Electric heater at new house - shock

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  #1  
Old 11-04-14, 05:01 PM
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Electric heater at new house - shock

At my recently purchase house there is electric heat in each room. The electric heater in the living room often shocks you if I touch the metal cover or screw. I even got shocked cleaning up dog pee from the floor next to the heater. I pulled the covers off of it and I don't see anything glaring that's wrong with it other then a spot shown in the 3rd photo that looks like it got hot there. I'll attach a few photos for you to see or if you know what's causing this please give me some insight. We have pets and a little boy so it's important to me. Thanks

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Old 11-04-14, 05:12 PM
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Do you see any bare wires without casing on them where the wires enter?
It sounds like you're missing a bond and have a small nick in one of your hots somewhere.
 
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Old 11-04-14, 05:17 PM
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Missing bond? I need to somehow get the bottom off the heater to expose the wiring and check them all. I'll look for any missing casings.
 
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Old 11-04-14, 05:34 PM
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If this is not wired through metal conduit then for safety there should be a ground wire (bond).
 
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Old 11-04-14, 06:00 PM
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Is this the ground? In the bottom left of photo there looks like a copper wire tucked in there. Name:  image.jpg
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Old 11-04-14, 06:39 PM
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Is it connected to the metal of the heater?
 
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Old 11-04-14, 06:42 PM
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One end is shown in the photo and the other end looks like it May go to a screw. I cannot tell because it's behind the metal plate over heater
 
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Old 11-04-14, 06:51 PM
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You have been shocked already and mention having children and pets that you are concerned about. You might be better served contacting a professional rather than messing around in unchartered territory.

I trust you have the offending heater turned off at the breaker until this can be rectified?
 
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Old 11-04-14, 06:54 PM
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If it was something easy to fix I was going to myself. Yes it's turned off at the breaker
 
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Old 11-04-14, 07:25 PM
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It might be easier to start by going to the main service panel and see if the circuits are wired with a grounding conductor. If this house was built in the '50s or '60s, it's entirely possible this house was wired with the old 2-wire NM cable and that none of the circuits have a grounding conductor.
 
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Old 11-04-14, 07:36 PM
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It was built in 56'. The box has a bunch of grounds to it.
 
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Old 11-04-14, 09:33 PM
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It's not a static electricity shock..... is it ?

Even if the case of that heater was live...... unless you were touching it AND something grounded you would not get a shock.
 
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Old 11-05-14, 07:47 AM
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You could try to test dead resistance between the case and the heating element(s) leads to see if there's a short to the case. That would at least prove the heater as the source of the shock. If I was checking it out, I would also power the thing on, glove up and try to find some energized surfaces with my multimeter as I wiggled the thing around. But unless you've got a pair of voltage rated gloves I really don't think you should try that.

Honestly though if you called me out to look at this I don't think I would attempt a repair in good conscience knowing you've already gotten a zap from it and there's a kid in the house. If we're able to narrow down that the heater is the problem, my recommendation would be to just replace it.

Out of curiosity, what kind of flooring do you have in this room?
 
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Old 11-05-14, 04:40 PM
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Hardwood flooring. I've never been shocked from house wiring before so not sure if it was the heater or static shock.
 
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Old 11-05-14, 04:57 PM
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I think that copper under the heater fins was part of the thermostat, not a ground wire.
 
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Old 11-05-14, 08:11 PM
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I've never been shocked from house wiring before so not sure if it was the heater or static shock.
The way to find out is with a meter. A static shock is momentary and hits once, but an electrical shock should be continuous. I doubt it's a static shock or you would be getting it off other objects too.....and you have hardwood floors.
 
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Old 11-06-14, 01:04 AM
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I've gotten shocked multiple times but it hit and was gone. I'll test resistance with the ohm setting on multimeter tomorrow. Hate to even mess with it with breaker back on.
 
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Old 11-06-14, 05:57 AM
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I'll test resistance with the ohm setting on multimeter tomorrow. Hate to even mess with it with breaker back on.

You don't test resistance in that way.
 
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Old 11-06-14, 07:15 AM
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As mentioned earlier wood does not conduct electricity so how could you get a shock? Checking resistance with breaker off will serve no purpose. To test:
  • Turn the heater on.
  • Plug an extension cord with a ground into a receptacle with a known good ground.
  • With a multimeter set to voltage measure from a point on the heaters metal case with no paint to the ground on the extension cord.
If you have a wall mounted thermostat with metal case preform the same test plus checking for voltage between bare metal on the thermostat and bare metal on the heater. Name:  Triangle.gif
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  #20  
Old 11-06-14, 12:28 PM
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I checked from the ground prong on an outlet to the heaters case. The painted parts I couldn't get a voltage reading but on the underside of the case and a few other spots I got up to 50 V AC.
 
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Old 11-06-14, 12:35 PM
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Was it a digital multimeter? If so you may want to try with an analog multimeter. (A cheap $8-$15 one is fine.) On the receptacle you used for the test what is your readings ground to wide slot and ground to narrow slot.
 
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Old 11-06-14, 01:37 PM
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I have an analog multimeter. My reading from ground to wide slot is 0 V and my readings from ground to narrow slot is 120 V.
 
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Old 11-06-14, 01:52 PM
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Then you do appear to have some leakage from the heater. That is enough to be dangerous. I'd suggest replacing the heater.
 
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Old 11-06-14, 02:28 PM
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When I held the multimeter to heater casing, should it have read 0 no matter where I touch on that casing or heating element?

When you say leakage, what do you mean?
 
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Old 11-06-14, 02:47 PM
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The heater casing should always measure very close to 0 volts to any reference ground. Your 50VAC measurement indicates two things: 1) some of the electrical insulating materials are breaking down and allowing energized components to contact the case, thus energizing the case. The heating element itself could have a crack in it. 2) The heater case is not adequately grounded. Neither of these is a good thing.
 
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Old 11-06-14, 02:50 PM
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The heater itself is probably 50+ years old if I had to guess as well.. Things could very well be bad
 
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