bonding/grounding copper pipes

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by reed50, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. reed50

    reed50 New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    tennessee
    I kow this has been discussed before, but as a female who is trying to understand this (and not get ripped off by an electrician), could this be explained to me and what, if anything, I need to do before I spend $200 to an electrician who is spouting off stuff I don't understand. I've posted before where we replaced the grey plastic water pipes in our home with copper.

    Water pipe to our manufactured home is plastic from the ground and then goes into copper (no copper pipe in the ground). Most of the sinks and both toilets have plastic pipe from the floor up. Copper pipes to both showers, except for one section on one shower that has about a 6 inch PVC pipe inserted on the hot side. Copper pipes to electric water heater.

    I'm not trying to start a debate, just trying to understand what, if anything, needs to be done as far as grounding or bonding. Thanks for any help (and please excuse the uninformed female who is trying to be better informed)
  2. Jim Port

    Jim Port Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Maryland
    Metallic piping is not grounded, it is bonded. Since you do not have a metallic pipe entering your home from underground we can skip that part about using it as an electrode.

    Under normal operating conditions the ground/bond should not have current flowing on it.

    Since you do not have a complete metallic piping system I do not believe anything will need to be bonded.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,230
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    As soon as you start mixing copper and plastic piping, you effectively eliminate its use as a "grounding" point for the electrical system. Therefore, you need one, two, or more, (depending on your soil's potential), ground rods into the soil, but, since you seem to already have a "nonmetallic main line", you should have had that already. As side bar, if you have gas piping THAT also has to be bonded.
  4. reed50

    reed50 New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    tennessee
    I appreciate the responses I've gotten. Again, I'm trying to learn so that I understand what this electrician is saying. According to him, my pipes need to be bonded AND grounded (for $200)..

    The electrical system of the house is already grounded, and the steel frame underneath is also.

    I am just trying to make sure what he is telling me is true. The plumber that installed the pipes several years ago said we did not need to do anything, therefore I am confused.

    Again, thanks for your patience and help. I have learned a lot about other electrical things from reading this forum.
  5. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina

    As someone who has been in the field for over 40 years, involved with the education of contractors and inspectors as well as being actively involved with the North Carolina Ellis Cannady Chapter of the IAEI for more than 10 years I assure that you need to do nothing with your water pipes.

    You can address your question to any member of Code Making Panel Number Five at One Batterymarch Park Quincy Massachusetts 02169 but it will take a while to get your answer. The question will need to be formed so as a one word answer can be given such as “yes” or “no”.

    Do not waste you time or money doing something that will be of no benefit to you. Save you money for something you might need such as a weekend get away of some sort.
  6. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    Ok he is not trying to rip you off, BUT you don't have to do it either.

    Back not too long ago- and still today in many places- the water line entering the house was almost always some type of metal. It makes for a great earth ground for the electrical system. Much better than the ground rods we use. The purpose of using the ground rods and the grounding/bonding of the incoming water line is, essentially, to give the energy in lightning some place to go in the event of a strike on the power system. It has absolutely nothing to do with the grounding of the 3 prong outlets in your house.

    Anyway, since your water line entering your house is plastic, bonding the copper pipe in your house will not provide a path to earth ground so it is useless for lightening protection. HOWEVER there is one benefit you still get from grounding the copper pipe in your house: If somehow there was an an electrical fault in your house that resulted in a live wire touching the copper pipes (maybe a rodent chews the insulation off a piece of wire that is touching a copper pipe), the grounding of the pipes will prevent you from being killed when you hop in the shower. For this reason I still bond/ground copper piping even if the water line entering the home is plastic, but I'll stop short of saying that you have to do it.

    Also, a reason your electrician may also be telling you that you have to ground the copper piping is because your town's building inspector requires that it be done. You can call the building department and ask if you want to know their answer.

    -rick
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,230
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; It has absolutely nothing to do with the grounding of the 3 prong outlets in your house.

    It DOESN'T? Then why is the ground bus on the panel bonded to the water line or the ground rod(s), and the UFER?
  8. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Voltage neither holds nor lets go. Voltage does not injure or hurt.

    Current kills. The GFCI devices in your home do not operate on voltage but instead they open at .005 AMPS which is the unit of measure of current.

    Current injures and kills. Current does the damage not the voltage.

    Ever been hit by static electricity? What level was this voltage? Bet it was very high and it did not kill you did it?
  9. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    250.4 General Requirements for Grounding and Bonding.
    The following general requirements identify what grounding and bonding of electrical systems are required to accomplish. The prescriptive methods contained in Article 250 shall be followed to comply with the performance requirements of this section.
    (A) Grounded Systems.
    (1) Electrical System Grounding. Electrical systems that are grounded shall be connected to earth in a manner that will limit the voltage imposed by lightning, line surges, or unintentional contact with higher-voltage lines and that will stabilize the voltage to earth during normal operation.

