If he's on a pole -- then assume it's an older system -- and that at some point plastic has been inserted into the plumbing.
This is as common as dust.
No plumber is going to think twice about breaking your GEC system in half, crippling it.
The residence is an ungrounded Service. Every manner of trouble soon follows. This may include feeding back onto the Service neutral/ return with harmonics.
(Never anticipated by EEs back in the day, either.)
So now the Poco neutral (aluminum) starts to cycle (really) hot and cold until it fails.
[FYI, because of transient harmonics, it's actually possible for the neutral to carry MORE than the original (unbalanced) current.
Because, for a micro-second, nothing's balanced at all. High order harmonics can create peak amplitudes entirely out of the range of normal conception.]
It was for this reason that EUSERC banned ungrounded Services -- in 1945!
What was happening -- even back then -- was that highly inductive loads (machine shops supplying the war effort) with failing transformers (autoformers) and capacitors could and would kickback astounding instantaneous voltages. These micro-second peaks were enough to breakdown the insulation (corona discharge) into a cascade of trouble.
This vile trait was unique to ungrounded Services. A Ufer would bleed off these peaks -- straight into the earth.
In sum: expect to find fouled up neutral paths all over pre-Ufer America. Any Service that was established when bonding to the water service was considered good-to-go for a GEC is going to be 'sabotaged' by the plumber/ DIY at some point. Then "katie-bar-the-door" -- you've got trouble.
So, as a heads up, ANYONE working Co-ax data-com in older neighborhoods has to be aware that it's only a matter of time before he gets zapped by corrupted GEC systems -- and their bonding to the data-com ground.
(These used to be kept un-bonded -- until it was discovered that a single lightning strike can burn down the entire structure -- regardless of size -- in seconds. Tales of this (Florida multi-family) fiasco are in the back literature.)
Edited by Tesla (04/17/14 02:32 PM)