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  • Getting a buzz from water fawcet

    This is a new one for me. I was taking a shower today and went to reach for the scrubber and one finger brushed against the hot water valve and I felt a real slight evedence of current! I tried my fingers on all the valves and shower pipe but did not feel anything. The magic finger in question has the nail cut back too far and the quick is somewhat exposed. When I put my nail/quick against any of the handles or shower spout, I detected the current. Kinda like a near dead 9v battery on your tongue. Touching the regular way I feel nothing.

    Why would there be a current that is noticable on the plumbing and standing in the shower. Cast iron tub, copper piping. I have a gas water heater. All I can think of is one of the grounding wires that may be clamped onto the main water line outside. I"m confused!!! Any ideas?

    Mark
    Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!

  • #2
    Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

    I'm not an electrician but I know enough to tell you that is not something you want to play with. It sounds like you have a current from something feeding back through your ground. Because your electrical is grounded to your pipes you are feeling it at the handle.

    Mark
    "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

    I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

      Thanks Mark, that was my thinking too, but i'm no expert by any stretch. If it's backfeeding current, maybe that's why my electric bill is so darn high? LOL

      I do know that about 20 years ago I had the panel upgraded and we (I helped) installed an 8' ground rod below the panel. Hmmm, interesting situation. Wish I had some way to measure exactally how much is at the water valves in the tub!

      Mark
      Last edited by The Wood Meister; 08-24-2007, 11:11 PM.
      Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

        TWM

        Try shutting off the main breaker and then see if you can feel it. Actually it might be better to call an electrician or someone that's an electronics tech. Have him/her connect an insulated wire to the ground rod and another to the hot valve in your tub. This is to be done with your main breaker (or fused safety switch) OFF. Then connect the other end of both wires to a multi meter like a Simpson 260 or Triplett 630 (not a digital) and set it to the 0-250 or 0-300 Volts AC range. Then being careful close the main breaker and take a reading. If the pointer just budges off 0, shut off power and set the meter to a lower range. Then try it again.

        My bet is that something (clothes washer most likely) has a ground fault and in many cases they are connected to a cold water pipe as a backup to the electrical ground. (Grounding power cord)

        If in the above tests you do get a Voltage reading on the meter, then try shutting off one circuit breaker at a time while someone watches the meter. If there's one where the reading changes, make note of it.

        Note: A test lamp is not a good way to do this. Find someone with a good analog type of multi-meter even if it's an older "AmpClamp" but the Simpson 260 or Triplett 630 would be better. Anyone that's an old timer in electronics should have one. Please no more using yourself. If the fault gets worse you'll get a real zapping. Get this fixed or leave off the circuit with the problem until it is fixed and the above test gives a reading of 0 or very close to 0.

        It's also a good idea for an electrician to try measuring the resistance from the ground rod to the ground pin in all receptacles and the ground connection for all major appliances in your home. Yes, this takes some time and $$$ but it's far better than ending up at the ER or worse.


        No matter what always think safety and do have an adult nearby just in case he/she needs to place an emergency phone call.

        Question: Are you near any radio or TV station transmitters?
        Last edited by Woussko; 08-25-2007, 01:09 AM.

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        • #5
          Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

          I will give a friend a call, retired electrician, and see if he has the right meter. Thanks.

          The house is old, '54, so no grounded outlets, except on a few we added later.

          I do recall that the washer and dryer have a ground wire going to the water line in the laundry room. But again, that outlet is not a grounded outlet either. So maybe it's going into the pipe instead of the outlet?

          The hot water valve and cold and diverter and spout are all connected with copper so the "tingle" comes from any of them. Maybe I'll go ck the kitchen too. Only problem is, once my fingernail grows back, my "tester" won't work anymore! LOL

          Mark
          Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

            TWM

            Maybe you need to bond (Connect) all of your plumbing together and then connect it to a good ground. Are you on a city water system or a well? You would do well to measure Voltage with an AC Voltmeter from the grounding rod to your hot water heater outlet. Then try it from the inlet to the outlet of the water heater. Be sure all power is off when making connections. This really is a case where it would be wise to call in an electrician and have him/her test all grounds and bonding to plumbing. The hot water pipes need to be gorunded too. In some cases there may be a union (need Plumber Rick or ToUtahNow for correct device name) that's non-conductive. In that case your hot pipes are not grounded. Play it safe and have everything checked for good grounding. As for the clothes washer and/or dryer, the electricals need to be updated. They must be on a good circuit with good and proper grounding. The old practice of connecting them to a cold water pipe is not good. In addition they should be checked for ground faults. If you have a dishwasher, it needs to be checked out too.

