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Thread: Repair Pipe with Ground Wire Attached

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member jdenike's Avatar
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    Default Repair Pipe with Ground Wire Attached

    All -- first post so be gentle. I have a cold water copper pipe that runs above my garage and supplies the outside faucet on our house. It runs above our electrical panel and has the panel ground attached to it. This pipe is prone to rupture during winter months (this is another issue and a longer term fix). It ruptured again and I would like to replace the entire run of pipe including the section where the ground is attached. QUESTION simply is -- is it ok to temorarily remove the ground so I can replace the pipe and then reattach it? I just want to make sure I am not going to short out the house or put ourselves at risk. If I can remove it, I assume handling it is ok or are there specific instructions on this as well? Thanks guys and gals.

    The setup is similar to this:
    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...4&tx=134&ty=45

    Name:  water_pipe_ground2.jpg
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    Last edited by Terry; 04-18-2011 at 09:22 AM.

  2. #2
    In the Trades SacCity's Avatar
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    No problem, there should be no current on the ground wire,
    feel free to disconect the wire, do your repair and put it back.

    As long as your electrical system is in working order you will have no problems.

    That being said, several years ago I did a bathroom remodel, as I cut out the old piping the blade on my sawsall started to arc. Bad....

    After fighting with it a week, I called an electrician, $250 later he said that he did not know what was wrong, panel wiring all looked good.
    A call to the utility company and as the guy walked up he looked at the service feed and noticed that a squirel had nawed through the ground conductor on the feed from the utility pole to the home.

    Rats with furry tails....

    Michael

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member jdenike's Avatar
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    Thanks Michael -- so it sounds like I remove the ground from the pipe, then replace the pipe, then reconnect the ground in the same location, in that order.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    If removing the ground wire causes a problem, then you ALREADY had one and that just revealed it. I once removed an electric water heater. The utility's neutral wire had failed, and the ground wire was a piece of BX sheath which had rusted off. THerefore the only neutral/ground was the water piping and when I disconnected the heater the system lost that connection and EVERYTHING in the house reverted to 240 volts burning out everything which was operating at the time.

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    In the Trades SacCity's Avatar
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    Point taken, he should unplug all expensive electronics before undertaking disconecting the ground.

    I ended up needed a new computer, and VCR.

    When my parents replaced their main panel the netural was crossed with one of the hot leads, which ment that my step mother was given all new appliances by my father.

    Michael

  6. #6
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    I worked on a system where the neutral was open so the water pipe was carrying a lot of current for the building. There was enough current to warm the water in the pipe.

  7. #7
    In the Trades SacCity's Avatar
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    No, No.
    The pipe does not carry much current.
    In the ideal the two hot legs are balanced, and the netural carries no current.
    When the legs are not balanced the netural carries the unbalanced load.

    When the squirle nawed through the netural to my home if I turned on lights on one circuit it was bad, if I turned on a light upstairs and one down stairs the load was balanced and not an issue.
    All about balance,
    When you bring in the conductors from the pole to your home the netural is alowed to be significantly smaller in that it only carries the unballanced load and not full current.....

    Michael

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    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Jdenike, are You confused yet ?

    If you see sparks when you disconnect it, then you have a problem, and should connect it back and find the problem.

    If You do not see any spark then you should be OK.

    Have a good day.

    DonL.

  9. #9
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If I understand it properly, that wire is to 'bond' the water pipe in case it accidentally came in contact with a power lead. Instead of now having your entire plumbing electrified, it would short it out to ground, and should trip a breaker(s) and prevent you from getting electrocuted by touching it. There should not ever be any power or current or voltage on it. If you were using a plastic pipe (say pex or cpvc), that wouldn't exist, since that pipe can't conduct, thus, no safety hazard.
    Last edited by jadnashua; 04-18-2011 at 04:29 PM.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member jdenike's Avatar
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    Thanks guys - the house is relatively new -- 1987 -- so I suspect the ground is pretty straightforward. I will proceed and replaced the pipe and reconnect it after I am done.

  11. #11
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; If you were using a plastic pipe (say pex or cpvc), that wouldn't exist, since that pipe can't conduct, thus, no safety hazard.

    True, but here, when the pipe, especially the underground service line, was plastic, the electrical panel had to be labled, "Nonmetallic water main", so the workers would know that they could not use the plumbing for a grounding source.

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