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Old 03-06-2010, 11:03 AM   #1
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PVC water main - Do I still use a ground to the pipes?


My wife and I bought a 1956 vintage house that has had a 200 amp breaker panel installed sometime in recent years. While taking a shower one day, I noticed a little "zing" when I touched the faucet with a finger that had a cut in it. Got out of the shower and put a meter between the faucet and the drain and measure 1.5-2 volts AC . Not enough to cause harm, but alarming nonetheless.

I checked all the ground connections in the panel, outside at the ground rod, and at the water pipe. All connections were tight, except the ground rod which I was able to tighten up a little. The problem went away, but I noticed in the process that the water main feed from the street to the house had been replaced recently with PVC.

What I'm wondering is since my water main feed is PVC coming up from the ground, do I need to do anything different with my electrical ground? I was a little alarmed about the leakage I was measuring in the bath tub and concerned that a slightly loose ground connection could cause a zap in the tub.
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:08 AM   #2
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Are the pipes inside the house metal?
Do you have an electric water heater?
Since the pipe from the street is now pvc, you have nothing to ground except the ground rod.
If tou have matel pipes, look for a wire laying on top of the pipes, which may have rubbed.
I found 25 volts between a gas stove anf a aink one time.
Found a skined wire laying on top of the gas line. The house was about 40 years old,.
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:10 AM   #3
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You should have GFCI breaker or outlet in bath and kitchen. Anywhere water is close. The water pipe can be used as additional ground if connection is made to a metal object with water running through it.
I am just a DIY and someone may correct me about this water supply ground.
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:33 AM   #4
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GFI breakers will do nothing to prevent stray voltages between water and drain pipes. Often, those stray voltages will remain present even with your main breaker "off"

IF the water and drain pipes are metal, install a bonding wire between them, to create an equipotential plane across them. Similar to the bonding requirements of a swimming pool. Use approved pipe clamps and at least a #8 bare copper bonding wire.
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Old 03-06-2010, 07:22 PM   #5
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Even if you have a plastic main, metallic piping in the house should be 'bonded' to the electrical system. If this bonding wire is missing, installing one could solve your problem.
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:49 AM   #6
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id install a second redundent ground rod in series with 1st ground rod since you dont have a copper or metalic water service to ground to,id also make sure the panel and meter are bonded on top of what was already suggested
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Old 03-07-2010, 08:28 PM   #7
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The house has all copper supply piping up to the water main feed from the meter near the street. The panel ground is connected to both a ground rod and the water pipes. We have a fairly new electric water heater. I'll have to check the bonding between the panel and the meter can. I assume it's a separate ground wire?
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:13 PM   #8
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the second ground rod is used in place of the copper water service you dont have as a ground source
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:33 AM   #9
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Just discovered another ground rod about 6 feet away from the first. Not sure what it's tied to, but will check. It's located behind my above ground oil tank (oil tank no longer in use). If it's tied to the oil tank, I'll tie it into the electrical panel ground rod when the oil tank gets removed.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:13 AM   #10
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Is there a bonding jumper between the cold and hot water pipes?-Usually placed at the water heater.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:21 AM   #11
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No jumper is installed at the hot water heater. I assume suitable clamps and 6 AWG wire is to code?
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David911 View Post
The house has all copper supply piping up to the water main feed from the meter near the street. The panel ground is connected to both a ground rod and the water pipes. We have a fairly new electric water heater. I'll have to check the bonding between the panel and the meter can. I assume it's a separate ground wire?
Only in rare instances (usually REMC) is there and additional conductor between the panel and the meter can. The grounded conductor(NEUTRAL) between the panel and the can bonds the two together.

Most POCO's don't allow a bond at the meter can.

Last edited by brric; 03-08-2010 at 09:35 AM. Reason: additional
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David911 View Post
No jumper is installed at the hot water heater. I assume suitable clamps and 6 AWG wire is to code?
Yes, that will do.
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