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story 09-16-2009 01:44 PM

Slight electrical current in bathroom faucet water + other unusual electrical events
 
I have two electrical questions for you all. I just moved in to a house that I partly rehabbed. It's a very small house, and I did a lot of the work myself--or with some help from contractors or people from Craigslist. Plumbing, electrical, carpentry, etc.

I decided to make it simple, and the house runs fully off of electricity. The first problem is that we feel a slight electrical current *in* the running water coming out of our bathroom sink. If you have a scrape on your finger, you can feel the current more distinctly. Along the same lines (maybe?), if you touch the outlet plates on a number of our light switches and turn the light on, you'll get a mild-moderate shock.

What could be causing this? Any ideas?

The second question is this: the house is running off electricity (no gas). We have no significant power draws except an electric oven (which is used pretty rarely), an electric washer/dryer, which is used only moderately--since it's only me and my wife who live here currently. And we have a new electric water heater.

With a tiny house, and only those significant power draws, we used 2007 kWh last month. It was our first month of living here full-time, and that was stunning. I've lived in much bigger houses, with many more significant power drains, and I've never come close to 2007kWh.

Is this even possible to draw that much power in thirty days? Or is this a sign, coupled with the above problem I described, that there's some significant electrical problem?

Please don't respond: just call a licensed electrician. I *will* do that very soon. I'm posting here to try to learn from your accumulated wisdom. :-) I'd like to know what your response is. I like to figure out questions. I want to learn.

Thanks in advance for any responses!

~j

300zx 09-16-2009 02:05 PM

your first problem is you hired people from Craigslist. You don't want to hear it but just call a licensed electrician.If your water lines are copper maybe the ground is loose or not grounded at all . http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...aahhhhhkv9.gif

story 09-16-2009 02:15 PM

It's Pex tube, not copper. And I don't need a reprimand for DIY-type projects. That's what this forum is: DIY Chatroom. You can help, 300zx, or slap me on the wrist. Sheesh.

Yoyizit 09-16-2009 03:17 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_bite_the_newcomer

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/consumpt...on_tables.html

Quote:

Originally Posted by story (Post 328481)
The first problem is that we feel a slight electrical current *in* the running water coming out of our bathroom sink. If you have a scrape on your finger, you can feel the current more distinctly. Along the same lines (maybe?), if you touch the outlet plates on a number of our light switches and turn the light on, you'll get a mild-moderate shock.

The scrape business is because you're losing the benefit of skin resistance.
Put a milliammeter on the 200 mA AC range in series with a 7-1/2 w incand. bulb in place of your body; @ 60 Hz, any current more than 5 mA is a problem and more than 20mA is very dangerous, even for men. Don't let women or children touch these surfaces if you see current flow.
Videotape your findings in case you need them in court.

See fig. 15
http://www.easternvoltageresearch.co...ets/safety.pdf

For more info, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dalziel

On the bright side, only 1300 people each yr in the US get electrocuted [out of ~300 M] but given what you've told me your odds are considerably higher.

Check out the stories about our troops being electrocuted in showers in Iraq.

Repair is another story. Post back.

Mr Chips 09-16-2009 03:38 PM

try to isolate problem. take a volt meter: touch one lead to a ground screw on a nearby box and the other under the running water have someone at panel throw breakers, one by one, and watch the readings.

could be a bad ground on you main electric service, or a water heater problem

300zx 09-16-2009 04:05 PM

Call a real Electrician! This is from another forum:
A government contractor has apparently been electrocuted while showering in Baghdad even as U.S. authorities in Iraq try to remedy wiring problems that have led to the deaths of several American troops there. Adam Hermanson, 25, died Sept. 1, according to his wife, Janine. At least three troops have been electrocuted in the shower since the start of the Iraq war; others have been electrocuted under other circumstances, such as operating a power washer.:furious:

jbfan 09-16-2009 04:48 PM

Do you live in the country? Do you have a well? how close are the neighbers?
If you have a well, i have seen bad water heaters from miles away cause problems.

As far as the other post, if the main is off, and the meter still turns, you are using electricity.

Yes this is a DIY forum, but somethings are best left to the pros, and not all contractors on CL are pros.

AllanJ 09-16-2009 05:31 PM

A water heater will run up a huge energy bill if your hot water plumbing and/or faucets has a leak or two.

You may want to ground or re-ground your plumbing. Without an all metal path (if some of the piping is plastic) you might run a ground wire from each fixture faucet assembly and each fixture drain, perhaps more or less following the route of the pipes, down to the basement, connecting the wire to the first metal piping that continues all the way to the main water line going out through the foundation. Properly connected electrical systems also include a #6 ground wire from the breaker panel to said portion or entirety of the plumbing system in metal including the main line out through the foundation. Should there be no metal water pipe going out through the foundation, your ground wire from upstairs fixtures is connected to the ground at the breaker panel.

Double check the grounding of all your switches and receptacles. All cables' ground wires are tied to each other at each outlet box and also a bare wire end (pigtail if need be) is connected to the frame (yoke) of the switch or receptacle and a bare end is connected to the outlet box itself if that is metal.

When you feel a moderate shock when touching a switch cover, what is your other hand touching (and what are your feet touching)?

Other topics to research:

1. Whether the water stream is energized for whatever reason; you feel a tingle from leakage or phantom current (actually a flow due to capacitance) continuing through you and through where your foot is on the porcelain surface of the steel bathtub (and you would be really electrocuted by a larger current flow if your foot touched the metal drain strainer).

2. Whether there is an energy consuming electrical fault in the water heater causing a current flow through the water to the properly grounded tank even when the water has reached target temperature and the heating elements have shut off.

3. Whether some of your switches and receptacles have faults and insufficient grounding that energize the switch or receptacle cover plates.

220/221 09-16-2009 08:10 PM

Quote:

Please don't respond: just call a licensed electrician
Ok. Just try and fix it yourself. When your wife gets electrocuted in the shower, you can just get a new one.


Some issues cannot be resolved simply over the internet. Like it or not, this is one of them. This will take not only a licenced electrician but a good one. Not all electricians are able to grasp the all the possibilties in this situation.

Magnettica 09-16-2009 11:28 PM

I'd suspect a loose neutral connection on the utility side, but that's just speculation.

Don't wait, call your power company and a licensed electrician today.


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