Electric shock in shower

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by ChrisChemist116, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. ChrisChemist116

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Mar 13, 2009
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    It is as the title above describes. Well here's the story...

    I have an electric water boiler, its somewhat old (2000), never got any service, circuit breaker unchanged dating back the same year, and until recently never shown problems ....

    until two days ago when i was taking a shower and suddenly i felt an electric shock, obviously not lethal but quite scary. i felt a strong pain when the water hit my left hand as i touched the metal shower tap.

    my major concern it is why this happened?. I usually turn off the boiler before taking a shower, it should not be any leaking... maybe i am mistaken. whatever...

    Is there any way to test any leaking current?. :confused:
    by the way is this problem common?, did anybody else has experienced this before?
     
  2. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
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    This is typical for a grounding problem related to the mains. The mains ground is often connected to the drain water pipe. If this is broken this may happen. But it will also several other reasons why happen. You should get a certified electrician to look at it. Have you done any work with your house electrical system lately?
     
  3. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    We had a thread quite a while ago, over a year, where there is a specialty device that connects to the shower head. Is is possible you have one of these?
     
  4. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
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    A strong pain indicates a potentially deadly level of current: you are probably lucky to be still alive.

    Your shower installation appears therefore to have a potentially lethal fault. This must be addressed right away, before anyone gets killed or injured. The shower must not be used again until it has been checked by a competent electrician.

    No arguments. No do-it yourself. If you were competent to do this for yourself you would not be asking these questions.

    Edit: Left hand on the tap? That is a bad place to make contact.
     
  5. ChrisChemist116

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Mar 13, 2009
    78
    1
    I haven't done any work to my electrical system, as long as i know the circuit breaker seems to be ok, however it has not been changed in 11 years.

    the model i use it is pretty old (european-style?), below there is the best picture i could find on how it looks like, notice the one on the right. the other on the left it is another example from the manufacturer of these (bticino).

    I haven't contacted a certified electrician yet, i was hoping maybe i could do this by my own, but i wont hesitate to contact one right away.

    Is there any way to test or to know if the mains ground is connected to the drain water pipe?

    I was totally unaware that such devices exists, my shower head doesn't seem to have one of these. Where can i find them?. I dont know what thread you are refering to.

    Well... i didn't knew it was a potentially deadly level, but maybe you're right as i still feel some discomfort on my fingers and the pain irradiates to my arm as well, but not that much.

    Since you're talking about dangerous levels, how do i confirm this?. will a multimeter tied to the shower head and the water to test work?

    yeap. left hand. what's the big deal on?. i do use a single lever mixer shower.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2011
  6. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    This would suggest an improper bonding to ground. All metal piping must be bonded to ground as should all metalic housings that contain electrical. You should call an electician to check for you.
     
  7. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
    22,182
    1,728
    I have no clue about wiring in Peru.

    In the States many years ago (pre-1960's), it was common for the water pipes to be used as an electrical ground; they were generally made of copper and very good conductors. This changed somewhere in the 1950s or 1960s; I don't know just when. After the change, the neutral wire at the electrical service panel had to be connected via an AWG-4 or larger copper wire to an 8-1/2 foot long copper clad rod that was driven into the ground. This is for safety.

    Your ground may be faulty. A licensed electrician can find the problem and repair it.

    Along with everyone else, I suggest that this is not a job for a layperson; you need a licensed electrician to test/repair it. You won't have the tools to test it properly.
     
  8. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
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    If the pain is still present after some time, the current was probably at a really dangerous level. The left arm is of course the limb closest to the heart.

    I really would not recommend you to go near the shower until it has been properly tested. A meter might or might not show something, depending whether there is always a voltage present.

    Checking the bonding of all piping and other earthing is another matter, and one best left to a properly qualified electrician, in my opinion.
     
