Gas water heater bonding

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by ankhseeker, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. houptee

    houptee Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Monmouth County, NJ
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,493
    Location:
    IL
    Have you noticed that you are alone in your interpretation that a simple jumper between hot and cold water pipes at a water heater is forbidden even where not having a jumper is permissible?
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  3. bluebinky

    bluebinky Member

    Messages:
    406
    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    I was trying to prove my point. Now I am just trying to learn something. Yes, the term "continuity jumper" (notice the quotes) is a made up term, as you point out, to help me understand what you are saying.

    Now that you helped me realize that electrical raceways and water pipes are treated differently in terms of electrical continuity under the code, I am beginning to understand what you are saying.

    While reading the code, I don't see where maintaining electrical continuity of water pipes with clamps and wires is allowed, but I also still don't see where it is forbidden, but defer to your experience/interpretation/insight or whatever. Understanding the codes is not always easy. Thank you for pointing this out, and I will run it by my local inspector the next time he's out and watch him sweat:eek:
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  4. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,542
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I am not saying that maintaining electrical continuity is forbidden but should one decide to make any part of a metal piping system including gas pipes then every part they would like to make electrically continuous would be required by (1) below and is very clear where this jumper is to land. Notice the part that is underlined. It is clearly in print where any conductor installed on a metal pipe or set of metal pipes is to land. "SHALL BE BONDED TO" We are not allowed to stray from a mandatory rule in any way.

    What we must decide is if this is a complete metal water piping system. If it doesn’t have electrical continuity then it cannot be a complete metal piping system and then one would be allowed to use the equipment grounding conductor of the appliance that is “likely†to energize the pipes to bond the pipes.

    250.104(A)(1) 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
  5. Stuff

    Stuff Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Good point. For your example there are rules elsewhere. For bonding a water heater no one has found any rules elsewhere.

    In your example the rules concerning small appliance 20amp circuits have phrases "SHALL BE PROVIDED FOR ALL" and "SHALL SERVE ALL" which sounds like they are there to prevent other options like additional 15amp circuits. The bonding section does not use the word "ALL" that I can find. Is there a rule elsewhere that covers it?
  6. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,542
    Location:
    North Carolina
    look at the post above yours and you will see "shall be bond TO" which implies that there is only one place that it is to be bonded TO
  7. Rich B

    Rich B DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    283
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Up here I guarantee you that anytime a service gets replaced part of the job will include and require a continuous ground conductor that is usually bare copper run along your water pipes to jumper across anything non metallic.......In my house I have a well pump and some filters......that cable is continuous and clamped on either side of any filter all the way to the base of the water tank........and I have jumpers on 2 water heaters. My service drop was replaced a few years ago. The work was done by a licensed contractor and I met the inspector and let him look at the work that was done. He paid particular attention to all the grounding components and those jumpers. We also had a new service entrance panel and a new Automatic Transfer Switch installed at my workplace. We use a trailer mounted generator that is connected via twist lock cable ends and lugs. That is the business we are in....backup power and anything and everything to do with it in buildings thruout our area. The service work was done by a company we do business with quite a bit.....Commercial and Residential licensed electrical contractor. The work was permitted and inspected and in that town it is a full time inspector. I watched him do the inspection......he paid particular attention to all the grounding and it was a very difficult job to run a continuous ground cable from the service entrance across the top of the building inside and over to where the water meter is located inside a bathroom. They also installed the jumper on the water heater we have that supplies the building......I just replaced the heater and we redid that bathroom and made sure to reinstall the jumper on the heater......Don't know why or how you can argue so much about something as simple as a jumper across a heater.....it is a simple thing.....and as far as I was told was there to insure a ground connection across your water pipes even if the water heater was missing or the connection was broken due to the loss of continuity where the pipes enter the heater.......




    North Carolina must be in some sort of special zone where codes are so strictly enforced nothing gets done......and everyone sits around argueing about details and wording....

    I can site a lot of other issues I read on here that have to do with generators and transfer switches and how it is done up here but will leave that alone.....

    All I will say is there are a heck of a lot of people with generators and transfer switches up here and when the power fails they are usually pretty happy they have them.....
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
  8. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,351
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    You should not need to depend on a water heater for proper electrical bonding.

