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Electrolysis in service panel


Kimble
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During an inspection today at a modular home I found what appears to be electrolysis on all of the grounding wiring in the service panel. I have inspected many service panels in the past and this is a first. Electrical is not my strongest field. Please give me some ideas.

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Originally posted by Kimble

During an inspection today at a modular home I found what appears to be electrolysis on all of the grounding wiring in the service panel. I have inspected many service panels in the past and this is a first. Electrical is not my strongest field. Please give me some ideas.

Was this copper or aluminum wiring?

Was the corrosion widespread or was it limited to the areas surrounding the connections?

What did the corrosion look like? Black? White? Crystalline? Shiny? Dull?

What was the site like?

Were there signs of water issues?

Was there any sign that batteries were charged nearby?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Copper wiring, the corrosion covered the length of the exposed ground wire, it was a green color, it was a clean site, vaccant home, and no indication of water intrusion, and I did not see where batteris could have been charged. I made contact with an electrician and he said it could be a bad ground rod connection or a bad batch of wire.

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Originally posted by Kimble

Copper wiring, the corrosion covered the length of the exposed ground wire, it was a green color, it was a clean site, vaccant home, and no indication of water intrusion, and I did not see where batteris could have been charged. I made contact with an electrician and he said it could be a bad ground rod connection or a bad batch of wire.

Neither reply makes any sense.

It's something environmental. Is the panel indoors or out?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Bain

Jim, satisfy my curiosity. How could battery charging cause electrolysis in a panel if there's no physical connection? Is there an ionic field generated or something?

I'm talking lead-acid batteries, not dry cell.

Hydrogen sulfide gas turns the copper first green, then black. When people charge their golf carts in the garage, the gas turns the copper wiring black.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Kimble

The panel is located inside and dry. Now I'm wondering if a disimilar metal is involved causing galvanic attack?

That's unlikely. If that were happening, you'd see the corrosion spreading out from the connection point. Besides, electrical panels are made to hold copper wires. They're not about to build them out of an incompatible metal.

It was caused by something in the environment. Maybe the last occupants like to boil cabbage or cook meth or maybe they farted a lot. Maybe they made kimchee or maybe they burned some strange incense that included sulfur. Maybe there's a paper mill nearby or maybe the soil in that area releases some kind of sulfur gas -- was the home built over an old landfill? Is there a swamp nearby?

Copper will turn green when exposed to all sorts of contaminants. Unless you're really invested in this one, you're unlikely to find the answer.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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