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.© By: Dave Rongey
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.
- A friend of mine recently changed out the copper tubing for his water supply and is now getting shocks when he touches a light switch and when he touches the water taps.
- He grounded the water line at the hot water tank to his breaker box and this is when things started to happen.
- He replaced the copper tubing with that plastic tubing and connected it all with special connectors.
- Do we have to run a ground wire for a water line that is already buried in the ground?
- Do you thing that the new tubing connectors allow for continuity through the water line?
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
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?
- My plumber remove a ground wire after it shock him. He turned the power off, and then turned the power back on. This caused my lights to go out, and now my air conditioner, wash machine, and ice box will not work. Should the plumber not have removed the ground wire before cutting off the power and then turning it back on?
This electrical wiring question came from Douglas, a Homeowner in Garland, Texas.
Thank you for your electrical wiring questions.
Incorrect Electrical Wiring Can Produce Electric Shocks
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
- 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.
- 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.
DO NOT DISCONNECT THE GROUND WIRE
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.
CAUTION – SHOCK HAZARD!
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.
CONTACT AN ELECTRICIAN
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
- Electrical Grounding Methods
Electrical Grounding Methods and Requirements
Listing of electrical codes for grounding with examples of electrical grounding codes for home electrical wiring.
Electrical Wiring Codes
Electrical Code Articles
Electrical Code Directory covering electrical grounding.
Home Electrical Safety
- Home Electrical Safety Articles
Electrical Safety Articles covering several topics of home electrical safety and Do-It-Yourself Electrical Safety.
A new approach to keep kids and electricity apart with hopes to prevent children from being injured by electricity.
The following may also be helpful for you:
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
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