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Thread: bonding/grounding copper pipes

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member reed50's Avatar
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    Default bonding/grounding copper pipes

    I kow this has been discussed before, but as a female who is trying to understand this (and not get ripped off by an electrician), could this be explained to me and what, if anything, I need to do before I spend $200 to an electrician who is spouting off stuff I don't understand. I've posted before where we replaced the grey plastic water pipes in our home with copper.

    Water pipe to our manufactured home is plastic from the ground and then goes into copper (no copper pipe in the ground). Most of the sinks and both toilets have plastic pipe from the floor up. Copper pipes to both showers, except for one section on one shower that has about a 6 inch PVC pipe inserted on the hot side. Copper pipes to electric water heater.

    I'm not trying to start a debate, just trying to understand what, if anything, needs to be done as far as grounding or bonding. Thanks for any help (and please excuse the uninformed female who is trying to be better informed)

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor Jim Port's Avatar
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    Metallic piping is not grounded, it is bonded. Since you do not have a metallic pipe entering your home from underground we can skip that part about using it as an electrode.

    Under normal operating conditions the ground/bond should not have current flowing on it.

    Since you do not have a complete metallic piping system I do not believe anything will need to be bonded.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    As soon as you start mixing copper and plastic piping, you effectively eliminate its use as a "grounding" point for the electrical system. Therefore, you need one, two, or more, (depending on your soil's potential), ground rods into the soil, but, since you seem to already have a "nonmetallic main line", you should have had that already. As side bar, if you have gas piping THAT also has to be bonded.

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    DIY Junior Member reed50's Avatar
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    I appreciate the responses I've gotten. Again, I'm trying to learn so that I understand what this electrician is saying. According to him, my pipes need to be bonded AND grounded (for $200)..

    The electrical system of the house is already grounded, and the steel frame underneath is also.

    I am just trying to make sure what he is telling me is true. The plumber that installed the pipes several years ago said we did not need to do anything, therefore I am confused.

    Again, thanks for your patience and help. I have learned a lot about other electrical things from reading this forum.

  5. #5
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reed50 View Post
    According to him, my pipes need to be bonded AND grounded (for $200).

    As someone who has been in the field for over 40 years, involved with the education of contractors and inspectors as well as being actively involved with the North Carolina Ellis Cannady Chapter of the IAEI for more than 10 years I assure that you need to do nothing with your water pipes.

    You can address your question to any member of Code Making Panel Number Five at One Batterymarch Park Quincy Massachusetts 02169 but it will take a while to get your answer. The question will need to be formed so as a one word answer can be given such as “yes” or “no”.

    Do not waste you time or money doing something that will be of no benefit to you. Save you money for something you might need such as a weekend get away of some sort.

  6. #6

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    Ok he is not trying to rip you off, BUT you don't have to do it either.

    Back not too long ago- and still today in many places- the water line entering the house was almost always some type of metal. It makes for a great earth ground for the electrical system. Much better than the ground rods we use. The purpose of using the ground rods and the grounding/bonding of the incoming water line is, essentially, to give the energy in lightning some place to go in the event of a strike on the power system. It has absolutely nothing to do with the grounding of the 3 prong outlets in your house.

    Anyway, since your water line entering your house is plastic, bonding the copper pipe in your house will not provide a path to earth ground so it is useless for lightening protection. HOWEVER there is one benefit you still get from grounding the copper pipe in your house: If somehow there was an an electrical fault in your house that resulted in a live wire touching the copper pipes (maybe a rodent chews the insulation off a piece of wire that is touching a copper pipe), the grounding of the pipes will prevent you from being killed when you hop in the shower. For this reason I still bond/ground copper piping even if the water line entering the home is plastic, but I'll stop short of saying that you have to do it.

    Also, a reason your electrician may also be telling you that you have to ground the copper piping is because your town's building inspector requires that it be done. You can call the building department and ask if you want to know their answer.

    -rick

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; It has absolutely nothing to do with the grounding of the 3 prong outlets in your house.

    It DOESN'T? Then why is the ground bus on the panel bonded to the water line or the ground rod(s), and the UFER?

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thatguy View Post
    I would do this for a reasonable price. With wet skin you are very vulnerable to electrocution, but you have to check that grounding actually gives you 1 VAC or less. For some people some of the time 2 VAC would be above the let-go threshold.
    Voltage neither holds nor lets go. Voltage does not injure or hurt.

    Current kills. The GFCI devices in your home do not operate on voltage but instead they open at .005 AMPS which is the unit of measure of current.

    Current injures and kills. Current does the damage not the voltage.

    Ever been hit by static electricity? What level was this voltage? Bet it was very high and it did not kill you did it?

