Ungrounded houses

Just did an inspection on a house where the city had replaced the incoming water line with plastic, leaving the electrical panel without the code required ground (no ground plate, or stake). The ironic thing is that the city owned corporation that looks after water also looks after electrical power, but they are ‘different departments’. What I want to do is raise a sh*t storm, via letters to presidents, department managers, and if that fails, to newspapers to make sure they install a suitable ground whenever they replace a metal water line used for grounding the main panel with a plastic line. What I don’t completely understand, not being an electrician, is why we need a ground, and what are the consequences of not having one.
The way I see it, this house is still grounded via the bare wire back to the pole (overhead wires), it is also grounded back to the pole through a telephone company installed ground. It is also grounded (but not bonded) through the metal gas lines via the connections.
Can somebody supply with words that explains the need for grounding the main panel in plain English, leaving out ‘because the code says so’ :wink: TIA

Plastic water line showing ground wire no longer grounded

Green wire goes outside

And into the telephone box, and back to pole

Did they replace the line with PB??? Sure looks like it.

Good for you Eric .
Great to see some one is concerned with this.

Ideas for you below .
Letters to the editor .
Letter to Major and all councillors .
After a period call the local radio and let them know if you got a reply from the town and what they are going to do about this .
Let all know you are a concerned Home Inspector and how important the ground is.
You just might get much advertising from your do good efforts .
Thanks for the report … Roy

Please keep us informed so others can see how your effort goes .

Thanks Roy, the advertising potential occurred to me as well :slight_smile:
Still looking for some words to highlight potential danger to life, limb and property

Roy… you are/were a Master Electrician for “over 40 years”… how about answering the mans questions about grounding/bonding? You are obviously one of the most qualified here (due to your long experience) to answer him.

This is from the NEC Article 250:

(1) Electrical System Grounding. Electrical systems that
are grounded shall be connected to earth in a manner that
will limit the voltage imposed by lightning, line surges, or
unintentional contact with higher-voltage lines and that will
stabilize the voltage to earth during normal operation.

Thanks for your confidence in me ,Unfortunately looks like you have missed many of my posts on my qualifications .
One I never was a Master Electrician ,
Two I have never wired a home I was heavy industry and Industrial Maintenance .
Having not worked at the trade for many years I do not know what todays Standards are.
I do not try to give an answer unless I am reasonably sure of my information .
We have many electricians on this board who are more up to date the Me .
They do a great job .

Thanks big time for all the members who have confidence in me listed below…

(" http://www.nachi.org/forum/users/rcooke/ ")

Interesting. I thought you and Marcel were best buds. I guess he really doesn’t know you after all. http://www.nachi.org/forum/f79/tinned-aluminum-82468/

You are the only one who has posted many times that I was a
master electrician .
58 years in the electrician’s Union and still counting .
As Marcel said over 50 years ,No where did he say master .

I expect Marcel knows me extremely well and has been a close friend for many years .
I think he is extremely well versed in Construction .\


Jim has provided the reason but let’s back up for a second and get on the same page with the terminology. The metallic water pipe is a grounding electrode and is part of the grounding electrode system (GES). A GES is made up of different electrode such a metallic water pipe, grounding rods, concrete encased electrodes (CEE), plate electrodes, ground rings, etc.

If the present system has only one electrode, the metal water pipe then the water pipe is the GES and removing the pipe removes the GES as well. So now you need to make a new GES. This could be accomplished by installing a ground ring, plate, or rod electrodes. The most likely replacement would be two 8’ ground rods. This is why the NEC has for many years required that a metallic water pipe electrode be supplemented by at least one additional electrode.

Regarding the safety issue, the equipment grounding system is still in place as long as the main bonding jumper between the neutral and the EGC’s is installed at the service panel or service disconnect. The code section that Jim posted covers the other issue of connection to earth and the reason why it’s done.

I did some searching elsewhere, and what I came up with is that an ungrounded panel is subject to power surges or spikes, a short in a branch circuit could result in delayed circuit breaker operation, and possibly energized panels, metal conduit, metal appliance parts, etc., increased damage from lightning strikes.

I have made a post about it on my website.

I also found out that the city did not change the water line, it would have been done by a private contractor working for the homeowner, so now I am trying to track that down and see if they will come back and fix it. The city guy I spoke said it should have been part of their contract to ensure the house was grounded.

The bold part is not true. Operation of an OCPD has nothing to do with the grounding electrode system. The main bonding jumper that connects the EGC’s to the neutral is responsible for the opening of an OCPD in a ground fault condition. Also as long as the main bonding jumper is still installed all metal parts of the system are still grounded.

So am I reading this wrong? http://www.csanyigroup.com/grounded-or-ungrounded-systems

An ungrounded system is not the same as removing the metallic water pipe. The system is still a grounded system even if you remove the GES. The main bonding jumper connects the EGC’s and metal system components to the grounded neutral conductor. In a grounded system the neutral and metallic components may be connected together multiple times on the line side of the service disconnect, one example would be the metal meter enclosure.

So what does this all mean when related to our original post? It means that you still have a grounded system, you still have the neutral and equipment grounds connected at the service but it also means that you do not have the protections required by the NEC section that Jim posted.

So the code requirement is more of a belt and suspenders thing?