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Electric shower head heater / suicide shower.. Don't want to die!!

Electric shower head heater / suicide shower.. Don't want to die!!


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Old 01-13-17, 10:44 AM
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Electric shower head heater / suicide shower.. Don't want to die!!

Hi everyone!

I live in Peru and am temporarily using an electric shower head heater. They are very common here and work surprisingly well.. The problem is that we don't have an earth connection to connect the green earth wire to. There is a safety switch connected to the shower (little box on the wall) and then there is an extra rather oldschool safety switch on the wall which has thin wires inside that are supposed to snap when there is a shortcut. Here i put the setup in pictures below:

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What i have been told here is that the green earth wire can be connected to a nail in the wall. I am seriously doubting if this has any use, but i am not an expert so can't say for sure.

The problem is that i am getting electrical shocks while showering! Sometimes when i come too close to the shower head with my hand a current passes through my hand. But yesterday i was just standing there and got electrical shock through my HEAD !!!! Yes! I looked on the internet but can't find decent information.. especially on the earth connection to nail in the wall i have no idea if this is doing anything.

What can i do??

Thanks! Paul
 
  #2  
Old 01-13-17, 10:59 AM
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switch on the wall which has thin wires inside that are supposed to snap when there is a shortcut.
That is fuse wire. It won't protect you from a lethal shock. It is only for a dead short.
that the green earth wire can be connected to a nail in the wall.
No. You need a copper wire back to the fuse box but that will not protect you from an electrocution.

You need a GFCI . You don't even need a ground for an GFCI to work.

Bottom line earth connection or even a true low resistance equipment ground won't protect you. You could go old school with an isolation transformer it might help some but you really need a GFCI protector.
 
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Old 01-13-17, 12:12 PM
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Hi Paul,

This is primarily a US/Canada forum, and heated shower heads are uncommon here so most of us don't have any direct experience with that device, but we can provide some general advice.

If you're feeling shocks from any water heater, the most common reason is that heating element is going bad. The covering on the element gets a tiny pinhole and some water leaks in and gets energized. This can happen for a long time before the heating element fails completely. If the unit has a removable element, you should find a new replacement and discard the old element. If it is not user serviceable, the entire shower head should be replaced.

Ray's advice of a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) or residual current device (RCD) is a great idea to prevent harmful shocks. This device might be called a RCBO, ALCI or RCCB depending on what style of electrical system you have in Peru. Such a device would need to be matched with the voltage and amperage of the circuit powering the heater. The information on earthing is also good. You at least have to get back to another circuit with a good earthing wire, but the best option is to get back to the panel box where the electrical service enters the residence.
 
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Old 01-13-17, 12:41 PM
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Home Depot now sells a model. 2.5kW at 120V!

In spite of the ETL safety sticker, this rig is a huge "trust me". IMO
 
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Old 01-13-17, 12:41 PM
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Oh, I love (not) suicide showers. My old house had an old fashioned exposed knife switch right next to the shower where your disconnect box is located. Reach out for your towel and grab a bit too high and ZAP/POW!

Check your houses wiring. You may not have a ground to wire to. As mentioned a nail in the wall will not work as it's not connected to ground either. Most I have seen just wrap the ground wire around the water pipe and cover it with duct or electrical tape.

When are you getting shocked? Are you touching the shower heater? Are you reaching outside the shower and touching a metal towel bar or are you turning the metal faucet?

I don't know if I'd call it getting shocked but there can be a noticeable tingling, buzzing feeling if you touch the metal shower faucet while standing in the water. I always made sure to either be in or out. No reaching or stepping outside the shower while it was on and I never touched the heater. I never change the temperature switch when it is on and just vary the water volume to get the right temperature but I get outside the shower before touching the faucet. I've always wondered if a plastic handle would help.
 
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Old 01-13-17, 01:46 PM
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At least HD's version is wired through the wall and not along an insecure path, and I am sure the instructions dictate it must be on either AFCI or GFCI protection from the panel. Search Results for heated shower head at The Home Depot
 
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Old 01-13-17, 02:28 PM
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C'mon... a perfectly good way to stimulate hair root follicles for that thick hair look.
 
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Old 01-13-17, 04:56 PM
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This is a layman's view as far as electrical theory.

I lived in the Philippines for 3 years and never had a problem with the shower heater (hot water wasn't needed for anything else).

As Larry mentioned, the taped wires need fixed, along with the ground.

I would add/inspect the house ground wire. The taped splice from the head should have shrink tube and try to seal it by any means and keep it up and out of the way.
 
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Old 01-13-17, 06:54 PM
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hey there!

Thanks for the response!

I might have touched the (metal) faucet, and i have heard about people getting shocks from them. But i still think the shock is because of getting too close to the shower head. It's a new model, so i don't think the heating element is going bad.. Could it be that the water coming out of the shower head can create a current to me when too close? It's not just a buzzing sensation, but i would call it a decent shock.

The disconnect switch.. is that a safety switch that should turn off the power when there is a shortcut? But as i understand from Ray the fuse wire in the old switch as well as the disconnect switch will nót protect me from electrocution anyway.

To fix the ground i don't seem to understand very well. I don't think there is any ground connection in my house. Definitely not in the bathroom and not even in a 'main switch box' in my kitchen. : -( Is the option of wrapping it around the water pipe (in the wall, because the white piece is plastic) the only option?

But even that doesn't protect me from electrocution. So may i ask what the ground wiring is for then??

I will inform at the hardware store for a GFCI. Again these showers are very common so is everybody without a GFCI really risking his life every shower? Also will fix the wiring with decent shrink tube!

thanks!
 
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Old 01-13-17, 07:48 PM
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In the U.S. there are two types of grounds. There is the GEC (Grounding Electrode Conductor). The GEC is the ground rod and is intended to equalize atmospheric charges as much a possible. It won't stop a lightning strike but reduces the chance. It also tends to make the neutral and metal plumbing at the same potential.

The kind of ground you are talking about though is the EGC. (Equipment Grounding Conductor). It provides a low resistance path back to the fuse/breaker box to trip/blow the breaker/fuse if hot touches the metal case of an electric device. Earth ground is of variable resistance and may not provide a low resistance path which is why connecting to a ground rod is not adequate for the EGC.

I haven't yet touched on neutral but that is the basics.

Neither protect against electrocution because as little as 5/1000 of an amp can kill and the ground requires many amps and sometimes many minutes to activate the over current protection.
 
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Old 01-14-17, 03:52 AM
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I agree with Ray, no GEC will prevent the shocks derived from a system like the one mentioned. The only personnel protection is Ground Fault protection at the panel. All the wiring must be protected, since the switch is so close to the shower unit. I wouldn't use one of these contraptions. Cold showers are good for the soul........not really, but it beats being electrocuted.
 
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Old 01-14-17, 05:45 AM
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When your feet are wet, and standing on something like concrete, it takes very little voltage to notice a shock. It takes even less to really hurt. I've had thrilling shocks with just 12 volts standing in seawater.

With a highpower heater in the waterflow, even if all the voltage is safely tucked behind 304 stainless, IF that stainless in ungrounded, I believe you would feel just the capacitive current.
 
 

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