12 Amps on Water Main!

I've got a problem with the grounding in my neighborhood, and I need some help in getting the right solution.
I noticed high EMF throughout much of my house, even with all
appliances turned off. I shut off all power to the house at the main breaker, and there was no improvement in the situation. I found that even with the main breaker shut off, a clamp-on ammeter always registers a current going through my water supply. I've followed this for about a week now. I'm typically seeing around 3 Amps, although sometimes it's lower, and at other times it's significantly higher.
I began to suspect that this is not just a problem with my house. I found the same situation in my next-door neighbor's basement. I measured 7 amps on their water main yesterday, and came back and immediately found 12 amps on my own water main. However, other houses on the same block, on the opposite side of the neighborhood transformer and on the opposite side of the street do not seem to have this problem.
I repeated the test for the power company today, and showed the current on the water main, despite the main breaker being off. They checked for an open neutral, but said they couldn't detect one on the house, and then seemed to brush off the question of the current through the water main. They're going to install a meter to detect voltage fluctuations on the line, but I'm not sure if this is the right path. If neutral is perfectly stable, but is occurring through the water main instead of their neutral, then why would it fluctuate? If I can, I'd like to direct them to a check that will show the problem.
What can I do to make sure the power company performs the right diagnosis? I believe the current on the water main represents a shock hazard, in addition to causing high EMF via a net current on my water pipes.
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boltsnvolts wrote :

Yes, it is common to see residual voltage on plumbing. That is why there is supposed to be an earth bond connected to the water supply where it first enters the structure.
You will find that the voltage will not be that high...could be only 10-20 volts.
The transformer that supplies power to your house has a centre tap that is neutral. it is the return point in the transformer, that point is connected to the neutral cable to your supply and to the Ground (or earth as it is called here). The neutral is simple, it is the return for your supply. The Ground is also a return for your supply, but it carries leaking current. All electric devices are not perfectly isolated from ground, they may leak just a few micro-volts to 1-2 volts. So now every one of these "leaks" allows a bit more voltage to ground. Your plumbing offers a nice low resistance path back to the transformer, so you will tend to see higher current flow in your pipework. The only reason you would be measuring anything inside of your house is because your plumbing doesn't have an earth bond connected.
The power company can't find a problem with thier equipment because it is working as intended, your problem is due to you or one of your neighbors having an appliance that is possibly faulty.
Forgive for being a bit incoherent, it is 6:00 Am and I haven't had my coffee yet.
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OK, this is also a plausible explanation. I don't think I can tell my neighbors what to do, nor can I prevent them from making changes in the future that undo any improvements. I guess my question is really "how can I isolate my house from the net current through my water supply?" (specifically, without doing something illegal/stupid, like removing the bond between my neutral and the water inlet)
I've heard of installation of an insulating connector on my water main. Does this represent a shock hazard to the person installing it? Also, isn't there a shock hazard present in my current situation? I'm very concerned about that. Also, the net currents induce enough of a magnetic field in my living space to interfere significantly with certain electronics (which is what tipped me off to the problem).
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I would suspect that someone in your neighborhood is missing a main bonding jumper and they have a short to ground somewhere in their system. I have witnessed such an anomally at a job I inspected back in the early 90's. I accidently found the problem when I touched the range that was grounded to the neutral back then and the metal sink at the same time. I got shocked because all the water pipes were solidly shorted to the the line side at a circulationg pump motor housing where the metal cover pinched a wire. When the main bonding jumper was installed the respective breaker for the water pump immedialtely tripped. Prior to this everything worked just fine except there was this current going back through the grounding system like nothing was wrong at all. While inspecting homes in the Fairbanks North Star Borough I found that about 5 percent of them never had the main bonding jumper installed because they were wired by homeowners. The main bonding jumper is probably the most important connection in the entire electrical system but is also one of the least understood since an electrical system will continue to work for years in some cases without this connection ever being made.
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In article

