(206) 949-5683, Top Rated Plumber, Seattle
Page 1 of 12 1234567891011 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 174

Thread: Volts leaking to ground rod

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    505

    Default Volts leaking to ground rod

    Got a call to investigate an arc of electricity where grounding conductor to water supply coming into house was interrupted. Apparently there is a ground rod as well.

    I want to guess that some large item is leaking volts into the ground loop.

    If I find an electric stove, that is my first suspect.

    Any thoughts? I'll be looking at it first thing tomorrow.

  2. #2
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    3,687

    Default

    I would suspect a bad neutral. I had a case once with an open neutral where there was so much current going to the water supply that it warmed the water.

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    505

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LLigetfa View Post
    I would suspect a bad neutral. I had a case once with an open neutral where there was so much current going to the water supply that it warmed the water.
    You mean to say at the panel or the top of the pole.

    Yes, I will certainly be poking around the panel looking for 120 v to both legs. If one of them is more than two or three volts off the other, I get suspicious.

  4. #4
    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    328

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    You mean to say at the panel or the top of the pole.
    I agree with that Canadian up there, bad neutral. It could be at the service, at the pole, could even be a different house and now your customer's water pipe has become that neighbour’s neutral.

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    505

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ActionDave View Post
    could even be a different house and now your customer's water pipe has become that neighbour’s neutral.
    And THIS is where troubleshooting becomes a bitch!

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    505

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ActionDave View Post
    I agree with that Canadian up there, bad neutral.
    What tests do you recommend?

    I have no problem calling it a bad neutral when one leg is 100v and the other is 140v, but one needs to be pretty dull witted to not see that.

    What if the voltage leaking out is on the order of 30v?

  7. #7
    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    328

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    What tests do you recommend?

    I have no problem calling it a bad neutral when one leg is 100v and the other is 140v, but one needs to be pretty dull witted to not see that.
    Likely the same as you. At the service panel- Phase to phase, phase to neutral, phase to earth conductor; turn the main off and look for changes. You need at least 15V difference phase to neutral before you can rule out just plain old voltage drop from the POCO IMO.
    What if the voltage leaking out is on the order of 30v?
    If you have a analogue meter check or a low Z on your digital check voltage between the ground rod and the neutral. Should not be very much volts.

    Put an ammeter around GEC. Turn off the main. Do the same at neighbour's house.

    Go out and look at the pole. If you talk to the POCO try and find somebody that has some service and trouble shooting experience on their end too.

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    505

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ActionDave View Post
    Likely the same as you. At the service panel- Phase to phase, phase to neutral, phase to earth conductor; turn the main off and look for changes. You need at least 15V difference phase to neutral before you can rule out just plain old voltage drop from the POCO IMO.
    If you have a analogue meter check or a low Z on your digital check voltage between the ground rod and the neutral. Should not be very much volts.

    Put an ammeter around GEC. Turn off the main. Do the same at neighbour's house.

    Go out and look at the pole. If you talk to the POCO try and find somebody that has some service and trouble shooting experience on their end too.
    All good stuff except I don't expect to be poking around in the neighbor's panel.

    I do expect to be calling the power company, very likely. They are very responsive here.

  9. #9
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    3,661

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    All good stuff except I don't expect to be poking around in the neighbor's panel.

    I do expect to be calling the power company, very likely. They are very responsive here.

    If the neighbors are on a different transformer, I see no need to bother them.

    If you measure any current flowing on the Ground Rod conductor or water pipe ground, You should call the Power Company. If you do not have the proper tools, You should call the Power Company.

    You should not disconnect or mess with anyting that is arcing or throwing sparks, unless you have a Electrical license.

    A shorted element should pop a breaker if everything is wired and sized properly.


    Good Luck.
    Last edited by DonL; 02-20-2014 at 07:03 AM.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

    Cyber Security Protection for Windows C:\ > WWW.WinForce.Net

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,659

    Default

    quote; could even be a different house and now your customer's water pipe has become that neighbour’s neutral.

    That would be such a "stretch" that I would not even consider it. Possibly an electric water heater with a bad element, or as stated a failed neutral from the power company. I once disconnected an electric water heater and when I separated the union I had an arc. EVERYTHING in the house which was turned on immediately burned out when they were hit with 240 volts. I had to carry the huge console TV outside because it was smoking. The neutral had failed, and they connected to the ground rod with a piece of BX metal cover which had rusted away so the entire neutral "duty" was being done by the water system and since they had made the ground connection to the hot water, the current was going through the water heater which caused it to start leaking. Separating the union "undid" the whole process. Fortunately, I had had enough experience with poor wiring that I separated the union by hitting it with a wrench, rather than grabbing the two sides and pulling them apart, (which has killed many plumbers when they remove water meters without "jumpers" and some variation of this is occurring).
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    IL
    Posts
    1,273

    Default

    Call the power company.

    For troubleshooting mainly for curiosity, get a clamp-around ammeter. Measure the current through that ground wire. Kill power at the main breaker. Does that current largely remain? If the current remains, that would show that the neutral conductor from the transformer is there, but if the current is significant, their grounding at the pole is not adequate. I don't know where I would draw the line of being adequate.

  12. #12
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    3,661

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Reach4 View Post
    For troubleshooting mainly for curiosity, get a clamp-around ammeter.

    Just my thought, If a person does not have a clamp-around ammeter, They do not need to be working on a electrical job.


    I could be wrong.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

    Cyber Security Protection for Windows C:\ > WWW.WinForce.Net

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    505

    Default

    All good stuff, guys.

    Not likely an electric water heater. Gas appliances are very common around here. There are some electric stoves, although I have no idea why.

    Yes, the amp flow test is on my list.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    505

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Reach4 View Post
    Call the power company.

    For troubleshooting mainly for curiosity, get a clamp-around ammeter. Measure the current through that ground wire. Kill power at the main breaker. Does that current largely remain? If the current remains, that would show that the neutral conductor from the transformer is there, but if the current is significant, their grounding at the pole is not adequate. I don't know where I would draw the line of being adequate.
    This particular utility grounds all of its transformers, so if I do find current in that test, then they will certainly be out like a flash to check it out.

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    1,773

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    Just my thought, If a person does not have a clamp-around ammeter, They do not need to be working on a electrical job.


    I could be wrong.
    I have 2 Amprobes and a Bell current gun, so does that mean I am qualified? I have no plasma suit, so I am definitely not.
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

Similar Threads

  1. Refrigerator is Hot - 120 Volts at Handle
    By molo in forum Electrical Forum discussion & Blog
    Replies: 35
    Last Post: 02-11-2012, 06:38 AM
  2. 115 volts or 220 volts to well pump
    By JoeBarth in forum Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 08-21-2008, 06:00 AM
  3. What's the difference between 240 volts and 220 volts?
    By Erico in forum Electrical Forum discussion & Blog
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 08-16-2008, 05:52 PM
  4. 14.4 volts vs 18 volt for homeowner
    By ctkeebler in forum Remodel Forum & Blog
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 04-22-2008, 04:55 AM
  5. Please Help! Ground water leaking into heating ducts
    By tjwilson99 in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-29-2005, 04:53 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •