As long as you have hot water for showers or laundry, you probably don’t think about your water heater very often. When you learn about how a water heater works, there are actually a number of components that are quite interesting. One part that generates some good discussion in the plumbing world is a bonding wire.
In this article, we’ll explain the purpose of a bonding wire and if you should consider adding one to your water heater.
What is a bonding wire?
A bonding wire is an external part that is attached to the water heater. It typically has two brass clamps with a thick copper wire strung between them. One clamp is placed on the cold water pipe while the other goes on the hot water pipe. While a bonding wire is not always required by codes, the part is only $10 and very easy to install, so it’s not a huge investment to add one to your water heater.
Benefits of a bonding wire
The bonding wire is a unique part in that some plumbers recommend them and some do not. When in use, the bonding wire can serve two purposes:
- Slow down corrosion of the water heater. The bonding wire can redirect a small electrical current that passes through the copper piping to the steel fittings of the water heater. This process is thought to prevent electrolysis and corrosion, which can extend the service life of the water heater and prevent leaking. However, if you have PEX or other non-copper pipes, you don’t have to worry about this issue.
- Complete the electrical ground. With your plumbing system, as a whole, metal pipes are required to be grounded – usually by the cold water inlet pipe. The placement of the water heater can create a break between the cold and hot water pipes. So the bonding wire can be used to connect the two lines and complete the grounding process, which can enhance the electrical safety within the home.
Is a bonding wire required?
Whether or not you must have a bonding wire on your water heater depends on where you live. A bonding wire is not required by the National Electric Code, although some local building codes call for the part to be installed. Around the country, some electricians and building inspectors recommend that a bonding cable be used when copper pipe fittings are connected to a water heater.
If the bonding wire is not required in your area, then installing one on your water heater is a matter of personal preference. There are not any significant downsides to adding the wire, and it can potentially reduce the risk of corrosion and ensure a complete grounding of your metal pipes.
More water heater questions?
If you have any other questions about how your water heater works, or if you need work on your current unit, reach out to the professionals at Pratt Plumbing. With 55 years of experience in the Amarillo area, you can be confident you’re getting the best service in town. Call us today at (806) 373-7866 today.