the water system pipes could have corroded it.
Extensive studies have been conducted on water line corrosion and AC Current flow the results were AC current did not have a deteriorating affect on metallic water pipe, but DC did.

Now as usual one should consider the source of all studies.
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Old 02-23-2016, 08:31 PM   #11
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But if those appliances are wired correctly this does not result in current on the metallic piping.
Not normally, no. But the appliance connects the equipment ground wire to the pipes (because both are connected to the appliance chassis), so fault current on the circuit (or another circuit sharing the ground wire or metal conduit) can travel on the pipes.
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Old 02-23-2016, 08:45 PM   #12
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The NEC requires all our plumbing to be neutrals ?

Since when?

recent change...?
Just the last 100 years. (Ok, I don't actually know, but a long time).
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Old 02-23-2016, 09:22 PM   #13
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Sorry to burst your bubble but if electricity is using the water pipes in your home You need an experienced electrician to find out why before something bad happens. Nec requires all water lines be bonded to the main panel at the first disconnect within 5 feet of entering the building if more then 10 feet is buried outside the main reason is to try and keep equal potential in case of a lighting strike. A lot of people think its for the neutral but the resistance is to high to trip the breaker. Nec also wants the metal water line bonded in case it becomes energized it will trip the breaker. without bonding all metal parts of an electrical system to the neutral if any part becomes energized it will not trip the breaker but may electrocute someone if they touch the metal, There cant be 2 paths for the neutral to return to the main panel that's why a sub panel requires 4 wires and the neutrals and equipment grounds are separated in the sub panel
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Old 02-23-2016, 09:45 PM   #14
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I agree except the part about lighting. The only reason to connect to a 10' in the ground water main is to establish a connection to earth. It's part of the grounding electrode system. That's not to say it won't aid in a lightning strike.

Last edited by Arrow3030; 02-23-2016 at 09:46 PM. Reason: General editing
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Old 02-24-2016, 04:34 AM   #15
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So can we assume there's some sort of 'lightning' plumbing code that applies?

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