Shock While Taking A Shower

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I have a customer who's renters complain about getting shocked while taking a shower if they touch the handle or shower head. On this house someone removed the metal piping supplying water service and replaced it with plastic. They have also removed the metal piping under the house and replaced it with plastic. The metal piping still extends up into the walls at the kitchen and bath. The house Electrical Service is grounded with a ground rod. When you test between hot and the metal piping in the shower instead of 120 volts you get 71volts. I am going to bond the isolated metal pipes areas to the service to take care of part of the problem but I was wondering if there has to be a connection between a white wire and ground wire to have the shock at the shower. Any information is greatly appreciated,
 

wirenut1980

Senior Member
Location
Plainfield, IN
T-bird, some things you can do are as follows:

Take voltage measurement between the showerhead and a reference ground that you know is truly grounded. Also take a voltage mesurement between the drain and reference ground. You should also try opening circuit breakers to see if the voltage goes away to check for any high impedance ground faults.

Also look for any neutral to ground bonds downstream of the main.

To avoid getting shocked, bond the shower water piping to the drain piping, but also take the steps outlined above to find the cause of the shock. Good luck and post back your measurement results.:smile:
 

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
T-bird, some things you can do are as follows:

Take voltage measurement between the showerhead and a reference ground that you know is truly grounded.

If you do find voltage, start turning circuits off one at a time and see if it goes away. Knowing which circuit may be causing it will reduce the time needed to find out where the problem is.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
Take voltage measurement between the showerhead and a reference ground that you know is truly grounded. Also take a voltage measurement between the drain and reference ground.
I agree, drag a THHN up from the main panels grounding bus to the bathroom and use that as your reference ground. You can do this with and extension cord as well as long as you know for a fact the receptacle you have plugged into is properly wired and working. Say if there is a receptacle at the panel that you can see the wiring for.


You should also try opening circuit breakers to see if the voltage goes away to check for any high impedance ground faults.

I agree again, once you find odd readings start shutting off breakers till it goes away.

Also check for electric water heaters with bad elements.
 

mivey

Senior Member
You could also have a wire shorted to a plaster wire mesh which is, in turn, touching some plumbing.
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
Occupation
Field coordinator/ technical support
I agree, drag a THHN up from the main panels grounding bus to the bathroom and use that as your reference ground. You can do this with and extension cord as well as long as you know for a fact the receptacle you have plugged into is properly wired and working. Say if there is a receptacle at the panel that you can see the wiring for.





I agree again, once you find odd readings start shutting off breakers till it goes away.

Also check for electric water heaters with bad elements.
All very good recomendations, I think you will find the equipment ground is either not present, or not connected at the waterheater and/or the panel for that circuit also.
 

BryKey

Member
Had the same issue in a house, but it was the tile man getting zapped as he was attempting to grout. 2 hours later we uncovered a nail plate that was pinching wires, energizing the plate, transferring the power to the foil covered insulation on the walls, energizing everything metal it came in contact with.
 
Update! Once I properly bonded the water pipe system and replaced and properly grounded a subpanel near the bathroom all the stray voltage at the shower was gone. Thanks for all the help, Trent
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
Simply bonding the isolated water pipe did not fix the problem it simply removed the symtoms. You still need to find the problem.
 
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220/221

Senior Member
Location
AZ
Simply bonding the isolated water pipe did not fix the problem it simply removed the symtoms. You still need to find the problem.
Absolutely. You may not have fixed the problem, you might have just created a better path for the current to flow.

probably a sheetrock screw into a wire in the wall somewhere.
Probably??? How about possibly.
 
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mh1990

Member
Location
Great lake state
Shock in the Shower

Shock in the Shower

Not sure if voltage is present at all times . I had one that it was the well pump operating. Shorted to the metal 4 inch pipe. Upon inspection under the cover the pump installers had cut the bare grounding conductor off the UF cable . The pipe with the power conductor feeding the well had been hit by a riding mower and pinched one of the ungrounded conductors. Also there was no bond to the cold water .

mh1990
 

renosteinke

Senior Member
Location
NE Arkansas
I had this sort of call not long ago, and the solution was surprisingly easy.

First of all, that electricity has to come from somewhere. So, you start at the panel that serves the bathroom, and turn off circuits one at time until the problem goes away. Now you know what circuit has the problem.

Next you turn off / remove all loads fron the circuit. Does the problem go away? If so, you have a problem with one of the loads.

If not, your problem is within the circuit. Start opening boxes and separating connections until you find what part of the circuit has the problem. Once you're disconnected at the panel, you can check each segment with a megger (preferred) or continuity tester (probably adequate).

In my case, the problem happend to be a carefully concealed extension cord that had got water in the female end during a cleaning operation.
 
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