    For these four reasons only
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,230
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    When you "short out" to the ground wire in a receptacle, the current has to go somewhere. If it is NOT going to earth through the bonding wire, THEN it must be returning to the electrical grid through the neutral lead, BUT if the ground bus is NOT interconnected to the neutral bar, then that also cannot happen. Just having wet hands will NOT shock you, unless you are holding a defective appliance AND any metal you touch IS bonded with a path to the earth.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2010
  11. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    This is so simple that even a fifth grader knows the answer.

    The one thing that is a constant in using Ohm’s Law in the current of a residential circuit is the voltage. For the purpose of calculations for a voltage received from a utility 600 volts and less nominally will be the following:

    220.5 Calculations.
    (A) Voltages. Unless other voltages are specified, for purposes of calculating branch-circuit and feeder loads, nominal system voltages of 120, 120/240, 208Y/120, 240, 347, 480Y/277, 480, 600Y/347, and 600 volts shall be used.

    In the law of electrical physics and as outlined by every electrical safety publication it is current mentioned as the let go threshold. For most cases this will be around 9 milliamps for men and 15 milliamps for women. Simply Google search “let go threshold†to see for one’s self what is published and what is not published.

    It is not the voltage that holds it is the current. At 9 milliamps at any voltage from 50 to 500 an average male would not be able to let go.

    The simple matter is that volts are what is pushing the amps through a conductor. Resistance is the opposition to the amps going through the conductor. A conductor is anything which will allow current flow and includes the human body.

    It is the amps that flow through the body therefore it is the amps that do the damage. Should someone come in contact with a very high voltage and there was no path for current to flow, there wouldn’t be any harm to the person in contact with this voltage.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIjC7DjoVe8

    After looking at this link tell how much danger there is in voltage.
  12. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    MD
    You don't do well with lectures so try these questions

    Q1: If I debate this issue with you
    A. your status will be raised
    B. my status will be lowered
    C. neither A or nor B
    D. both A and B

    Note that in this question you have 1 chance in 4 of getting the answer right by just guessing. I'm rooting for you!

    You [and Jim Port, before he went on my ignore list] seem to be making the same maladaptive responses to an unpleasant reality.
    Q2: What are they? Hint: at least one adaptation is related to the self-esteem of each of you [and can be expressed as a formula!].

    There is at least forum electrician on the Net from another forum that does not use these responses.
    Q3: What is the forum name of the electrician? Hint: his name contains 277.

    For extra credit, compare "process commentary" with what is going on in this post.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2010
  13. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I wonder why your profile has had three times as many hits as post you have made.

    I could care less about whether I am on your ignore list or not.
    What I do care about is proper information being given to those searching for that information. I will gladly show my credentials and let anyone see that I am not self-proclaimed.
    You on the other hand seem to be a self-proclaimed internet taught expert that seems to know less than a fifth grader. Some of the information that you post has little or nothing to do with the subject matter or is completely wrong such as your proclamation of the voltage let go threshold in post nine you made yesterday.

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS VOLTAGE LET GO THRESHOLD IT IS CURRENT LET GO THRESHOLD PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

    This can bother you or maybe it doesn’t but at any rate the truth is the truth.
  14. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    MD
    Jim Port has already tried the claim of indifference but his was more nearly grammatically correct. It's "I couldn't care less. . ".

    I don't believe him or you.
    I bother both of you for reasons that are in both of you. It behooves you to find out those reasons. You'll be a better person for it.

    I don't know if my profile has a low/high/average number of looksees or what the ratio of posts to looksees means.
    I guess I'm flattered and surprised about how many people are curious about me.
    It's useless to post my credentials so I guess I'll have to be judged by my posts on this forum. There are worse things that could happen, and have happened, to me.

    Speaking of ratios, you can probably improve your systolic to diastolic ratio by putting me on your ignore list. Yeah! Nobody can say I'm not lookin' out forya'.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2010
  15. Joe Six Pack

    Joe Six Pack New Member

    Messages:
    31
    Location:
    Anchorage AK
    Wait....you're a not a guy but a girl?

