Properly grounding the electrical system in your home is important for safety, and for a variety of other reasons, including the fact that surge protectors won’t work as well if it’s not. Well, you’ve looked in the electrical panel, and you’ve seen that thick copper stranded wire, and it’s connected to the water pipe, so everything’s hunky dory, right?
The water pipe has long been considered a great path to ground because it goes, well, into the ground outside your house. But unless the ground wire is connected right at the point where the pipes enter the house, you may not be properly grounded.
You have a water heater, right? It’s quite possible it has plastic components inside, or maybe the installer used Teflon tape on the threads of various joints. If the ground wire is downstream of the water heater, the path to ground is interrupted.
Then there are water softeners. The water meter itself may break the path, too. Finally, you might have plastic connectors on various locations in your plumbing.
One solution is to attach a copper strap on one side of these interruptions, and connect it to the pipes on the upstream side. But ideally, the ground wire from the panel should connect either to the pipe where it first enters the house, or to a long rod driven into the ground or buried outside your house. To make sure this is done correctly, it’s a good idea to call in an electrician.
But in the meantime, you can determine if it’s necessary, by examining where the connection’s made to the water pipe system and by using a circuit tester at various outlets to check whether it’s properly grounded.