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Causes Of Electrical Shock in Homes


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Incorrect Electrical Wiring Can Produce Electric Shocks: A friend is getting shocked when he touches a light switch and when he touches the water taps.


How to Stop Electric Shocks

Electrical Question: 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.

My questions to you:

  1. Do we have to run a ground wire for a water line that is already buried in the ground?
  2.  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

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.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question John.

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 – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician or 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

John, electrical shocks like this can be a twofold problem. No matter where you live, such as in Canada, the USA, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Africa, 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.

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

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6 Responses to “Causes Of Electrical Shock in Homes”
  1. 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?

    • 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,
      Dave

  2. 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.

    • 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!
      Dave

  3. 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.

    Kishor

    • 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.
      Dave


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