hot water heater and faucet mild shock

Old 10-11-04, 11:40 PM
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hot water heater and faucet mild shock

Just purchased a home in Costa Rica and noticed when I put my hand lightly on the bathroom hot water heater I can feel a mild tinging (shock) and also when I went to sip out of the sink faucet I got the same mild shock out of the faucet. Any advise where to look for the problem.Can a bare wire grounding out on the heater give this mild shock.Basically the whole house is a 2 wire system with no ground. Should I eventually replace all the wiring in this place to 3 wire for safety ??

Thanks, Bob W.
Old 10-12-04, 04:13 AM
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A bare wire contacting exposed metal on inside the heater would most likely cause a _severe_ shock!

However if you have a bad heating element in the heater, it can 'leak' a relatively low voltage to the exposed metal, leading to a mild shock.

You can only get a shock if there is a voltage difference between things that you are touching. The old 'why birds don't get shocked standing on wires' thing. An extremely important part of electrical wiring is 'ground bonding' where all exposed metal is wired together, to guarantee that the metal is all at the same voltage. This means that your plumbing pipes should be electrically connected to the metal shell of the water heater, and your hot and cold water pipes should be electrically connected to your drain pipes. Generally these connections are a natural result of the metal plumbing, but if you have any plastic pipes or 'dielectric fittings' then you may need to add suitable jumper wires.

You can probably check the water heater element yourself. However dealing with the grounding and bonding is probably a job for a professional; doing a 'half way' job of grounding and bonding can make things worse and much more dangerous. The mix of electricity and water is potentially lethal.


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