    As long as you have a good ground, then you are good to go.

    To learn more about water heater heater electrical bonding, Read the Install manual.


    No need to bond or ground a missing water heater.


    Have fun, Everyone.
  9. Rich B

    Rich B DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    283
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I did not call it Bonding....it is just a jumper on the water heater inlet/outlet piping that is now being required in my area from my experience on this....If the pipes are metal...and they are usually copper.....I don't make the rules or do the inspections.....but the people doing the inspections want to see the jumper.
  10. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,542
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Unless I am badly mistaken New Jersey only amended the code on bonding around pools and spas and did nothing to 250,104(A)(1).
    New Jersey has some confused inspectors and people that are too lazy to study and know the codes that mandate the installation of electrical systems. Like many other places within this great nation the electricians just blindly follow what the code enforcement official tells them instead of being the professional that any good electrician should be.

    Surely the members of this forum have the ability to read and understand the codes that mandate the installations they are trying to achieve without having to ask if this will be alright or if that will be alright.

    In North Carolina an electrical contractor is bound by law to make a code compliant installation even if the inspector is asking for something that is non-code compliant. With the NC licensing board there is not statute of limitations on a non-compliant installation. In other words an installation made 20 years ago even if inspected and passed must be code compliant with the code in affect at the time of the installation.

    Should an inspector request the contractor to make an installation that is non-compliant the contractor is liable not the inspector. In other words just because an inspector passes an installation in no way relieves the contractor from liability.

    This silly bonding of hot to cold comes from years gone by. In past code cycles the code mandated that all metal piping systems be made and kept electrically continuous. This rule included metal gas pipes.

    [​IMG]

    During this same code cycle period it was allowed to replace two wire receptacles with three wire receptacles and land the equipment grounding conductors on a metal water pipe.

    [​IMG]

    This has been removed from the NEC and has been removed for almost 50 years. The rule now found in 250.130(C) no longer allows the metal water pipe for the EGC.


    (C) Nongrounding Receptacle Replacement or Branch Circuit Extensions. The equipment grounding conductor of a grounding-type receptacle or a branch-circuit extension shall be permitted to be connected to any of the following:

    (1) Any accessible point on the grounding electrode system as described in 250.50


    (2) Any accessible point on the grounding electrode conductor


    (3) The equipment grounding terminal bar within the enclosure where the branch circuit for the receptacle or branch circuit originates


    (4) For grounded systems, the grounded service conductor within the service equipment enclosure


    (5) For ungrounded systems, the grounding terminal bar within the service equipment enclosure


    Informational Note: See 406.4(D) for the use of a ground-fault circuit-interrupting type of receptacle.


    It became common place to allow the plumber to make repairs in metal piping systems using non-metallic repairs. To keep this metal pipe system electrically continuous would entail hiring an electrician every time a plumber was called. This was a undue expense on the homeowner would end up paying two different contractors when it was unnecessary simply because maintaining electrical continuity of a metal piping system is unnecessary.

    I can’t help but wonder if the New Jersey inspector ensures that metal stubs installed with plex piping systems are also bonded with a continuous bonding jumper? If they do then I must say that they have left being silly and entered being stupid. Is the brass clamping rings on the nonmetallic pipes also required to be bonded?
  11. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,542
    Location:
    North Carolina
    It doesn't matter what we call it, what matters is what the code calls it and the code calls it a bonding jumper that must comply with the verbiage of the code not the desires of a code official or contractor. Just because an inspector wants to see something in no way means that they want to see a compliant installation. The inspector must site a code section or just go on his/her merry way.

    We are code enforcement officials not "I want to see" officials. Just like law enforcement officials we must site code that is in violation just like the police will put down the GS that is broken when citing someone for breaking the law. We both took an oath to enforce the adopted laws not to enforce something we would like to see.
  12. Rich B

    Rich B DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    283
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Well you better get in your horse and buggy and ride up here to NJ and go on a campaign to educate all of our lazy contractors and mis-informed inspectors about this issue.

