Undiagnosed Presumed Electrolysis for Over a Decade

James048

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
USA
Hello,

To whoever makes it through reading this, a most sincere thank you.

I have a situation in which there is presumed electrolysis at residence, yet cause has yet to be fully determined after nearly a dozen master electricians have been out to assess.

House was built over 10 years ago. Shortly after taking possession of this home (which was new at the time), noticed a bluish film developing on sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and ice maker. Two brand new water heaters that were installed with home completely deteriorated internally within 1 1/2 years; replacement hot water heaters have anode rods replaced every few years because they are depleting quicker than expected. On third brand new garbage disposal because the other two severely rusted where coupled to the sink (abnormal). One bathroom sink has blue corrosion where drain pipe is connected to drain under sink. Plumbers have all stated that these are signs of electrolysis and to get an electrician.

Within first year, homebuilder was called out as a warranty claim to assess these issues, and their electricians were never able to identify the cause. Their electricians reported that everything tested out fine to them, and therefore there was nothing more they could do.

Water sample has been sent out for analysis. Water is not acidic (if anything, more alkaline). All lab results from water analysis show water to be perfectly fine. Analysis done on a sample of the blue film confirms that it is completely copper. House is fully plumbed with copper (no PEX).

There have been a multitude of electrical issues at the house. There is frequent dimming of lights. Circuit boards on major appliances have had issues that replacing with new board did not resolve - oven will demonstrate signs of having experienced a power failure when there hasn’t been one, microwave has a timing issue, and capacitor failure in refrigerator. Devices have been fried - sprinkler system, alarm system, computers, TVs.

Multiple surge protection devices have been installed in the panels as well as externally, which seems to have helped some with electrical devices but not with water issue.

Residence is within major city limits with neighbors in very close proximity. Neighbors do not have any of these issues with water or electricity, and neighbors do not have such surge protection installed.

Multiple master electricians have been to the house, but none have been able to diagnose the cause of the problems. They have noted that original grounding rods are very corroded (they are about an inch apart in the ground), perhaps indicating that there is electricity flowing through them. Neighbors’ ground rods (they all only have one rod per house) still look pristine. An additional grounding rod was even installed over 10 years after construction. At the time, the master electrician noted that it was difficult to get it fully into the ground drilling it straight down, which caused him to wonder if the two original grounding rods that are clearly in a vertical position were even 8’ down or perhaps they were cut into 4’ segments. He tried to get a grounding rod in 3 times, and finally at about a 30 degree angle got it in about 5-6’ and then bent the remaining rod down flat to the ground and buried it under the dirt. He stated that he felt the home was overly grounded, yet couldn’t explain the issues. Even with the additional grounding rod installed, the issues persisted.

A clamp meter placed on the cold water line does show a slight current, and as all major appliances are turned on, the current reading increases as high as 0.09 amps.

Something important to note: this house has 2 panels. Each panel is connected directly into the meter box; this is not a scenario where one panel is the master panel and the other is a sub panel that feeds from the master. Each panel has its own ground rod external to the home, and each panel has its own ground wire to same cold water line spot under a sink. (Neighbors only have one ground rod external to home and one ground wire on cold water line even though they, too, have multiple panels.) One panel is drawing more amperage than the other (measurements at the meter box show one draws 2 - 3 times the amps as the other).

The last individual who was at the house suggested that the cause is due to the panels being wired separately to the meter box rather than the master-sub panel setup. He believed this current setup to be a code violation. To rectify by rewiring to create the master-sub panel scenario is estimated to run $2,000 to $3,000. He suggested calling the electricity utility provider to assess anything on their side before proceeding further.

The power company sent out a tech who ran some tests and did not note anything out of the ordinary. He stated that he had seen panels installed before in the same manner as at this house - with each panel feeding directly to the meter box rather than the master-sub panel setup - and considered it a common practice. He stated the meter wasn’t sized correctly and replaced a CL200 with a CL320. He checked the runs from the transformer to the property. Neutral had some corrosion, but not much. Was changed out. For adjacent property that shares from same service run from transformer, the positive and negative had some corrosion, but he did not replace. A senior technician from power company is due to come out to make sure transformer is property sized and that there aren’t any issues in the power lines running to the meter box.

