Undiagnosed Presumed Electrolysis for Over a Decade

James048

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
USA
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?
Thank you for your response.

Yes, the water had a pH of between 7.5 and 8.5. Again, same water supply is going to all neighbors, and we live in a major city, living feet from each other. We are all on municipal water supply. None of the neighbors have this issue. Water has been sent of for chemical analysis multiple times, and nothing ever comes back as being problematic. State’s water quality commission has tested water as well, and it does not present an issue which would cause the problems we are having.
 

James048

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
USA
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.
That sadly shares some similarities. It is for that reason that we had the water tested early on and have continued to have it tested by an independent lab. Nothing ever comes up as suspect. Fortunately, no one has had health issues. I certainly hope you can figure out what the cause is in your case, and I will share what I learn out of mine.
 

James048

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
USA
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.
Here is a report presented after an electrical engineer inspected (4 pages):

23CA5546-44D1-4CEE-A95B-C046F5754DAF.jpeg 96D3A5DD-EEBB-40BA-8E86-EA81888A3194.jpeg DF4B8438-ED35-499E-AB04-2A55F7205256.jpeg D0CB9D2A-8669-4034-94CD-0F4DF1B8D6EF.jpeg
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
Couldn't hurt, and might very well help if for some reason there is a significant horizontal voltage gradient in the earth. But if that is the case, earth contact with pipes, etc., could still cause problems.
 

James048

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
USA
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.
Also, in the photos in that electrical engineer’s report have images of the two grounding rods after sandpaper had been used to clean them up. Prior to that, here is what the ground rods looked like that had been original to the home and not touched before:

1595289637710.jpeg
 

ptonsparky

Senior Member
Location
NE (9.06 miles @5.9 Degrees from Winged Horses)
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
The two services would be allowed but only one GEC should go to the water line from one of the neutral bars. The other neutral would be connected via a short jumper to the GEC. Irreversible crimp. Same with the rods.

Better would have been to take both, water and rod, to the Grounded conductor at the meter.
 

winnie

Senior Member
Location
Springfield, MA, USA
Occupation
Electric motor research
In the 'cleanup' of the ground wires (which I would not recommend) it looks to me like the grounding clamp was replaced only part way on the ground rod, which could be a problem.

Another issue is that the two panels should _not_ have separate ground rods. All grounding electrodes should be bonded together. Since both panels are also connected to the same point on the plumbing, the two rods are bonded together, but via the interior wiring. The normal approach when two panels are used is to have a single 'grounding electrode conductor' that serves both panels going to the common grounding electrode system.

The two ground rods look different, and are way too close together. Is it possible that one had corroded and the other placed next to it as a replacement, with the first 'abandoned in place'?

Has your electrician yet probed for _DC_ current?

-Jon
 

James048

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
USA
In the 'cleanup' of the ground wires (which I would not recommend) it looks to me like the grounding clamp was replaced only part way on the ground rod, which could be a problem.

Another issue is that the two panels should _not_ have separate ground rods. All grounding electrodes should be bonded together. Since both panels are also connected to the same point on the plumbing, the two rods are bonded together, but via the interior wiring. The normal approach when two panels are used is to have a single 'grounding electrode conductor' that serves both panels going to the common grounding electrode system.

The two ground rods look different, and are way too close together. Is it possible that one had corroded and the other placed next to it as a replacement, with the first 'abandoned in place'?

Has your electrician yet probed for _DC_ current?

-Jon
It was verified that both ground rods are utilized - One ground rod runs to one panel and the other runs to the other panel. They were originally installed this way during construction of the house.

As I mentioned in more detail in my original post, there is suspicion that neither of those two ground rods are fully in the ground 8’. They have the appearance of having been cut at the top.

Here’s what I have (in order from left to right in photo) from photos of clamp meter readings (photos are too large to attach):
  • One original ground rod (the shorter of the two) with a DC reading of -0.22 amps
  • The other original ground rod with a DC reading of 0.15 DC amps
  • A ground rod a few inches away that was driven in about 4’ and has no grounding wire running back to any panel (just a copper ground rod half way in the ground) with the same reading of 0.15 DC amps
  • The newly installed ground rod about 4’ away from the original two that has a reading of 0.00 DC amps (As mentioned in original post, one of the electricians that was out installed this additional ground rod and grounded one of the panels twice essentially, but not sure which of the original two ground rods is connected to the same panel as the new one that was run.)
A fluctuating DC current of 0.0 to 0.03 amps is read on the cold water line.
 

James048

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
USA
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.
Electricity utility provider has been out twice in the past two weeks. They said meter was undersized and took out the 200 amp meter that was on it and replaced it with a 320 amp meter. Other than that, they said the wiring in the meter box tested out and looked fine to them. Their load tests did not show any issues. Transformer was fine and properly sized. Connection running into house looked fine. They said they would come back out and install a recorder on the meter, but they really think the issue is inside the house.
 

Clayton79

Member
Location
illinois
I’ve never seen a main water bond in a bathroom. Here it has to be within the first 5 ft of water pipe entrance and the water meter must be jumpered around. Are you sure that’s where the water bond is and it isn’t some other device being grounded ?

Regards.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

James048

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
USA
I’ve never seen a main water bond in a bathroom. Here it has to be within the first 5 ft of water pipe entrance and the water meter must be jumpered around. Are you sure that’s where the water bond is and it isn’t some other device being grounded ?

Regards.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
If you notice in the image of the panels, someone wrote with a Sharpie on the back of each panel “CWP At Down Hall Bath”.
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
When you took the DC current readings were they done around the ground wires or around the ground rods themselves? The ground rods are steel and so if they've picked up any magnetism they might influence the reading on the meter, depending on the orientation of the residual magnetic field if there is one. The reason I mention this is that it sounds like you're getting a non-zero DC current reading on a ground rod that's not connected to anything.
It would be best to put the clamp around the copper wire somewhat away from the ground rods.
 

James048

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
USA
When you took the DC current readings were they done around the ground wires or around the ground rods themselves? The ground rods are steel and so if they've picked up any magnetism they might influence the reading on the meter, depending on the orientation of the residual magnetic field if there is one. The reason I mention this is that it sounds like you're getting a non-zero DC current reading on a ground rod that's not connected to anything.
It would be best to put the clamp around the copper wire somewhat away from the ground rods.
On the ground wires, there isn’t a lot of run on the two original ones, but getting as far away from the ground rods, the following readings are observed:
  • On one original ground rod (the shorter of the two) the ground wire has a DC reading of -0.05 amps (ground rod has a DC reading of -0.22 amps)
  • The other original ground rod’s wire has a DC reading of 0.00 amps (ground rod has a DC reading of 0.15 DC amps)
  • The newly installed ground rod about 4’ away from the original two has a ground wire with a DC reading of 0.00 amps (ground rod also has a reading of 0.00 DC amps)
 
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