Author Topic: Should I worry about this?  (Read 9960 times)

Offline JTL

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 210
Should I worry about this?
« on: January 01, 2015, 09:53:11 pm »
The ground rods of my house were buried somewhere outside my wet kitchen.  Around this area it is paved.  This area where the ground rods are is not paved but encircled with short brick walls.  The worker who built these walls left a hole at the foot of one of the walls, with the intention for water to drain into the bare soil inside. I wasn’t aware of the hole.  Two days ago I let someone washed my kitchen floor with about 2 litres of acid.  Then we rinsed the kitchen floor and swept the acidic water outside.  Later on I discovered that all the acidic water went through the hole into the soil where the ground rods are.  For fear of corrosion of the rods, I added more plain water to the soil area for dilution. I have researched about this matter since, and know that acids will corrode copper (which I believe the rods are clad with).  In my research, I also read that we are supposed to test our grounding system about once a year.  Well, I had never checked mine during the twenty years I lived in my first house, or seven years in my second house.......

My questions:
1.   Should I worry about the acid water having gone into the soil I described above?
2.   Do you test your grounding system periodically?

Thank you for your input!

JTL



Offline Darryl

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2859
  • Far North Queensland, Australia
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2015, 10:04:42 pm »
Hi JTL, good to hear from you on the forum again.
I'm no expert with electrical matters, but I would imagine that the acid (Acetic? HCl? Sulphuric?) would not really be in sufficient concentration to worry your copper grounding stakes. I'm sure you would not be washing the floors with straight acid. I would think that if you flood the area with plain water there will be little trace of acid left to cause any corrosion.
And (2), I'm not aware of any requirement to check ground stakes. If they are correctly installed they should have indefinite life. That may vary from one country to another though.
I guess for your own peace of mind your local friendly sparky could come and check your set up.

Offline JTL

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 210
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2015, 10:25:58 pm »
Hi Darryl, thank you for your fast response. The acid I used was quite strong as it was intended for new floors with stone or ceramic tiles that have remnant cement after installation. After noticing my mistake, I poured only two buckets of water to the area,  not really flooding it.  I should go flood it after this. 

If I ask my "friendly sparky" to check the set up he will think I am a jerk as he has just installed everything. 

Offline Darryl

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2859
  • Far North Queensland, Australia
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2015, 02:41:55 am »
Ah, if you're cleaning cement stains it would be hydrochloric acid. Still, I am surprised that you would use it full strength - you would need to protect yourself from splashes or fumes.
And I'm sure your sparky wouldn't think you were a jerk ... he would be impressed that you are concerned about safety.

Offline JTL

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 210
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2015, 10:54:18 pm »
I let the worker wear rubber boots and gloves to avoid skin contact with the acid.  As for the fumes, the place was very windy, so we just held our breath and turned our faces away momentarily when the liquid was being applied.  This acid got rid of the cement stains, but did nothing about the iron rust stains.  Wonder if you know what to use for the removal of iron rust stains?  I also have a lot of water marks on tempered glass counter tops they look like world maps and my effort to remove them with vinegar yielded no result at all. 

JTL

Offline Bertha

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1044
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2015, 12:34:15 am »
Not sure of these, but here are some suggestions for removing rust stains: http://www.wikihow.com/Remove-Rust-from-Cement.  I don't know if you have any of the products identified in this, but you might consider one: http://www.themanlyhousekeeper.com/2011/03/11/solved-soap-scum-and-hard-water-stains/.
Bertha

Offline JTL

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 210
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2015, 02:48:47 am »
Thank you Bertha!   I will try vinegar for the rust; vinegar is easy to buy.  For the hard water marks, the recommended Bar Keeper's Friend sounds magical but I have never seen this product here.

JTL

Offline urban yokel

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 121
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2015, 11:02:47 pm »
My questions:
1.   Should I worry about the acid water having gone into the soil I described above?
2.   Do you test your grounding system periodically?
Thank you for your input!
JTL

WOW!!   Another wonder of the internet.

Hi JTL,
It's nice to “see” you and although it won't be until next month I wish you a happy new year, the year of the goat.  The internet is a valuable source of all kinds of info and most of them are really helpful. However, while there is an abundance of information, it is also awash in half truth.

Allow me to chime in since you are asking for an input. First of all, I will address the acid issue. To make this “short”, the acid spill is hydrochloric acid which is in household speak is muriatic acid.  It is in high concentration since it's strength is formulated to clean cement residue in ceramic tiles. Any weaker acid like phosphoric acid would not do the job.  Even at this weaker formulation personal safety is important. It is usually used for routine household cleaning like removing scum on bathroom walls etc. I use it to remove tile haze on my outdoor spa. Some of them are posted by Bertha which will also do the job.
Muriatic acid or other acids can be neutralized with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) also known as soda ash. Since your situation is unique as in allowing it to get absorbed into the ground, flooding it with water will not “completely” eliminate it's corrosive effect. If anything, it will migrate deeper into the ground.  Get a carton of baking soda  which comes in powder form.  Depending on the area of contamination, sprinkle the area that would resemble  a dusting of snow on the ground. Don't put too much because it will have a reverse effect ie  accelerate the corrosive action.  Mix it in with the soil and let it stand and mother nature will take care of the rest. . .  and the best part is, it will eventually provide a protective shield to (somewhat) counteract corrosion.
There is really not much you can you do to decontaminate the area unless you are willing to spend the money. Here in the US a person who intentionally or accidentally dump any toxic  substance is liable and required to conduct a thorough clean up which costs several hundred dollars.
 
Now, the ground rod issue.

