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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. FJB
    Sep 01, 2022

    So whats a underground water pipe electrode? Yes it needs an additional grounding means ie rod, plate, ufer, etc, but as long as 10ft is in the ground the water pipe entering into your home is an electrode. And according to the NEC where this UWPE is connected to a water pipe within 5ft of where it enters the house it can provide an extension to a GEC. I take this to mean that copper water pipe on the other side of the house that is electrically continuous = continuity to the ground, shall be permitted to tie into with your GEC. Why else state this in the NEC? 250-68C. Then right after in contradicts itself – I suspect liberals are witing out codes nowadays!

  2. Sheri
    Jul 04, 2022

    I have been shocked by my outside water spicket! There are 2 copper wire coming outside my garage wall through a galvanized pipe and also at the spicket closest to my main water line in my front yard there was a cable with a ground wire that was leading from the sticker to the inside of my house via the telephone line. It had been severed by a tree that fell in my yard. The sticker shocked me when I had turned the valve off. The plastic valve was loose so I pushed on the screw and turned it. When part of my hand touched the metal I was given a jolt that could have electrocuted me, thank God I was not turning a metal handle. What exactly is the problem or problems with the ground in my house? The lights are flashing and I cannot even use my washer anymore. I am so scared of a fire and I cannot afford an electrician. What can I do to fix this problem?

  3. Leonard chase
    Dec 20, 2021

    Can I use galvanised pipe instead of rod to ground an electric fence?

  4. Wayne Morrison
    Oct 24, 2021

    I noticed the ground wire from my outside pipe was broken and te=wisted it back together.
    I noticed the same on my gas meter not a good connection, called the utilities and nothing is done. Guess I wll have to do it myself.

  5. Gilsulate
    Oct 30, 2020

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

  6. 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?

      • Lucas
        Aug 14, 2023

        I live in an apartment building with any grounding in electrical outlets… there’s no way I can buy and install a rod (I wish I could)

  7. 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.

    • Jackie Wahlig
      Oct 27, 2021

      They have a ground wire on our water pipe and in Wisconsin. I was having issues and an electrician and electrical engineer somehow separated the water pipe with a piece of plexiglass. There was current running along all the pipes. After that was done the emf dropped to -0- on the water pipe measured on the living room floor. These guys also told me that the ground will also connect you to any wiring above or below ground and to neighbors dirty electric. Who do you call to do that as my electrician is retired.

  8. 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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