DIY Home Improvement Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While installing a new valve for a ice maker in our galvanized steel pipes I (slowly) noticed that i was being shocked. At first i just thought that turning the wrench was making may hand and wrist ache, but as my hand got wetter it got to the point that it was really shocking me good. The valve was wet, the ground (crawlspace) was wet and i was laying in the puddle while working on the pipe. This house is over 80 yrs old and i know that the electrical grounds to the plumbing at many different points. Is this okay? not sure if this is expected or if it's a sign of something wrong.
 

·
Electrician
Joined
·
227 Posts
Something Wrong, probably. One possibility. Old plumbing systems may have been worked on by many different people. Any piece of repair work that is not all metal needs a wire jumper, from metal across to metal. If your house supply from the street was changed to plastic, you may need a couple of ground rods.

Check that all water related appliances are grounded. Disposal, dishwasher, water heater, etc. Properly grounded plug, receptacle, wire, everything.
 

·
E2 Electrician
Joined
·
5,655 Posts
Something Wrong, probably. One possability. Old systems may have been worked on by many different people. Any piece of repair work that is not all metal needs a wire jumper, from metal across to metal. If your house supply from the street was changed to plastic, you may need a couple of ground rods.

Check that all water related appliances are grounded. Disposal, dishwasher, water heater, etc. Properly grounded plug, receptacle, wire, everything.
What the hell would ground rods do? Current is obviously using the water system piping as a return conductor, most likely because of a bad grounded conductor.
 

·
Electrician
Joined
·
227 Posts
What the hell would ground rods do?
The ground rods would do nothing to fix getting a shock from the plumbing. However, if, as I said, the house water main "was changed to plastic", there may be no legal grounding electrode system. The rods would then satisfy the code.

All the metal pipes in the house should have a low resistance path to the bonded neutral/ground bus at the main disconnect. Either through the Grounding Electrode Conductor or a bonding jumper. The resistance should be so low that, installing a piercing valve for the refrigerator, he should never have felt a shock.
 

·
Electrician
Joined
·
227 Posts
Current is obviously using the water system piping as a return conductor, most likely because of a bad grounded conductor.
True. Likely from one of the appliances I mentioned. Or from the fridge, if the water line he just installed is metal. Again, if that appliance were properly grounded, linuxrunner would not have felt a shock.

Linuxrunner, look for an obvious damaged wire touching your plumbing. Then you could try installing a GFCI receptacle or breaker ahead of each appliance in turn. An appliance with this problem will pop a GFCI every time. (it may need to be running.) The appliance will need to be repaired or replaced. A GFCI is a code legal way to protect a circuit without a ground.
 

·
Electrician
Joined
·
227 Posts
Im not sure what your getting at, but the "pipe" is obviously not grounded
Sorry Olsy, that's a common misconception. The key is a return path to the utility through the neutral/ground bus. Rods, like many grounds, actually suck. They are only good for some surges like lightning.

For instance, drive a ground rod and get a nice code compliant 25 ohms to ground. Attach a single conductor, from the rod, right to a 15 amp breaker. That breaker will pump 4.5 to 5 amps into that rod all day long and never trip. 125 volts/25 ohms = 5 amps. Now find someone you don't like. Now definitely DON'T have them lick their fingers, touch the wire, and then touch their tongue to the neutral/ground bus. It's ugly, but it's true.
 

·
E2 Electrician
Joined
·
5,655 Posts
i was just pointing out the misconceptions of an electrical grounding system, to keep it simple on a DIY forum, its main purpose is for lightning, and that alone.

Everything else should remain to the terminology of being BONDED, not grounded... this change alone in the NEC would eliminate so much confusion in my opinion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
51 Posts
stickboy1375 said:
i was just pointing out the misconceptions of an electrical grounding system, to keep it simple on a DIY forum, its main purpose is for lightning, and that alone.

Everything else should remain to the terminology of being BONDED, not grounded... this change alone in the NEC would eliminate so much confusion in my opinion.
Thats what i was getting at and why i originally used the term bonded ad well....the pipe is live somehow and not bonded to ground since there is potential between the OP and ground
 

·
Semi-Pro Electro-Geek
Joined
·
3,403 Posts
Thats what i was getting at and why i originally used the term bonded ad well....the pipe is live somehow and not bonded to ground since there is potential between the OP and ground
The problem is not "bonding to ground" in the sense of connecting the plumbing to grounding electrodes. That would just be grounding, and is not helpful here for a variety of reasons, most of which come down to the high resistance of grounding electrodes. The problem is bonding to the utility neutral. The plumbing system needs to be bonded to the utility neutral. The utility neutral is basically the "most grounded" thing. Except during very bad circumstances, it will always be at the same potential as the actual earth. This is because the utility neutral is not just connected to ground with a web of thousands of electrodes, it is also inherently bonded to the source of power, so that no potential can develop between the utility neutral and the earth since there would be no source for that potential difference. That's why we bond things to it.

If only this one piece of copper tube for the ice maker is electrified, I would guess the problem is a lack of bonding to the system neutral, combined with a ground fault in one or more locations - possibly in the refrigerator. This would mean that there are at least three failures: Plumbing not bonded, refrigerator missing equipment grounding conductor, and refrigerator has ground fault. But if all of the plumbing is electrified with respect to ground, then the problem is likely to be with the service. The plumbing in this house may already be bonded to a ground rod, and even to the home's neutral bus. But if there's a loose connection in the neutral line from the utility to the home's panel, then the plumbing can still be electrified with respect to the actual earth. This can be an insidious problem because it appears even though the home's grounding/bonding looks fine, but all grounded objects are somewhat electrified. Even the home's grounding electrode will be energized.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Yes we do have 2 ground rods, looks like they were likely installed when a new 200amp service was put in.

That being said 90% of the wiring is old BK and has no ground many outlets that are newer grounded plugs have ground wires ran to either water pipes or to gas pipes. Very few circuits (only the newest) actually have a ground that goes back to the panel and thus out to the ground rods. Yes our main water line was replaced with plastic.

would it be best to put a volt meter on the pipe and shut of one circuit at a time to see if i can identify which circuit might be mis-wired?

Also is this costing us money in electricity rates?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
843 Posts
Yes we do have 2 ground rods, looks like they were likely installed when a new 200amp service was put in. That being said 90% of the wiring is old BK and has no ground many outlets that are newer grounded plugs have ground wires ran to either water pipes or to gas pipes. Very few circuits (only the newest) actually have a ground that goes back to the panel and thus out to the ground rods. Yes our main water line was replaced with plastic. would it be best to put a volt meter on the pipe and shut of one circuit at a time to see if i can identify which circuit might be mis-wired? Also is this costing us money in electricity rates?

wires ran to either water pipes or to gas pipes.:eek: "GAS PIPES":eek:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Bah, for some reason when i post my comments it keep removing tabs and new lines. No matter how many times i edit it, it goes back to one big paragraph.

EDIT: apparently if i use a P tag i can get it to do a new paragraph, but still no new lines.

EDIT 2: and a br will give me a line brake... don't ask me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
wires ran to either water pipes or to gas pipes.:eek: "GAS PIPES":eek:

Most likely an old electrical code... here is the 1956 NEC which states in 2582(b.) the following:
2582. Other Available Electrodes. Where a water system as described in section 2581 is not available, the grounding connection may be made to any of the following:
a.) The metal frame of a building, if effectively grounded
b.) a continuous metallic underground gas piping system
c.) Other local metallic underground systems, such as piping, tanks and the like.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top