  9. #9
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    It DOESN'T? Then why is the ground bus on the panel bonded to the water line or the ground rod(s), and the UFER?
    250.4 General Requirements for Grounding and Bonding.
    The following general requirements identify what grounding and bonding of electrical systems are required to accomplish. The prescriptive methods contained in Article 250 shall be followed to comply with the performance requirements of this section.
    (A) Grounded Systems.
    (1) Electrical System Grounding. Electrical systems that are grounded shall be connected to earth in a manner that will limit the voltage imposed by lightning, line surges, or unintentional contact with higher-voltage lines and that will stabilize the voltage to earth during normal operation.

    For these four reasons only

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    When you "short out" to the ground wire in a receptacle, the current has to go somewhere. If it is NOT going to earth through the bonding wire, THEN it must be returning to the electrical grid through the neutral lead, BUT if the ground bus is NOT interconnected to the neutral bar, then that also cannot happen. Just having wet hands will NOT shock you, unless you are holding a defective appliance AND any metal you touch IS bonded with a path to the earth.
    Last edited by hj; 11-20-2010 at 06:04 AM.

  11. #11
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    This is so simple that even a fifth grader knows the answer.

    The one thing that is a constant in using Ohm’s Law in the current of a residential circuit is the voltage. For the purpose of calculations for a voltage received from a utility 600 volts and less nominally will be the following:

    220.5 Calculations.
    (A) Voltages. Unless other voltages are specified, for purposes of calculating branch-circuit and feeder loads, nominal system voltages of 120, 120/240, 208Y/120, 240, 347, 480Y/277, 480, 600Y/347, and 600 volts shall be used.

    In the law of electrical physics and as outlined by every electrical safety publication it is current mentioned as the let go threshold. For most cases this will be around 9 milliamps for men and 15 milliamps for women. Simply Google search “let go threshold” to see for one’s self what is published and what is not published.

    It is not the voltage that holds it is the current. At 9 milliamps at any voltage from 50 to 500 an average male would not be able to let go.

    The simple matter is that volts are what is pushing the amps through a conductor. Resistance is the opposition to the amps going through the conductor. A conductor is anything which will allow current flow and includes the human body.

    It is the amps that flow through the body therefore it is the amps that do the damage. Should someone come in contact with a very high voltage and there was no path for current to flow, there wouldn’t be any harm to the person in contact with this voltage.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIjC7DjoVe8

    After looking at this link tell how much danger there is in voltage.

  12. #12
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    This is so simple that even a fifth grader knows the answer.
    You don't do well with lectures so try these questions

    Q1: If I debate this issue with you
    A. your status will be raised
    B. my status will be lowered
    C. neither A or nor B
    D. both A and B

    Note that in this question you have 1 chance in 4 of getting the answer right by just guessing. I'm rooting for you!

    You [and Jim Port, before he went on my ignore list] seem to be making the same maladaptive responses to an unpleasant reality.
    Q2: What are they? Hint: at least one adaptation is related to the self-esteem of each of you [and can be expressed as a formula!].

    There is at least forum electrician on the Net from another forum that does not use these responses.
    Q3: What is the forum name of the electrician? Hint: his name contains 277.

    For extra credit, compare "process commentary" with what is going on in this post.
    Last edited by Thatguy; 11-20-2010 at 11:34 AM.

  13. #13
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    I wonder why your profile has had three times as many hits as post you have made.

    I could care less about whether I am on your ignore list or not.
    What I do care about is proper information being given to those searching for that information. I will gladly show my credentials and let anyone see that I am not self-proclaimed.
    You on the other hand seem to be a self-proclaimed internet taught expert that seems to know less than a fifth grader. Some of the information that you post has little or nothing to do with the subject matter or is completely wrong such as your proclamation of the voltage let go threshold in post nine you made yesterday.

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS VOLTAGE LET GO THRESHOLD IT IS CURRENT LET GO THRESHOLD PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

    This can bother you or maybe it doesn’t but at any rate the truth is the truth.

  14. #14
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    I could care less. .
    Jim Port has already tried the claim of indifference but his was more nearly grammatically correct. It's "I couldn't care less. . ".

    I don't believe him or you.
    I bother both of you for reasons that are in both of you. It behooves you to find out those reasons. You'll be a better person for it.

    I don't know if my profile has a low/high/average number of looksees or what the ratio of posts to looksees means.
    I guess I'm flattered and surprised about how many people are curious about me.
    It's useless to post my credentials so I guess I'll have to be judged by my posts on this forum. There are worse things that could happen, and have happened, to me.

    Speaking of ratios, you can probably improve your systolic to diastolic ratio by putting me on your ignore list. Yeah! Nobody can say I'm not lookin' out forya'.
    Last edited by Thatguy; 11-20-2010 at 04:34 PM.

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    DIY Member Joe Six Pack's Avatar
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    Wait....you're a not a guy but a girl?
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    Joe Six Pack

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