Current In Water

phonedave

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I'm no electrician either, but I have personally encountered a problem which was solved by moving a white neutral wire from the ground bus to the neutral bus. I had a GFCI breaker which kept tripping. Opening the panel revealed the misplaced neutral wire (installed by my PB's "electrician"). Moving it to the neutral bus solved the problem 100%.

So in my ignorance, I believe that voltage differential can be present even when my mental model says different wires should be at the same potential.

Neutrals and grounds are bonded in the main service entrance panel. They should not be bonded anywhere else.

New panels have a ground bus bar and a neutral bus bar, but if you look in the main panel the two busses are bonded together. In any sub-panel the neutral and ground busses are not connected (bonded)

They are bonded at the main panel, because you need a way to clear a fault. If your ground becomes energized, it will be bonded to the neutral and return the electricity to the transformer, and trip the breaker.

What happens if you bond them at a sub panel is that electricity is going to go where physics dictates it should go. Simplistically, you have power coming in on the hot leg, and returning on the neutral leg, and nothing on the ground. But if you bond that ground to a neutral at the subpanel, it may easier for electricity to "go back" on the neutral to the sub panel, and then instead of staying on the neutral back to the transformer, it might be easier for it to go on the ground to somewhere else - like a pool.

If you only bond them at the main panel, you know that the return electricity is going to go back on the neutral the entire way, and your grounds will not have voltage on them.
 

Lineman7

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Neutrals and grounds are bonded in the main service entrance panel. They should not be bonded anywhere else.

New panels have a ground bus bar and a neutral bus bar, but if you look in the main panel the two busses are bonded together. In any sub-panel the neutral and ground busses are not connected (bonded)

They are bonded at the main panel, because you need a way to clear a fault. If your ground becomes energized, it will be bonded to the neutral and return the electricity to the transformer, and trip the breaker.

What happens if you bond them at a sub panel is that electricity is going to go where physics dictates it should go. Simplistically, you have power coming in on the hot leg, and returning on the neutral leg, and nothing on the ground. But if you bond that ground to a neutral at the subpanel, it may easier for electricity to "go back" on the neutral to the sub panel, and then instead of staying on the neutral back to the transformer, it might be easier for it to go on the ground to somewhere else - like a pool.

If you only bond them at the main panel, you know that the return electricity is going to go back on the neutral the entire way, and your grounds will not have voltage on them.
So a sub-panel should not be connected to a driven ground rod? The pool bond should go to a driven ground rod? And all other grounds connected to earth?
 

Lineman7

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So a sub-panel should not be connected to a driven ground rod? The pool bond should go to a driven ground rod? And all other grounds connected to earth?
Never mind. I did some reading on this during lunch. I understand now.
 

Plettschner

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Never mind. I did some reading on this during lunch. I understand now.
What did you find? I was flipping through NEC Article 250 and couldn't find what I was looking for about a subpanel with a ground rod. I'm sure it is in there and I missed it.
 
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Lineman7

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What did you find? I was flipping through NEC Article 250 and couldn't find what I was looking for about a subpanel with a ground rod. I'm sure it is in there and I missed it.
I never found the article# just reading through the webs. Which a ground rod is ok in the panel. Is long as it is isolated from the neutral. I never knew that neutral and ground never marry back up after the main panel.

And also, that the bond wire is just that. A bond. Just bonding all the electrical pool equipment. It doesn't terminate to anything other than its self, equipment and earth its laying under.
 
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ImpalaSS

Well-known member
May 5, 2020
102
Southern Maryland
Bite the bullet one more time and have an electrician check the bonding in your main panel. There should be at least 2 of the following:

Assuming you have a 200a service
#6 wire connected to 1 or 2 ground rods. (1970s there is probably 1)
OR
#4 wire connected to your house footer (rare in the 1970s)
AND
#4 wire connected to your copper water lines

There should also be a bonding screw or jumper wire connecting the the ground bar to your neutral bar in the main panel if they are not connected to the same bar. (the ground wires, neutral wires and the panel can itself are all to be bonded together on a main service panel.

The grounds and neutrals in your sub-panel should be separated with NO bonding screw or jumper. You do not need a ground rod unless the sub panel is located in another building or garage not connected to your house. The pool control panel does not need a ground rod neither does the pool.
 
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spencia98gt

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I'm no electrician either, but I have personally encountered a problem which was solved by moving a white neutral wire from the ground bus to the neutral bus. I had a GFCI breaker which kept tripping. Opening the panel revealed the misplaced neutral wire (installed by my PB's "electrician"). Moving it to the neutral bus solved the problem 100%.

