200amp service ground

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Master Brian, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

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    I had an electrician change my 65amp panel to a 200amp panel. If it matters, there is also a subpanel that was installed in my basement and a subpanel installed in my garage. Being that I like to know what and why is going on, I tried to pay a bit of attention.

    I know that the 200amp panel is grounded to a grounding rod outside, I also know he ran some bare wire to the copper waterlines in my house. The copper wire runs about 30-40' and is secured to the copper pipe near my hot water tank. I questioned why he ran it so far accross the house, when there was a copper water line closer, but don't remember what he said. When the inspector came out, he also questioned it, but said what he did was fine.

    I am wanting to install a new hot water tank and will be installing to a new location. I am also replacing some of the copper with pex, just to clean things up, so I can finish off the basement ceiling. My question is, if the copper water lines will now be further away, can I add to the copper grounding wire to make it longer? If so, what is the best method to do this? I am not sure what gauge the wire is, but can probably find out and I'll be moving this about 10', thought not sure I would need 10' of wire. Or do I need to run a complete new wire?

    One other thing while on the subject, I will also be moving the copper line that the phone company grounded to as well as the cable company. Can I splice into those grounds to move them 20' over? ....or do I need to run all new grounding wire? Is there a certain gauge I need for the runs?
  2. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

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    He may have gone to the water heater so he could also bond the gas piping.

    If you replace a section of copper with pex, you should run a jumper from copper to copper to keep the bonding intact.

    You may add to the copper bonding wire by installing a pipe clamp (like on the water heater pipe) and attaching a #4 copper wire.

    The phone company probably just uses a #12 wire. Splice on to it in a secure fashion.
  3. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    Why? .
  4. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

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    Can you please explain this? That kind of rings a bell.


    There is no copper to pex to copper, except for maybe stubouts and such. I'm guessing there is no need to worry about that?

    I will probably supply the hot water tank with copper, just because it would be just as easy as the new location is just moving it closer to the supply. Do I just extend the #4 copper wire to the new location? I'm not sure there will be a pipe to connect it to in the current location, unless I just run the pipe long to keep the ground/bond.


    OK, thanks.


    While I am thinking of it, there might actually be an additional copper wire that is coming out of the panel. I had a copper waterline freeze a few weeks ago. Since I am running pex, I just replaced it with pex. The line I pulled out had a bare copper wire, electric taped, to the pipe. Nice, right!?! I started tracking it, but not sure I ever finished. I just figured it was the previous ground wire and no better than it was connected didn't worry about it. Should I reconnect it to my copper plumbing? How many ground wires does this 200amp panel need? Again, there is one to a rod in the ground, then the new one clamped to my copper at water heater and then possibly this 3rd wire that was taped to a no longer existent copper pipe.

    Thans for the help.
  5. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

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    Location:
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    Around here we get 2 ground rods outside spaced i think 6' apart with any service upgrades. In addition a ground wire is run to the main water line entereing in with a jumper to go around the meter if the water meter is inside the basement.(only if the incoming water line is metal) and i think it has to be within 5' of it entering in the building. I think the grounding to the main is supplemental if you have 2 grounding rods outside, but required if you only have 1 grounding rod outside. Like I said around here they make us get all 3 ground points.

    I don't believe you can just tie a ground wire to "any" copper nearby, that would be a bootleg ground and illegal.

    I'm no electrician, just had about 10 of these "service upgrades" done in the past 3 years.

    BTW I think the copper wire over to the water heater may have been to complete the pipe bonding from hot/cold side. I don't see that too much around here but I have seen it. That bonding is required on all metal piping, water, gas...etc
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2009
  6. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

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    689
    I don't know exactly what he plans on doing with the copper but if you cut out a section of water piping and replace it with pex, the section downstream would not be bonded....right? That's what I was getting at.



    If your water heater is gas, it is likely supplied with metal piping system. This has to be bonded to the electrical service just like the water does. Many times the water heater is the most logical place to bond both systems because both gas and water pipes are there.


    If the clamp in the old location is accessible you can leave it there.

    You don't need to bond the stubs.

    The grond wire along side the pex was likely a tracer wire used to electronically locate underground plastic piping. It should be left intact and and accessible at both ends.
  7. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

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    Location:
    Kansas
    Well, maybe the electrician ran the ground wire to the copper line near the hot water heater so that the gas pipe was bonded as well, but I don't see what that gains. I understand that the gas line needs to be bonded, but does it really make a difference if it's connected to the copper water line 15' away or 2' away? Either it's grounded or it isn't, is my thought, but again that's why I'm here asking. If it had been bonded to the tank, I might understand, but it's not. The tank is connected to the copper waterline via stainless tubes and the gas is via an aluminum hose, I believe. I would think some continuity (sp?) would be lost in the, I guess I could Ohm it to check. Hmmm.....

