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Thread: Grounding after changing to plastic service line

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    DIY Member JAR8832's Avatar
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    Default Grounding after changing to plastic service line

    My #4AWG main grounding wire terminates with a clamp on my galvanized service pipe just before it leaves the house and goes out to the well, which is about 15 feet outside the house. The house plumbing is all copper. If I replace the galvanized service line with polyethylene, could I extend the #4 ground wire outside and clamp it to the steel well casing, and forgo driving two ground rods into very rocky soil? If this is allowable, is there a specific clamp designed for such a purpose?
    Last edited by JAR8832; 02-27-2012 at 07:44 PM.

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Get out your hammer and start driving

    Got pictures of your set-up

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    DIY Member JAR8832's Avatar
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    Isn't a well casing like a giant ground rod? This is what the termination looks like. It'll be a few months before I start this project. Thanks


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    A well casing is far superior than a ground rod for grounding. That said its not to code to use it for that purpose (go figure). Driving the ground rods may not go as badly as you think. I've driven them in some very rocky situations and they still go in about 80% of the time. Keep a pair of vice grips handy. They are useful in freeing up rods that only make it in part of the way. Move over two feet and try again if this happens. Nothing says they have to go straight down - you can drive them at a bit of an angle if you need to.

    FYI you are supposed to ground the well casing. Where I am no one does it, but to do it all you have to do is drill a hole near the top of the casing, attach a lug using a bolt for the correct gauge wire you are using, and connect it to the ground wire that should have already been run from the panel to the pump - that is assuming your pump even has a ground wire. Also, feel free to run a piece of #4 from your panel to the well head and say it is there to ground the well casing as this will meet code (again, go figure). However, you will still have to drive the ground rods as you can't claim the well as your grounding electrode, even if it is.

    rick
    Last edited by drick; 02-28-2012 at 09:19 PM.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    In the Seattle area, anytime we do a repipe that removes metal pipe and changes to non-ferrous piping, we're required to use two grounding rods.

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    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Rent a 30lb jack hammer. In very rocky soil it may take even an hour with a jack hammer, per rod. But it always works for me. It can be quite exhausting, to be up a ladder with a heavy tool that vibrates viciously, and is only driving the blasted rod 1/16" per minute, demanding that you lean on the wretched thing. But it will do the trick.

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    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Oh, and why are you replacing the galvanized with plastic?

    Why not use copper? The thicker stuff?

    You are going to dig anyway. You say it is only 15'. That is not a lot of material.

    Hell, 15' of copper pipe 18" below grade will create quite a lot of ground. Not enough for code, I bet, but not nothing.

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post

    Hell, 15' of copper pipe 18" below grade will create quite a lot of ground. Not enough for code, I bet, but not nothing.
    What do you mean by this?
    A copper pipe in contact with soil for 10' or more is a perfectly acceptable grounding electrode.

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    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    What do you mean by this?
    A copper pipe in contact with soil for 10' or more is a perfectly acceptable grounding electrode.
    Lying horizontally? As the only ground?

    My understanding was that one ground element needed to go DOWN.

    Certainly that is what inspectors around here expect. I'm in a desert, mind you.

    The copper pipe bringing in the water supply is an excellent supplemental ground. But my inspectors want a ground spike.

    Way out in the driest deserts of CA I understand that large metal plates are laid down in the ground a few feet below grade, just because there is so little moisture. But that is not the way we do things here.

    But if you want to tell JAR that 15' of copper pipe is enough, then I defer to you. Certainly I would be completely comfortable if it was bonded to his metal well.

    drick is pretty emphatic that the well casing is not a valid ground, per code. I don't know what the local authorities want, but if JAR gets lucky, he gets to claim the 15' of copper as one of two grounds, and needs to drive only one rod.

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    There is no such requirement than one electrode needs to go "down". Someone in your area made this up.

    An inspector can want all he wants, but code is code. A metallic water pipe, in contact with soil for 10' or more, MUST be used as an electrode if it exists, and is considered the primary electrode. This must also be supplemented by another electrode, typically a rod (or two). Even these supplemental electrodes must meet the 25ohm requirement, although very few inspectors enforce this.

    I don't care where you are, a 10' long copper pipe is a much better electrode than an 8'x5/8" rod. Not that they do very much at all anyway.

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    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    OK, so the code demands two grounds, one of which must be the water supply assuming one exists.

    Great. Dig a trench for the second one rather than driving a rod if you prefer.

    I can only tell you that I have never had this discussion with any inspectors in my region who did not insist on a ground rod.

    Feel free to come out and tell them that they are wrong. Lucky thing for me is that most of the region is sand, and the rods can be driven by hand, at least half way.

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    OK, so the code demands two grounds, one of which must be the water supply assuming one exists.
    I never said that. I said if a water pipe exists then it must be used, along with supplemental electrode(s).
    Code requires ONE electrode minimum. If you have a Ufer (concrete encased electrode), with non metallic water entry, then that is ALL you need. Nothing more.



    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    Great. Dig a trench for the second one rather than driving a rod if you prefer.
    Who ever said this? You can lay it in a trench only if driving is not possible.



    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    I can only tell you that I have never had this discussion with any inspectors in my region who did not insist on a ground rod.
    Do you only go by what you are told, or do you know what is right before hand?



    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    Feel free to come out and tell them that they are wrong.
    I wouldn't initially. I'd politely ask them where it is in the code. If they cannot produce a valid code citation THEN I'd tell them they are wrong. Inspector cannot simply ask for sh*t they want done. They are there to interpret and enforce the code, NOT make it up.

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    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    I never said that. I said if a water pipe exists then it must be used, along with supplemental electrode(s).
    Code requires ONE electrode minimum. If you have a Ufer (concrete encased electrode), with non metallic water entry, then that is ALL you need. Nothing more.



    Who ever said this? You can lay it in a trench only if driving is not possible.



    Do you only go by what you are told, or do you know what is right before hand?



    I wouldn't initially. I'd politely ask them where it is in the code. If they cannot produce a valid code citation THEN I'd tell them they are wrong. Inspector cannot simply ask for sh*t they want done. They are there to interpret and enforce the code, NOT make it up.


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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    I have never heard of the UFER being used a a "ground rod". Basically, every building has a UFER, but every building also has a ground rod, or two, or a metallic water service line. In fact, here, when the building has a PVC service line, the breaker panel HAS to have a "Non-metallic water supply line" warning on its face.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    Did someone piss in your Wheaties ?
    No. Why? .

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