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Thread: Gas water heater bonding

  1. #1
    DIY Member ankhseeker's Avatar
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    Default Gas water heater bonding

    I recently had a Pv solar system installed for electricity only. The county inspector (in calif) told the installer that the inlet and outlet water pipes of the natural gas water heater had to be tied together. I know that the cold already was grounded. I know that there is potential for electrolysis, but can't figure out why this is code? Any ideas?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by ankhseeker; 01-08-2014 at 04:52 AM. Reason: ease of readability

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    I do it anytime a customer has a problem with frequent water heater failures. It is NOT for electrolysis, it is to give a path for "stray electrical currents" to travel to ground without using the heater tank as a "high retistance" barrier causing corrosion and failure of the tank.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Senior Member houptee's Avatar
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    If the water heater, or the cold pipe, was ever removed for service or replacement, and a hot pipe was accidentally energized, it would still have a path to ground and hopefully trip the breaker before someone was electrocuted.
    If your piping is copper then all the pipes in the house must be bonded to the grounding electrode.
    Since the cold is already bonded to ground you just have to put grounding clamps on the pipes and a piece of properly sized wire to each clamp to maintain the grounding path.
    Same with a swimming pool, all the metal parts in the pool must be bonded to ground, ladders, lights, diving boards.

  4. #4
    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    There is no need to tie the hot and cold water pipes together code or safety wise. It is already done by nature of the construction of the plumbing system.

    The reason swimming pools have all their metal parts bonded together has nothing to do with clearing a fault. The bonding done at a pool does not even have to tie back to the panel the way an equipment ground does. It is to keep people from being shocked by stray currents that move through the earth due to the nature of our electrical power grid.

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    The inspector needs some continuing education. There is no requirement to bond at the water heater

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    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Nothing would surprise me in California.

    The new electrical system should not be using the Pipes for bonding. Not a good Idea just to save wire.

    The bond should be at the breaker panel, and not depend on the water tank or its piping.

    The pipes should be grounded, but should not be used by anything else to obtain one.


    Does that mess make any sense ?
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  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    THe issue I am referring to has NOTHING to do with "bonding" or "energized hot water lines". The currents I am referring to cannot even be detected by common instruments. I do not know where they come from or if they are even AC currents, but I have had customers who had heaters fail "early", (in a couple of cases withing a year), but after connecting the hot and cold together before the heater, have never had the problem again. Other plumbers who I have told to do this have also found it cures the problem. It used to be a big problem when the telephone company put a ground clamp on a water line and it was the hot water pipe.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  8. #8
    DIY Member ankhseeker's Avatar
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    ok Hj, That makes more sense, but I will take the fall on that one for using the term "bonding" As I remember it, bonding is used to tie a neutral to the ground at the service panel. The inspector stated that there should be a wire between the hot and cold hot water heater pipes (Inlet and outlet ports). Thanks for the tip. I hadn't heard of that before.

  9. #9
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    It used to be a big problem when the telephone company put a ground clamp on a water line and it was the hot water pipe.

    The Dish Installers do the same thing.

    But it is against code to use the pipe for grounding.

    Your water pipes are the last place that you want a lightning strike dissipated.

    Sounds like Solar System Installers may be doing the same thing.


    Recharging batteries near a gas water heater can ruin your day.
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    DIY Senior Member houptee's Avatar
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    The electrician who did my 4 socket meter pan, and 4 panel upgrades, in 2001 put jumpers across the hot and cold pipes at the 3 water heaters (its a multi family house). And he drove 2 new ground rods and tied ground from meter pan to them, and also left the original ground wire to the cold water pipe coming up from the dirt in the crawlspace, and jumped across the water meter in the meter box out by the curb. He said he had to or it would never pass inspection.

    After Hurricane Sandy my mothers house panel was half submerged so we replaced it, and the chief inspector came to check it out and said you have to add a jumper in the water meter box and across the water heater pipes. I showed him I had driven two new rods 8 ft apart and he said I want you to also bond to the cold pipe where it comes up under the house.

