Shocking plumbing

Reply

  #1  
Old 04-02-05, 01:35 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 71
Shocking plumbing

We are getting a shock when we touch metal plumbing fixtures. It is low level, but seems to be getting worse. It is also intermittent in that it doesn't always happen. It is a day-to-day thing. It has been going on for weeks now and it is not our imagination. We have had a very rainey year so far. Also, we have a well with electric in-well pump. Can someone tell us how to check out this problem?

Jeff
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 04-02-05, 01:50 PM
Ed Imeduc's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Mountain Williams Missouri
Posts: 18,389
Wink

Id call an electrican to check it out for sure. You can take and turn off the breakers to the well and see if that stops it.
If so then you know its in are at the well.

ED
 
  #3  
Old 04-02-05, 02:40 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 71
Unhappy Shocking Plumbing

Ed,

Good idea. Now I have eliminated the pump as the source of my problem. I assume I can work my way through the circuit breakers to eliminate any appliances, or specific circuits, as the problem. If that does not turn up the problem then I am left with ......what?

Jeff
 
  #4  
Old 04-02-05, 02:46 PM
GregH's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Manitoba
Posts: 9,674
Jeff,

There is a possibility that the grounding conductor for your electrical panel has failed and you have a defective appliance leaking full line voltage to ground.
This is a very dangerous situation and should not be left to trial and error diagnosing.
One of the times you test for tingle to know if the leakage stops you could get full current through your body and fixing the problem could come too late.

Call a pro immediately!

I will move this to the electrical forum where the elecrical pro's hang out.
 
  #5  
Old 04-02-05, 03:17 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Are you familiar with the wiring in the house? How long have you lived there? Are there any incorrect ground connections?
 
  #6  
Old 04-02-05, 03:51 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 539
If you have an electric water

heater or any other type of electric water heating system, such as instant-on hot water, on-demand heater, etc. this could also be the source of the low current.

A heating element that's starting to fail or a water leak in that area would be a possibility.

Hope this helps!

PS- I think that the metal parts of the plumbing system are supposed to be tied into the ground system of the house for exactly this reason.
 
  #7  
Old 04-02-05, 06:05 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 71
Shocking plumbing

Haven't been able to test the circuits yet, but the only significant tingle is on the laundry room sink which is right near the well pressure tank. It also appears that the problem is on the cold water side. Don't really notice a problem on other metal faucets in the house. I read the warning on killing myself and take it seriously, but I read it after the test on the cold water side. Thanks .

The hot water tank is a possibility since it has started to leak and/or vent. I was planning to replace it in the next few weeks as it is 30 years old. However, if I throw the water heater circuit breaker there is still current in the faucet.

Jeff
 

Last edited by oiptoner; 04-02-05 at 06:38 PM.
  #8  
Old 04-02-05, 09:49 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 719
Originally Posted by GregH
Jeff,

This is a very dangerous situation and should not be left to trial and error diagnosing.
One of the times you test for tingle to know if the leakage stops you could get full current through your body and fixing the problem could come too late.

Call a pro immediately!
I agree with Gregh.

Are you charging your clothing with static electricity ?
Are you touching anything else that may have an electrical problem like your washing machine.
An other words touching something electrified with one hand and touching the plumbing pipes at the same time.
 
  #9  
Old 04-03-05, 06:46 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 71
Shocking Plumbing

To answer the other questions; no I do not have a wiring diagram and no I was not touching another appliance at the time. In fact, one test I did was to unplug the washing machine, but that did not solve the problem. I should also mention that I was standing on a freshly washed rug which was still wet, so the tingling effect was probably maximized.

Also, I was able to eliminate the problem when I turned off power to the breaker box for the furnace, heat pump and water heater (all on a separate panel). Perhaps the water heater breaker was mis-labeled, since the water heater is my number one suspect.

Does this problem automatically indicate a ground fault failure? Is it possible it can be localized to just the laundry room sink faucet? All the other faucets have been replaced over time and have flexible plastic connectors so they will not transmit electricity, but the showers still have the original hard copper plumbing.

Jeff
 
  #10  
Old 04-03-05, 10:21 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 539
I'm not an expert

but I think the water itself can still carry current, even if the pipes are plastic. Although the plastic will help reduce the effect, I'd tend to think of it as insulation around a conductor....some current will still go through.

If you have a meter, maybe test the resistance of the water heater elements? (Power off of course, also disconnect the wires on the element first.) You're looking for any reading to metal...a good reading is infinte. Check both elements, upper and lower. Also, you can check to see which breaker the heater is actually connected to.

Once upon a time, I have had an element fail and the power went into the water and created hydrogen gas. I wasn't able to figure out what was going on until after I had changed the element and saw the corrosion exposing the inner conductor. This may not be true here, but it is possible.

Hope this helps!
 
  #11  
Old 04-04-05, 08:05 AM
putzing
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I had a situation at my then-girlfriend's house. I'd get a shock in the shower when I touched any fixture, including where the water came out, if my feet were in water. They all joked they were secretly trying to kill me, like "You mean it didn't work yet?"

A couple years later the father remodeled the bathroom which contained a drop ceiling. It turns out the father found a loose wire which was touching the drop ceiling supports (which were aluminum) which then touched the plumbing somehow (which was copper), so I just wasn't imagining things. After they remodeled I tested the shower and the problem was fixed.
 
  #12  
Old 04-05-05, 06:36 AM
wmccormick
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Make sure your electrician does a thorough check on all your grounding connections. Finding one problem and assuming that is the whole problem is not safe.

The grounding system and the "common" wires are all conneced in the breaker box. If the ground is not intact, you can get the "common" feed back through your plumbing if it has copper piping.

W.A. McCormick
 
  #13  
Old 04-05-05, 10:53 AM
Ed Imeduc's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Mountain Williams Missouri
Posts: 18,389
Wink

Lots of canbe's here for sure and get it fixed right now.
Had a start switch in a pump motor that would feed back just a little if you where on a wet floor. Way back when all plugs where the same lots of time it something bit you. Pull the plug and just turn it over. Have had to turn the wires around on oil burners transformer just for this. But the best one and true. Kids said the shower in the basement bit them. I tried every thing. At the time had a good tie in with the power company. Called them. With the meter pulled off the home some how on the big lines they had a leak you could read about 12 V copper water pipes to the wet floor.They didnt know how are why.But they had to put a new ground wire on every big pole for about 2 miles before they got it stopped.

ED
 
  #14  
Old 04-08-05, 06:22 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 71
Update

You guys have been great and your concern for safety is noteworthy. I have now had the water heater replaced with no change in the problem, and have had a ground installed on the water pipes. Of importance is that, with the Main OFF the electrician got a spark and a good shock when installing the ground to the panel box. The electric company is coming out today to see if they have a problem outside the home.

Jeff
 
  #15  
Old 04-08-05, 04:51 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 5,599
One of your neighbors has an open neutral. His neutral current is flowing out his plumbing, down the water main, up your plumbing and out your neutral.
Or maybe you have aloose neutral and you current is flowing out his neutral. No wait it can't b ethat since you get spark with your power off.

Put an ammeter around your incoimng waterline and see what current is flowing. Plumbers aften carry jumper cables to jump a cut that needs to be made in a water line because of this problem.
 
  #16  
Old 04-14-05, 08:29 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 71
Smile Problem corrected

The electric company checked their equipment and "tightened a couple of loose connections, but found no problem". My guess is they had a loose neutral, but do not want to admit it. System appears problem free now and safe. Thanks again for all your help and warnings.

Jeff
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'