View Full Version : Surge protector grounding

07-12-2009, 11:56 PM
A while ago, some of you may recall, I posed about my TV possibly getting fried by poor grounding and a passing electrical storm.

I was asking around, and it seemed a possible solution would be to ground just one or two outlets by attaching a wire from the ground to a cold water pipe and having my surge protectors on those outlets. I was attempting to do that today when I noticed that the ground pin of the surge protector is at 50v relative to the cold water pipe when it is powered on.

Is this normal? Is grounding it to the water pipe a decent solution? I wish I could do it proper like but I would prefer to no have to deal with the land lord.


07-13-2009, 12:00 AM
Sounds like you have a leaky ground.

07-13-2009, 12:37 AM
When what is powered in?

This can actually happen if the coil in the hot water heater (assuming it's not gas) is failing. Look into that.

Also check into the leaky ground scenario Adrenalynn mentioned.

07-13-2009, 01:00 AM
When the surge protector is powered on is when I get the voltage difference.

By leaky ground, do you mean that one of the devices on the surge protector is leaking current to ground?

I am beginning to think this may not be such a grand idea (ie. I know just enough to kill myself here) and that I should just hope for the best with my current un-grounded system.

07-13-2009, 01:27 AM
Generally, especially in older homes/buildings, leaky ground comes from a connection that is "almost" shorting to ground. It's pumping enough into ground to raise its potential. (assuming it's on a different breaker than Jes' heating element scenario)

I have a "funny" story about that. But I won't regale you with the blood and police and hammer-and-chisel story at the moment... ;)

07-13-2009, 01:48 AM
There is no for anything else in the house to be shorting to. Everything in the house is two pronged and there is no ground to be found. Thats why I wanted to ground the surge protector to the cold water pipe.

The only thing that might be shorting to ground would be the surge protector itself, the TV or the computer which are plugged into the protector. I guess the next step would be to unplug the TV and computer and see if either of them are the ones creating the problem.

07-13-2009, 02:50 AM
"no ground to be found" = no electricity.

07-13-2009, 12:40 PM
Seems as though you are asking for a problem, generally life is easier when you keep your power system separate from your water system. Not only for the obvious reasons, but for more subtle ones as well. Not too long ago I saw a situation where an older home had the 1950's era wiring simply laying across the copper water pipes. Generally speaking older homes are not grounded well to begin with, and 1950's era wires weren't insulated like todays wires. No one got electrocuted, but apparently there had been some electrolysis going on, the copper pipes looked like swiss cheese for about a foot on either side of where the electric wire touched the pipe. Eventually the pipes sprang leaks which went unnoticed for quite a while, by the time it was discovered the copper pipes looked like a "soaker hose" with small streams of water spraying in every direction.

07-13-2009, 12:55 PM
Yup - or another example - lathe-and-plaster. The pipes penetrate the chicken wire of the lath. The insulation on the old wires gets corrupted and cracked, comes in light contact with the chicken wire and now the whole house is a "little electrified". Reach out to turn the sink on when you're standing barefoot and zit! Ouch! Not enough to kill anyone but sure as heck annoying day-in-and-day-out.