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Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

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  • Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

    My eyes weren't lieing tonight; when the brass nut was coming in contact with the pressure reducing valve I was installing, a small arc was present, very similar to what you would see from a piezo ignitor or small spark plug.

    I was wearing rubber gloves but they was still wet.


    One clamp above to hold the pipe in position was badly corroded, but it was a galvanized clamp on a copper pipe.


    The property owner didn't seem to care one bit, even though I told him to get an electrician over immediately.
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  • #2
    Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

    sounds like you broke the grounding when you disconnected the union. something has a short

    rick.
    phoebe it is

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    • #3
      Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

      Do you think the gloves protected me from getting knocked down, or glued to the pipe?

      I would "think" low-grade current.
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      • #4
        Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

        sounds like a loose or missing neutral conductor somewhere

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        • #5
          Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

          Sounds like a circuit is grounding out somewhere, not really a short, but a path to ground just the same. I wonder how well of a grounding system the service has, it may just have a water pipe bond as a grounding means where the connection may be weaking. I have been to places where just unhooking the grounding conductor creates an arc.

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          • #6
            Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

            Originally posted by DUNBAR PLUMBING View Post
            My eyes weren't lieing tonight; when the brass nut was coming in contact with the pressure reducing valve I was installing, a small arc was present, very similar to what you would see from a piezo ignitor or small spark plug.

            I was wearing rubber gloves but they was still wet.


            One clamp above to hold the pipe in position was badly corroded, but it was a galvanized clamp on a copper pipe.


            The property owner didn't seem to care one bit, even though I told him to get an electrician over immediately.
            What were you working on? Brass nut? Pressure reducing valve? Was this a water supply line? Metal, PVC or both? You do not say.

            As you know, metal water lines supplying structures are used as part of the bonding means for the electrical service. You were correct to suggest the customer call an electrician. If he ignored your suggestion he may just change his mind if someone is hurt or killed in a shower or bath.
            This could be a very serious situation, and may not fully show itself until something very bad happens.

            You should call the building codes and inspection dept and report it.
            Licensed Electrician

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            • #7
              Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

              Originally posted by John Valdes View Post
              What were you working on? Brass nut? Pressure reducing valve? Was this a water supply line? Metal, PVC or both? You do not say.

              As you know, metal water lines supplying structures are used as part of the bonding means for the electrical service. You were correct to suggest the customer call an electrician. If he ignored your suggestion he may just change his mind if someone is hurt or killed in a shower or bath.
              This could be a very serious situation, and may not fully show itself until something very bad happens.

              You should call the building codes and inspection dept and report it.

              Copper water service, my job was to install protection (Pressure Reducing Valve) on the main line and control the water pressure.

              I sweat in the connections first, then the PRV easily installs with 2 O-rings and when I started to connect the PRV to the water supply is when I witnessed the small arc create when the brass nut came in contact with the valve I was installing.

              The invoice hasn't been created on this job yet but you better believe it will be written to notify that the problem exists, and I strongly recommended a repair in regards to the potentially fatal/life threatening condition that exists in the water piping supply.

              This entire pipe is covered with pipe insulation and I covered the exposed piping back up, leaving the PRV exposed due to its size (cold air location) so contact by the property owner is limited, along with the distant location on a wall that isn't easily reachable. Still doesn't resolve the issue however.

              I'm just glad I didn't get zapped. I believe the gloves played a good role in avoiding that.
              Last edited by DUNBAR PLUMBING; 02-14-2010, 11:54 AM.
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              • #8
                Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

                Good idea. Put it on your paper work and have it added to the invoice. I guess you got a little wake up call yourself. Can you get a small volt meter. Then you could check the metal line before you touch it.
                Licensed Electrician

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                • #9
                  Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

                  Isnt it amazing how some people think with the wrong head. Should get the customer to come and hold the pipe for you. Bet that would change his mind real quick. They think we are dispensable, ha to that.
                  I onc ehad a ceiling grid arc up when I touched it. Got a sparkie next morning. He said I was sooking. Lucky he left before I got there. You can get wet feet and a cold but you cant see power until you start smelling or char.

                  Safety first.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

                    Originally posted by DUNBAR PLUMBING View Post
                    My eyes weren't lieing tonight; when the brass nut was coming in contact with the pressure reducing valve I was installing, a small arc was present, very similar to what you would see from a piezo ignitor or small spark plug.

                    I was wearing rubber gloves but they was still wet.


                    One clamp above to hold the pipe in position was badly corroded, but it was a galvanized clamp on a copper pipe.


                    The property owner didn't seem to care one bit, even though I told him to get an electrician over immediately.
                    Actually, one question I forgotten to ask: "Was this a residential unit or a commercia l/ light industrial area?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

                      Residential home
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                      • #12
                        Always assume it hot because it usually is

                        see that on services quite a lot. some times i work on farm customers pto generators. i don't sell them, but i will come in the middle of the night. hogs die without ventilators. pays really well. i've learned to stand on a milk crate and bond to the ground rod with my jumper cables. there is a lot of junk on farms. worked on a factory, once. put a amprobe on grounding conductor. north of 10 amps to ground. their in house maintenance people were going to just unhook it. i talked them out of that. i was putting in airlines. i changed out a service lost fall, was a residence meter tub, riser, some of the potable water piping had 120v flowing in it. ungrounded metal buildings with the skin hot. lol. although it's not really funny. i work over on the dark side so i just grab the wires to see if they are hot. please don't do that. there are circuit testers greenlee gt-11, etc. what they will do is tell you if you have a problem, then you can deal with it or call me. breid............

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                        • #13
                          Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

                          I've seen in too many older houses where the only real ground was at the water service entrance. They figured the water pipe in the ground would serve well. What they didn't think about was what would happen during plumbing repairs.

                          You would do well to strongly recommend an electrician upgrade grounding before someone really does get zapped.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

                            Originally posted by DUNBAR PLUMBING View Post
                            Residential home

                            Well, scratch that theory. I came accross older commercial buildings fed with the old corner ground Delta systems where I damn near gotten belted off the ground wire upon reconnection. That was one hell of an arc that was created as I trying to rebond to the panel grounding bar.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Electrical arcing when installing Pressure Reducing Valve

                              check the neutral on the electrical service.i had same issue years ago when i went to change a water heater in south omaha,except when i unscrewed the union on the gas line all the lights went off! i didnt change that water heater!

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