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Thread: Water Utility Replacing Metallic Service Lines With Plastic

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrofelon View Post
    It should be noted that even in the absence of any NEC premise grounding electrodes, the system is likely grounded at the utility transformer. Also if its an MGN system, it will be grounded to the utility MGN system. So It is probably very unlikley you have a truly unearthed system.
    True that you generally don't have a truly unearthed system. The concern is probably mostly that there may be places left with no local grounding electrode at the structure.

    The importance of that electrode is overblown by some. Areas with high lightning incidents do probably have higher benefits of having local electrodes at structures then those that don't though, otherwise the MGN network on the entire utility system is much more earthing then any single electrode at a customer premises.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ActionDave View Post
    I would be curious to know if any masked, lost neutral issues show up.
    "who was that masked neutral?"

    -Why, it was the Lone Ranger

    "he left this silver bullet behind. what's that for?"

    -That's for grounding your panel.
    you shoot it right thru the center of the panel,
    and it immediately grounds it.


    now you know. the lone ranger was really an unemployed
    electrician, moonlighting.
    ~New signature under construction.~
    ~~~~Please excuse the mess.~~~~

  3. #13
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    Just to clarify the situation a little further. The water utility is apparently replacing the street mains and it turns out that the non-metallic lines being run may be temporary in nature until the project in that area is completed and they then revert back to the metallic service lines before moving on to the next neighborhood. However, during the interim period which might be a month or longer, the metallic services for all premises within the block(s) affected are apparently being disconnected inside the basement wall between the wall and the water meter in order to allow for the temporary non-metallic water service liens to be connected into the water meter and premise piping. If no other grounding electrode exists connected on the premise side of the water connections, then by isolating the metallic water service, the premise is left with no grounding electrode. True that as long as the electric service grounded conductor (neutral) is intact and not compromised, a problem may not arise or be apparent. However, given the general age and conditions of the area, there is no guarantee that a problem may not exist or some other fault condition arise that having a compliant grounding electrode system might otherwise help in mitigating the risks. Some of the comments alluded to a tendency to place too much faith and emphasis in having an earth ground electrode and from a technical perspective there may be differing views. However, if that is exactly what the code expects and has required for countless editions, then why would one not stand behind those basic requirements.

    I have spoken with a very well known and highly respected IAEI instructor within our state whom indicated that similar situations have occurred in other jurisdictions and that the isolation of the premise grounding electrode can be a potentially serious situation which needs to be elevated to higher authorities whom can bring all involved to a mutual understanding and agreement on the matter. To me, the simple solution is for the water utility to maintain a jumper across the open circuit to the existing metallic water service lines as a means of maintaining the intent of the code requirements during the period of temporary arrangements however they have stated that the metallic water service lines should not be used as a premise grounding electrode which is in conflict with both current and past NEC requirements. They are taking a position that because of their work, the premise owner or others should be expected to take on the burden and cost of hiring an electrician to install a new grounding electrode system. Without some sort of regulatory or AHJ mandate, this is not something that most premise owners will either understand or agree with much less be willing to shoulder the permitting and contractor costs that may be associated with doing the work.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by golson View Post
    Just to clarify the situation a little further. The water utility is apparently replacing the street mains and it turns out that the non-metallic lines being run may be temporary in nature until the project in that area is completed and they then revert back to the metallic service lines before moving on to the next neighborhood. However, during the interim period which might be a month or longer, the metallic services for all premises within the block(s) affected are apparently being disconnected inside the basement wall between the wall and the water meter in order to allow for the temporary non-metallic water service liens to be connected into the water meter and premise piping. If no other grounding electrode exists connected on the premise side of the water connections, then by isolating the metallic water service, the premise is left with no grounding electrode. True that as long as the electric service grounded conductor (neutral) is intact and not compromised, a problem may not arise or be apparent. However, given the general age and conditions of the area, there is no guarantee that a problem may not exist or some other fault condition arise that having a compliant grounding electrode system might otherwise help in mitigating the risks. Some of the comments alluded to a tendency to place too much faith and emphasis in having an earth ground electrode and from a technical perspective there may be differing views. However, if that is exactly what the code expects and has required for countless editions, then why would one not stand behind those basic requirements.

    I have spoken with a very well known and highly respected IAEI instructor within our state whom indicated that similar situations have occurred in other jurisdictions and that the isolation of the premise grounding electrode can be a potentially serious situation which needs to be elevated to higher authorities whom can bring all involved to a mutual understanding and agreement on the matter. To me, the simple solution is for the water utility to maintain a jumper across the open circuit to the existing metallic water service lines as a means of maintaining the intent of the code requirements during the period of temporary arrangements however they have stated that the metallic water service lines should not be used as a premise grounding electrode which is in conflict with both current and past NEC requirements. They are taking a position that because of their work, the premise owner or others should be expected to take on the burden and cost of hiring an electrician to install a new grounding electrode system. Without some sort of regulatory or AHJ mandate, this is not something that most premise owners will either understand or agree with much less be willing to shoulder the permitting and contractor costs that may be associated with doing the work.
    NEC intent never was to depend on the water pipe to serve as a back up grounded conductor, which does happen if you have metallic water piping between your house and the one next door if you both have a grounding electrode conductor connected to the water service.