    Attached Files:

  16. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I couldn’t care less would be saying I could not care less and what is said was that I could care less. One means that I could not care less and the other means that I could care less. So add me to your ignore list and watch me care even less then than I do now.
    This is the basis for ignorance. Until you learn to believe those in the know you will continue to walk around in the dark thinking you know something you don’t.
    Your attitude reminds me of something that Columnist Sidney Harris said, “There is nothing more dangerous than a person with a good mind who begins to reason, logically and coolly, but from insufficient premises; for his answers will always be valid, justified, rational and WRONG.
    You do not bother me at all. You are just wrong most of the time and refuse to listen to reasoning which speaks more about you than words could ever cover.

    Well it is good that you take it as flattery but I think you may be mistaken
    I suppose if one does not have any credentials then there is none to be posted.
    I take Losartan every morning so therefore I have no blood pressure problems. Last check this morning was 109/60 which is really good. The old blood sugar was 92 which is even better. I also burned 800 calories today at the gym which keeps everything in check.
  17. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    And is without a doubt the reason you left the others, “The complaintâ€

    And we are still looking for this grown up answer

    I have to yet to see a post you have made that has any credit due it

    Well ain’t that a mouth full!
    Check out this site
    http://www.randolph.edu/continuinged/programs/building_trades/electrical.php
    I have been teaching these classes for over 10 years now as well as taught Curriculum classes for more than 7 years. Yes these are college transfer classes.

    Yes and I also teach trouble shooting in three of my classes as well as electrical safety in all my classes

    You have now posted one item that is correct. The NEC is not a bible but in jurisdictions that have adopted the NEC it becomes LAW that must be adhered to.


    once again I quote
    The simple truth is you know nothing or little of what you are talking about.
  18. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,753
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I was repiping a home with a homeowner years ago. He would mention that he had two doctor degrees, and I had none. Well thank you for that.
    Two, geez, my father only had one from the University of Washington in Law and my brother James Packard Love didn't even pick up his doctorate from Princeton. He's been getting by on a measly Masters from Harvard all these years. But yes, here I am with my "High School" diploma, trying to show this guy the ropes on plumbing, trying to keep him out of trouble.
    I was trying to explain the compression fitting thing to him, copper stub outs, cut them off after the cabinets are set and then slide on the compression stops, and cinch them up. But now, he was telling me that then he couldn't ever replace them. So I said, say what? We replace compression stops all week long using a sleeve puller. But he with the many doctor degrees in plumbing, no wait, not in plumbing, something far and away from plumbing. He told me that the many doctor degrees meant that his brain could out brain mine. So I just laughed it off, and let the big brain go right on ahead with his blunder.
    A week later he calls up telling me he's burning up his cabinets, making them all black and nasty with the torch. And I'm like yeah...what's your point?
    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that a torch in an close space will use up the oxygen and start flaring in your face. I love the smell of someone else's eyebrows melting. Don't you?
    So I say, Are you getting why I like using compression yet?

    We're friends now. He is smart about computers.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010
  19. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I think our old buddy Sylvan has morphed into an electrician~~!!!
  20. nukeman

    nukeman Nuclear Engineer

    Messages:
    702
    Location:
    VA
    jw and Thatguy are borth correct in their own way. In terms of voltage, the key is in reference to what? Voltage is the electrical potential between two points. If you want to talk about the voltage making a current through the body, you need to know:

    1. Resistance of the body between the points of contact. This can vary greatly between people as well as what you are wearing (gloves, shoes, etc.)

    2. The voltage difference between the point of contact. For intance, you could hang a metal cage in the air, stand inside, and charge the thing to 700kV. Will it kill you? Nope. Will you feel a shock? Not likely. Everything in that cage is at 700kV, so the voltage potential across your body is 0v. Some might thing that different parts of the cage might be at different voltages due to resistance of the metal, but this is not the case. You only get volatge drop if current is flowing. If the cage is isolated, then everything will be at the same voltage. See "Faraday Cage".

    [​IMG]

    Using current to define damage to the human body is a better correlation than voltage. However, from a safety point of view, voltage is sometimes more useful. Voltage of a circuit is known. The current is not. The circuit might be able to flow 100A, but that doesn't mean that it will flow 100A through your body. By estimating body resistance and assume that the full potential is across the person's body, one can determine the risk to that voltage. For instance, I can touch both sides of a car battery that can supply a couple hundread amps when starting a car and feel nothing. If I grab onto something that is at 40kV and can only supply, 1 amp, I am probably dead.

    Terry: I have a doctorate, and I hope that I have common sense, but I know there are a lot of smart people out there that do not have common sense. It is amazing how far they get without it. I don't get it. I also know a lot of smart people who have no practical knowledge. Can't even change the oil in their car or do simple fixes around the house.

    OP: If it were my house, I would bond the copper. It wouldn't work as an electrode, but would cause the breaker to trip if the piping were to become energized due to faulty wiring.
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