Electrolysis Prevention | Slableak Specialist
Electrolysis is the passage of a direct electric current through an ionic substance resulting in chemical reactions at the electrodes and separation of materials (source: Wikipedia). In many cases electrolysis can be prevented by removing grounded electric wires from copper pipes. The best way for electricians to ground electrical components is by driving a seven foot ground rod into the ground outside of your structure and then grounding the house electrical system to the ground rod. Many times they will ground the house electric system to the copper water lines if they are underneath a concrete slab in the soil. It seems to them a perfect solution since it would create such a large copper field already in the soil. The problem is the electric ground causes electrolysis and corrosion in the copper pipes.
The picture to the right is a water heater connection coming out of the wall where the electrician grounded the water heater. As you can see in this picture and the one below the pipes are having some green corrosion which partly could be caused from solider flux and compounded by the electrolysis. If the pipes under the concrete slab are anywhere near to a steel re-bar and lightning was to strike an outdoor transformer, it could burn a hole in the copper pipe causing a slab leak. The best practice would be for the electrician to run the main house electric to an outside ground rod. The water heater electric wires should be connected to the electric breaker box instead of grounding to the copper pipes. The grounding to the copper pipes is a handy way to short-cut having to run the ground properly and can cause much damage.
Does Electrolysis Shorten Pipe and Fixture Life?
When you see the green discoloration on plumbing pipes it is sometimes caused by solider flux and can be aggravated by electrolysis. The pipe that is exposed in this picture looks to be in good shape even with corrosion. The problem is the pipes under the slab may not look as good as this exposed pipe. The ground on the electric (see picture above) is connected directly to the plumbing system and can be causing unseen deterioration to the pipes and water heater. We repair many slab leaks where the pipes are deteriorated because of electrolysis. The underground pipe can still have leaks after the ground is removed from the copper and is properly grounded. The additional slab leaks from the same house are from the original electrolysis. It is best to catch the electrolysis problem as soon as possible to reduce future problems. If you have a high water bill, discoloration on the floor, hot spots on the floor or hear water running you could be a victim of electrolysis causing a slab leak in your home. As a trusted slab leak specialist we are here to help with electrolysis leaks and awaiting your call…