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Electified Cold Water Lines

georgegeorge Member Posts: 45
While changing a pedestal sink in an old house ,I noticed what I thought was a ground line attached to the cold riser with a clamp. When I disconnected the line all the lights in the 2nd floor went out. Turns out they were using the cold water line as a neutral back to the basement and electric box. This was an old house with two wire electric with no ground , I think they hooked it back up when I left because they balked at my suggestion that they should call an electrician . JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU HAVE SEEN IT ALL , George


  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 2,746
    lucky you...

    didnt get electrocuted..... I would have insisted on getting an electrician. Thats nuts. I might just put a call into the building dept to let them know.
  • Paul48Paul48 Member Posts: 4,234
    Make a call

    Someone will get killed.That's not a neutral back to the panel, it's to ground via the pipes and carries the potential of that whole circuit.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    Sounds like it might have been Knob & Tube wiring and that the amateur didn't know how to connect it up.

    Someone in the shower could possibly get a hot one.

    What really PO's me about stuff like this is that "I" could be electrocuted.

    I have an commercial account that is 208 3 phase. There are six single phase circulators that are 120 volt single phase. The "Expert" electrician ran the first three motors, each on a single phase of three with a common neutral. If you go to change a motor and don't know it, the white neutral is hot from the other two motors on the three phase. You have to know where the panel is and shut off the three phase breaker to the three pumps.

    Although the highest I have ever measured in the white wire is 16 volts, it only takes Milli-volts to kill you.
  • pipekingpipeking Member Posts: 252
    u need to do something

    being a journeymen it is your responsibility to make sure that the things u work on are safe. now that u know about it, and if anything was ever to happen it could fall in your lap. what u need to do is express your concern about this issue to the home owner,and explain the hazards, and that u highly recommend an electrician; have all this in writing and have them sign it. it really is no big deal, if they don't care that those issues r there, then they will have no problem signing the document. i would not leave without a signature, and have them understand that the building officials will be notified if they r unwilling to acknowledge there issues with there signature. god luck!
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