    The 3rd copper wire isn't a tracer wire on pex, it is an approx #4 gauge copper wire that is ran from the panel to the copper waterline. The copper waterline is no longer there,but the wire is. This was along the rim joist inside the house. I believe it was just the original ground from the old panel.

    The old clamp, near the water heater is accessible, but I'd like to remove the copper line where it is attached if/when the heater gets moved. I'm hoping I can unstaple from the joists and move it over, but if not, it needs to be spliced onto, if possible.
  8. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    And I guess I am asking why would you want to bond the pipe for in the first place unless it is a complete metal water piping system?





    Again I am asking why does the gas pipe need to be bonded? Unless there is some type of the flexible gas line that calls for bonding where does it need bonding with a #4 that you mention in the second post?




    I agree with these statements and will go on to say that none of the metal piping system needs a #4 if there is any nonmetallic pipe of any kind installed anywhere in the system. 250.104(B) using the equipment grounding conductor to any appliance connected to either and the job is done. No equipment connected to either and no bonding required.

    Your guess is as good as any I suppose.
  9. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

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    Location:
    Kansas
    When the panel was replaced it was a complete copper system. It is no longer such. Due to a complete bathroom remodel, a relocated laundry room and a burst pipe supplying the kitchen sink, everything will be pex except for about 20' where the copper comes into the house until it reaches the water heate and then a few feet out from the water heater on the hot water side. Unfortuneately a lot of the water plumbing is underdone and kind of messy from years of changes. Redoing with pex home runs is just easier. Are you saying none of this should be bonded?

    The gas line is solid line, except where it terminates for appliance connections.

    If the water lines don't need to be grounded, what do I do for my 2nd ground? Maybe I'll call the inspector and ask about it.


  10. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    Location:
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    If there is 10 feet or more of metal water pipe in contact with earth (underground) then this has to be used as an electrode. The point of attachment of the grounding electrode conductor must be within the first five feet where the metal pipe enters the building. If there is not at least 10 feet of metal pipe in contact with earth then it is not a grounding electrode and with the nonmetallic water pipe that is being installed then the requirement found in 250.104(B) apply.
    This means that the equipment grounding conductor that is in the circuit that supplies the equipment connected to the metal water pipe is all the bonding that is required.

    If the gas line has some type of CSST flexible pipe then it will be required to be bonded with at least a #6 back to the service equipment. This bond connection must take place as close to where the gas pipe enters the building as possible and must land on part of the hard pipe and not the flexible pipe.

    Why do you feel like you need a second ground?
    Any and all electrodes that are present are bonded together to form one electrode system. If none are present then drive two rods and you are done.
  11. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Thanks for the replies, but I am/was getting a bit confused.

    I ended up calling and speaking with a supervisor at the inspection office and this is what he told me....

    The #4 wire which is currently attached to the copper, cold water line supplying my hot water heater, should be within 5' of where the line enters the building. It is not and the inspector whom came out seemed fine with this!? The person I spoke with said it should be #4 wire run, with no breaks, to the panel to within 5' of where the water line enters. He said it used to not matter where this wire was bonded to the waterline, which explains my old wire along the rim joist that was so nicely taped to the pipe. They have however required it to be bonded to water line at the 5' mark since '96 I believe.

    - quick side question, why no breaks? Is that really necessary or could I use some sort of clamp to join two wires? If it really matters, then I'll buy new wire and run a new run, just a lot of work. Of course easier now with it unfinished.....

    The inspector also said it didn't matter if some of my waterline was pex because the water will still carry the current. He said if ANY of the line that entered the building was metal, then I need this wire attached at the 5' point.

    He then went onto say they don't care about bonding to the gas line, they don't require that.

    He also stated it doesn't need to be re-inspected and he didnt' seem to mind me doing the work.

    So, do any of you have issues with what he has said? I realize there might be differences of opinions, but all I care about is safety.

    If I have to re-run the entire #4 wire to the 5' point, then I'll have this other wire, is it better if I bond that to the gas line? It goes right past where the gas line enters the house. Do I just use a clamp similar to what is attached to the waterline?

    Thanks again
  12. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    You only need the #4 if there is 10 feet or more metal water pipe in contact with the earth or in other words if there is 10 feet or more buried in the yard coming into the house. See 250.52(A)(1) of the NEC

    If there is not at least 10 feet of metal water pipe out in the yard then you don’t need anything to the metal parts of the pipe on the interior of the building. The interior is any pipe that is beyond the first five feet where it enters the house. Any equipment grounding conductor that is in the cable that supplies any equipment that is attached to the water pipes will do all the bonding needed. This is also true for the gas pipe. See 250.104(B)
    There is no need to bond around the metal parts of the water line as the equipment grounding conductor has done all this for you. If what the inspector said is true and the water conducts current then the water has done all the other bonding needed through its own conductivity wouldn’t you think?
    If the water doesn’t conduct current then why does it need bonding for? The only thing that is likely to energize the pipes is the equipment connected to it and it will have an equipment grounding conductor that bonds the equipment.

