Touching 120V wires

hello21

Member
Location
san francisco
Ok, this is going to sound crazy, but a electrician came to my house to install a water heater and told me that touching 110V coming out of the outlet has healing effects. Regardless of the healing aspect, I was more curious how he hasn't died the many times he has done this. He went into his truck, stripped a standard cord, plugged into the outlet in my garage, and touched two exposed ends. He felt a vibration, but was fine (the green ground wire was left unconnected). I don't get it. I didnt want to get anywhere near him to test current and validate voltage, but he offered the cable to me to touch. Even though I had no intention to try it myself, since he offered the cable to me I trust he wasn't tricking me, otherwise I would have been hurt and he would have been sued ans lost his job.

Any thoughts?
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
First of all, I HATE getting shocked! It hasn't happened to me in years, because I'm careful, but it has happened. A bad shock affects me emotionally.

It surprised me how little a finger-to-finger shock felt on one hand, but never surprises me much it hurts from hand to foot or other parts of the body.

I have seen guys intentionally touch wiring to test for power, but I have never done that, and don't intend to start any time soon. That's just nuts.

Healing powers? I'm very doubtful.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
The more "calloused" his hands are as well as having no broken skin, cuts, lacerations... the higher the insulating value of his skin may be. This may allow him to tolerate something that average skin won't tolerate so well, and definitely not something very tender skin may be able to handle.

Current through the body generally "cooks" whatever it passes through. Not much chance of healing effects as a general rule, maybe some benefit when targeted as a treatment to tissue that is not in healthy condition though, but such a treatment should be administered by a qualified medical professional IMO.

There is "shocking the heart" back into rhythm, but that is a targeted and controlled procedure for time/duration, voltage level, as well as what specific part of body it is applied to and not just randomly grabbing an energized pair of conductors.
 
The journeyman I worked with back when dirt was new would check voltage on 240 volt receptacles with fingers of one hand.

Work toughened hands and wood flooring. Not me. Not happening on purpose.
AMERICAN ELECTRICIANS' HANDBOOK 7th Edition 1953 McGraw-Hill MEASURING, TESTING, AND INSTRUMENTS

154. Electricians often test circuits for the presence of voltage by touching the conductors with the fingers. This method is safe where the voltage does not exceed 250 and is often very convenient for locating a blown-out fuse or for ascertaining whether or not a circuit is alive. Some men can endure the electric shock that results without discomfort whereas others cannot. Therefore, the method is not feasible in some cases. Which are the outside wires and which is the neutral wire of a 115/230-volt, three-wire system can be determined in this way by noting the intensity of the shock that results by touching different pairs of wires with fingers. Use the method with caution and be certain that the voltage of the circuit does not exceed 250 before touching the conductors.
 

Besoeker

Senior Member
Location
UK
Where I did industrial training, there was an electrician who would regularly test bayonet cap light fittings. It was 250V then.
Known as Andrew "Digits" Leck. He had huge hands and was wicket keeper in the works cricket team.

An electrical safety training course, the trainer stated that the lowest voltage that carried a risk of fatal electrocution was 70Vac..
Big difference.
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
If the current only passed through fingers, the likelihood of a fatal shock is low. But any current passing through any part of the body will create heat, the same way it does while passing through a wire. That heat will not be healing; it will be destructive. The healing will come later, when the body repairs the damage caused by the current.

If, however, this person touched one wire with one hand and the other wire with the other hand, then the current would likely pass through his heart. 120 volts is enough for that current to be fatal. Show him the math: 120 volts divided by 1000 ohms of body resistance (pick other values, if you wish) and compare that result to the statement that 100 milliamps is enough to kill.
 

rambojoe

Senior Member
Location
phoenix az
ill second K8- and im suprised every reply is not telling this op how stupid his electrician is. and wrong. this idiot is just enjoying the little trick he learned, but other things aside, asking a customer to do it is deplorable... i cant wait till the dummy (the "wireman") runs out of luck.
 

winnie

Senior Member
Location
Springfield, MA, USA
Occupation
Electric motor research
When I volunteered at a science museum, one of the demos was a hand crank magneto connected to a simple current limiting circuit, connected with wire to a pair of hand held electrodes. You would have someone hold the electrodes and crank the magneto, and they would get shocked.

It was current limited and not dangerous, simply very noticeable. Some people really liked the shocks, other people hated them, and some people didn't like them but seemed to enjoy demonstrating how much they could tolerate something they didn't like.

'TENS' units, which use electricity to stimulate nerves and muscle contraction are well known and apparently have healing and pain reduction benefits.