            For now I would do the first test with ALL power in your house off. Then turn it back on watching the Voltmeter and try shutting off one circuit at a time. Again, this is not for the average DIYer to try. A good electrician or electronics tech should know how to do it safely. If in doubt, keep the main breaker or safety switch OFF.

            Have your electrician friend go almost totally apeus and be sure every point that should be well grounded really is. Have him run a resistance test to a good and known ground.

            Do the one device at a time power off and power on tests. You'll find the trouble maker given time and using care.

            One last thing is that you should really save up your money. In time you'll want to cut off (no need to remove it) the old wiring and run new throughout your place. Some older wiring wasn't safe when brand new. I've seen things in older houses that would make electricians of today run away in fear. And, They should be scared of them. People did some very crazy stuff and we know they still do.
            Last edited by Woussko; 08-25-2007, 01:05 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

              If the water piping is bonded, then possibly you have a poor connection, on the connection or the ground if the electrical system is grounded through the water piping,

              as stated a possible ground fault,

              some location on a sub panel you had the grounds and the neutral connected together, but then many older appliances bonded the neutral and ground or considered them the same,

              there is a possible a lose neutral connection some place on the line thus forcing some current through the ground,
              are any lights dimming and brightening as you either turn on or off some thing or some other load comes on, even if not, check the neutrals, and if nothing is found on your side of the meter it may not hurt to have the power company check there side,
              Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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              attributed to Samuel Johnson
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              • #8
                Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

                I called my electrician buddy and he's going to stop by and have a look. He's old school union so I trust his ability to find the problem on "this old house".

                He agrees that there is most likely a failure in the ground bond between the 8 foot ground rod and the box and plumbing, making me standing in the wet tub, the new path.

                I can hear it now.

                "Honey, why do my feet tingle every time I take a shower?"
                Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

                  TWM

                  Please keep us updated. I think you did well calling your electrician buddy. Make him a nice meal and that may really help.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

                    I went out and looked at the box and ground rod. I see the big wire going from the box down into the ground and then back out to a big clamp on the water shutoff valve. Everything from there to the house is copper.....EXCEPT........ about 10 years ago, I installed a water softener and had to cut the main line to the house and bring both lines up to the softener where the bypass valve goes. Guess what.....It's a plastic valve. So my ground bond on the copper pipe only goes about 4 feet before it stops at the plastic valve. It never does go to the house! LOL Guess a short strap will make it all ok now? Maybe just solder a copper strap between the two pipes, they are only about 6" apart. Just wonder why I never noticed it all these years. Guess I need to clip my nails shorter more often!

                    Mark
                    Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

                      TWM

                      Please do it the right way and have your retired electrician friend help. Use good quality bronze grounding clamps and heavy #4 copper wire and jump across all the plastic near the water softener. Also, see if there are any other breaks in the copper pipes.

                      I still want him to do the Voltage tests and for you to report the findings. Be sure your HOT copper pipes are well grounded too.

                      This all reminds me of some time ago at a friend's place out in the country with a well system. He thought everything was well grounded and it was until I spotted the plastic water filter. In his case of the bathtub zapper it was traced to the electric water heater. I wasn't there and am not exactly sure what the electrician they hired did but the problem ended.

                      TWM is not alone in the plumbing zapper troubles. Now I better get busy and be sure everything is safe right here.

                      TWM Please click the thumbnail. Quality pays off over time. Please no skimping. You can buy junky of these and you can buy nice bronze/brass ones. Pay a little more for quality.

                      WANRING Be sure ALL electric power has been shut off first before starting work. You do not want to become the grounding jumper. Open the main and use flashlights and such.