    If it would make you feel any better it would be alright to use the old #4 to bond the gas line. This would be a requirement by the manufacturer if there is any flexible pipe at any equipment supplied by the gas line.

    250.64(C) requires that the grounding electrode conductor be continuous without splice to joint from the service equipment to the grounding electrode it lands on. This conductor needs to have the least amount of resistance possible and does not need to fail as a joint or splice might allow.
    If the metal water pipe supplying the building is in fact an electrode, it has 10 or more feet buried in the yard, then a simple solution for you would be to get a terminal bar and install it at the end of the existing #4. From this terminal bar bonding jumpers can be installed to the first five feet of metal water pipe that enters the building and to the gas line.
    I can’t help what some inspector or electrician has told you. What I have done is give you the code sections that apply to your installation.
    Can I be of any other help?
  13. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

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    Location:
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    1st, thanks for the time you are giving me on this, it is appreciated. I know you can't help what someone else tells me which is why I'm double checking. With that, I would also like this to somewhat be to code.

    Next, I just want a little more clarity as I understand the basics, but admit some of the terminology/code confuses me.

    I haven't dug up the yard, but am pretty certain I have copper or some sort of metal pipe coming from the meter into the house, which is over 10', so I need the #4. Correct?

    I don't know what equipment I would have that would be grounded and connected to the water lines. I suppose a washing machine, maybe the fridge, but they are connected via stainless tubes, not sure how well they carry current, but as the inspector said, the water in the line should provide the path. Hmmm??? In any case, I have the 10', so this should be a mute point. Except for the gas lines, which are connected to water heater and stove via flexible lines, with the exception of the furnace.

    Yes, I would think, but then again, I often think codes tend to go overboard!:rolleyes:

    We are agreeing the water conducts current, correct? I would think the other thing tht might energize the pipes is a lightning strike, which is one of the main reasons I would have thought the copper lines needed to be bonded. I never really thought about the equipment connected to it. Are you saying the equipment is supplying some of this bond?

    If it should be there, it would make me feel better, if it makes no difference, then I don't really care. What do you recommend?

    [qoute]250.64(C) requires that the grounding electrode conductor be continuous without splice to joint from the service equipment to the grounding electrode it lands on. This conductor needs to have the least amount of resistance possible and does not need to fail as a joint or splice might allow.

    Ok, so being as I have 10' of burried metal water pipe, I am fine getting a terminal bar, connecting the existing #4 wire it and running a jumper to the 1st 5' of water line where it enters the house, then I should also jump off that and run another length of wire and connect to the gas line where it enters the house?

    Thanks again and sorry but all the code does confuse a bit....:eek:

    The parts I don't get are:
    1) We all know water is a great conductor of energy as is copper, so what does having the #4 wire go to within 5' of entering the structure really do. I don't understand why tieing in anywhere doesn't work. Doesn't eletricity take the path of least resistance? I would think the copper and the water would be that, but I'm no expert either. With that thought, I would think the copper wire would be the weak link as it is the smallest diameter, maybe they are thinking off the logic of a break in piping...?
    2) What difference does it make that the wire is spliced or not. Afterall, the connection in the panel is done with a terminal bar and screw, so is the one to the grounding rod and the pipe clamp, what's one more screw? I realize some would say, one more point to loose continuity, but if all points are tight.....:rolleyes: I also look at the fact that all the grounds to all recepticles, etc are done with a screw/wire nut, yet we don't frown on that and say they are all one more point, yet I know they are. (don't take this as me not wanting to do it right, just questioning the true sanity of it all. Again, I'm no expert!)
    3) What is the real point of grounding/bonding the water and gas pipe? Is that so they don't become energized from appliances and lighting? I would think being buried in the ground outside would help stop that, so I thought this was just a 2nd line of supplying the panel/electric service with a ground.
  14. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    Yes if there is 10 or more feet of metal water line in contact with earth then this part of the water line becomes a grounding electrode and needs a #4 (for 200 amp service) installed in one continuous length from the service to the first five feet where the metal pipe enters the building.


    If you have flexible pipes that connect the appliances such as the water heater and range to the gas line then a #6 (or 4 if you already have it) needs to be installed from the gas pipe to either the water line within the first five feet or to the service


    Codes are minimum safety standards. To do less than what the codes calls for is an unsafe installations.


    This is what you said the inspector told you. I totally disagree. Water is made up of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen neither of which will conduct electrical current. Water is a very good insulator.