So in my ignorance, I believe that voltage differential can be present even when my mental model says different wires should be at the same potential.
Was that at your main panel or sub panel?
 

spencia98gt

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May 3, 2021
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Bite the bullet one more time and have an electrician check the bonding in your main panel. There should be at least 2 of the following:

Assuming you have a 200a service
#6 wire connected to 1 or 2 ground rods. (1970s there is probably 1)
OR
#4 wire connected to your house footer (rare in the 1970s)
AND
#4 wire connected to your copper water lines

There should also be a bonding screw or jumper wire connecting the the ground bar to your neutral bar in the main panel if they are not connected to the same bar. (the ground wires, neutral wires and the panel can itself are all to be bonded together on a main service panel.

The grounds and neutrals in your sub-panel should be separated with NO bonding screw or jumper. You do not need a ground rod unless the sub panel is located in another building or garage not connected to your house. The pool control panel does not need a ground rod neither does the pool.
96FC440B-FD1A-4C45-8AE6-57F628CDDBF6.jpeg
 
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spencia98gt

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This is my mess of a main panel. Neutrals and grounds are all on mixed in on the 3 bars that are connected and bonded to the panel. I noticed quite a few neutrals and grounds were in the same holes so I separated those. Also the large lugs on the neutral bar were corroded so I tried brushing those off. I’m not sure what those exposed aluminum neutral wires are though but there are quite a few of them in one lug not sure if that’s ok or not. I have overhead utilities coming into the house and where it meets the house there is a 6 gauge wire connecting to 2 ground rods. One of the electricians did add the second rod. I’m not sure about the #4 wire connected to the copper pipes though. I’ll go try and look for that. My sub panel is outside by the pool so does it need a ground rod there? When current is present I’ve tried removing the wire from the ground rod there but it has no affect on it. And the sub panel does have a separate ground bar and neutral bar that are not bonded. After all my little fixes in the main panel I come out to the pool just a little bit ago to find current in the pool again….so just to confirm again I went to the sub panel and disconnected the main ground coming in and boom the current was immediately gone. I’ve read about bad neutrals coming into the house. Could that be the issue or cause? Can electrician figure that out or does it have to be the utility company? I had them come out when I first noticed the current and they were here for all of 10 minutes and said everything looked good.
 

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ImpalaSS

Well-known member
May 5, 2020
102
Southern Maryland
A bad neutral coming into the house could cause an issue similar to what you are seeing. Basically its using your pool as a neutral for power company transformer.(Actually your whole grounding system that your pool is a part of, thats why you are only seeing 5 +/- volts at your pool) It could be that the transformer is not grounded properly. I'd give the power company a call. If that is the problem it could also keep your breakers from tripping if there was a fault.

DISCLAIMER: This is all purely speculation. I have no way of really troubleshooting without being there in person.
 

Lineman7

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So... here we go.

Good news- That is your problem. Those terminals are shot and will not be able to be corrected. The screws to those terminals are beyond able to be tighten/loosened. Hex head might be ok with LOTS of penetration oil. 95% fail rate there. Flat head screws are toast. Without a doubt and can not be tightened or loosened.

Bad news- Good luck finding a replacement bar. You can try. You will need model number and year of that box and call around. Most electricians don't like replacing parts. They would rather turn key ya a new box. But a good ol' boy just might have parts for your panel.

Also, if that is your main coming into your house. That is your responsibility and the power company will probably charge you for a temporary disconnect/reconnect so you can make repairs past the meter. This will not be cheap. Can be cheaper if your out of city limits, no inspection and do the work yourself.

You need to call every one of those elec. companies you called, ask for the boss and tell them to come out and look at what their incompetent employees missed. The fact that they don't understand what's going on in your panel is BS.

I think I covered everything. I got the kids raising heck...... I might add more in a bit.
 

Lineman7

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Also, with that picture being your main. Your going to start burning stuff up in your house. I highly recommend getting that solved asap.
 

spencia98gt

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Also, with that picture being your main. Your going to start burning stuff up in your house. I highly recommend getting that solved asap
Are you saying just the tiered neutral bar needs to be replaced or the entire panel? I tried looking and I’m not seeing that neutral bar anywhere. Who knows hold old this GE panel is. I wouldn’t even mind replacing the entire panel if it would fix my issue and it would just be helpful to be nice and clean for the future.
 
