||01-11-2012 07:01 PM
Voltage in the Shower
I'm new to the forums and joined because of a puzzling electrical issue in my home. Please note I'm not particularly educated in electrical matters, so please excuse any terminology issues. Also note that I've sought professional help in the matter from an electrician, who happens to be stumped. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
The problem I'm dealing with is that the other morning in our tub shower I clearly felt current when I touched the hot/cold taps to adjust the temperature. At the time I was in the shower (i.e., wet). This freaked me out. It's a new issue and no work has been done to our house recently. After some preliminary online research I called my utility. They came to the house and tested everything and said it was nothing on their end (my entire service loop was replaced last year). Subsequently, an electrician came to the house. He checked all of the ground wires and made sure everything was well grounded (it was). He then took his voltmeter into the bathroom and measured 28-30V on the shower door (sliding glass door with brass frame sitting on the tub) but NOT on the taps where I had felt it previously. Removing the screws that anchor the shower door into the wall changed nothing. We shut off the breakers in the sub panel and isolated the circuit that was the issue. We then isolated the issue further to the switch leg in my bathroom. It's a dimmer switch and there was a direct correlation between the voltage reading and where the dimmer switch was set. Finally, turning on the tap water and switching the water diverter to the shower setting charged up the taps. The theory we came up with was that a wire was somehow sitting on the water pipes or was worn and arcing over to it. Water and the copper pipes were carrying the charge. My electrician believes it's an issue with the neutral (floating neutral? - I'm not really sure what this is).
The electrician came over this morning and the mystery deepened. First, the problem disappeared entirely - the voltmeter reads zero no matter what we try. Nothing was done whatsoever in the interim and we tried everything to get it to return (all switches on in the house, ran the water, etc.). Second, based on how my bathroom is laid out and an investigation of the crawl space, our belief is that the wiring and water pipes do not run next to each other in the bathroom. It seemed like an issue local to my bathroom but this belief would suggest something else is going on.
The one remaining theory we are going to test tonight is that it is somehow being caused by one of my neighbors. The issue has shown up early morning and in the evening - ie, when lots of lights are on - and nothing we do here is making it come back.
Sorry for the long post. Any thoughts or theories would be much appreciated. Thank you!