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Old 12-02-2007, 11:03 AM   #1
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


Thank you in advance for anyone that can help.

I have recently finished my basement, which I wired myself. All circuits are far less than 80% percent of their capacity, I have can lighting throughout the basement that are connected to dimmer switches. The switches are ganged in the box. There is one 600-watt 3-way dimmer, one 1000 watt dimmer, and one 3-way (left to right). The problem that I am having is that whenever I touch the faceplate screws for any outlet or switch (including non dimmer switches for closet lights), I get an initial shock. If I touch the screw again, I do not get shocked. After walking around the room for awhile, if I touch any of the screws again, I get shocked. This does not happen anywhere else in the house, just the basement. Does anyone have any idea what I can do to fix this. The shock is not painful, is just more of an annoyance than anything because it happens everytime.

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Old 12-02-2007, 11:31 AM   #2
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


I hate to even suggest this, but could this possibly be just static electricity? That screw should be grounded which would make a convenient place to discharge to. On the other hand, you could be getting a real shock and if the circuit was protected by a GFCI recept or breaker, perhaps it has tripped which would explain why you only got tagged once. However, this is probably not the case for the following reasons:

1. Lighting circuits are typically not candidates for GFCI protection,
2. If the circuit was tripping, I'm sure you would have noticed that.

Here in the Midwest where it's getting to be winter, the dryer indoor air can attribute to the generation of some hefty body charge which can make for a really nice static jolt.

The best thing to do would be to measure with a meter or wiggy the voltage between the screws and another electrical ground, i.e. the ground hole on a nearby recept just to make sure.

Just a thought,
Jimmy

PS Edit: I noticed that you mentioned outlets as well which I assume you to mean plug/cord receptacles. Based on this, I'd toss the GFCI suspicion and go with the static electricity theory. The floor type in your basement, which may be different from other parts of the house may play a part. Or, if you have a different type of heating system in the basement, i.e. one that does not humidify the air, that could make a difference too.

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Last edited by BigJimmy; 12-02-2007 at 11:35 AM. Reason: Didn't see that the shocks occur at recepts too.
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Old 12-02-2007, 12:31 PM   #3
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


I find it amazing that after this statement..........
Quote:
Originally Posted by vogtage83 View Post
The problem that I am having is that whenever I touch the faceplate screws for any outlet or switch (including non dimmer switches for closet lights), I get an initial shock. If I touch the screw again, I do not get shocked. After walking around the room for awhile, if I touch any of the screws again, I get shocked.

........this is not obvious.
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Originally Posted by BigJimmy View Post
I hate to even suggest this, but could this possibly be just static electricity?
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Old 12-02-2007, 01:01 PM   #4
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


Way to go Pete.

To the OP, put in plastic plates and vinal screws.
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Old 12-02-2007, 03:32 PM   #5
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


It is obvious that I thought of static electricity, which is why I mentioned walking around the room. However, I have no other problems in the rest of the house. That is why I was suspicious. I was concerned because we have small children running around and I wouldn't want anyone getting shocked from the plug outlets. If this is just a case of static and dry air, then I like the idea of vinyl screws. Can I pick these up at a local hardware store, or are they a difficult-to-find item? Thanks for the help.
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Old 12-02-2007, 04:20 PM   #6
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


I'd find a buddy with a voltage meter and check it out. That would ease your mind and rule out nefarious electron misdirection in your premises' wiring. Then I'd get vinyl screws and be done with it. Should be at all your fine home centers.

Andy
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Old 12-02-2007, 04:49 PM   #7
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


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Originally Posted by Andy in ATL View Post
I'd find a buddy with a voltage meter and check it out. That would ease your mind and rule out nefarious electron misdirection in your premises' wiring. Then I'd get vinyl screws and be done with it. Should be at all your fine home centers.

Andy

C'mon, everyone knows what a static shock feels like...
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Old 12-02-2007, 05:12 PM   #8
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


I've been known to jump like a little girl if I get hit at just the right moment.
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Old 12-02-2007, 05:21 PM   #9
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


Best advice I can give is google static electricity and bone up one the ways to prevent it. Point elimination at the wall switches isn't going to stop a shock from occuring at say a metal door knob. Static in a residenence rarely is a safety issue but if it is a large static shock it isn't very funny and could scare the ************ens out of the little ones. So if your getting one of those "gets your attention shocks" I'd be for taking it serious and eliminate the sourse of the static.

If you want we can discuss static and where your problem is likely occuring and help you rid yourself of this nuisance shock.

My best guess is very dry air combined with the type footwear and floor surface your walking on.

Last edited by Stubbie; 12-02-2007 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 12-02-2007, 05:56 PM   #10
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


Add a humidifier to your house heating system...
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Old 12-02-2007, 07:41 PM   #11
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


stop walking on the carpet without shoes :} carpet,socks,motion,dry air: that is a formula for; ZAP!!!!!!!!!!
put your Nikes on and try it again most likely find problem went away :}:}:}:}
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Old 12-02-2007, 08:17 PM   #12
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


Here is a video that may help:

Pay close attention to the part about carpets.
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Old 12-02-2007, 10:37 PM   #13
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


r O F L M F A O

see Told Ya
carpet
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Old 12-03-2007, 04:23 AM   #14
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


Don't forget about clothes.

Many synthetic fibres can cause a build up of static electricity when rubbed against dissimilar things. Of course, dry air does not help.
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Old 12-03-2007, 10:04 AM   #15
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Getting shocked by face plate screws


Some people think a static charge is nothing but a nuisance, which it is. But I can tell you from experience, I have pulled a 4" mini lightning volt when exiting my fabric car seat. It happens all winter long. It hurts and could cause issues at the gas station.....LOL

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