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Causes Of Electrical Shock in Homes

What causes a shock when touching a light switch or water facet, how can this be fixed? How Incorrect Electrical Wiring Can Produce Electric Shocks.

Home Electrical Wiring Video

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet
without a Ground Wire

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How to Stop Electric Shocks
Electrical Question #1: A friend is getting shocked when he touches a light switch and when he touches the water taps.

My questions:

I haven’t been there yet but I’m sure it’s only static electricity that is shocking him because it only happens every now and then. In wiring his basement a couple of weeks ago and everything was fine until he change the water lines. Any help would be nice

Thank you.

This electrical wiring question came from: John, a Electrician from Windsor Ontario Canada.

Additional Comments: I’ve used this site before and was happy with the answers I get.

Electrical Question #2: My plumber got shocked so he remove a ground wire, was this the right thing to do?

This electrical wiring question came from Douglas, a Homeowner in Garland, Texas.

Dave’s Reply:
Thank you for your electrical wiring questions.

Incorrect Electrical Wiring Can Produce Electric Shocks

Ground Rod and Ground Clamp

Application: Evaluating a Home Electrical System for Causes of Electric Shocks.
Skill Level: Advanced. This electrical work is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester and amp meter or load recorder.
Estimated Time: Depends on the type and age of the electric service panel and the access to the circuits to be evaluated.
Precaution: Working in an electric panel is dangerous due to arc flash hazards and the possibility of electric shock.
Notice: Making changes to the Home Electrical Service Panel should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

How an Improperly Grounded Electrical System Can Produce Electric Shocks

Electrical shocks like this can be a twofold problem. No matter where you live, grounding and bonding the electrical system is vitally important, let me explain:

The Electrical Ground System is Essential to Help Prevent Electrical Shock

  1. Replacing Copper Water Pipes
    When the copper water lines were replaced by a non metallic water pipe this may have also removed the main connection to the system ground bond.

    • The solution would be to drive a ground rod or two according to code at a clear location at the base of the main electrical panel and run the new ground wire to the main panel ground terminal.
    • An additional ground wire should be run to bond any remaining metallic water pipes and to the metal gas pipe as required by your local code.
    • A tubing connector cannot provide electrical continuity when the tubing is non conductive.
  2. Grounded Neutral Wire
    There may be wiring where a neutral is tied to a ground wire which could cause voltage to back feed the ground system, and this will definitely be a problem if the ground system is not properly connected throughout the home electrical wiring circuits.

    • If the problem still persists then each circuit will need to be isolated until the source is identified, then every connection and device on the problem circuit must be inspected for the cause of the voltage leak to ground.

The Cause of Electric Shock in a Home

The above conditions may be caused by improper grounding of the home electrical system, or the main neutral conductor of the home electrical system may not be bonded to a earth ground system. This is very dangerous and should be corrected right away.

If the ground wire was disconnected it should be reconnected, and the ground system should be evaluated to make sure it is installed according to code and properly bonded.

If electric shocks are occurring in a home or building structure be extremely careful around all electrical circuits, outlets and appliances, plumbing fixtures and drains, especially in bathtubs and shower areas, and any metal surfaces. These are all areas for a potential electric shock when the grounding system may be faulty.

I strongly suggest that a Licensed Electrical Contractor or Certified Electrician be consulted who will examine the main panel and make the appropriate repairs and adjustments to ensure that the electrical system is properly bonded, and that an approved grounding system has been installed as required by CEC, NEC, or UK Electrical Codes. The electrician should also check to make sure the home has GFCI Ground Fault Protection in all the required areas, including the bathroom, kitchen, garage, laundry room, and outdoor areas.

IMPORTANT: Electrical shocks can also be caused by improper electrical wiring or a fault within electrical equipment.

See More about Home Electrical Grounding and Wiring

The following may also be helpful for you:

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

More articles about Electrical Repair, Shock From Grounds and Plumbing and Home Electrical Wiring:
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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

6 Responses to “Causes Of Electrical Shock in Homes”
  1. Kishor says:

    Could anyone tell me the reason and solution of problem of having electric shocks at the time of on or off of switches. We have used new wires in wiring of our house and as per electrician all the wiring and earthing is ok.

    Also, whenever we switch off our tube lights, they glow for some time. This never happened earlier. We are very scared now.

    Kindly help me in finding a solution to this problem.


  2. Dave Rongey says:

    Kishor – I would encourage you to have your local electrician inspect the wiring that you have installed, the circuit is definitely not working correctly therefore each connection of the circuit wiring must be checked and tested so the fault may be identified and repaired. The circuit should be turned OFF until the problem has been corrected to avoid potential shock hazards.

  3. dawn says:

    I have a mobile home and recently every time it rains and I try to open the door it shocks the heck out of me. My sister has two small boys and I am very afraid one of them will get hurt. What could this be? I know for sure that my line is just buried not in a plastic pipe like my step-dad told me to but I had to work and couldn’t get it done before the electricity was connected.
    Any advice would be great.
    Thanks so much.

  4. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Dawn,
    I would highly recommend that you have a qualified electrician come out and inspect the electrical system right away, because this is nothing to mess around with. The problem is most likely with the buried wiring as you have described, which will need to be evaluated and corrected as needed and installed according to code. There may also be the lack of proper bonding of the ground system at the main electrical service panel or sub panel.

    IMPORTANT: Until this problem is corrected I would advise you to turn off the main circuit which supplies power to the buried line to avoid any possibility of electrical shock and related hazardous conditions.

    Be Safe!

  5. Dreak says:

    Hi there, we have a inverter connected to our main line cause there is frequent black outs in our country. Now days we can hear buzz in our audio system, every thing that has a Speaker if connected to the line we get a buzz sound, recently I get small electric shock every time I touch a part of USB that is connected to the laptop which is in-turn connected to line, is this common?

  6. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Dreak,
    Electric shocks are never common unless they are from static electricity due to dry environments.
    Make sure the inverter is well grounded along with the other electrical systems that are connected.
    I hope this helps,