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Getting electricity from water tap

  1. Nov 9, 2005 #1
    i have a water boiler in my bathroom, which is heated with electricity. Its quite old boiler(10 years) and its heater has been replaced with a new one about 3-4 months ago. Few days ago i had an water pipe accident so i had to turn water down and so i turned my boiler off. When the plummer fixed the pipe i switched the boiler on again. And when i turned water tap to wash my hands i experienced an electrical shock. First i didnt beleive it but then i wanted to be sure and touched the water tap again and im sure i experienced electricity and it wasnt pleasant. It seems like the only time i can get electricity is when the water is flowing. Now i cant figure out why it is happening and im not too keen to use the water tap in my bathroom. Can anyone explain and give some advice?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2005 #2


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    You should make sure your water pipes have a good ground. Water pipes are sometimes used as a safety ground for electrical systems. If the pipes are not grounded as thought and there is current leakage from the heating elements, the pipes become conductors to you instead of ground.
  4. Nov 9, 2005 #3


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    Do you experience any discomfort while urinating? :eek:

    Seriously, though... don't touch it until it's sorted out. You could get much worse than a tingle in your fingers.
  5. Nov 9, 2005 #4


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    You should do at least two things about this, IMO. 1) Check and fix the grounding for the new electrical heater circuit. And 2) install a GFCI in series with the power source for the heater circuit. The GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) has a resettable fuse switch that will open the circuit if there is a ground fault where some of the primary power starts to return to ground instead of staying in the normal hot-neutral path.

    I'm not familiar with the typical electrical installation codes and grounding in Estonia, but as other posters have suggested, you need to have the integrity of your ground connections checked, and the new heater circuit needs to be checked to be sure that its ground connections have been made correctly.
  6. Nov 9, 2005 #5
    It may be that the plumber replaced a section of metal pipe with plastic pipe. If so the plastic section should be `bridged' with a bare bonding wire.
    In the US (with some exceptions) all bathroom electrical fixtures must have a "ground fault interrupter" on their power source. A water heater's current requirement may not be met by a standard wall outlet, and in the US would be served by a combination circuit breaker/GFCI in the power distribution panel.
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