Remove old grounding wire?? Help!!

Old 06-15-18, 05:38 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: USA
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Question Remove old grounding wire?? Help!!

Our house, built in '68 w/ all copper plumbing, has/had a grounding wire leading from outside the home to our basement inside and is affixed to [cold] copper water pipe [to water heater]. I know this was common practice when our home was built. However, on the outside of the house, the wire is only about 2 feet in length, not attached to anything (a rod, etc.) and had just a couple inches of the end stuck in the ground.

To my novice self, this doesn't seem to be a proper grounding wire any longer. I'm wondering if it's from an old telephone box or something else that was removed long ago & the water pipe was used to ground it?

Would love an opinion from any pros out there whether this can be removed. (I may/may not have plundered a piece of the wire to fix a refrigerator and need to know if I need to re-attach it to the water pipe! Hindsight is always 50/50, right?)

Thanks a bunch for any & all advice!
Old 06-15-18, 02:20 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 15,252
Received 113 Votes on 98 Posts
A grounding wire to a ground rod or a water pipe has nothing to do with the third prong on a receptacle which is what I think you are concerned about .

A receptacle should be grounded back to the panel it originates from. Is there a ground in the cable?
Old 06-15-18, 05:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,495
Received 36 Votes on 28 Posts
Until Winstead returns (IF he/she returns) I will assume that he/she is another Facebook one-post wonder. However, unlike PC I suspect the question has to do with the Grounding Electrode Conductor (GEC) and NOT an equipment grounding conductor.

Winstead, if you DO return please post a few pictures of this "wire" and where it was connected inside the house as well as where it is outside.
Old 06-18-18, 05:07 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: USA
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Hey...definitely not a one-time wonder. ...thanks!

Thanks so much for your responses, Furd & PCBoss I think?! But first, Furd, I don't use FB a lot & I (think) I'm really happy to have found your forum because my husband does year long tours of duty in war zones and I'm left to fend for myself with home repairs!

There's no receptacle of any kind involved here, no third prong. It's just one silly wire by itself. I posted pics of the wire, outside the house, coming into the house & from the inside. (Apologies that the upload rotated the pics sideways!) In the pic, it is the smaller, white wire in the center. Just a few inches go down into the gound.

I looked and our copper piping is not grounded (as it should be) within 15 ft of where it enters the house, so I wonder if that's the purpose of this ground our copper water pipes?? From the 3rd pic, it just goes straight to a clamp on the cold water pipe about 5 ft from the pipe entrance into the water heater.

Thanks again for any insight.

Name:  gw1.jpg
Views: 247
Size:  60.7 KB

Name:  gw2.jpg
Views: 249
Size:  75.3 KB

Name:  gw3.jpg
Views: 252
Size:  57.4 KB

Last edited by PJmax; 06-18-18 at 05:35 PM. Reason: cropped/reoriented pictures
Old 06-18-18, 06:26 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 4,452
Received 131 Votes on 120 Posts
The grounding electrode conductor to the fresh water plumbing is attached within five feet of where the cold water supply pipe exits the house underground, without any devices such as a pressure regulator in between. If the cold water supply pipe is known to not be metal for ten or more feet beyond the house then a fat copper wire attached there does not count as a GEC. A different (say, outgoing to a shed) metal water pipe can be the grounding electrode, or none if no exiting water pipes qualify.

Plumbing is not "grounded" directly to ground rods.

A bonding jumper (same #4, sometimes #6, copper) may be run from anywhere on metal plumbing to the breaker panel and attached to the ground bus bar there. If it fist reaches a GEC it may end and be clamped on there. A bonding jumper should join any section of metal plumbing orphaned by a section of plastic plumbing in between to metal plumbing that is bonded to the electrical system. This is sized for the equipment grounding conductor of the largest branch circuit running near that orphaned section of plumbing.

I conclude that the bare wire end currently stuck like an ostrich head in the sand currently cannot serve any official purpose outside. (It could serve as a ground for a child's (or hobbyist's) crystal radio.) Now you could pull it all inside and connect the loose end to the hot pipe out of the water heater. This provides the recommended bonding of the hot water plumbing to the rest of the plumbing.

I am unable to make tails or heads out of the pictures shown except I see what looks like a plastic water pipe exiting the house underground.

Possible off topic suggestion for those eavesdropping: Do not take vertical (portrait orientation) photographs of material intended to be posted on line or presented using video projectors.

I would not insinuate that somebody might be a Facebook one post wonder after his absence for less than a day.

Last edited by AllanJ; 06-18-18 at 06:51 AM.
Old 06-18-18, 10:23 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 5,759
Received 189 Votes on 169 Posts
That size/type wire was often used for telephone bonding/grounding. The telephone block was attached to the closest water pipe via a 12ga solid wire. That's what it looks like to me.

There should be a heavier gauge wire (#8, #6) from your electrical panel to cold water pipe. In the 60's it was usually attached to the closest water pipe. Nowadays, it needs to be within 5' of where it enters the house. Now you also need 2 ground rods along with a jumper between the hot/cold water pipes at the water heater.

You don't necessarily need to upgrade the grounding/bonding in your house, but it could be a worthwhile project.
Old 06-18-18, 05:36 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 61,857
Received 1,480 Votes on 1,368 Posts
That piece of wire was from a utility ground connection. It can now be removed as it's no longer needed.
Old 06-25-18, 05:27 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: USA
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Smile Thanks so much!!

Thank you, thank you Allen, Pete and Zorfdt so much for taking the time to respond! A great learning process for me. I initially thought it's from the old telephone, but regardless, it's now going to be history. (I found the heavy wire/grounding for our box coming off directly by the hot water heater & followed it outside to grounding rods in the earth .) Have a great 4th of July!

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: