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electric water pipes

george_42 Member Posts: 121
I was replacing a faucet on a pedestal sink in an old home and noticed a green ground wire coming out of the wall and connected to the cold water riser with a ground clamp. I removed the clamp and all the lights on the 2nd floor went out. The house has 2 wire ,no ground electric system and they are using the cold water pipe as the neutral to the basement where they pick the neutral up with another wire and run it to the panel. I did my plumbing and refused to attach the wire to the pipe , suggesting he call an electrician. george


  • hatchet
    hatchet Member Posts: 10
    Good thing you didn't get electrocuted.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,352
    It's permissible to use a properly grounded metallic water pipe to GROUND an outlet in an old house that has ungrounded romex. But using the water line as a current carrying conductor (neutral) is strictly against code and downright dangerous. Should the connection fail anywhere downstream, such as at a corroded ground clamp, then everything upstream would be energized with 120 volts. That would include faucets, metal fixtures, etc.

    You did the right thing in leaving it off and telling them to call an electrician.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    They'll probably find some handyperson who claims to be a licenses Sparky to reconnect it.

    Being the prict that I can be, I would have told the Wiring Inspector about it, sent the wiring inspector a certified letter, Return Reciept Requested, and the same with the homeowner, a copy to them, and written them off as a potential lost customer. My @$$ would be well covered.

    Where I worked, there was a Naval Installation that used a lot of power. It closed. It had a 3 phase service to the installation. A big housing development went in and tapped off one phase. After a time, people were getting serious 14+ volt electrical shocks when using their outside showers. The Pocket Protector crowd hired by the local electrical company were stumped. Their solution. Put rubber hoses on the outside shower handles.

    There was a retired Master Chief Electrician, fully qualified in Nuclear Subs. "You damn fools. You have an unbalanced 3 phase load on the 3 phase primary circuit. You need to split up the load.

    So they did.

    Sometimes, those old ground connections to cold water pipes are done by the old Telephone Company employees. They did it all, and you can be crawling along under a house and see a pipe with a telephone Ground connected to cold water pipes. Ringy never checked if the pipe was grounded. As long as they assumed that the water pipe was grounded, it didn't matter to them and their job was complete.

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