I am hoping that perhaps someone will read this and have some insight as to other possibilities that would cause these issues or maybe someone has even run into this scenario before. Every professional/expert that has been at the house has claimed to have never seen an issue like this before. A large investment has already been made in these master electricians and their suggestions (surge protection, more surge protection, grounding rods, etc.) as well as in replacing/repairing devices in the house that have electrical issues. If the $2-3k fix of rewiring the panels was truly going to fix it, great. It’d just be nice to have someone independent corroborate that resolution.

Thanks in advance for reading this all the way through and be willing to assist.
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
I have to say that this was interesting reading. I also have to say that I don't have a solution to offer. But I will mention that the 0.09 amps measured on the water pipe is insignificant, as a clamp-on meter cannot accurately read anything that small. If the reading does increase as you turn appliances on, that tells a story. But I don't know what to make of it. Also, the problem is not likely to be caused by inadequate ground rods. However, the fact that ground rods are deteriorating also tells a story that I cannot interpret.

More importantly, I will assert that two panels fed from the same meter box (i.e., not being arranged as a master panel & sub panel) is perfectly acceptable, and would not be the cause of your issues. So don't spend the $2000-$3000; it won't make the problem go away.

I do believe you have a real problem on your hands, and I believe it is related to the electrical distribution system in some way. But it is a well hidden way. Something is wired incorrectly somewhere, and it is unwilling to submit itself to being detected by visual inspections. If I knew what the various electricians did, in order to troubleshoot, if I knew what they looked at and what they saw, if I knew what tests they made and what results the tests gave, then I might be able to suggest a next step.

Forum rules do not allow us to advise you on doing your own troubleshooting. But if any of the electricians who looked at this problem were to be given a link to this thread, and would be willing to participate in the discussion, we can offer them advise.
 

ptonsparky

Senior Member
Location
NE (9.06 miles @5.9 Degrees from Winged Horses)
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
FWIU, electrolysis is usually a DC problem or chemical reaction. Possibly AC at higher current levels. Much higher than .09 amps. I would suggest that reading is meaningless and someone did not know how to do it. We would need to know where it was taken.

Improper soldering techniques at the time of install is another. (chemical).
 
A few things come to mind-
Is there a dielectric fitting in the incoming city water feed? (If there isn't, I'd have one installed.)
Is there an improper connection between the neutral and plumbing somewhere in the house?
It is possible that a neighbor has a neutral problem which is masking yours.
It's been pointed out elsewhere that electrolysis is caused by DC, not AC- if there is a DC source that is energizing the piping, that could be a problem. This can be a faulty cable-TV or satellite dish installation where the coax carries power to an end device. Or an improperly-grounded POTS line protector. This source could also be out in the neighborhood (hence the dielectric union).

If you search "blue water syndrome", there are quite a lot of hits.

You need an electrician that isn't going to say "bang, looks good", you need one who wants to really find the problem. If there's an electrical trade school in the area, you might inquire about making this a class project for them (under licensed supervision).
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
Something important to note: this house has 2 panels. Each panel is connected directly into the meter box; this is not a scenario where one panel is the master panel and the other is a sub panel that feeds from the master. Each panel has its own ground rod external to the home, and each panel has its own ground wire to same cold water line spot under a sink.
It would be best to have the grounding electrode conductors (GECs) of each panel be joined irreversibly close to the panels, for example using the tap method in the link below. (taken from an older post of our member/moderator Infinity)


It's inevitable that there will be some current flow in the portion of the GEC between panels because of the parallel paths created when each panel has a bonding screw connecting the neutral conductor to the panel. But having a single GEC wire go to a single clamp on the cold water pipe will prevent this particular current from flowing though the pipe. However, it still seems unlikely that this issue is causing an electrolysis problem if the two GEC wires you have now are connected to the pipe in close proximity.

Electrolysis is usually due to a DC current which is needed to produce ionic flow in one direction. Clamp type ammeters will not show the presence of DC current. You would need a Hall effect probe or a meter in series with the GEC to measure DC current.
One possibility for getting DC currents is a blown diode in a rectifier which would cause it to operate in a half-wave manner instead of full-wave as it should. Usually this would cause apparent operational problems in the affected equipment but perhaps not always.

