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Thread: Volts leaking to ground rod

  1. #16
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    Yes, the amp flow test is on my list.
    In a multi-wire circuit, only the differential is carried by the neutral. If both legs are carrying the same amount of current, the neutral carries none. In some cases, the neutral may be a smaller gauge wire for that reason.

    However, if the loads are off-balance, meaning that one leg carries next to nothing, then the neutral will carry about the same amps as the heavily loaded leg. When that happens, you may experience a voltage drop across the neutral that then is picked up by the protection ground. Even if the neutral wire is the same gauge as the two legs, there can still be a voltage drop in such a circumstance.

  2. #17
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    So. What I found:

    The tenant had been doing some sprinkler work out front and for some reason wanted to take out the pressure regulator from the plumbing going into the house.

    He reported seeing an arc as he was manipulating the components and then got a sizable shock when he grabbed the two components with his two hands (!).

    I arrived and saw that the bonding cable for the panel (newish) was clamped to the plumbing on the HOUSE side of the pressure regulator. The inspector for the area wants it to be on the STREET side of the regulator. Me? I like being certain that the plumbing in the house is well bonded. When I do and install like this, I bond on both sides of the pressure regulator and then jump to the ground rod.

    I found as many as seven amps running down the ground cable toward the plumbing and the ground rod in the front of the house.

    I took the pressure regulator apart and found a 45v potential across the joint, so there was definitely enough there to get your attention, especially with wet hands.

    Then I released the grounding cable from the plumbing, and then from the ground rod. And found essentially nothing. Less than three volts. And I could not recreate the 45v I had moments before.

    I opened up the panel and got a similar reading. I shut off the main power and got nothing. And both legs were within a volt of the other to neutral/ground. So the power company was absolved.

    The tenant's washing machine stopped running and suddenly the amps pouring down the ground dropped to 0.3.

    This place was built in the late '30's with flex and cloth/rubber conductors, which are still in place.

    I am inclined to expect a system that old to leak about a third of an amp, who disagrees?

    I ran the (gas) dryer as well, and it caused the leak on the ground (at the panel) to go up to nearly 4 amps, same as now the washer was doing. I replaced the receptacle, and of course found what modern standards would call a grossly over filled box (cloth/rubber, and the connections are twisted together and soldered, then wrapped in very bulky cloth tape!)

    It is an old house with old wiring. A full rewire with a dedicated ground everywhere is in order, but not going to happen anytime soon.

  3. #18
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobL43 View Post
    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.
    Yeah. Sure wish I had me a plasma suit.....

    For when I am doing a domestic repanel.

  4. #19
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    This place was built in the late '30's with flex and cloth/rubber conductors, which are still in place.

    I am inclined to expect a system that old to leak about a third of an amp, who disagrees?

    I ran the (gas) dryer as well, and it caused the leak on the ground (at the panel) to go up to nearly 4 amps, same as now the washer was doing. I replaced the receptacle, and of course found what modern standards would call a grossly over filled box (cloth/rubber, and the connections are twisted together and soldered, then wrapped in very bulky cloth tape!)
    Tell us more about that. What are you measuring and how? Are you measuring the current with a clamp ammeter on a wire going directly to a ground rod or plumbing? That doesn't sound right to me.

    I am no expert on this, but I think more info is needed.

    What voltages do you have across your 120 VAC outlets under those conditions?

  5. #20
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    who disagrees?
    First there is no such thing as leaking voltage. Voltage is a difference in potential or the amount of pressure that pushes electrons through a conductor. Amperage or current is what flows, this is how we measure the amount of flowing electrons.

    Current is always seeking it way back to the secondary of the utility transformer. If there is current on the grounding electrode be it a pipe or rod then there is a problem with the neutral of the system. If the water system is a public utility then it problem could be with someone else’s neutral and the current is seeking it path back through the electrode and the neutral of the house that the problem is detected.

    At any rate current on an electrode should always be called to the attention of the utility company instead of trying to figure out what the problem is by yourself. If the power company gives a clean bill of health then start your trouble shooting but without knowledge it is like peeing into a fan.

  6. #21
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    I hate to say, But you know me. It is obvious that you do not know what you are doing.

    You should call the Man.


