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Thread: Lead Water Pipe

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    Royal City, WA
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    97
    First, are you actually dealing with lead pipe? Is it magnetic? With you being in NYC, the pipe could be old enough to be lead. Actual lead pipe hasn't really been used since before WW2. Galvanized steel pipe was predominantly used until copper took over. Now most plumbing is plastic.

    lead was used in solder for copper pipe for years. Also lead was used in brass fittings and fixtures. Now solder is lead free. Also brass is lead free. Lead isn't a problem in pipe or fixtures, unless the ph of the water leaches the lead out of the pipe or fixtures into the water. Thirst is what happened in Flint, MI. THey changed water sources, it started leaching the lead into the water,.

    You're only concerned with grounding though. So it doesn't matter if the pipe is lead, galvanized steel, plain black steel, copper, or other metal. If its metal of any kind, and more than X amount of feet, it needs to be grounded and/or bonded.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Chapel Hill, NC
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    32,432
    You don't know if the pipe is 10' that is partially why you have to use a supplemental electrode like a ground rod.
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  3. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    NE Nebraska
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    33,757
    Only lead pipes I recall seeing were always on waste piping.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Minnesota
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    Every once and awhile I'll run into an undisturbed municipal water supply entrance into dwellings, especially in Old St. Paul. They are vanishing, as the fear of the toxicity of lead is widely experienced. And, more especially, because this is the home of the Land "where all the Men are good looking, and the Children are above average." (Garrison Keillor), and lead's effects on young brains is truly feared.

    Even so, there are still many street-water-main to individual-dwelling lead pipes that were installed in the 1800s build out of the municipal water system.

    So, I will routinely run to the first 5 feet inside the dwelling and land the GEC there . . . and bond around the water meter, as the dwelling water piping is very likely to be intact (that is, still all metal.) If a supplemental grounding electrode is installed in the vicinity of the GEC, or the lead water supply it is bonded to, I can jumper from the supplemental to the GEC / lead pipe.
    Another Al in Minnesota

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    The Motor City, Michigan USA
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    520
    Lead and steel have similar conductivities, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electr...d_conductivity) about one order of magnitude worse than copper and probably several orders of magnitude better than dirt.

    My concern is that a ground clamp won't remain tight over the long term because lead is such a soft metal. But I have the same concern about thinwall copper pipe, which is widely accepted by electricians & inspectors. Can anybody confirm or deny?

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    NE (9.1 miles @5.07 Degrees from Winged Horses)
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    Quote Originally Posted by drcampbell View Post
    Lead and steel have similar conductivities, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electr...d_conductivity) about one order of magnitude worse than copper and probably several orders of magnitude better than dirt.

    My concern is that a ground clamp won't remain tight over the long term because lead is such a soft metal. But I have the same concern about thinwall copper pipe, which is widely accepted by electricians & inspectors. Can anybody confirm or deny?
    The concern may be justified but it still needs to be bonded. 'What ifs' don't matter.
    Tom
    TBLO

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Durango, CO, 10 h 20 min without traffic from winged horses.
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    Quote Originally Posted by drcampbell View Post
    Lead and steel have similar conductivities, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electr...d_conductivity) about one order of magnitude worse than copper and probably several orders of magnitude better than dirt.

    My concern is that a ground clamp won't remain tight over the long term because lead is such a soft metal. But I have the same concern about thinwall copper pipe, which is widely accepted by electricians & inspectors. Can anybody confirm or deny?
    I can confirm I have never had a problem with my copper water pipe.
    If Billy Idol or John Denver is on your play list go and reevaluate your life.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    New Jersey
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    23,946
    We had a lead water pipe in my grandmothers house for 100 years. That might explain a lot about my family.
    Rob

    Moderator

    All responses based on the 2014 NEC unless otherwise noted

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Williamsburg, VA
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    4,252
    Quote Originally Posted by infinity View Post
    We had a lead water pipe in my grandmothers house for 100 years. That might explain a lot about my family.
    A little lead is good for you. Just as long as it's in nanograms and not grains and feet per second.

    Even TEL (tetra-ethyl lead). Lead paint. Lead pipes.... amazing anyone who was alive in the 70s is still around today.
    Electricians do it until it Hertz!

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
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    4,876
    Quote Originally Posted by Dzboyce View Post
    First, are you actually dealing with lead pipe? Is it magnetic? With you being in NYC, the pipe could be old enough to be lead. Actual lead pipe hasn't really been used since before WW2. Galvanized steel pipe was predominantly used until copper took over. Now most plumbing is plastic.

    lead was used in solder for copper pipe for years. Also lead was used in brass fittings and fixtures. Now solder is lead free. Also brass is lead free. Lead isn't a problem in pipe or fixtures, unless the ph of the water leaches the lead out of the pipe or fixtures into the water. Thirst is what happened in Flint, MI. THey changed water sources, it started leaching the lead into the water,.

    You're only concerned with grounding though. So it doesn't matter if the pipe is lead, galvanized steel, plain black steel, copper, or other metal. If its metal of any kind, and more than X amount of feet, it needs to be grounded and/or bonded.
    In Flint, MI they're pretty sure. A great many of the houses had lead feeders from the main to the house. The whole hoo-haa was the result of a change in water sources resulting in a change in water chemistry. The previous water chemistry kept the lead bonded to the pipe and the new chemistry tended to solubilize the lead. The solution was to re-establish the old chemistry but by then the political damage had been done.

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