Shocking House

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Old 09-07-05, 10:22 PM
tmccorkle
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Shocking House

I was washing the siding on my house today with a sponge. Holding the hose in one hand and a sponge in the other wiping towards the bottom of the siding the muscles in my arm holding the hose started shaking. It was a little wierd and at first I thought it was muscle fatigue then when I went to wipe the side of the house again I could feel electricity coming in through my fingers. I touched the siding several more times to be sure I wasn't imagining this and sure enough my house is electrified.

Back in November I had steel siding with a vinyl coating put on my house. I have not had any reason to touch my siding until now. As well my dad helped put new wiring into my front room this last week.

I am thinking one of two things have happened

1) when the contractor was putting up the siding they ran a nail through a wire and it is conducting an electrical charge into the siding

2) my dad hooked up a wire wrong and some how it is conducting an electrical charge into the siding of the house

The part of siding I was touching is not located on the outside of the room my dad rewired. How can I test to find out where the charge is coming from. I was told that potentially the charge could be from anywhere as the steel goes around the whole house. I haven't had a chance to check if other areas are also electrified.

Thanks for any suggestions.
 
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Old 09-08-05, 03:24 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Oregon
Posts: 1,219
Warning: this setup could easily _kill_ you, and is a current danger. If you are unfamiliar with the operation of volt meters, I'd recommend calling an electrician rather than taking the time to learn what to do yourself. I would not try to learn how to use a voltmeter while at the same time solving this problem.

Also, the first thing that I would do is call the power company. Many will come out for free to investigate something like this. Others will charge you.

The next thing that you should do is call you local electrical inspector and find out if it is required to 'bond' metal siding in your area. If so, then call the siding company and ask why they didn't properly install the siding. (Note: I have never heard of a siding company bonding siding, but if you read the electrical code it _should_ be bonded, so you could probably push this if you get the electrical inspector involved.)

This is one of the cases where a high impedance digital meter _and_ an analog meter together will be useful. Digital meters are more sensitive to low currents, but are subject to 'phantom' voltage.

Voltage can only be measured between two points, so you will need to establish a ground reference in order to measure this shock hazard. This might be a nearby metal fence, or you may need to drive a ground rod to use as your reference.

Connect the volt meter(s) to the siding and the ground reference. You may need to move things around until you get a good reading, since the vinyl is an insulator, and you need to measure past it. You might need to clip to an edge of the siding, or to a nail, or you may need to actively puncture the coating to make good contact.

Now go in sequence.

First turn off the main power to your house. Does the voltage go away? If yes, then you know that it is coming from your inside wiring. If not, then call the power company.

If the voltage goes away with the main power off, then turn it back on and check each circuit breaker in turn until you find the circuit that is energizing the siding. Then turn that circuit off and map it out, and see where it is shorted to the siding.

-Jon
 
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