    They are wasting a fortune in bare copper wire and clamps.
  13. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,542
    Location:
    North Carolina
    You are correct on both issues they do need some education and our natural resources are being wasted by a bunch of uneducated people.
  14. houptee

    houptee Member

    Messages:
    185
    Location:
    Monmouth County, NJ
    As I said earlier in this thread I am in NJ and I replaced my mothers 150 amp panel with a 200 amp service (homeowners can pull electrical permits in NJ on single family homes) and removed the ground from the cold water pipe and installed 2 ground rods and used only those rods.
    Inspector said put the ground back to the cold water pipe.
    I asked why, I thought the NEC said 2 rods were adequate and I plan to replace the water service when we elevate the house with plastic so its pointless to ground back to it that's why I removed it.
    He said well its still copper now and I want you to ground to it and also jumper the water meter out by the street if it isn't already.
    I said I have to do that? Isn't that the water companies equipment on their side of the meter?
    He said I will come back to inspect again that this was done and left.
  15. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,542
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Unless there is at least 10 feet of metal water pipe in contact with earth then the water pipe is not a ground. Bonding at a water meter at the street is doing nothing but insuring any fault current carried by the utility water pipes will be on your service.

    Ask where this requirement can be found in writing, it sure isn’t to be found in the NEC. If it can’t be shown in writing then it is just the whelms of the inspector.

    This goes back to a good installer will know the rules involved with the installation they are making instead of just blindly following what the inspector wants to see. Unless the inspector can back his requirement with an adopted code in your area then you are not required to just do as he says.

    The problem is most don’t know their codes and rely on an inspector to train them. If the inspector is not on top of his/her game then we have the blind leading the blind.

    I ask anyone to show me the requirement in the NEC to make such a silly installation but thus far no one has been able to do so. I have shown where the requirement can be found and even posted the requirement here in this thread to no avail.
  16. houptee

    houptee Member

    Messages:
    185
    Location:
    Monmouth County, NJ
    I agree with you jw.
    NJ is on the NEC 2011 and that is the code they have to enforce, period, and they should not add their own requirements, thanks for your code references and explanations.
  17. bluebinky

    bluebinky Member

    Messages:
    406
    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    NJ can enforce whatever they want -- as long as it is written down in an official document as being the enforced code.

    After watching this thread for a while, I still don't see anything in the code (or JW's quotes) that forbids a continuous, non-spliced wire going from a proper bonding point being used to bond several isolated sections of pipe... Just because something was removed from the code as a requirement does not make it illegal, unless actually stated so. I can run the same wire for a GEC to as many grounding rods/whatever as I want as long it is unspliced, but cannot bond pipes in the same way? I just don't see the words "shall not", "forbidden", or similar...

    JW's story is (beat me up if I'm wrong) that the NEC "committee" retracted a requirement for making metallic, plumbing "electrically continuous", because they felt it was outside the scope of the NEC, but now, due to lack of any wording at all about the practice, it is forbidden? What is the NEC definition of separate piping systems anyway?

    All that said, JW's (and North Carolina's) interpretation of the code is valid for enforcement purposes, just not the only interpretation. Is it safer? Maybe. If my jurisdiction said individually bond sections of pipe, I would, without argument...

    Like I said earlier, "tradition" plays an important part in the inspection process. For arguments sake, there could be 10 ways to do something that were all technically allowed under the code, but 9 of them could be rejected as "non-compliant" in a particular jurisdiction, just to simplify the inspection process.
  18. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,542
    Location:
    North Carolina
    We agree

    Why would someone want to keep a conductor continuous without a splice between ground rods?
    The non-spliced rule only applies to the part of the conductor from the service equipment to the first rod. From the first rod to the second, third, fourth, fifth, and so forth can be spliced as many times as one would want to splice it.

    The reason you can’t run one conductor from the end of s metal water pipe to the service equipment and hit the piping systems in several different places is not because of the words shall not or forbidden but because it gives direct mandatory information on just how this jumper is to be installed. It clearly states that the conductor shall be bonded to one of four places.

