Repair Pipe with Ground Wire Attached

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by jdenike, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. jdenike

    jdenike New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Seattle
    All -- first post so be gentle. I have a cold water copper pipe that runs above my garage and supplies the outside faucet on our house. It runs above our electrical panel and has the panel ground attached to it. This pipe is prone to rupture during winter months (this is another issue and a longer term fix). It ruptured again and I would like to replace the entire run of pipe including the section where the ground is attached. QUESTION simply is -- is it ok to temorarily remove the ground so I can replace the pipe and then reattach it? I just want to make sure I am not going to short out the house or put ourselves at risk. If I can remove it, I assume handling it is ok or are there specific instructions on this as well? Thanks guys and gals.

    The setup is similar to this:
    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl...e=2&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:16,s:24&tx=134&ty=45

    water_pipe_ground2.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2011
  2. SacCity

    SacCity In the Trades

    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    No problem, there should be no current on the ground wire,
    feel free to disconect the wire, do your repair and put it back.

    As long as your electrical system is in working order you will have no problems.

    That being said, several years ago I did a bathroom remodel, as I cut out the old piping the blade on my sawsall started to arc. Bad....

    After fighting with it a week, I called an electrician, $250 later he said that he did not know what was wrong, panel wiring all looked good.
    A call to the utility company and as the guy walked up he looked at the service feed and noticed that a squirel had nawed through the ground conductor on the feed from the utility pole to the home.

    Rats with furry tails....

    Michael
  3. jdenike

    jdenike New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Seattle
    Thanks Michael -- so it sounds like I remove the ground from the pipe, then replace the pipe, then reconnect the ground in the same location, in that order.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,831
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    If removing the ground wire causes a problem, then you ALREADY had one and that just revealed it. I once removed an electric water heater. The utility's neutral wire had failed, and the ground wire was a piece of BX sheath which had rusted off. THerefore the only neutral/ground was the water piping and when I disconnected the heater the system lost that connection and EVERYTHING in the house reverted to 240 volts burning out everything which was operating at the time.
  5. SacCity

    SacCity In the Trades

    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    Point taken, he should unplug all expensive electronics before undertaking disconecting the ground.

    I ended up needed a new computer, and VCR.

    When my parents replaced their main panel the netural was crossed with one of the hot leads, which ment that my step mother was given all new appliances by my father.

    Michael
  6. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,066
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I worked on a system where the neutral was open so the water pipe was carrying a lot of current for the building. There was enough current to warm the water in the pipe.
  7. SacCity

    SacCity In the Trades

    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    No, No.
    The pipe does not carry much current.
    In the ideal the two hot legs are balanced, and the netural carries no current.
    When the legs are not balanced the netural carries the unbalanced load.

    When the squirle nawed through the netural to my home if I turned on lights on one circuit it was bad, if I turned on a light upstairs and one down stairs the load was balanced and not an issue.
    All about balance,
    When you bring in the conductors from the pole to your home the netural is alowed to be significantly smaller in that it only carries the unballanced load and not full current.....

    Michael
  8. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,330
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Jdenike, are You confused yet ?

    If you see sparks when you disconnect it, then you have a problem, and should connect it back and find the problem.

    If You do not see any spark then you should be OK.

    Have a good day.

    DonL.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,143
    Location:
    New England
    If I understand it properly, that wire is to 'bond' the water pipe in case it accidentally came in contact with a power lead. Instead of now having your entire plumbing electrified, it would short it out to ground, and should trip a breaker(s) and prevent you from getting electrocuted by touching it. There should not ever be any power or current or voltage on it. If you were using a plastic pipe (say pex or cpvc), that wouldn't exist, since that pipe can't conduct, thus, no safety hazard.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  10. jdenike

    jdenike New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Seattle
    Thanks guys - the house is relatively new -- 1987 -- so I suspect the ground is pretty straightforward. I will proceed and replaced the pipe and reconnect it after I am done.
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,831
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; If you were using a plastic pipe (say pex or cpvc), that wouldn't exist, since that pipe can't conduct, thus, no safety hazard.

    True, but here, when the pipe, especially the underground service line, was plastic, the electrical panel had to be labled, "Nonmetallic water main", so the workers would know that they could not use the plumbing for a grounding source.
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