I won't try to debunk what Darryl had  stated, after all, this is the year of the ram (goat) which symbolizes harmony. :)  Copper clad ground rods don't last indefinitely. It is required by the authority having jurisdiction to check ground rods annually because of corrosion. Copper clad ground rods are expected to last 5 to 15 years. Other modern rods could last longer but not indefinitely.
I have spent several years working in the electrical industry and held several positions ranging from electrical installation, design and planning of power distribution systems. As a field engineer/inspector, proper grounding is where we focus on. Because of the liability involved, comprehensive field report is very important.
You can consult your tukang listrik :) (Indonesian for electrician) but I doubt he is equipped with the right instruments  to make  a comprehensive analysis. For a starter, the resistance of the rod to ground (earth) should be 4 to 10 ohms, anything above these readings require attention Some inspectors would require lenient or stricter guidelines.  Instead of having to worry about how to correct it, the easiest and cheapest way is to replace the corroded one.  Disconnect and leave the old one in the ground.
In conclusion, as I've mentioned, ground rods don't last indefinitely. Corrosion occurs no matter what, that is why it is recommended to have it inspected regularly. As the saying goes:  Mother nature claims anything that we put in the ground.
Ever wondered why we bury the dead?
Consider this to be your lucky day JTL. . .  I used to charge for a fee to provide answers regarding this matter, but here, you are getting them as a pro bono service.  :)

Feel free to email me if you have any question.


Offline Britta

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 846
  • Technical writer
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2015, 09:05:47 am »
Since I have never even heard of grounding rods or "checking the grounding" I've looked up what we normally do in Germany. Here, grounding "bands" (30x3.5 mm) are integrated in the concrete base plate that a house is built on. This is apparently called a "foundation earth electrode". If totally immersed in the concrete the grounding band - it consists of galvanised stainless steel, no copper here - is protected from corrosion. I guess it is checked initially when the building is officially inspected and cleared, but not later on. The point is that in Germany about 95% (or even more) of the houses are built from concrete and stone and most have a full-concrete underground level with the house on top of that. Wooden buildings exist but are very rare - and even they normally have either a full-concrete underground level or a concrete base plate.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2015, 09:09:25 am by Britta »
If it's not used by a native speaker it's not idiomatic. And idiom trumps grammar every time. Jack Wilkerson†

Offline urban yokel

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 121
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2015, 10:32:55 am »
Your grounding type is also used here in the US. The system is called UFER Grounding System. It utilizes the concrete building reinforcing bars as ground electrode. The plate electrode is also used using either copper plate or ferrous material not less than ¼ in thick.
In both types of electrodes, access is limited once concrete is poured.  There would be a certain small inspection hole in the wall or pavement for conductivity test.
The UFER system was invented by Herbert Ufer, an electrical engineer who worked on the Manhattan project (atomic bomb) in the dry New Mexico/Arizona desert. Because of the poor conductivity of the dry Arizona sand he came up with the idea. Research show that cement retain moisture, so it provides good electrical conductivity to earth.
The plate electrodes on the other hand, are buried directly in the ground (some are also imbedded in concrete) that makes corrosion inevitable. In this type of grounding, other types of system are  added as supplement.  Metal water pipes are used as supplement.
Depending on the corrosive properties of the soil, more lenient or stricter rules apply.

 

Gene

  • Guest
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2015, 05:01:18 pm »
Hey Guys:

Do I need any help?  My house grounding is accomplished by connecting a grounding wire to the copper water pipe coming into the property. Is that sufficent protection?..................GG

Offline Britta

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 846
  • Technical writer
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2015, 06:04:29 pm »
I don't know about the US but this practice has been banned in Germany a few years ago because more and more public water pipes are replaced by plastic pipes instead of the rather expensive copper type. So your copper pipe may only go a few metres underground and then en in a plastic pipe. However, I have no idea if owners of old houses need to replace their grounding or if this regulation only applies to new buildings.
If it's not used by a native speaker it's not idiomatic. And idiom trumps grammar every time. Jack Wilkerson†

Offline urban yokel

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 121
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2015, 07:12:01 pm »
@Gene

If the electrical panel remained undisturbed since the house was built ie no major renovation that could alter the integrity of the grounding system, and your copper pipes were not replaced with plastic pipes, chances are the copper piping would serve the purpose. I assume you live in the vicinity of Greater LA which has the most stringent rules in terms of conforming with the NEC (National Electrical Code) . Most major cities in other countries even use this code as their model. I know the city of Paris does.

Your primary grounding is still copper grounding rod driven into the ground where the point of connection is accessible only to qualified electricians. It is hidden inside the circuit breaker box and identified by green paint with green insulating jacket or simply bare copper wire.

Needless to say, the water pipes and ground rod are tied together . . .  failure of one system  would insure that grounding protection is not totally lost.  One system serves as backup over the other.
This redundancy is clearly stipulated in the code. Check with your local building and safety department about their inspection requirement regarding this matter.

I hope this missive would relieve you of your anxiety...and rest  assured  (as with JTL) this won't cost you a dime  :)

Offline Darryl

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2859
  • Far North Queensland, Australia
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2015, 10:20:32 pm »
I think my place uses to UFER system as described by UY. We recently built an extension to our house and before the concrete slab was poured our electrician drove a stainless steel ground spike beside the slab and connected it with an earth wire to the steel reinforcing mesh.
We do a lot of our own building here, but one thing I will not mess with is electricity. Time to call in the experts.

Gene

  • Guest
Re: Should I worry about this?
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2015, 10:49:13 pm »
Thanks guys for all your information and advice. My anxieties have disappeared. I can sleep easily at night.

UY........you appear to be very knowledgeable in this area. I assume you are a professional. Thank you again for eliminating your usual fee....................................GG