    Lightning is one of the four reasons that the grounding electrode system is installed. The other three are line surges, or unintentional contact with higher-voltage lines and that will stabilize the voltage to earth during normal operation.
    All of these are unlikely and are not what is being address with the bonding requirement. All four of these are the reason we have the eight different grounding electrodes that can be used to connect our systems to earth.


    Unless there is something that is connected to the water line what is going to energize it?

    Yes. I think you said that you had flexible pipe that connects to the appliances. This stuff is nothing short of death installed on a gas line and the manufacturers of the junk requires that the gas pipe be bonded.

    First let’s get straight a couple of things. Pure water is not a conductor. Electrical current will travel every path available to it including high resistance paths.
    Water does not have the atomic structure to conduct current. It is the impurities in water that allows it to conduct current. I a system of city water where chlorine is added to the water then it is the chemical reaction of the chlorine that allows water to conduct current.
    Any electronic appliance such as the computer that you use to read this post will prove that current does not follow the path of least resistance but will follow every path available to it. The components in the computer have several paths that current flows over at the same time. If current only flowed on the path of least resistance then the computer would no function.

    Let’s make sure that we do understand that a termination of a conductor under a terminal is a lot different that the connection under a wire nut where there are more than one conductor.
    The difference between the equipment grounding conductor in boxes that contain switched and receptacles only have to carry the current allow to pass by the overcurrent (breaker) device.
    The grounding electrode conductor has to carry a very high current such as a lightning strike which can be into the mega volts or in the event of a 25,000 volt line coming into contact with your service drop. Even if there was a surge due to a transformer that has shorted from primary to secondary would be a high voltage event.
    If the 25 ohm rule found in 250.56 is complied with then do Ohm’s Law math as see how much current would be able to pass through earth from your meter back to the utility line.
    25,000 volts divided by 25 ohms equals 1000 amps. This is more than enough to open the switch for the utility company.
    With the 240/120 volts we have in our homes the 25 ohms would do nothing to help open an overcurrent device. Same math 120 volts divided by 25 ohms equals 4.8 amps. Not enough to blow a 5 amp fuse.

    We connect to earth for the following reasons and these reasons only.
    We do not connect to earth for any reason of protecting anyone from anything. We do not connect to earth to make the fuses blow or the breakers open. We do not connect to earth in order to let electrical current flow into the dirt. This will not happen. Current has to go back to where it came from in a house wiring system. It leaves the transformer and it must return to the transformer.
  15. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

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    Location:
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    Let me start of by saying thank you very much for explaining that to me. I always thought water was a good conductor of electricity, even though I am certain I've heard it is actually an insulator. I think my cofussion lies in the fact they always say not to take a shower/bath in lightning storm and to get off the lake during one as well and why we need GFCI's around places water is present. I realize the lake is a wide open space offering no protection, but I also thought the current could travel easily along the water if it hit in the distance.

    Guess this sort of explains why when I had a faulty pond heater and kept getting a low grade shock when I stuck my hand in the water to pull out debris, the fish never seemed to have any ill efect. No this wasn't plugged into a GFCI!:eek:

    The only part I am confused on is the:
    and
    I thought you were saying I could do this, but it looks like I can't, but should instead run a continuous #4 wire from panel to 1st 5' of copper pipe, then take the existing #4 wire and connect it to my gas line.

    Thanks again.
  16. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    Bless your heart child you sure want a lot of explanation on something that so easy.

    When we talk about lightning we are talking about a lot of electrical energy and the discussion can get real in depth and long winded. To keep it really simple a lightning strike is two differences in potential trying to reach equilibrium. Think of it in either manner you like, cloud to earth or earth to cloud but the principal is the same.
    The cloud is one electrode and the earth is another electrode and electrical energy is trying to gain a prefect balance of electrical potential.

    Although I do know of a couple of mountain cabins where a spring up on the side of the hill is bringing water into the building via overhead pipes most water supplies for houses come in from under one of these electrodes.
    As these two electrodes are trying to gain equilibrium the plates one which is the dirt over those water pipes will be drawing electrons from any available source including you if you are standing in the shower with a stream of iron laden water spraying on you.

    If you want to install a terminal bar for that #4 it must comply with 250.64(F)(3) as posted above.
  17. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

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    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I know, I know, I ask lots of questions.....sorry, but thanks!

    Let's just end with this, I will buy a new length of #4 wire and run it to within 5' of where the water line enters the house. This will come straight from my panel. I will then bond the gas line where it enters the house with the existing #4 wire, even though it's not code where I live. I have the wire and it sounds like you think that is the best thing to do.

    If I am correct a simple Yes will suffice, or I'm likely to ask more questions!!:eek:

    Thanks again!!
  18. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    Location:
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    What you propose sounds fine.

    Ask all the questions your heart desires and I will do my best to answer you
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