SOURCES OF STRAY ELECTRICAL CURRENT
THAT LEAD TO DAMAGE BY ELECTROLYSIS

WATER AND YOU THE ELECTRICAL INDUSTRY
BY
R.E. BEHNKE (DECEASED)

In one illustration in our area where we found current flowing on the service, we decided to cooperate with the electric utility, the cable TV company, and the telephone company. We knew there was current imposed on the house and it was flowing from the house to the main. We set up meters and insulators at the service line and the meter box in the yard where we were able to accurately measure the impact of connecting and disconnecting various utilities. The first thing we did was disconnect the power by completely disconnecting the wiring circuitry at the electric meter into the house. Therefore there was no actual current flowing into the house. This only reduced the current flow on the service line by 50%. We were then able to monitor the impacts of both the cable TV and the telephone. We found each of them carrying approximately 25% of the total current through the ground on the water pipe. This is very easily illustrated when you realize that all of them are grounded to the water pipe in the basement and they are also interconnected to other houses in the system in one large network, particularly when you're on the same electrical transformer installation. In our observations in St. Louis we did not notice any difference in the applications, whether the electric was overhead or underground. We always found some current flowing and the magnitude was only a matter of the resistance in the parallel paths of the different components and the soil resistivity. We found houses where current was flowing from one house across the street, through a cul-de-sac, through our next service line, and back into a house on the opposite side. I'm sure these are all horror stories that you do not like to hear anymore than we do. We do not know totally how to solve these problems. We do know how our utility has attempted an application to minimize the impact on the water pipeline which is in the street. In new installations we are currently installing a plastic dielectric coupling (Fig. 5) in all service lines so there is no continuity to the water main in the street.

We have not yet addressed the electrical shock hazards from the AC (Fig. 6) and certainly we have not been able to totally define that AC current does or does not have a detrimental effect on the operations life expectancy of a water line. But we do know that it has been studied and discussed for a number of years and there has been no positive research that has indicated it does not have an impact. Therefore, we feel that there could be some applications where the AC current has a detrimental affect. The diode type circuitry seen in more and more appliance applications today could certainly advance this theory, because indeed the diodes do modify the AC current wave.

How can you and I solve this problem? Only through further research. Development of a coordinated effort to change the manufacturing industry so appliances will have circuitry to correct the above stated problems. We should also work together to make sure that electrical codes and actual wiring are installed in the best way possible so that currents are returned on the secondary neutral to your transformers, as they were intended. We know there are additional problems, we've heard some today and I'm sure we'll hear more before the meeting is over. Each of you cold probably tell me related stories about the impacts of some of the stray currents and the current flows. I do not want to see a man killed in this country and I'm sure you don't either but stray current on a water service line is certainly a way for that to happen. These are real problems when you're involved in water and wet, damp basements. The installation or replacement of water meters or disconnecting one of the neutrals can be a hazard, particularly if the primary neutral has been damaged. The electrical system can be disconnected or poorly installed, or even damaged after it was installed by some negligent property owner. We need to make sure that grounding is maintained, but we feel strongly that it should not be onto the water pipes, because that only transfers the problem to another utility industry.

Any questions, I'd be happy to discuss them with you now or after the presentations this afternoon or later tomorrow. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have additional questions. There has been a handout provided that will allow references to some of the research articles that we have read and studied about similar problems. Also a copy of the paper has been presented for distribution. Should you need additional copies please contact me and we'll be happy to provide them to you.


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