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Home / Technical Articles / You can use water pipes for grounding purposes, but…

Water Pipes for grounding

Water pipes have been used extensively in the past as a grounding electrode. Water pipe connections are not testable and are unreliable due to the use of tar coatings and plastic fittings.

You can use water pipes for grounding purposes, but...
You can use water pipes for grounding purposes, but... (on photo: Metal water pipe used as grounding electrode; credit:

City water departments have begun to specifically install plastic insulators in the pipelines to prevent the flow of current and reduce the corrosive effects of electrolysis. Since water pipes are continuous city wide, fault conditions in adjacent neighborhoods could backfeed current into sensitive equipment causing unintentional damage.

The NEC requires that at least one additional electrode be installed when using water metal pipes as an electrode.

There are six several additional requirements including //

  1. 10 ft of the water pipe is in direct contact with the earth
  2. Joints must be electrically continuous
  3. Water meters may not be relied upon for the grounding path
  4. Bonding jumpers must be used around any insulating joints, pipe, or meters
  5. Primary connection to the water pipe must be on the street side of the water meter
  6. Primary connection to the water pipe shall be within 5 ft of the point of entrance to the building
The NEC requires that water pipes be bonded to ground, even if these metal pipes are not used as part of the grounding system.

Reference // Standard Handbook for Electrical Engineers By Donald G. Fink, H. Wayne Beaty (Get it from Amazon)

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Edvard Csanyi

Electrical engineer, programmer and founder of EEP. Highly specialized for design of LV/MV switchgears and LV high power busbar trunking (<6300A) in power substations, commercial buildings and industry facilities. Professional in AutoCAD programming.


  1. Gilsulate
    Oct 30, 2020

    Thank you so much to share this article. It contains important information. Keep writing to us.

  2. Tim Ramich
    May 29, 2019

    At places like campgrounds, a solid metal pipe goes 3 feet into the ground. Places like that are perfectly acceptable for grounding. Imagine having to buy a copper rod for each site if pipes were an absolute no-no.

    • Eric Smith
      Jun 25, 2019

      Yeah, could you even imagine? Grounding rods cost like a whole $8 and take like a whole MINUTE to install! However would we cope with having to buy ground rods?

  3. Manuel Bolotinha
    Apr 17, 2016

    In Europe, namely in Portugal, national wiring regulations no longer allowthe use of water pipes fo grounding purposes.
    Nowadays is is useless to discuss this topic.

  4. Abdulgader Abuhlega
    Apr 16, 2016

    Dear all
    I have been using water pipes system as a ground for more than 10 years and it is perfect,here who.
    As it mentioned above that the government changed the pipes to PPR type but in the same time they did not remove the old still pipes and it is covering an aria over 50 KM squire and rounding all the houses in my aria and very deep in the ground which is a good earth .another thing i used this ground as a neutral
    when the neutral cable has been cut during the fitting with gadafi troops that they protecting his house and it works perfect with lights and small appliances like TV-VIDEOS-PLAY STATIONS-COMPUTERS.

    • Bob Lewis
      Jan 25, 2021

      But what is the damage to the water piping, pitting and corrosion if the ground isn’t connected close to the water meter?

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