Head Scratcher Goofiness

Sometimes on simple inspections we get those “made my day” moments. It’s a mountain home that was originally a detached garage built well over 50 years ago. It was converted into an apartment, then spun off as a one bedroom mini-home.
There is a two conductor gray extension cord plugged into a power strip used for the computer and accessories. The other end of the extension cord was cut off and the wires bonded to the copper supply pipe coming in from the water well. I confirmed that the cord was “hot” with my non-contact current sniffer.
My two theories are that the seller thought he was heating the pipe to prevent freezing or he thought he was grounding the power strip.
In any event, how in the world does this work? How can this possibly not short out? Can there be enough impedance in the copper pipe to make this work? Bizarrely amazing!

*IMG_2580 *IMG_2581

This kind of thing makes our biz fun.

Did you take a close look at the “power strip”? Strange that the one receptacle is separate from the others. Makes me think it is possibly a supplemental ground connector which would explain your connection scenario… but not the ‘hot’ reading.

The cord may not have been hot. Non-contact detectors are prone to false positives.

The fact that the hot leg and neutral are connected directly together in the pipe clamp makes the fact that it’s connected to a water pipe irrelevant. That in itself would cause a dead short on the power strip.

Maybe he broke off the hot leg on the plug. A voltage spike would go out the neutral to the pipe. The offset outlet on the surge protector is for plugs with a 12V transformer, I doubt UL would allow one expecting you to plug a male ground into it.

I’ll bet that the hot prong on the cord was broken off and the owner has some idea that he is “bonding” the computers power supply to earth ground by way of the neutral and ground conductors in the cord. I’ve seen amateur radio guys do weird things like this trying to reduce radio interference from the power lines.

Looks to me like a 2-wire cord, if so and the “hot” prong is removed then he is bonding the neutral to the pipe. Doesn’t make sense that he would connect both wires in the cord to the ground clamp but then again none of this makes sense. :slightly_smiling_face:

All great comments. I started to pull the plug, out of curiosity, to see if both prongs were in place, but when the voltage sniffer confirmed “hot”, I had enough to write it up.
I told the buyer that there was a good chance that all this would be gone when she moved in, but if the gray cord was still there, remove it completely. There is no useful purpose for it. The receptacle that the power strip was plugged into was grounded.

I have to say that you HI’s find some weird stuff. :sunglasses:

Robert, this is an inspection I did yesterday where the listing said “updated electrical in the garage”
The wire you see going to the garage door track came from the back of the grounded outlet box!! DSC04612|640x480, 75%

Wow I see nothing electrical in that photo that has been “updated”. :grinning:

Perhaps it was the backup plan in case the house did not sell.

Most inspectors have good necks because we are shaking them so much.

Actually, I think it was upgraded in the 50’s! The house was built in 1920, and based on my dating of the fuse panel in the garage, I’m guessing it was done in the 50’s. You are not insinuating that the Real Estate agent embellished the listing, are you?? :crazy_face:

They don’t do that, do they, Joe? LOL

The spacing is for older electronics that used the 2" x 2" cube plugs like old cordless phones.

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