Edit: Just saw that zbang already mentioned the possiblity of DC currents.
 

winnie

Senior Member
Location
Springfield, MA, USA
Occupation
Electric motor research
I concur with the above. The two panels approach is a common install for large systems and does not cause the problems you describe.

I would be looking for DC current flow, and at low DC current this can require careful measurement technique and non-standard tools.

One total guess that jumped out at me was the possibility that the surge suppressor is doing a bit of rectification and injecting DC into the grounded metal system.

If you want actionable help from this forum have the electrician that you liked the best join the conversation.

-Jon
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
No, I didn't finish reading your post. I stopped when I saw that you are asking about bluish stains on fixtures. Those stains are nearly ALWAYS caused by water chemistry. Nothing electrical, though you may have electrical issues but they are unrelated. Jumping to the conclusion that everything is somehow related is causing confusion for everybody.

I had that problem here forever until a few years ago when the water department started drawing water from another aqueduct.

Talk to your water department. Even though the ph is neutral, there still could be additives (like over chlorination) that are causing your corrosion problem.

-Hal
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
I agree. There could also be a lack of NSF approved additives that could be used to passivate the existing water source and reduce corrosion. After all, if it's corroding the pipes then the water being delivered will contain metallic salt compounds.
 

SceneryDriver

Senior Member
Location
New York, NY
Clamp type ammeters will not show the presence of DC current. You would need a Hall effect probe or a meter in series with the GEC to measure DC current.
Some amp clamps will measure DC. My Fluke 325 will measure DC current with the clamp down to 0.1A resolution. I do agree that meters that will read DC current via a clamp are less probably common and more specialized.

Were I to troubleshoot this, I'd systemically work my way through the home's wiring. Being methodical and writing everything down is key to troubleshooting weird issues like this. Good luck to the sparky that tackles this. I'd suggest that an industrial controls technician might be better equipped to solve a problem like this; we're more used to dealing with weird "ghost in the machine" -type problems and small DC voltages and currents.


SceneryDriver
 
On third brand new garbage disposal because the other two severely rusted where coupled to the sink (abnormal). One bathroom sink has blue corrosion where drain pipe is connected to drain under sink.
[...]
There have been a multitude of electrical issues at the house. There is frequent dimming of lights. Circuit boards on major appliances have had issues that replacing with new board did not resolve - oven will demonstrate signs of having experienced a power failure when there hasn’t been one, microwave has a timing issue, and capacitor failure in refrigerator. Devices have been fried - sprinkler system, alarm system, computers, TVs.
Neither of which seem like chemical problems.
 

tom baker

First Chief Moderator
Staff member
Almost always, when I hear green corrosion, pin holes in copper pipes its water corrosion. Typically blame is pointed at the water line being grounded to the electrical service but that is not an issue.
1. Some water tends to be very aggressive and attacks the protective oxide film formed inside copper pipes. My water is typically a pH of 8.0 and our water supplier adds caustic (sodium hydroxide) to raise the pH to 8.5. This higher pH will maintain the oxide film on copper and lead solder.
The EPA passed the Lead and Copper rule in 1991, our corrosion control treatment started in 1999 and testing since then has shown it to be very effective (what happended in Flint is the water source was changed and there was no corrosion control, plus they have lead service lines, not just lead solder). https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/lead-and-copper-rule
Your water supplier will have a consumer confidence report on your water. Get that and find out how they address corrosion control
2. Pipe corrosion is caused by DC current, not AC. I have the definitive American Water Works Study that reviews this issue stating its DC current, which is very uncommon in homes.

Please report back on your water pH. You said the water was "acid" meaning a pH below a base of 7. My water is base, IE opposite of acid.

Edit sorry I reread your detailed post, you said your water was alkaline - do you mean base?
 
Last edited:

tom baker

First Chief Moderator
Staff member
Are you on a community water system or public? If its a larger municipal system like where I used to work, there will be persons who are familiar with corrosion issues. I agree with HBiss it is a water issue.
If its a private or small system, is it well water? You could also contact the stage agency that is in charge of water systems, for me its the Department of Health
Do you neighbors have similar issues?
From my states dept of health
Detecting Copper in Drinking Water
Blue-green stains on plumbing fixtures are usually an indication of the presence of copper in drinking water. Some factors that affect copper levels in household drinking water are:
  • Acidic water (low pH)
  • Soft water (low in calcium and magnesium)
  • High chlorine residual levels
  • Long standing time in pipes
  • Elevated water temperature
 
Last edited:

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
Neither of which seem like chemical problems.
Stainless steel will corrode if exposed to chlorides such as in chlorine. I've seen restaurant kitchen tables pitted and rusted from letting quaternary sanitizers dry on them because they contain ammonium chloride.