    If 10 feet or more of metal piping remains intact then nothing wrong with keeping bonding to the GEC intact, but if continuity to other electrical services in the neighborhood gets interrupted (which seems pretty likely) you will still uncover any open neutral issues when you break the final connection.

    Older installs that had no ground rods or other supplemental electrodes would still be NEC compliant if you just installed ground rods, but still will suffer open neutral issues when that last connection is broken if there is indeed an open service neutral.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by golson View Post
    However, during the interim period which might be a month or longer, the metallic services for all premises within the block(s) affected are apparently being disconnected inside the basement wall between the wall and the water meter in order to allow for the temporary non-metallic water service liens to be connected into the water meter and premise piping.
    OK, thats a little weird- generally the pipe between the building and the meter belongs to the customer.

    Quote Originally Posted by golson View Post
    Some of the comments alluded to a tendency to place too much faith and emphasis in having an earth ground electrode and from a technical perspective there may be differing views.
    We said that b/c there IS too much emphasis placed on the importance of rods. Unless one is exceptionally lucky and has a very low impedance GE rod, that rod isn't going to return enough current back to the source to prevent imbalance and damage to equipment fro a lost neutral.

    Quote Originally Posted by golson View Post

    However, if that is exactly what the code expects and has required for countless editions, then why would one not stand behind those basic requirements.
    But the code defined purpose of a grounding (the purpose of a GE) says nothing about taking the place of a neutral (even though cw pipe GE can and does)- the stated purpose of grounding is listed in 250.4(A)(1)....


    Quote Originally Posted by golson View Post
    To me, the simple solution is for the water utility to maintain a jumper across the open circuit to the existing metallic water service lines
    That is an excellent idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by golson View Post
    however they have stated that the metallic water service lines should not be used as a premise grounding electrode which is in conflict with both current and past NEC requirements

    Unless there is a local amendment that lets them believe this way, they are horribly mistaken


    Quote Originally Posted by golson View Post
    They are taking a position that because of their work, the premise owner or others should be expected to take on the burden and cost of hiring an electrician to install a new grounding electrode system. Without some sort of regulatory or AHJ mandate, this is not something that most premise owners will either understand or agree with much less be willing to shoulder the permitting and contractor costs that may be associated with doing the work.
    The big issue here w/respect to liability, is that the contractor could argue that any damages that occurred or could occur are not their fault b/c it wasn't their responsibility to ensure the health of someones neutral.

    I cannot imagine the contractors employees not jumping the pipes due to the risks w/ those opened pipe connections
    Last edited by user 100; 07-16-17 at 05:45 PM.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by golson View Post
    Some of the comments alluded to a tendency to place too much faith and emphasis in having an earth ground electrode and from a technical perspective there may be differing views. However, if that is exactly what the code expects and has required for countless editions, then why would one not stand behind those basic requirements.....
    The NEC has gobs of rules that are not rooted in any objective reasoning and some of the rules relating to grounding electrodes are at the top of the list.

    Grounding electrodes and the whole NEC required grounding electrode system has precious little to do with the safety of a homeowner's electrical system.
    Once in a while you get shown the light
    In the strangest of places if you look at it right. Robert Hunter

  7. #17
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    I hate the "Water pipe ground" and think things are overall safer without it. I have heard many- and seen a few- instances of people getting shocked by getting between neutral current on the water pipe. I have never heard, "because he didnt have a metal water pipe ground, this horrible thing happened..."
    Ethan Brush - East West Electric. NY, WA. MA

    "You can't generalize"

  8. #18
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    Originally Posted by golson
    However, during the interim period which might be a month or longer, the metallic services for all premises within the block(s) affected are apparently being disconnected inside the basement wall between the wall and the water meter in order to allow for the temporary non-metallic water service liens to be connected into the water meter and premise piping.

    Quote Originally Posted by user 100 View Post
    OK, thats a little weird- generally the pipe between the building and the meter belongs to the customer.
    I think what is going on is a temporary supply is being provided to customer and connecting to just ahead of meter, then they will install the new main and connect the old tap line to the main while customer is being served by the temp line. Existing line after the "curb stop" will be left as is and reconnected once the new system is complete and has water available for use.

    Most water services around here are customers responsibility past the curb stop, with the meter belonging to the water utility - sort of like electric services often having components the customer is responsible for ahead of the meter as well, but the meter is still the property of POCO.

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