Town prohibits grounding and bonding to municipal copper water mains

SRE

Member
Location
southern NH
Occupation
electrician
Recently in a nearby town in Massachusetts I was bidding a job for a existing service upgrade that had no ground rods but did have a copper water main
and a grounding electrode conductor that was disconnected from the copper water main. The owner of the home was also the Director of public works. He stated to me that the town prohibited any connection to the copper water main as it caused corrosion of the pipes underground. He also said they have been requiring electricians to disconnect existing connections and to install ground rods only. Anyone else encountered this ?
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
Occupation
Field coordinator/ technical support
Hate to tell him, but any electric appliance that has the copper water lines attached to it will be bonded by the egc anyway. (Water heaters, dishwashers, etc.)
 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
retired electrician
The only way they can make that work is install a dielectric connection somewhere in the water service line. If they would do that at the street end, then you would still have an metal underground water pipe as an electrode.
As said in the previous post, even without a GEC landed on the water line there is a path via any appliance that has a metal water connection and electrical power.
 

Buck Parrish

Senior Member
Location
NC & IN
Recently in a nearby town in Massachusetts I was bidding a job for a existing service upgrade that had no ground rods but did have a copper water main
and a grounding electrode conductor that was disconnected from the copper water main. The owner of the home was also the Director of public works. He stated to me that the town prohibited any connection to the copper water main as it caused corrosion of the pipes underground. He also said they have been requiring electricians to disconnect existing connections and to install ground rods only. Anyone else encountered this ?

This has been going on for a while in different jurisdictions.
I just looked but could not find an article with a meter reader being electrocuted from removing a water meter and creating a path back to the source through the meter readers body.

We were renovating a home in CHNC. Well we took the old service completely off the house. My brother the plumbing contractor cut the copper pipe to remove it. The house next doors lights went off.

When or you lose or if your grounding electrode becomes better then the utilities. The utilities ground (neutral) will utilize the water main that your GEC is attached to.
Some jurisdictions as Don said will use rubber connections to the water meter main. Otherwise the entire neighborhood will be attached to each other via the GEC
 

Josh111

Senior Member
Location
USA
The owner of the home was also the Director of public works. He stated to me that the town prohibited any connection to the copper water main as it caused corrosion of the pipes underground. He also said they have been requiring electricians to disconnect existing connections and to install ground rods only.

I would ask if he as director of public works (often this is water and sewer and not the electrical utility) is the one directing the electricians do do this or if he’s doing so with the agreement of the electrical inspector. I think at a minimum you need a written directive from the AHJ, which might not be the director of public works in this case. It would be best if they would also put in writing their rationale for the decision.
 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
retired electrician
..
Some jurisdictions as Don said will use rubber connections to the water meter main. Otherwise the entire neighborhood will be attached to each other via the GEC
That is the case here, where they have not replaced the cast iron mains with non-metallic. You can completely lose your service neutral conductor and not even know it.

Everything in this house worked just fine for a couple of days until the utility fixed the overhead drop, because the neutral current was flowing on the metal underground water pipe system.
 

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tom baker

First Chief Moderator
Staff member
The owner of the home was also the Director of public works. He stated to me that the town prohibited any connection to the copper water main as it caused corrosion of the pipes underground.
I retired from a mid size water utility as an electrician/instrument tech, while working I researched electrical grounding to water pipes at the AWWA Library (American Water Works Association, they are to water as NFPA is to electrical/safety) I was able to get a copy of the definitive research on the subject "effects of electrical grounding on pipe integrity and shock hazard, a AWWA Research Foundation project, its 220 pages long
The summary states that AC current has little effect on causing corrosion, but its DC current that causes corrosion. Also they recommend that an electrical insulator is installed in the water service line at the meter. The study recognizes that current from an open neutral can cause shocks to meter readers, and they do recommend installing an insulator in the water line.
There can be corrosion issues with high levels of AC current, but its DC current that causes corrosion. This can cause issues with lead and copper in the water.
The AWWA opposes grounding to water service lines, but the NEC requires it, and they recognize this is a litigious issue.
For this towns issues a good solution is to install a short length of plastic pipe.
Question for the home owner/public works director- Are the water service lines metallic to the water main? What type of material is the water main? What are the results of lead and copper testing? Are you treating water to comply with the lead and copper rule?
 

Fred B

Senior Member
Location
Upstate, NY
Occupation
Electrician
Recently in a nearby town in Massachusetts I was bidding a job for a existing service upgrade that had no ground rods but did have a copper water main
and a grounding electrode conductor that was disconnected from the copper water main. The owner of the home was also the Director of public works. He stated to me that the town prohibited any connection to the copper water main as it caused corrosion of the pipes underground. He also said they have been requiring electricians to disconnect existing connections and to install ground rods only. Anyone else encountered this ?
Any change to requirements of the code that has been largely adopted, IMO, should require all specific relevant sections be referenced along with how the application within those sections applies, within a written amendment to the code. The word of a guy, be it an AHJ, Inspector or otherwise that makes a statement regarding application of the code should be prepared to substantiate with specific relevant code section that can be affirmed by written code.
If the municipality is requiring an alteration to what is otherwise required by code specifically in this case, a means to isolate the underground section from the interior section of the pipe so that bonding of interior pipe can still be made to satisfy other code sections such as 250.4(A)(4)(5), that does not apply to the GEC.
So get the plumber in there to isolate the plumbing, not just ask the electrician to violate the code by removing the GEC.
 
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