-Jon
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
AMERICAN ELECTRICIANS' HANDBOOK 7th Edition 1953 McGraw-Hill MEASURING, TESTING, AND INSTRUMENTS

154. Electricians often test circuits for the presence of voltage by touching the conductors with the fingers. This method is safe where the voltage does not exceed 250 and is often very convenient for locating a blown-out fuse or for ascertaining whether or not a circuit is alive. Some men can endure the electric shock that results without discomfort whereas others cannot. Therefore, the method is not feasible in some cases. Which are the outside wires and which is the neutral wire of a 115/230-volt, three-wire system can be determined in this way by noting the intensity of the shock that results by touching different pairs of wires with fingers. Use the method with caution and be certain that the voltage of the circuit does not exceed 250 before touching the conductors.
"I don't think so, Tim!"
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
An electrical safety training course, the trainer stated that the lowest voltage that carried a risk of fatal electrocution was 70Vac..
Big difference.
When I was a kid, my parents owned an AC/DC portable tube radio that contained a 90v Eveready battery. The connector was like the snaps on a 9v battery, but much larger.

That thing provided quite the jolt! And it's said that DC shocks are worse for a given voltage. I'm convinced.
 

meternerd

Senior Member
Location
Athol, ID
Ok, this is going to sound crazy, but a electrician came to my house to install a water heater and told me that touching 110V coming out of the outlet has healing effects. Regardless of the healing aspect, I was more curious how he hasn't died the many times he has done this. He went into his truck, stripped a standard cord, plugged into the outlet in my garage, and touched two exposed ends. He felt a vibration, but was fine (the green ground wire was left unconnected). I don't get it. I didnt want to get anywhere near him to test current and validate voltage, but he offered the cable to me to touch. Even though I had no intention to try it myself, since he offered the cable to me I trust he wasn't tricking me, otherwise I would have been hurt and he would have been sued ans lost his job.

Any thoughts?
If he really said "touching 110V," it tells me he doesn't know what he's talking about. There's no such thing as 110V anymore.....it's all 120V. Ditto for 115V.
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
First of all, I HATE getting shocked! It hasn't happened to me in years, because I'm careful, but it has happened. A bad shock affects me emotionally.

It surprised me how little a finger-to-finger shock felt on one hand, but never surprises me much it hurts from hand to foot or other parts of the body.

I have seen guys intentionally touch wiring to test for power, but I have never done that, and don't intend to start any time soon. That's just nuts.

Healing powers? I'm very doubtful.
I'm right there with you
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
ill second K8- and im suprised every reply is not telling this op how stupid his electrician is. and wrong.
I wasn't condoning what he is doing in my earlier post, just explaining why it might not effect this guy same way it does some people. He still has a great risk of finding himself in wrong conditions if he continues to intentionally do this, and unfortunately there is no second chances should that happen.
 

texie

Senior Member
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
Occupation
Electrician, Contractor, Inspector
AMERICAN ELECTRICIANS' HANDBOOK 7th Edition 1953 McGraw-Hill MEASURING, TESTING, AND INSTRUMENTS

154. Electricians often test circuits for the presence of voltage by touching the conductors with the fingers. This method is safe where the voltage does not exceed 250 and is often very convenient for locating a blown-out fuse or for ascertaining whether or not a circuit is alive. Some men can endure the electric shock that results without discomfort whereas others cannot. Therefore, the method is not feasible in some cases. Which are the outside wires and which is the neutral wire of a 115/230-volt, three-wire system can be determined in this way by noting the intensity of the shock that results by touching different pairs of wires with fingers. Use the method with caution and be certain that the voltage of the circuit does not exceed 250 before touching the conductors.
Priceless.:) As with many things in life we would not think of doing today, this was considered a standard procedure. It's a wonder many of on the older side are still alive.
 

Jraef

Moderator
Staff member
Location
San Francisco Bay Area, CA, USA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
Priceless.:) As with many things in life we would not think of doing today, this was considered a standard procedure. It's a wonder many of on the older side are still alive.
As the saying goes, there are old electricians, and there are bold electricians, but there are very few old bold electricians...

I have been shocked several times and survived them all, so far as I can tell (sometimes I wonder if I am in purgatory though...) In each case there were at least TWO points of contact; one to a live conductor, the other to a grounded surface or another conductor. Every one of them hurt like HELL! Some have left scars. Nothing "healing" about that in any way.

For you to be seriously injured by electricity it must flow THROUGH your body. Most of the time because of sweat, the surface of your skin is more conductive than your innards, so the current passes OVER your vital organs rather than through them. Touching ONE wire on a 110V outlet while standing on a dry surface wearing insulating shoes and not touching any other grounded surface will not likely cause any damage. Nor will it "heal" you either...

But this is NOT something you want to count on.
 
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