Water heater question

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  #1  
Old 06-22-01, 09:02 PM
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I am selling my house and the buyer had it inspected. The inspector said the following about my gas water heater:
"No electrical bonding noted at water lines."

Does anyone know what this means? If so, does this problem need to be addressed for efficiency or safety reasons?

Thanks,

David
 
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  #2  
Old 06-23-01, 07:04 AM
s1nuber
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If you have a water heater with no electrical connections to the building power system, the NEC does not require any additional bonding or grounding if you have an entirely metal water pipe system, and the water pipe is used as a part of the grounding electrode system.

The potential problems:

1) Your house does not have a grounding electrode conductor connected to your metal water piping system. By today's code, this connection must be made within 5 feet of the water pipe's entrance into your home (usually by the main water shut off). Older homes may have had this connection under the kitchen sink, or at the water heater. Your inspector may have only looked by the water heater, and did not check anywhere else. Normally, older homes are allowed to be grandfathered if they do not meet new code. Code upgrades are generally not required unless new work is performed. This decision can only be made by your local building official.

2) Metal water pipes are required to be bonded (electrically connected), even if they are not a part of the grounding electrode system. This means that if part of your metal water piping system has been replaced with plastic, then all metal sections must be connected with a 'bonding jumper' (wire) to ensure electrical continuity.

It is important to remember that home inspectors perform a valuable service, but that they are not trade experts. Home inspectors (not your local building inspector/permit enforcer) are usually not even required to be licensed. These individuals may vary in experience from ex code inspectors, to ex building maintenance, to home study certified individuals. Some provide valuable information on valid code defeciencies, others confuse requirements with important sounding phrases to give the impression that they know what they are doing.

I would contact the individual that provided the inspection, and ask what they mean as well as their qualifications to be a home inspector. Ask them to provide the code article and document they are referring to (article 250-104 of the National Electric Code, or article 520.1.8 of the Uniform Building Code for example).

Another option would be to hire your own inspector (or electrician in this case) to verify the requirement in question. Make sure the invoice that you receive from this inspection has the contractor's license number as well as the electrician's license number on it, as this will give your inspection more formality. You will want to talk over these options with your realtor as well.

Enjoy your day!
 
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