A Pipe or Rod, What's the Difference?

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

The difference between these long cylindrical objects may appear to be a matter of semantics, but when it comes to electricity they are clearly defined.

A pipe is a tube, meaning it is hollow, used to transport liquid or gas. A rod would be solid and has many uses including an electrical ground.

Just to confuse things a pipe can be used for a main electric ground and they often were and still are today. Most everyone is familiar with the ground wire on the main water pipe from the street. But that can not be the only ground today. There should be a second ground on the system. In the case of a home with a well that pipe is often plastic. Plastic is not a conductor of electricity so an alternative is required.

In the photo the ground pipe pictured is for a home with a well. The electric service had been up dated fairly recently, but not the grounding. Or at least it looked as if a cursory attempt was made to "update" the ground.

On the exterior a rod is required, not a pipe. It must be driven into the ground eight feet (tell me how you check that!).  The yellow arrow is pointing to a rod right next to this pipe that would be a good candidate for a ground.

The red arrow is showing the ground wire that goes back to the main electric panel. This wire is supposed to be in direct contact with the rod. The problem here is the "electrician" used an electrical pipe clamp and the wire is not contacting the pipe.

Following the wire back to the main panel it was discovered the wire itself was significantly undersized. In addition there was only one ground wire. This newer system was render basically unsafe by the grounding being improperly and inadequately updated.

Fortunately this problem can be fixed fairly easily and inexpensively by a qualified electrician. So remember just because something looks newer doesn't necessarily mean it's right or safe.

James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

To find out more about our other high tech services click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services. Learn more about our energy audits, the Home Energy Tune uP®.

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

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Rainmaker
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Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr James,

We are on the same page there. I learned from Mr Charles that those galvanized pipes SHOULD ONLY be used in the water supply system. If I see any other piping, I suggest galvanized pipes be installed immediately, just like Mr Charles. That does not make said piping suitable for grounding. Bet you had no clue that I know so much.

Nutsy

May 05, 2009 06:53 AM #1
Rainmaker
684,409
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Nutsy, I just thought you had no clue. But I must confess you're correct about the galvinized pipe.

May 05, 2009 07:22 AM #2
Rainmaker
179,891
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

James, one thing about a pipe you could drop your tape measure in there and tell how deep it was. LOL

May 05, 2009 08:51 AM #3
Rainmaker
684,409
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Jack, That's a good point, about the only good point you could make about that pipe. :)

May 05, 2009 10:00 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,244,530
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr James,

Since we are in agreement on that, how about we celebrate by hoisting a few.

 

Nutsy

May 05, 2009 10:10 AM #5
Ambassador
1,333,956
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Would a galvanized barbecue spit have a deleterious effect on squirrel?  Then again how about Ground Squirrel between buns?

May 05, 2009 12:36 PM #6
Rainmaker
684,409
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Mr. Nutsy, I have been known to hoist a few. Usually during a nice summer barbecue.

Charlie, Squirrel burgers? Hmmm, your culinary curiousness is intriguing. Maybe we can get Nutsy to sit on a spit and spin. :)

May 05, 2009 10:49 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,843,715
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Bond, James Bond...

Oh, I check the depth with my hickory divining rod.

May 10, 2009 12:56 PM #8
Rainmaker
1,244,530
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Did somebody mention James Bond. That wa my biggest role to date, very popular in Jamaica.

Nutsy W

May 13, 2009 04:04 AM #9
Rainmaker
684,409
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Jay, That must be one of them new fancy high tech tools I heard about.

Nutsy, I thought your biggest role was in Walla Walla doing 5 - 10.

May 13, 2009 12:30 PM #10
Ambassador
1,333,956
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

James, actually he is there all day and all night:)

May 13, 2009 12:34 PM #11
Rainmaker
1,843,715
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Low tech, but apparently very effective!  My sister in law built a house 35 years ago in  the boonies north of Baltimore.  They hired a diviner to find the well and he did.  It was interesting to watch him.  He walked all around.  The hickory rod shook and pointed downward.  He says, "Here's where you dig and the water is down about 30 feet."  It was 38 feet down, right where he said!

May 15, 2009 12:57 AM #12
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