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Orion7319

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Are you saying just the tiered neutral bar needs to be replaced or the entire panel? I tried looking and I’m not seeing that neutral bar anywhere. Who knows hold old this GE panel is. I wouldn’t even mind replacing the entire panel if it would fix my issue and it would just be helpful to be nice and clean for the future.
I can relate, I’m looking at replacing my main service panel sometime down the line. Not the funnest thing to spend money on…
 

Bperry

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I replaced the main panel at our old house, it’s not terribly hard, just get the power turned off, and make sure to label each wire before turning it off.
 

drsipe

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I'm not going to argue with Lineman7, your panels should probably be replaced and the wiring cleaned up. I would hate to work in that box,,,, it's a mess.

I will state this even though I'm sure that you already know, with current in the pool, for safety keep everyone out of the pool till the issue is resolved, and this is electricity, so if you are not comfortable and competent, you should stay out of the panel.

With that said, since you said that when you lift the ground wire in the sub-panel, the current goes away. Use a multi-meter to check for voltage between the lifted wire and the sub-panel ground. If voltage is present, reconnect the ground to the sub-panel and go to the main manel and lift the ground going to the sub-panel and again check for voltage between the lifted ground wire and the main panel ground. If voltage is present, then the real fun begins because that means that one of your main panel grounds is at least in partial contact with an energized wire somewhere in your house. The contact may be so slight that it's not tripping the breaker or causing issues.

You may be able to trouble shoot this by keeping the multi-meter connected to the disconnected ground wire which runs to the sub-panel and the main panel ground. Then one at a time, turn off individual breakers and see if the voltage on the ground goes away. If it does, you will need to look at that circuit for any contact between the ground/neutral and the hot wire.

I've seen some very scary stuff in peoples houses, people do a lot of home remedies for problems that make things work, but are not safe. I've seen people tap into one side of the stove outlet to power a refrigerator, and I saw one house where they were using the HVAC metal duct work as part of their neutral circuit for lighting in the laundry room. Just because it works doesn't make it right or safe.
 

Lineman7

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Are you saying just the tiered neutral bar needs to be replaced or the entire panel? I tried looking and I’m not seeing that neutral bar anywhere. Who knows hold old this GE panel is. I wouldn’t even mind replacing the entire panel if it would fix my issue and it would just be helpful to be nice and clean for the future.
96FC440B-FD1A-4C45-8AE6-57F628CDDBF6.jpeg

I think #1 is your main feed neutral from the utility? See how corroded it is? Not sure where #2's are going but they are just as bad. That is going to haunt you down the road, if it's not already.

I recommend replacing with a Square D main.
 

spencia98gt

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May 3, 2021
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I'm not going to argue with Lineman7, your panels should probably be replaced and the wiring cleaned up. I would hate to work in that box,,,, it's a mess.

I will state this even though I'm sure that you already know, with current in the pool, for safety keep everyone out of the pool till the issue is resolved, and this is electricity, so if you are not comfortable and competent, you should stay out of the panel.

With that said, since you said that when you lift the ground wire in the sub-panel, the current goes away. Use a multi-meter to check for voltage between the lifted wire and the sub-panel ground. If voltage is present, reconnect the ground to the sub-panel and go to the main manel and lift the ground going to the sub-panel and again check for voltage between the lifted ground wire and the main panel ground. If voltage is present, then the real fun begins because that means that one of your main panel grounds is at least in partial contact with an energized wire somewhere in your house. The contact may be so slight that it's not tripping the breaker or causing issues.

You may be able to trouble shoot this by keeping the multi-meter connected to the disconnected ground wire which runs to the sub-panel and the main panel ground. Then one at a time, turn off individual breakers and see if the voltage on the ground goes away. If it does, you will need to look at that circuit for any contact between the ground/neutral and the hot wire.

I've seen some very scary stuff in peoples houses, people do a lot of home remedies for problems that make things work, but are not safe. I've seen people tap into one side of the stove outlet to power a refrigerator, and I saw one house where they were using the HVAC metal duct work as part of their neutral circuit for lighting in the laundry room. Just because it works doesn't make it right or safe.
Yeah I’m definitely going to reach out to an electrician for replacing the panel. As far as your method for testing the voltage goes, when I first realized the current in the pool we cut off the main breaker and it was still there so I would imagine that trumps the whole idea of flipping each of the breakers until the current is gone theory right? That’s why I thought it would have to be coming from the transformer on the power pole or something. And also hoping that maybe the neutral coming into the main panel into that heavily corrroded lug could have something to do with it.
 

Lineman7

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we cut off the main breaker and it was still there
That's highly suspect. You might create a trouble ticket with your power utility and let them know that is happening. That could imply that they might have a capacitor bank nearby with a blown fuse. That current imbalance will be carried on the system neutral. Did this problem occur after a recent lightning storm?
 

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