Laziness!


Replaced the last couple receptacles upstairs before starting to clean up for the holidays. Found a recep in the master bedroom, right next to the access panel for the bathroom plumbing. Ground was bootlegged to neutral. There's a cold water pipe NINE INCHES away, and I didn't even have to break any plaster to get to it! Sheesh.
Also went to replace the toggle switch in the bathroom. It seemed sunk a little too far into the wall; I ASSumed it was because the plaster had broken around the ears - I have a stack of those little metal plates for rectifying just that problem. Nope! Apparently someone had skinned the wall with drywall in the past, and instead of finding a box extender and some longer screws, they busted the plaster ears off the toggle switch and let the wall plate hold it in place.
This would be one of those days where I'm really cussing the last "contractor" to work in here... Only two trips to the store so far today.
Silver lining: the real electrical supply house's parts counter is apparently now open on Saturday. Picked up a 10-pack of "spec grade" receps for $15. That's about what the Orange-Colored Store charges for a "contractor pack" of the shitty ones. This would be about where I thank the Orange-Colored Store for not having the receps I wanted so I had to drive past the supply house to get to the real hardware store.
nate
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code prohibits using water line as ground, although no doubt its better than a bootleg neutral.....
you should run a proper ground wire
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

actually grounded, at least. Even if it doesn't go through the water heater fitting that typically breaks ground path, some previous owner may have replaced part of that pipe run with plastic or something, or an iron/copper junction may cause problems.
-- aem sends...
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aemeijers wrote:

I can physically see (and have seen) all of the pipe between the shower and the foundation, save for the vertical run up the chase through the kitchen. I have no reason to believe that that is not copper as it ought to be original to the house.
nate
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re: I have no reason to believe that that is not copper as it *ought to be* original to the house.
"Ought to be"...isn't that the same as ASSuming?
You really don't know for sure, do you?
Have you tested the outlets there is a ground?
OK, so ASSuming you have, and it passes, then it's grounded *for now*.
I guess you can ASSume that you will remember to run a new ground if you ever break that copper run and transition to PVC or PEX, but I doubt the next homeowner will. I ASSume that's one of the reasons why code no longer allows the use of the plumbing system as a ground.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Strictly, no, but I'm 99% certain.

Yes.
Well, I plan to do it anyway, just not now. I figure a good ground through copper (and yes, it is bonded to the panel before it leaves the house) is better than a bootleg. (of course, the only way I could be *100%* certain is to drain the water to the bathroom, as the water itself is conductive...)

I've seen this asserted several times in this thread, but that's the first I've heard of it. Besides, *before* the introduction of grounding receptacles, if one had a table radio, say, it was common for the instructions to explicitly state that you should ground the chassis to a water pipe - and this was back in the day where it was 50/50 whether it would be copper or iron.
nate
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re: "it was common for the instructions to explicitly state that you should ground the chassis to a water pipe"
Are you really trying to use wording from the obsolete instructions for an old radio to make a modern day point?
Did you ever consider that the reason it's no longer in the instructions is because the manufacturers have figured out that's it's dangerous?
They used to have lead in paint. They used have cars without seat belts. They used to let drunk drivers *drive* home to sleep it off.
I believe that they have since determined that all of those were bad ideas.
re: "...code no longer allows the use of the plumbing system as a ground: I've seen this asserted several times in this thread, but that's the first I've heard of it."
I'll never claim to be a NEC expert, but some light reading led me to the following. I stand ready to be corrected if the section of code I've quoted is not relevant to this discussion.
The second sentence is key.
--- Begin Included Text ---
*250.52 Grounding Electrodes
(A) Electrodes Permitted For Grounding
(1) Metal Underground Water Pipe. A metal underground water pipe in direct contact with the earth for 3.0 M (10 ft) or more (including any metal well casing effectively bonded to the pipe) and electrically continuous (or made electrically continuous by bonding around insulating joints or insulating pipe) to the points of connection of the grounding electrode and the bonding conductors.
Interior metal water piping located more than 1.52 m (5 ft) from the point of entrance to the building shall not be used as a part of the grounding electrode system or as a conductor to interconnect electrodes that are part of the grounding electrode system.
--- End Included Text ---
* Stolen without permission from page 104 of the online version of the 2005 NEC.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Somehow I missed the 5 feet thing. Oh well. I still feel comfortable with it as a temporary measure; I'll be doing everything properly soon enough (there are still four or five receps with no ground at all, plus several more that are wired with grounded romex and interconnected but don't have an actual ground anywhere.
In any case my point that whoever did this before was lazy still stands; I'm guessing it must have been done circa 1980 or earlier. The romex has a 16AWG ground connection with green insulation rather than bare 14AWG, not sure when that was in common use.
nate
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Nate Nagel wrote:

"Grounding electrode" = the ground rods and connection from them to the service panel. For the purposes of using metal water supply pipe as a "grounding electrode" this limits the connection to that pipe from the service panel to within 5' of where the pipe enters the house. This section does not relate to using the metal water pipe within the house as a "grounding conductor".
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Pete C. wrote:

And even then, you have to *know* that the pipe that goes out through the wall is metal. I did not know that ours was polyethylene until it sprang a leak. It was only then that a section was replaced by a few (4 or 5) feet of copper, which then tied in to the polyethylene again.
Perce
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So is there a section that relates to using the metal water pipe within the house as a "grounding conductor"?
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Correct. You may not use the metal water pipe as a grounding conductor, since it is not listed as an acceptable grounding conductor in 2008 NEC 250.118 "Types of Equipment Grounding Conductors". However, you may terminate your retrofitted grounding conductor at a grounding electrode, e.g. the metal water service within 5' of the building entrance.
Cheers, Wayne
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Is that a new revision? Last time I checked (which was admittedly a while ago) when replacing a 2-hole recep with a grounding type with no available ground (which is essentially what I am doing,) you were allowed to run a separate conductor to the "nearest point in the grounding system" or such like.
I agree that in new construction it would be complete BS, but I do have faith that all the pipe is copper all the way to the point that it leaves the building, and it is also bonded to ground/neutral at the panel. Eventually I would like to ground everything properly, and there's a run of receps in new romex that contains a ground conductor, so at least those by code HAVE to be grounded (because I connected them "properly," so technically it doesn't meet code at the moment)
I went ahead and threw a GFI recep in the first box anyway, seeing as I'm using metal wall plates, but like having grounds where I can to allow surge protectors to work better. Still breathing a sigh of relief that I only lost a couple hundred bucks worth of stuff the last time we got a BIG surge.
nate
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2008 NEC 250.130(C):
(C) Nongrounding Receptacle Replacement or Branch Circuit Extensions. The equipment grounding conductor of a grounding-type receptacle or a branch-circuit extension shall be permitted to be connected to any of the following:
(1) Any accessible point on the grounding electrode system as described in 250.50
However:
2008 NEC 250.52(A)(1) in part:
Interior metal water piping located more than 1.52 m (5 ft) from the point of entrance to the building shall not be used as a part of the grounding electrode system or as a conductor to interconnect electrodes that are part of the grounding electrode system.
The upshot is that the "neareast point in the grounding system" can be a water pipe, but only within 5' of the building entrance. Presumably this is because of the likelihood of future downstream changes in the piping to a non-conductive material.
Cheers, Wayne
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re: "There's a cold water pipe NINE INCHES away...Sheesh."
I'm ASSuming you made the sure the cold water pipe is actually copper all the way to "ground" - and that it will remain that way forever, right?
I'm ASSuming that one of the reasons code prohibits using a water line as ground is because someone could come along at any time and transition to PVC or PEX thus opening the ground.
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