    Good Luck.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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

  7. #22
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reach4 View Post
    Tell us more about that. What are you measuring and how? Are you measuring the current with a clamp ammeter on a wire going directly to a ground rod or plumbing? That doesn't sound right to me.

    I am no expert on this, but I think more info is needed.

    What voltages do you have across your 120 VAC outlets under those conditions?
    I used a clamp on meter on the grounding cable coming right out of the panel to find that third of an amp.

    I have 120v where I expect to find it. The two legs were less than a volt different each from the other.
    Last edited by Homeownerinburb; 02-20-2014 at 04:13 PM.

  8. #23
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    I hate to say, But you know me. It is obvious that you do not know what you are doing.

    You should call the Man.


    Good Luck.

    Harsh! Thanks you!

  9. #24
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post

    At any rate current on an electrode should always be called to the attention of the utility company instead of trying to figure out what the problem is by yourself. If the power company gives a clean bill of health then start your trouble shooting but without knowledge it is like peeing into a fan.
    I can go with that. This particular municipal is VERY responsive.

  10. #25
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    Harsh! Thanks you!

    You are Welcome.

    I just don't want to see you get hurt.


    That House should have the power Cut Off, Until fixed.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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

  11. #26
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    First there is no such thing as leaking voltage. Voltage is a difference in potential or the amount of pressure that pushes electrons through a conductor. Amperage or current is what flows, this is how we measure the amount of flowing electrons.

    Current is always seeking it way back to the secondary of the utility transformer. If there is current on the grounding electrode be it a pipe or rod then there is a problem with the neutral of the system. If the water system is a public utility then it problem could be with someone else’s neutral and the current is seeking it path back through the electrode and the neutral of the house that the problem is detected.

    At any rate current on an electrode should always be called to the attention of the utility company instead of trying to figure out what the problem is by yourself. If the power company gives a clean bill of health then start your trouble shooting but without knowledge it is like peeing into a fan.
    I did actually say amperage was leaking, not volts. Look again and you will see that. A third of an amp was going down to the ground rod.

    While I am prepared to be wrong on this, it seems to me that when I find no real difference in potential between the neutral and the two hot legs (less than a volt) I don't think the utility's neutral is suspect.

  12. #27
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    You are Welcome.

    I just don't want to see you get hurt.


    That House should have the power Cut Off, Until fixed.
    I'll chat with the utility tomorrow, if it comforts you.

  13. #28
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    The amount of current on the grounding electrode conductor will be the result of the voltage being applied and the resistance of earth between the grounding electrode and the grounding electrode of the secondary of the utility transformer.

    If there was 7 amps at 120 volts then the resistance of the path is ~ 17 ohms and sounds as though a neutral somewhere has failed and using the water piping as the return path. If there is no difference in the voltage at the main with appliances in the house running then it will be someone else’s neutral that is the problem and therefore the utility needs to be involved.

  14. #29
    DIY Senior Member bluebinky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    The amount of current on the grounding electrode conductor will be the result of the voltage being applied and the resistance of earth between the grounding electrode and the grounding electrode of the secondary of the utility transformer.

    If there was 7 amps at 120 volts then the resistance of the path is ~ 17 ohms and sounds as though a neutral somewhere has failed and using the water piping as the return path. If there is no difference in the voltage at the main with appliances in the house running then it will be someone else’s neutral that is the problem and therefore the utility needs to be involved.
    This answer has my vote. Be safe.

  15. #30
    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeownerinburb View Post
    I found as many as seven amps running down the ground cable toward the plumbing and the ground rod in the front of the house.

    I took the pressure regulator apart and found a 45v potential across the joint, so there was definitely enough there to get your attention, especially with wet hands.

    The tenant's washing machine stopped running and suddenly the amps pouring down the ground dropped to 0.3.

    I ran the (gas) dryer as well, and it caused the leak on the ground (at the panel) to go up to nearly 4 amps, same as now the washer was doing.
    Something wrong there. Did you compare current on the neutral to the ground and the hot?

    Then I released the grounding cable from the plumbing, and then from the ground rod. And found essentially nothing. Less than three volts. And I could not recreate the 45v I had moments before.
    I would not be doing that.

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