I'm not sayng he hasn't got electrical issues also.

-Hal
 

MTW

Senior Member
Location
SE Michigan
Hello, To whoever makes it through reading this, a most sincere thank you.

I have a situation in which there is presumed electrolysis at residence, yet cause has yet to be fully determined after nearly a dozen master electricians have been out to assess.

House was built over 10 years ago. Shortly after taking possession of this home (which was new at the time), noticed a bluish film developing on sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and ice maker. Two brand new water heaters that were installed with home completely deteriorated internally within 1 1/2 years; replacement hot water heaters have anode rods replaced every few years because they are depleting quicker than expected. On third brand new garbage disposal because the other two severely rusted where coupled to the sink (abnormal). One bathroom sink has blue corrosion where drain pipe is connected to drain under sink. Plumbers have all stated that these are signs of electrolysis and to get an electrician.

Water sample has been sent out for analysis. Water is not acidic (if anything, more alkaline). All lab results from water analysis show water to be perfectly fine. Analysis done on a sample of the blue film confirms that it is completely copper. House is fully plumbed with copper (no PEX).

I am hoping that perhaps someone will read this and have some insight as to other possibilities that would cause these issues or maybe someone has even run into this scenario before. Every professional/expert that has been at the house has claimed to have never seen an issue like this before. A large investment has already been made in these master electricians and their suggestions (surge protection, more surge protection, grounding rods, etc.) as well as in replacing/repairing devices in the house that have electrical issues. If the $2-3k fix of rewiring the panels was truly going to fix it, great. It’d just be nice to have someone independent corroborate that resolution.

Thanks in advance for reading this all the way through and be willing to assist.
I can feel your pain, I've been there too with an industrial building, same type of issues. As a industrial electrical contractor, I can tell you it was not an easy thing to diagnose, and find the root cause. But I can offer some lessons, learned.

First off, not to be an alarmist, but I would be concerned about my health, more than the value of my plumbing fixtures and piping or appliances.

I bought a building built in 1955, it contains all copper piping, some underground and some above. All of it had lead solder used in the initial install. All of the drain lines are cast iron, and the gas piping is black iron, including the underground, coated with a protective wrap. The water supply is a large municipal system from the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Before occupying the building I did some renovations to the plumbing system. From the dirt up installed a new handicapped bathroom, installed a large two compartment industrial stainless sink, added provisions for a industrial washer, water lines added for a steam cleaner hose bib and a line for lawn sprinklers. Reworked most of the above ground water piping in the mechanical room, added a back-flow preventer on the main water line. Serviced the water heater with a clean-out, new anode rod and piping with dielectric unions. All of the piping was reworked and installed by a master plumber and inspected.

The electrical service was updated with new panels and an oversize grounding electrode conductor was run from the service to the water service entrance. Two existing ground rods at the service were inspected and reused. Everything was inspected and approved.

For the first several years there were no problems with the system. First sign of trouble was the main water line back-flow preventer started leaking out its drain port. The plumber came back and installed a rebuild kit and re-certified the valve. A year and a half later it started leaking again. This time I inspected the valve parts with him and noticed that there were signs of electrolysis damage on the internal working parts and stainless springs. Another rebuild kit and it was working again. Another year and a half later, it was leaking again. But by this time other things were also leaking. New dielectric unions on the hot water tank, bung fittings on the water tank, T&P valve on the water tank, ceramic disc faucet valves, lavatory faucet valves. Clearly something was wrong, because all the parts were new at the renovation and of top quality and workmanship.

Then I started to feel some personal effects, unmotivated, brain dead feelings, depression, skin lesions that wouldn't heal. I started researching blue water causes and following the Flint MI water saga in the news. One day I came across a site on copper poisoning that listed about a dozen symptoms, I had everyone of them, down to a craving of dark chocolate, not to mention the symptoms above. Even in my brain dead state, I was sure I was on to something. More research on heavy metal poisoning lead me further down that path, I was sure that was my medical problem. I was ingesting metal for several years in my water and coffee consumption.