  9. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
    1,585
    141
    IIRC, the thread was discussing a shower head that put the water in direct contact with the 240 VAC line voltage because the heating element was in the head. Many of us (me included) were appalled that such a device would be allowed to be sold in the US, but apparently such devices are fairly common in South America. You've already indicated that your home uses a water heater. I would not allow the use of one of these shower head heaters in my home, nor would I ever use one myself. Well, I would if I knew the heater element was on an isolation transformer and that the conductivity of the water was below a particular level. But your average bear in the woods doesn't have control over such things.

    I don't know the exact date either, but I suspect it was in the early 60's. I still remember seeing these new three wire plugs on appliances and it bugged the hell out of old timers because they wouldn't plug into the usual two wire outlet. It was common to see the old timers get a hacksaw and cut the grounding part of the plug off. These folks didn't understand the safety risks they were taking when they did such things -- and your average person today still has no clue why things are grounded as they are. But I feel that two of the greatest improvements for electrical safety ever made (besides good standards and careful enforcement) are the grounded electrical system and ground fault interrupters.
     
  10. debjit625

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    790
    186
    Were you naked?if yes then try to wear something like sexy underwear so that if something happens to you ,people don't find you naked.:p

    Yes I have but it was an electric immersion heater ,the problem was grounding.But in your case from this forum I can't say much as it may be serious so you have two options 1)don't use the stuff or 2)go for an certified electrician as already mentioned.

    Good luck and be safe
     
  11. debe

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    946
    184
    My Mother had simmilar problems with her shower & hotwater system. An Electrician checked out her house & hotwater system & couldent fault it & called in the power company. The power company found a broken wire on one of there power poles causing the electric shocks.
     
  12. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
    16,252
    6,751
    The way to tell if the mains ground is connected to the water pipe is to look with your eyes.

    There are special circuit breakers (ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCI) designed to stop all the power if a shock occurs, but the real solution is to call an electrician. You have a serious danger.

    I agree, the fact that you are asking us shows that you need a real electrician!
     
  13. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    One other thing, this is a ground fault, not a breaker fault.

    A breaker opens the electrical path in the case of excessive current. If that happens while you are in the shower, well, consider the implications.

    I will also voice my opinion that you need a electrician. Doing it yourself is not a good idea unless you have the training.
     
  14. BillB3857

    Senior Member

    Feb 28, 2009
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    Your problem could also be a heating element in the water heater (boiler) the has a corroded jacket. Normally, the heating element is isolated inside a metal jacket with a type of ceramic filler. If the jacket erodes away, the actual heating wire is exposed to the water, which will electrify the water. I would also expect that you have plastic/PVC pipe delivering the water to the shower.
     
  15. praondevou

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jul 9, 2011
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    Yes you are right, in Brazil it's the most common shower heating system. Usually people connect these all by themselves, very often using wire wrap "techniques".

    There is a ground wire but it is most often not connected to anything because the ground wire doesn't come till the bathroom.:D

    Big difference though, most often plastic pipes are used. However, I felt more than once some tickling in other people's homes while taking a shower. I felt safer when I knew they used 110V... Try to explain someone in THEIR home that the installation they made is wrong. :rolleyes:
     
  16. ChrisChemist116

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Mar 13, 2009
    78
    1
    After reading all the apparent red flags, its totally not a job for me. Fortunately i have called a technician to get an inspection by the end of the week.
    Too sad i have to rely on cold water until then...
    I have to say here all plumbing it is made from PVC not metal, copper or whatsoever.
     
  17. ChrisChemist116

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Mar 13, 2009
    78
    1
    I have no any clue either, as long as i know few buildings here are made accordingly to IET/IEE or IEC regulations. A prevalent problem in developing countries like mine. :( whatever...

    It chills me out the path between the left hand it is closer to the heart than the right side.

    Shower heaters as you mentioned were very popular here in the 80s. But most of them have been rendered obsolete by the average joe, as heating tanks became more affordable, which it is what i use.
     
  18. ChrisChemist116

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Mar 13, 2009
    78
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    It turned out to be problem was inside the water tank. Its been a month since has been replaced by a new one and all seems fine, at least i dont have any awkward feeling after taking a shower.
     
  19. BillB3857

    Senior Member

    Feb 28, 2009
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    Glad things worked out and you are now SAFE!
     
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