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member houptee's Avatar
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    Heres a good article on bonding and grounding
    http://ecmweb.com/bonding-amp-ground...ing-part-11-12

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Ask both the inspector and the electrician to give you a code reference that requires the bonding of the hot and cold and post it here please.

    I can tell you that there isn't one to be found.

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member houptee's Avatar
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    Maybe they are referencing this?

    Section 250.104(A) requires all water-piping systems to be bonded back to the service, and hot or cold water lines are not specifically mentioned, both hot and cold water lines must be bonded and connected back to the building service. The bonding jumper from the cold to the hot water piping system must be sized in accordance with Section and Table 250.66.

    http://www.ecmag.com/section/residen...-piping-system

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    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by houptee View Post
    Maybe they are referencing this?

    Section 250.104(A) requires all water-piping systems to be bonded back to the service, and hot or cold water lines are not specifically mentioned, both hot and cold water lines must be bonded and connected back to the building service. The bonding jumper from the cold to the hot water piping system must be sized in accordance with Section and Table 250.66.

    http://www.ecmag.com/section/residen...-piping-system
    Good call on that one. While I was lurking on this thread, I was thinking that the hot and cold were coupled by the various mixing valves in the residence, but now I see that I cannot assume that.

    Seriously, a pair of clamps and a short scrap of the correct cable costs less than the time it takes to install it, and the time is brief as well.

    Now, is it necessary to bond the gas line somewhere? At the water heater would certainly be the place to get this done.

  15. #15
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Here is the code section in question in its fullest contenet.

    250.104 Bonding of Piping Systems and Exposed Structural Steel.
    (A) Metal Water Piping. The metal water piping system shall be bonded as required in (A)(1), (A)(2), or (A)(3) of this section. The bonding jumper(s) shall be installed in accordance with 250.64(A), (B), and (E). The points of attachment of the bonding jumper(s) shall be accessible.
    (1) General. Metal water piping system(s) installed in or attached to a building or structure shall be bonded to the service equipment enclosure, the grounded conductor at the service, the grounding electrode conductor where of sufficient size, or to the one or more grounding electrodes used. The bonding jumper(s) shall be sized in accordance with Table 250.66 except as permitted in 250.104(A)(2) and (A)(3

    Some will try to call the hot one system and the cold another system so what does the plumbing code say about the water system? First just what is the water called that is used from a water heater?
    501.2 Water heater as space heater. Where a combination potable water heating and space heating system requires water for space heating at temperatures higher than 140F (60C), a master thermostatic mixing valve complying with ASSE 1017 shall be provided to limit the water supplied to the potable hot water distribution system to a temperature of 140F (60C) or less. The potability of the water shall be maintained throughout the system.

    Was that potable hot water? Well pray tell me just what kind of water must I take a bath with? Now lets remember that I use hot and cold when showering. What about my kitchen sink?
    602.2 Potable water required. Only potable water shall be supplied to plumbing fixtures that provide water for drinking, bathing or culinary purposes, or for the processing of food, medical or pharmaceutical products. Unless otherwise provided in this code, potable water shall be supplied to all plumbing fixtures.

    I declare I think that the water systems in our homes that we use to flush our toilets is potable water even if we use hot water to get the job done.

    Now where does it say in 250.104(A)(1) that a bonding jumper has to be installed between the hot and cold pipes? That is right it doesnt, but what it does say is that if one decides to bond the cold and then bond the hot there is only four places that the code allows for this bonding jumper to land, 1) shall be bonded to the service equipment enclosure, 2) the grounded conductor at the service, 3) the grounding electrode conductor where of sufficient size, 4) or to the one or more grounding electrodes used.

    Come to my jurisdiction trying that non code compliant such as is being discussed in this thread and I promise you will be making some changes based on the code sections I have posted.

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