House ground is live..?

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Old 06-12-15, 03:40 PM
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House ground is live..?

Hi. The house is an old clapboard farm house. The wiring is mostly Romex with a few old circuits that are BX. The last electrical work was done 2 years ago and there haven't been any problems until now.

Starting a few weeks ago you get a shock when standing barefoot on the ground and touching metal. My nephew discovered this when playing electric bass shoeless. He stepped on the ground outside and got shocked whenever he touched metal on the bass (the bass was plugged into an amplifier). I then took off my shoes and touched the metal casing of an outdoor socket (far from where my nephew was). I felt a minor shock. I plugged a tester into that outlet and it tested OK.

The bathroom sink has been giving minor shocks but when my sister was holding the extendible shower hose (metal) and then touched the sink, She got a nice zap, much more than standing on the ground.

The water heater is electric for what that's worth.

I'm going there this weekend to hopefully find out what it is and save money on an electrician. Can anyone suggest some troubleshooting tips or add some insight?

Thanks
 
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Old 06-12-15, 03:49 PM
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Welcome to the forums! Can you confirm you have a grounding rod (or two as required, now) near your meter base? Do you have grounding on any metal piping under the house? If your metal piping goes through a meter, there must be a jumper around that meter to make it continuous. Pictures always help us help you, so if you can, post a picture of your meter base and the grounding electrode/rod.http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...your-post.html
 
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Old 06-12-15, 05:03 PM
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Thanks Chandler! Water comes from a well so no meter. The pipes are plastic up until the pump.

I can confirm that there is a wire going to the ground near the Meter base. It goes into the house with the fat electrical cable. I'll have to see where it goes inside. The wire you see going up goes to a phone box. I'll also make sure the ground rod is really in the ground when I'm there.

I'll have to check to see if there is any grounding on any metal pipes. Should be easy. There isn't much plumbing. Just 1 bathroom and a kitchen sink. I somehow doubt it. The plumbing is on the other side of the house from where the elec comes in and where the box is.

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Old 06-12-15, 05:10 PM
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First do any testing for stray current with a multimeter NOT your body. Check for stray current with the water heater breaker off.
 
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Old 06-12-15, 07:00 PM
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Good advice Ray. This may turn out to be a water heater issue and lack of grounding at the service.

It could also be a power company issue. The neutral may not be at 0 volts.
 
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Old 06-13-15, 04:28 AM
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I don't see a grounding electrode coming from the meter base. The house may have pipe grounding, but it may be wrong, or incomplete with the possibility of a PVC repair or some other break in the continuity.
 
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Old 06-13-15, 08:07 AM
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I see the grounding electrode conductor where it enters the house by the service cable, but I don't see the ground rod. It might be there and I just cannot see it. Ray's suggestion was a good one, check for stray voltage with a meter with the water heater breaker turned off. If there is no stray voltage detected, turn the water heater breaker back on and then check again for stray voltage.
 
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Old 06-14-15, 12:25 PM
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It's the furnace!

Thanks everyone for your replies. It turns out to be the furnace.

I put a meter between the shower hose and sink and got .8 volts. I then stuck one lead into the earth and touched the metal casing of an outdoor wall socket. Also got .8 volts.

I started switching off breakers/testing and narrowed it to the furnace breaker.

There is an emergency cut off switch at the furnace. When I shut this switch off no voltage at the sink etc. Even with the furnace breaker on. I turned it back on to test and got 60 volts at the sink! There is a short somewhere in the furnace. I'm calling the furnace guy in, not an electrician.. For now the breaker is off.

The final test was to plug the bass in and touch my bare foot on the earth... All is well.
 
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Old 06-14-15, 01:41 PM
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Glad you co could track it down. Thanks for letting us know. Let us know what the furnace tech finds.
 
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Old 06-14-15, 02:11 PM
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There is a short somewhere in the furnace.
No, it is not a "short" (circuit) but a fault to ground.
 
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Old 06-15-15, 05:02 PM
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No, it is not a "short" (circuit) but a fault to ground.
What would be the difference between the two?
 
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Old 06-16-15, 07:35 AM
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No, it is not a "short" (circuit) but a fault to ground.

What would be the difference between the two?
A short will trip a breaker or blow a fuse. A fault leaks current to ground, but doesn't trip the overcurrent protective device.
 
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Old 06-16-15, 04:42 PM
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Thanks, Joe. It just burns me to no end when people yak about any electrical problem being a "short" without using the full terminology (short circuit). Might as well tell them to lengthen the short. Or tell them to call it a tall, wide, fat or any other adjective.
 
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Old 06-16-15, 04:49 PM
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A short will trip a breaker or blow a fuse. A fault leaks current to ground, but doesn't trip the overcurrent protective device.
So it's all about amperage?
 
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Old 06-16-15, 05:16 PM
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When it comes to electricity, everything is about amperage.
 
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Old 06-16-15, 06:39 PM
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Don't you love it, Furd, when they refer to an open circuit as a short.

P.S. Did I get the commas right?
 
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Old 06-16-15, 07:28 PM
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P.S. Did I get the commas right?
I think you did. (There is some value to having a mother who was an English teacher)
 
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Old 06-17-15, 12:26 AM
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P.S. Did I get the commas right?
I honestly don't know but as Joe stated, it looks right.

Contrary to what people may think I do not have a degree in English, or any other language. Mostly I go by what my mother told me a teacher of hers told them; it should hurt your ears when you use the wrong words, or something like that.
 
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