shocking

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  #1  
Old 03-06-13, 08:23 AM
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shocking

we recently moved into a new home and i have noticed that some of our light switches will really shock you when touched. some times you even get a spark and it can be painful - this happens even when i am wearing rubber soled shoes or while wearing gloves.
could their be a short in those switches or how can we take care of the problems also some of the outlets in the basement are not grounded - any advice on how to fix those?
thanks
 
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Old 03-06-13, 08:38 AM
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could their be a short
No, shorts will trip the breaker. It is an often misused term. It means the two sides of a circuit touching with very little or no resistance. If you have carpets and low humidity it is probably static electricity.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 08:59 AM
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some of the outlets in the basement are not grounded
You would have to run a ground wire. Simpler solution is to put them on a GFCI and then you can swap out the two prong receptacles for three prongs ones as long as you mark that they are GFCI protected but not grounded.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 10:13 AM
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I agree it's most likely static electricity. It's bad in my living rm and hallway when I have the wood stove fired up. I've even seen sparks a time or two - I've learned to switch the lights on with elbow which helps me to avoid getting shocked.

It might be a good idea to pull off the switch plate covers and double check they are wired correctly. I painted one house [we always pull the covers before painting the wall] where one of my guys got shocked when his aluminum roller pole bumped the the switch. If I remember correctly, it flipped the breaker. Turned out it had wires twisted together without a wire nut
 
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Old 03-06-13, 12:02 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

The shock you are experiencing is not caused by a short circuit. If the switches and their boxes (or receptacles or light fixtures or any other permanently attached part of your electrical system) are properly bonded to ground then they offer a low-resistance path for any potential, including a built-up static charge.

One thing we do here to reduce the incidence and intensity of static charges - by reducing the accumulated potential - is to raise the relative humidity in the house by running a couple of table-top fountains. Humidifiers will do the same thing.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 12:06 PM
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I had a similar situation in my old house. Typically during winter. You need more moisture in the air. I put a few of those small fountains with water in them, seemed to relieve the situation. It was so bad when you hugged someone you got a big shock.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 12:21 PM
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Here in my part of Canada right now it's cold and very dry. We run a woodstove as our primary heat source. Sadly, that means a massive amount of static buildup. Every time I got to pet our dogs we both get zapped! Dogs are very unimpressed with this state and very happy that spring is around the corner. To alleviate this, we constantly have a kettle heating on top of the woodstove to add moisture to the air.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 07:01 PM
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If you have carpets and low humidity it is probably static electricity.
Yep, you have a low humidity problem. Anti static carpets would help a lot, but humidification would be best. Anti static spray on the carpet would also help a little till you can either get some moisture in the air or change the carpet.

Anti-Static Spray=Static free carpet

This next link is just an example, there are many carpet manufacturers who make anti static carpeting.

Cashmere, Anti Static Carpet, Stainmaster Tactesse Carpet, Continuous Filament Nylon Carpet
 
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