Shocking Experience

Firstly, let me start this submission off by stating that I myself and not an IT person, but do believe this experience is a great IT related WTF moment.

I work at a Marriott hotel, where we are updating our internet service to the “fiber optic” lines that will bring our speed from like 1.5 (whatever you measure speed in) to 15 (whatever you measure speed in). So we’ve had quite a few IT companies/technicians piddling about in our electrical room, where we house all of our routers and cable boxes etc. We’ll the LAST IT guy came today and was changing our our circuit boards, and he walked into my office (which is right next to the electrical room) and states this… “Are you aware that someone has grounded all of your equipment to your gas line pipe that runs across your ceiling?” Well no I did not know that… interesting that someone would really do that…idiot.

I’m no electrician but I would generally avoid using a gas line for grounding but that’s just me. -Scott

12 Responses to Shocking Experience

      • Pure gas isn’t flammable. It’s the mixture of gas/air that is, more specific (for propane) between 2 and 10% gas and the rest air. Similar figures for other gas types.

        • What I’m getting at is that it’s sort of tempting fate. As you said, specific conditions are required for it to become hazardous. But you really can’t guarantee that such conditions will never appear there.

          • That’s true. But as I wrote below, you need a total conduct break between the grounding point and the earth point so that spaks can occur.
            Nevertheless I agree that its’s far better to do a proper grounding work.

  1. although it’s probably not up to code, faraday’s law states that electricity will travel around a conductor.. not through it. Assuming there isn’t a gas leak, you should be safe.

    • Even if there’s a leak the current will travel past the leak, assuming of course that the pipe isn’t totally broken, the ground point of the pipe beyond the rupture and the distance between the two pipes larger than the maximum spark distance. And of course that the gas/air mixture is right for ignition…

  2. maybe not the best practice, but it’s really not unsafe. The current will stay in the pipe, and only would pose a risk if it somehow were to arc in the presence of a gas/oxidizer mixture; that’s surprisingly hard to make happen, especially since a ground strap like this only has “live” power if there is a fault elsewhere.

  3. I work in the natural gas business. The explosive limits for natural gas is approximately 4.5 to 15% gas in air. Grounding to a gas pipe isn’t a great idea but unlikely to cause an explosion. That having been said don’t do this because many people have been killed by gas explosions/fires that happened because of “specific” and unlikely conditions occurring.

  4. Guys, I know that the risk of this is pretty slight, having to have the right circumstances for it to blow up or cause a fire, but we are talking about a hotel here, with little sleeping children, so it’s pretty dumb :)

  5. Since many water mains are now moving to plastic, gas lines are about the only ones that can be guaranteed to be steel/copper all the way to the ground. It is a fairly common practice.

Leave a Reply