Kindergarten Electrical

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

One topic in school science was electricity. My two girls have both had this subject in elementary school over the last few years. Both have come home with various projects involving batteries, wires and the construction of a basic circuit. Dad was like a kid in a hardware store.

Water filter in a plastic housing, not conductive.What is taught to the children is that electricity needs conductors in order to flow and create a circuit. The other part of this lesson is insulators. Electricity can not flow through insulators, only conductors. The kids easily grasp this concept and have fun making circuits.

Some where along the way to adulthood I theorize, these basic concepts of electricity are washed from the child's brain. Perhaps it puberty, the raging hormones send the brains focus elsewhere. Whatever the reason I find adults who have clearly forgotten the very basics of electricity.

Let me share a recent example. Here we have a whole house water filter. There are actually two lessons here, but I will stick to the topic. The housing of the filter is plastic. As we all know plastic is an insulator, it does not conduct electricity. Wires are coated in plastic.

The copper pipe is metal. Metal is a conductor. In fact copper is a great conductor of electricity. Wire is made from copper. Like this grounding wire clamped to the copper pipe in the second picture. That wire is actually a bonding wire for this house's water supply piping. This wire is not the main grounding conduct for the electrical system. It is a secondary grounding conductor for the copper piping in the house. In the event the copper pipe was to become energized, this wire would provide a path to ground.Bonding wire on water pipe

Think of this, somehow electricity has come in contact with the water supply pipes in your house. The pipes are now energized. You get up in the morning, go to the sink, touch the faucet handle and you get walloped. I assure you that'll wake you up faster than a cup of espresso.

With the wire on the pipe, electricity has a path to ground. You will definitely still get a shock with the wire in place, but it will be greatly minimized.

Getting back to that water filter. The installer failed to take into account that once the filter was put in place, the path to ground was broken by the plastic filter housing. Repair will involve either moving the grounding wire or installing a jumper wire.

So easy even a kid could do it.


Posted by

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

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

Good morning James. I guess that Mr. Installer still had his hormones raging into those other areas you were talking about huh? Unless of course the ground wire was on the supply side of the filter, and not the upstream side. At least it was originally attached to copper and not PVC :-)

Have a great day!

Jun 22, 2012 10:51 PM #1
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

big kids do the darnedest things :)

Jun 23, 2012 12:01 AM #2
Respect Realty LLC
Respect Realty LLC - Milwaukie, OR
Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate

That seems a lot cheaper than buying a cup of coffee each morning at $5 a cup. I think I'm heading to the garage to do some re-wiring.. Thanks for the tip.


Jun 23, 2012 12:42 AM #3
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC


 I see missing bonging jumpers quite often. Like your example, if it ain't there your are the grounding rod ; )

Jun 23, 2012 01:44 AM #4
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

So, I get my jumper cable out of the trunk and hook it up, on one side and then the other of that filter, and I can start my car?

Might be the hormones did me in... entirely.

Jun 23, 2012 08:22 AM #5
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Fred, The wire is for the house pipes, not the main grounding conductor. The supply side is plastic because it comes from a well. That wire is isolated from both ends off the supply.

Charlie, Yep.

Todd, You're welcome and be careful.

Don, Another basic electrical lesson. 

Jay, Those hormones can alter the mind. 

Jun 23, 2012 10:57 PM #6
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo

Thank you for sharing your blog; we need Real estate Professionals to share their comments and information regarding their markets and experiences. Thanks again from beautiful Sunny San Diego.

Oct 28, 2012 01:33 AM #7
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Paul, Thanks for reading.

Oct 28, 2012 10:14 PM #8
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James Quarello

Connecticut Home Inspector
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