The city inspector said the new 100 amp service panel needs to be grounded to the street side of the water meter. It is currently grounded to the nearest cold water pipe. What is correct? Also, for a washing machine in an unfinished basement near the laundry sink need a gfci? It is plugged into a single plug outlet.

All pipe in the house is copper and is grounded to the panel about 2-3 feet away. The distance to the meter from the panel is 20 feet or more

Currently, the only grounding is to the water pipes. Inspector wants ground rods installed also

  • How far is it from the point at which the panel ground lattaches to the pipe to where the pipe enters the house? Apr 7 '18 at 11:53
  • Is the pipe to the house from the street metal pipe or perhaps some other kind of pipe ? Your nearest cold water pipe broken by non metallic pipe or not in the earth ?? The GFCI would be required when it is within 6 feet of a plumbing fixture. For the price and the added safety it is better to just install the unit.
    – Ken
    Apr 7 '18 at 12:02
  • 1
    If the meter is inside that’s a common requirement. The problem is that if water company pulls meter for any reason including simple maintenance or replacement they are disrupting ground. In our area it’s only a shutoff valve inside, but ground must be attached on the street side of that main shutoff valve.
    – Tyson
    Apr 7 '18 at 12:05
  • As for the washer, I’ve never seen an exception for a washer, outlets in an unfinished basement all need to be GFCI.
    – Tyson
    Apr 7 '18 at 12:10
  • 1
    Per 2014 NEC all outlets in a laundry room need to be GFCI, regardless of how close to washer/dryer.
    – user20127
    Apr 7 '18 at 12:46

From the International Association of Electrical Inspectors web site here:

If the metal water piping is not a grounding electrode, the connection of the bonding jumper in accordance with 250.104(A) does not have be located within the first 1.52 (5 ft) of the water piping system entry to the building or structure.

From my research, this was an old requirement (2005?) when the water pipe was used as the primary grounding electrode. It has since been deleted and does not appear in the 2017 NEC. Article 250.52(A)(1)

A ground rod (or two) is now required as the primary grounding electrode in most jurisdictions since someone could replace the copper piping with PVC in the future.[Edit: I just wanted to add that the Ufer ground (reinforcing rod in the poured concrete footing) is quickly replacing ground rods in new construction.]

However, if you do have a metal water piping system in contact with the soil for more than 10 feet it is still required to be bonded, although the National Electrical Code does not specify where.

250.104 Bonding of Piping Systems and Exposed Structural Metal.

(A) Metal Water Piping. The metal water piping system shall be bonded as required in (A)(1), (A)(2), or (A)(3) of this section.

(1) General. Metal water piping system(s) installed in or attached to a building or structure shall be bonded to any of the following: (1) Service equipment enclosure (2) Grounded conductor at the service (3) Grounding electrode conductor if of sufficient size (4) One or more grounding electrodes used, if the grounding electrode conductor or bonding jumper to the grounding electrode is of sufficient size

The bonding jumper(s) shall be installed in accordance with 250.64(A), 250.64(B), and 250.64(E). The points of attach‐ ment of the bonding jumper(s) shall be accessible. The bonding jumper(s) shall be sized in accordance with Table 250.102(C)(1) except as permitted in 250.104(A)(2) and 250.104(A)(3).

Summary, if it is NOT the primary grounding electrode, the metal water pipe is not required to be bonded within 5 feet, it is just required to be bonded.

I agree with Tester101 though you are pretty much at the mercy of the inspector unless you want to file a formal objection.

Also, for a washing machine in an unfinished basement near the laundry sink need a gfci? It is plugged into a single plug outlet.

ALL receptacles in the unfinished part of a basement and laundry areas are required to be protected by GFCI.

From the 2017 NEC

210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Personnel. Ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel shall be provided as required in 210.8(A) through (E). The ground-fault circuit interrupter shall be installed in a readily accessible location.

(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in 210.8(A)(1) through (10) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

(5) Unfinished portions or areas of the basement not inten‐ ded as habitable rooms

(10) Laundry areas

Good luck!


If you're using the water pipe as a grounding electrode (which it sounds like you are). It has to be electrically continuous (or made electrically continuous), to the point where the grounding electrode conductor connects. You used to have to make the connection within 5 ft. of the pipe entering the structure, but that is no longer required (as of 2014 code, I think). Some areas also require you to install a second grounding electrode, which explains the request for a ground rod. If your area has adopted 2014 or newer NEC, you should point this change out to the inspector (NEC 250.52(A)(1)).

In the end, unless you can point out why the inspector is wrong, or supply engineer instructions that override the code. You're basically at the mercy of the Authority Having Jurisdiction.

You'll also have to install a jumper across the water meter, to ensure continuity across the meter.

As for the washing machine. All receptacles in unfinished basements have to be GFCI, as well as receptacles in laundry areas. So, yes, that receptacle has to be GFCI protected.

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