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Summary: My electrician plans to install 2 ground rods and a continuous ground wire to the front spigot where the water enters the home. How can I make sure that it's legal and code-compliant?


One neighbour when they did panel upgrade installed only one grounding rod and a grounding wire attached to the gas pipe. See pic. They were going to ground the pipes at the water heater, but couldn’t because he had added pex piping when he changed out his water heater. But the rest of the house is still copper.

Another neighbor was able to ground his panel on the spigot in the back of the home rather than have to run a line all the way to the front of the house where the water first enters the home.

With so many homes having had work done to the plumbing every home is different. I know my house is copper, but where the pipe comes into the home it is galvanized (with a dielectric union between). My electrician wants to attach the ground wire to the galvanized pipe. Will that work or does it need to be attached to the copper pipe, which is in the wall? See pic 2. I wish I could just use the spigot in the back yard which is copper like my neighbor did.

I imagine a lot of homes have had improvements over the years won’t be able to ground all their pipes just by putting a ground wire where the cold water comes into the home. Does that mean you just do the best you can?

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    This is incredibly jurisdiction dependent. In my area (Maryland), some counties go for 2 ground rods, no water, some go for 2 ground rods + water, some 1 ground rod + water, and even inspector dependent. If your electrician knows your area then they should know what will work. One exception is that as far as I know, while a gas line might be grounded (to help protect the gas line from problems), the actual ground for the house is (I think) not supposed to be the gas line but rather water line and/or ground rods - i.e., gas can't sub for water line. Galvanized isn't a problem - there are Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 17:38
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    galvanized conduit types that function as a ground instead of needing a ground wire for a circuit. Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 17:39
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    Some of this will depend on local regulations. I think code calls for a minimum of two ground rods. Some other regulations required ground wire on water pipe within ~10 feet of entry of the house, not exit.
    – crip659
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 17:39
  • I was a bit worried about grounding the wire on the galvanized because it is separated from the copper piping of the house by a dielectric union. And crip, were we are the ground wire had to be in the entry of the house, not exit too. But it makes me wonder But it makes me wonder about my neighbor with the wire grounded to the backyard spigot. Is he in danger of being shocked by his pipes?
    – Kim
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 18:00
  • I think it was a regulation only type that the ground needed to be near the entry. If the neighbour has ground rods, then the pipe grounding is not as important for the house. If all pipes are electrically connected together, then a safety ground placement is not as important. The electrical system ground is suppose to be close to reaching the ground(dirt).
    – crip659
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 18:46

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I had another question for you guys about grounding an electrical panel. My electrican plans calls for 2 ground rods, a continuous ground wire to the front spigot where the water enters the home and the water heater to be bonded.

Yeah, that's correct. That's the Code way to do it and what we are going to recommend to you here.

I imagine a lot of homes have had improvements over the years won’t be able to ground all their pipes just by putting a ground wire where the cold water comes into the home. Does that mean you just do the best you can?

You're correct, that "Using the water MAIN as a Grounding Electrode" is an obsolete way of doing that thing because you can no longer count on the utility providing you a metal water pipe out to the street.

That's why Code offers other methods for Grounding Electrode, such a 2 ground rods, 1 ground rod if it passes a costly impedance test that costs more than a second ground rod, or an Ufer ground cast into the foundation's re-bar.

Your electrician is going with the "2 ground rods" approach, and is also correctly bonding to the water main and heater. Note that "bonding to" is not the same as a "Grounding Electrode".

I talked to my neighbors who have got new panels in the last 5 years or so.

One guy when they did his panel upgrade there is only one grounding rod and a grounding wire attached to the gas. See pic. They were going to ground the pipes at the water heater, but couldn’t because he had added pex piping when he changed out his water heater. But the rest of the house is still copper.

Another neighbor was able to ground his panel on the spigot in the back of the home rather than have to run a line all the way to the front of the house where the water first enters the home. I wish I could just use the spigot in the back yard which is copper like my neighbor did.

Sounds like your neighbors do like their shortcuts and/or hiring sub-par contractors. Well, only they know best the value of their families :)

Grounding and bonding is not a thing to fool around with. That's what keeps you from getting shocked.

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  • Thank you for your reply, Harper. I thought I understood, but maybe I don't. What is the difference between grounding and bonding? How do pipes get an accidental electrical charge anyway?
    – Kim
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 20:49
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    Bonding means "connect these things together so that they are the same potential" (or another way to look at it: so that there is no voltage between the two). Grounding is to actually get the electricity to the physical ground - which means a rod in the ground or water pipe that is in the ground. Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 21:04

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