MMM. I don't see how that makes sense. If he's drawing 3 to 12 amps in his water main with his own power off, then somebody has to be dumping that or greater into ground somewhere, when they should be drawing it from neutral instead.
I don't see a neighbor's missing ground wire doing that, because that's much greater than the ground current that should be going through his neighbor's ground wire under normal conditions. If the neutral was wired back to the transformer for everybody on his local distribution, the lowest impedance path back to the transformer would be through each customer's neutral mains wire, and that's where almost all of the current would be flowing. There wouldn't be amps left over to go through anybody's plumbing.
I think what could be more likely is that he or his neighbor is missing the NEUTRAL connection, so somebody's drawing his neutral current through boltsnvolts pipe and maybe his neutral grounding wire.
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Hugh Gibbons wrote:

House A has no "main bonding jumper" (N-G bond) and has a H-G short. The fault current doesn't return to the transformer through the house A neutral because there is no path.
House B has a "main bonding jumper". The fault current goes from house A hot to "ground", through the water service pipe to house B, through the house B main bonding jumper to the service neutral and back to the transformer.
The resistance to earth, and back to through the transformer earth connection would have to be high enough not to trip the breaker (but this is Alaska). The metallic path through a metal municipal water system and house B could easily be lower.

It is a H-G fault, which is not a normal condition. What is missing is a N-G bond at the service.

But there is no connection from "ground" to neutral at house A.
----------- When water service pipes are frozen one method of thawing them is to connect a welder to the water pipe in the house and to a fire hydrant outside. This can reportedly cause a fire in an adjacent house if the water meter and earthing connections to the water service pipe are not removed.

Also plausible and simpler.
To the OP - I suggest you ignore the troll from @webtv.net [One of the troll links completely misses the main bonding jumper as the ground-fault return path.]
--
bud--