Contacting the water authority was out for me, the state government and the EPA were in the news lying about the causes of the Flint poisonings, and I felt that they couldn't be trusted with my health. The reports from the water authority stated everything was good in my area, and I had no similar problems at my home, which is in the same area and municipal water system. More study on the medical aspect and symptoms and causes of electrolysis.

I selected a private water testing lab and sent some samples. Contacted a doctor from a family referral that specialized in metal poisoning. Got a urine test and a blood test. When the results came back, it confirmed my research, I was poisoned with metal from the building water system. Studying about the detoxing methods, costs, time frames, and outcomes, made me even more depressed. I realized that there was no quick fix, and detoxing was going to make me sicker. The detox methods pull the metals out of your organs and tissues, and put it into your blood stream, so that your body can filter and discharge it through your kidneys and liver. I can attest to you it is not a pleasant experience. I had lead, copper, cadmium and chromium. Calcium is the natural detoxing agent, foods with calcium would put me in a coma like state for days when I first started, then the terrible skin lesions would show up and stay for weeks. I opted to not go for the medical treatment method, where they hook you up to a intravenous solution for the same affect for hours at a time. I was too sick for that, a half gallon of milk or a dish of cottage cheese could put me down for days.

When my brain started partially working again, it was time to start researching and testing for the source of the problem. It was DC current as others had mentioned before, but where was it coming from? How am I going to detect and measure it? What can I do to mitigate it?

To be continued, in order to keep the post length reasonable.
 

MTW

Senior Member
Location
SE Michigan
First up was to figure out if it was just my building or a neighborhood problem. When I filled up a white plastic 5 gallon bucket, you could clearly see that the water had a blue green tinge. I took that bucket around the block and showed it to another shop that I had done some work for, to show and advise them that the water is not safe for consumption. I dumped the water out, and filled it from their sink, yep same blue water, neighborhood problem. One of the guys there was also experiencing the similar physical problems. The other guy happens to use a reverse osmosis machine in the office and didn't have the same issues.

Moving on to detection methods. I started by isolating the grounding electrode conductor from the water piping system, and trying to use that conductor as a reference to measure from. Water service is in the front, electric service is in the rear, 100' away. Made sure there were no other connections from branch circuit grounds to the water piping system thru appliances. Low and behold there was DC potential between the two systems. But it was strange, it had a capacitive effect. When I left the conductor disconnected for a period of time, the voltage would build to a little above 100VDC. When I touched the wire back to the grounding clamp there was enough energy there to produce a small blue spark, similar to a magneto ignition system. But once discharged, it would take several minutes for the charge to build again. It was pretty repeatable. But to my dismay, I also discovered that a spare unused underground utility gas line, in the same corner, was delivering the same charge.

I left the electrode conductor disconnected from the piping and measured voltage over the course of days and weeks. Most of the time the capacitive charge would be there, but sometimes not, mostly late at night would be the times that it would be reduced or missing. It became clear over time that the stray DC was entering the building from the underground street piping, up in the front, water and gas. I uncapped the spare gas main and determined that it was disconnected underground, no gas was present in that line.

My next thought was I could isolate the metallic connection of the water line at the service, and prevent the DC flow into my building piping system. I then installed a couple of SCH80 PVC threaded nipples in the main line between a check valve. To my dismay again, that didn't work well, now the toilet flush hole down in the throat of toilet bowl is spewing blue copper, and coating the bowl. After thinking it through, I realized that I forced that DC current through the water inside the pipe, rather than letting if flow on the pipe metal itself. I had made myself a DC current indicator in the toilet bowl, literally. Clean the toilet bowl of copper and you could tell when the current was flowing by how quick the copper redeposited. I left the setup this way for a while, it was a sure visual indicator that the current was still active. If the grounding electrode conductor was reconnected to the water piping, the copper level in the toilet would be reduced, but not eliminated, as much of the incoming charge would be redirected to the electric service ground but not all. I would suggest that this is a viable method to try if someone is suspecting similar issues. But beware, and don't drink the water.