    I have posted the relevant code sections so it is not my story but the history of the NEC. You see I study the rules of my profession.
    The rule on bonding of metal water pipes is clear and concise on the proper manner in which to make this bond.
    The NEC does not define the different piping systems but the plumbing and gas codes do. In the plumbing codes it clearly states that the only water we use to drink, cook, and bathe with is potable water. We also will have waste water piping in our dwelling units. We could possibly have gray water also or even water to heat with that could also be part of the potable water.

    If it is your jurisdiction that is making this rule then it can be shown to you in writing. If it is just some stupid idea of the inspector then it is not enforceable.

    Tradition plays no part in the inspection process. Either I can back myself with the NEC or I must go on my merry way. I am a sworn officer of the law and just as any other sworn officer I must adhere to the adopted laws not my opinion.

    As a code enforcement officer I am there to inspect for code compliance not to inspect your design. An example would be you have brought the circuit to the light fixture and then dropped the switch leg down to the switch or you brought the circuit to the switch and the switch leg from the switch to the light. Either method is a compliant method as long as it is installed in a code compliant manner.

    In the evolving codes the 2011 cycle mandates that there be a neutral present in that switch box. Should the switch leg from the fixture to the switch be a two conductor cable then we would have a code violation although "traditionally" this method has been used for decades.

    In code cycles gone by one could change a two wire receptacle to a three wire receptacle and install the equipment grounding conductor to the nearest metal pipe be it water or gas. During this same time period a metal piping system was required to be electrically continuous but the NEC does not mandate the installation of piping systems and someone pointed this out in a proposal and the rule was changed. In the 2011 code cycle this three wire receptacle with a new ECG must land at one of the four places that the water pipe bond must land.

    Now let’s open our minds and play out a scenario without any discussion but on the subject in this little project. In June finishing my new home and the electrician has installed a bond between the hot and cold at the water heater in the crawl space of my new home. I wake up on Christmas morning with a present of a busted pipe and the pipe that is open is just above the bonding jumper. I call a plumber out and he repairs the pipe using CPVC which is legal by the plumbing code. Now explain just what that bonding jumper is doing other than taking up space. It is because of this legal plumbing repair that the landing of the EGC for a three wire receptacle was removed from the NEC in the late 1970s. Should the plumber repair the metal water pipe with this legal manner then the EGC path would be lost just as that silly bond would be lost.

    One of these days people will learn the dangers of bonding metal piping systems in their homes. In older cities where the water utility has metal underground water piping systems and we bond the pipes in our homes we are setting up a death trap for anyone working on those metal water pipes.

    Let’s take another scenario and one which any plumber on this site will validate, where the water utility has metal water pipes that are supplying homes in a development. One of these homes has lost their neutral at the service transformer and all the homes has copper water piping system that are bonded to their service equipment and served by this same transformer.

    If this was the only home on this transformer then part of the lights would get real dim and the others would be real bright but if the service is bonded to the metal water pipes then that neutral current will find itself traveling down the bonding conductor to the metal water pipe, through that pipe over to the neighbor’s house through his metal water pipe up the bonding jumper to the neutral and back to the transformer. With the chemicals that are added to public water the water itself becomes conductive.
    I think what we should do is ensure that the entire piping system is part of this conductive path so we can hurt more plumbers. Man sitting on the ground which is connected to the electrical system via the grounding electrode and grabs a metal pipe completes the path or the bonding at a water heater and he is working somewhere between the point of entrance and the water heater and grabs both pipes at the same time which would complete the path from the pipe and the bonding jumper.
    ANY PLUMBERS ON THIS SITE HAD THIS EXPERIENCE?

    Those charged with writing the codes are far more versed than most electrical installers. They don’t use a tradition or standard of practice when writing the codes but instead they use facts, proven facts not myth.
  19. ActionDave

    ActionDave Electrician

    Messages:
    351
    Location:
    Colorado
    If that were true we would not see the requirement for AFCI's continue.
  20. ankhseeker

    ankhseeker Member

    Messages:
    80
    Location:
    California
    I had no idea that my post would generate so much discussion, but FWIW, I am on a well and not city water. Both are conductive, but maybe the city a little more. This thread is fascinating and giving me a nice overlook on this subject. Your story of the Christmas water pipe sounds too true. I hope not! Thanks guys!
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