                      And ending, you really should have an electrician find the fault that started all of this. Something is leaking current to your water pipes. Find and correct it.

                      Don't try to save a few $$ and pay with your well being. Please don't.
                      Attached Files
                      Last edited by Woussko; 08-25-2007, 07:48 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

                        I will do as you say! I know the clamps you mention and will get 2 of them and some #4 solid on Monday and make the jump.

                        I just took a shower and felt nothing. Believe me I tried! If I had to narrow it down tonight, i'd say either the washer or drier. The hot water heater is gas, no elect. at all. The dishwasher was not on last night. My wife says she did a load of laundry yesterday but we don't recall when and I don't remember what time my shower was. I think the washer is the #1 place to check. Would that be a bad motor??? Or ????

                        If I remove the small grounding wire that goes from the washer to the water line, should I be able to test for voltage from one to the other? All I have is a Radio Shack DVOM. My buddy has the good stuff but not sure when he'll be over yet.

                        Like you say, I need to find the problem too, and not just send the problem across the jumper to ground and leave it.
                        Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

                          I think for now it would be best to leave things alone other than the grounding issue. Let your electrician buddy help find the fault. More than likely you're in for some good upgrading of your electrical system. Disconnecting a ground wire to run test is best left to the electrician. Rather than doing things the dangerous way, he may have what's known as a "High Pot" tester for insulation dreakdown testing. Using one is the right way. As for the dishwasher, that can be tested too, by first disconnecting power to it. A digital meter is really not the right instrument for this type of testing.

                          Remember to shut off ALL power at the main to your house before starting work on the ground jumper. I really think you should have your electrician friend there to see that things are done safely and correctly.

                          As for leakage current all motors leak a tiny bit. In real life nothing is dead perfect other than in text books. What matters is being able to measure how much leakage there is from hot to ground. The grounding must be properly done to be of any real good. With a house of 64 years of age, my bet is there are all kinds of ground faults (bad wiring and devices) and many receptacles and more than have NO grounding at all.

                          If your friend really is a retired electrician have him spend a day or two and check over your place. You may not like what he advises but do listen up. $$$ can't replace people.

                          Bottom Line: I do not want for you to become an electricial conductor and get yourself zapped. Woussko needs to shut up and not tell people about doing tests and/or repairs when such may endanger their well being. It pays to be scared at times.
                          Last edited by Woussko; 08-26-2007, 06:03 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

                            Wow my first post here as I just joined yesterday.I'm a retired electrician and got into 1 of these years ago that was a real mystery.PGE had found out that the house next door was causing the shocks from the plumbing in a house,both shared the same side of the transformer.So I got sent out to cure the problem.After about 2 hours of searching around under the house and in the attic I finally found that over the kitchen sink a rat had bitten thru the old romex with his tail touching the cast iron vent pipe.I had isolated it to a circuit in the kitchen but couldnt find the problem easily.The reason? blown in insulation had covered that area very well and the rat was barely visible in all the fluff. These can be mind twisters to find.I assumed the rat had a slight heart attack and he hadn't dried out completely yet.Best of luck in curing your problem. Sam

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                            • #15
                              Re: Getting a buzz from water fawcet

                              Originally posted by threecreeks3 View Post
                              Wow my first post here as I just joined yesterday.I'm a retired electrician and got into 1 of these years ago that was a real mystery.PGE had found out that the house next door was causing the shocks from the plumbing in a house,both shared the same side of the transformer.So I got sent out to cure the problem.After about 2 hours of searching around under the house and in the attic I finally found that over the kitchen sink a rat had bitten thru the old romex with his tail touching the cast iron vent pipe.I had isolated it to a circuit in the kitchen but couldnt find the problem easily.The reason? blown in insulation had covered that area very well and the rat was barely visible in all the fluff. These can be mind twisters to find.I assumed the rat had a slight heart attack and he hadn't dried out completely yet.Best of luck in curing your problem. Sam
                              Great find Sam and welcome to the Forum.

                              Mark
                              "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                              I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                              Comment

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