As some time went by and my brain discharged some of it's lead poisoning, I kept thinking where could this source of energy be originating from? And traveling on the utility piping systems. I knew it wasn't the phone or cable services, I don't have those connected to my building, I use wireless for all of my connection needs. At the end of my block, there is some train tracks and a petroleum pipeline that uses cathodic protection on it, but that didn't seem to be it. That was there long before the problems started.

Talking with my neighbor about the problem, he had a suggestion that seemed to make perfect sense. An electroplater in the neighborhood. This plant was in the neighborhood before I moved here, but they had moved closer to me around the time that the problems started. It made sense, I kicked myself, why couldn't I think of that? Oh that's right I still had some lead in my brain, and it wasn't up to par. They use DC to do their plating and that could be the source of the current. It seem to mesh with the voltage and time observations, done previously. The energy was there most days, but not always, and seemed to be less during late nights and some weekends.

But then how can I prove it? Can't really make baseless claims on a hunch, that could turn ugly. But at one point a few years later, luck was with me. One of the neighbors referred me to the platers, for servicing their DC power supplies. I came back one day to find a note in the door, asking me to give them a call about the power supplies. After a short conversation, I was told that none of their plating supplies were working properly and they wanted to know if I serviced that type of equipment. I told them that that was not one of my specialties but would be willing to come have a look at them for sure. They declined the offer and told me they wanted a specialist, they had a guy from out of state and would get him to come in. Well several weeks later most of the leakage current subsided, and the visual indicator in the toilet reduced to almost nothing. Not completely gone, but greatly reduced. So I'm pretty sure that nailed the problem source, till the next plating rectifier goes inoperative.

Moral of this long drawn out story is, if you see or suspect blue water or electrolysis on your plumbing system, be very weary of consuming it, your health can be at risk, bottled or imported water would be a better choice than taking the risk, until you can find the source of the problem. It cost me a few years of productive time, to be able to detox enough to function semi normally. I'm still not fully detoxed, but got most of the lead out and the brain is working better. The copper is still coming out of the skin, but it's nowhere as bad as it used to be.

Good luck with your problem and figuring out the issue, but these kinds of problems are likely beyond the ability of most residential electricians. But get your water tested by an independent certified lab and tell them your concerned with metals. If you are concerned enough, a metals test of your body could be in order as well.

MTW Ω
 

MTW

Senior Member
Location
SE Michigan
The building is across the street, one building down. I would estimate that the water service entry points would be about 700' or slightly more, piping distance between the two, just a rough guess, I don't know where their water service enters at, along their frontage, but the estimate was to the center.

One detail of construction back then that I found interesting was, the concrete floor pour, cast directly against the copper line, no insulation or tape. The gas line had a wrap that is about 1/2" thick and tightly sealed. I don't have a good idea how much that concrete slab could have dissipated the charge, if any. But both pipes had similar charges when tested.

As to the impedance, I have no clue, don't know the material that the street main is constructed of, or how the connections are made. Further as stated before, both pipe materials gas and water contained approximately the same voltage when measured. It didn't appear as a direct metal connection either, to me there wasn't enough energy transfer. The gas company service manager told me that that 1-1/2" gas line would be capped off underground, right before the street main.

I can't see anyway of preventing it from my end, short of disconnecting water and gas service. Even if I put a earth grid between me and them, I'm sure the piping would carry it right on through, like it is now. As I see it, as long as the piping system on the block is being eroded, it wouldn't matter if I installed a plastic water and gas main. I could still end up with contaminated water from the main trunk.

Anyone got a better idea? It would be a lot nicer if I didn't have to bring in water for consumption, that I could trust.
 
Two BTWs-
Electric railways can leak into the soil. They generally take pains not to but it can still happen.

I recall reading some articles years back about the cathodic protection supplies on a pipeline affecting a neighborhood's water in just this way, but I'll be squiggled if I can remember when/where that was.


(Mod's- I wouldn't consider this research as DYI but please remove if it is)
To the OP, it would be interesting to take a decent DC voltmeter with long (30'+ leads) and stick 6-12"probes into the ground around your property. You might see a potential difference. If you do, try mapping it out; the source is generally going to be in line with the greater differences. Do not use the existing ground rods as part of this.
 
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