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From: snipped-for-privacy@isp.com (bud--) Hugh Gibbons wrote: In article
I would suspect that someone in your neighborhood is missing a main bonding jumper and they have a short to ground somewhere in their > system. MMM. I don't see how that makes sense. If he's drawing 3 to 12 amps in his water main with his own power off, then somebody has to be dumping that or greater into ground somewhere, when they should be drawing it from neutral instead. House A has no "main bonding jumper" (N-G bond) and has a H-G short. The fault current doesn't return to the transformer through the house A neutral because there is no path. House B has a "main bonding jumper". The fault current goes from house A hot to "ground", through the water service pipe to house B, through the house B main bonding jumper to the service neutral and back to the transformer. The resistance to earth, and back to through the transformer earth connection would have to be high enough not to trip the breaker (but this is Alaska). The metallic path through a metal municipal water system and house B could easily be lower. I don't see a neighbor's missing ground wire doing that, because that's much greater than the ground current that should be going through his neighbor's ground wire under normal conditions. It is a H-G fault, which is not a normal condition. What is missing is a N-G bond at the service. If the neutral was wired back to the transformer for everybody on his local distribution, the lowest impedance path back to the transformer would be through each customer's neutral mains wire, and that's where almost all of the current would be flowing. There wouldn't be amps left over to go through anybody's plumbing.[left over amps? can he geta doggy bag for that] lol But there is no connection from "ground" to neutral at house A. ----------- When water service pipes are frozen one method of thawing them is to connect a welder to the water pipe in the house and to a fire hydrant outside. This can reportedly cause a fire in an adjacent house if the water meter and earthing connections to the water service pipe are not removed. I think what could be more likely is that he or his neighbor is missing the NEUTRAL connection, so somebody's drawing his neutral current through boltsnvolts pipe and maybe his neutral grounding wire. Also plausible and simpler. To the OP - I suggest you ignore the troll from @webtv.net [One of the troll links completely misses the main bonding jumper as the ground-fault return path.] --bud--
Mr. budinsky, thou art very imaginative - The OP can barely resolve the problem at his dwelling, we'll see what he has to say when yon problem is resolved.... Inthemeantime we @webtv networks all rest well in the knowledge that we are not trolls or flamers, but duly registered and available usenet users., hardwired and qualified to respond to every post in kind.
Thou imaginings art absurd !
If there be No Neutral Connection the system would not avail the waterpipes with a voltage source now would it? Unless - You are suggesting that his waterpipe is being somehow used as a return in his dwelling place, Flame Boy? I suggest ye read my response more openly and pay attention to it's details.The problem ye describe would not occur with my observations addressed.
The Mighty WontVolt
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I am too busy retraining trolls for New Age work, perhaps your neighborhood was wired by some of them };-{) I did liked this link for you, left behind
http://www.inspect-ny.com/electric/ElecHaz256-DFs.jpg
Perhaps there is a similar situation in your residence, or worse = the neutral bond to ground is via the waterpipe and nothing else., in that event I believe the bond should not exist, the neutral should float in your breaker panel and the enclosure only should be grounded via the waterpipe.Whereas; the neutral should be earth bonded at the meter, when at a fair distance from your dist panel....You can have a neutral bond one way or the other, not both ways.
(!) Funny thing is the lack of a bonded neutral at the meter panel does not justify a bonded neutral indoors, unless, a solid earth ground with a proper electrode is provided at that panel... again, waterpipe clamped conductors are in my book, Only for Floating Neutral Equipment Grounding., Never for a Residential Bonded Conductor. the idea is that no current carrying conductor should be attached to the waterpipe..It's the "just in case" scheme only.
Your problem is most likely in your interior wiring or panel work... As in - An undetected illegal shunt = Hence you have volts at the waterpipes to earth.
Maybe someone spliced a ground for a neutral at a junction box or a skinned neutral conductor is touching metal adding current from the EGC to the pipes.
Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of medieval trolls on the job };-) You have got to love the implications, since some wiring wizards plan has somehow gone awry.
The Mighty WontVolt
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This is a common occurrence when your neutral connection is loose or corroded. The power is being redirected to ground due to the higher than normal resistance within the neutral. If you have an overhead service, water runs down the cable into the meter socket and right onto the neutral lug which is dead center. This causes rust, corrosion and the high resistance. Your best bet is to call in an electrician and have him pull out the meter to inspect the inside.
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From: snipped-for-privacy@XXcomcast.net (Rich.)
I've got a problem with the grounding in my neighborhood, and I need some help in getting the right solution. I noticed high EMF throughout much of my house, even with all appliances turned off. I shut off all power to the house at the main breaker, and there was no improvement in the situation. I found that even with the main breaker shut off, a clamp-on ammeter always registers a current going through my water supply. I've followed this for about a week now. I'm typically seeing around 3 Amps, although sometimes it's lower, and at other times it's significantly higher.
This is a common occurrence when your neutral connection is loose or corroded. The power is being redirected to ground due to the higher than normal resistance within the neutral. If you have an overhead service, water runs down the cable into the meter socket and right onto the neutral lug which is dead center. This causes rust, corrosion and the high resistance. Your best bet is to call in an electrician and have him pull out the meter to inspect the inside.
Rich, I commend you for your response, that is a sensible approach to discovering the problem at hand....I still suspect an illegal neutral tap to ground somewhere in his abode, or a bonding technique gone wrong., as ye described.
The Mighty WontVolt
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On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 10:21:04 -0800 (PST), boltsnvolts

With the main off, do you also have the 12a on the neutral from the utility?
I bet if you look at the transformer on the pole you will see it is wye connected. In that case earth becomes a parallel neutral path for the whole street. There is no way to avoid it. To see that much current you also have another problem on the neutral somewhere tho. I am not surprised to see an amp or two. When I looked at all the poles on my street there was somewhere from 1-3a on all the ground wires coming down the pole and I have 3 a on my neutral with the main off.
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I've had severe interference in my guitar equipment for as long as I've lived in the house. It's always seemed worse than any other place. I always believed it was a wiring issue inside the house. However, I've never been able to isolate on what circuit. Recently I did an experiment, where I powered the breaker off and tested through battery powered equipment. There was absolutely no improvement. That result was strange enough that I figured it was worth trying to quantify the result, instead of guessing where the problem was. And of course, that lead me straight to the water pipes.
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