What Causes Electric Shock From Water Pipes?

While most people think of electric shock from water pipes when it comes to plumbing, it can occur anywhere.

In homes and buildings, water pipes are made of steel or aluminum. A voltage is applied to these pipes, and that voltage causes the pipes to spray mist.

The mist flows from the pipes, creating beautiful patterns and synchronization in vibrant colors.

So, what causes an electric shock from water pipes?

Water heaters are one of the most common sources of electric shock. When water is heated, it expands and can cause the water heater to leak.

In fact, most water heaters have built-in pressure relief valves to prevent this.

If the pressure does become too high and the relief valve fails, the water can shoot out of the water heater and cause severe injury or even death.

The leakage can also cause an electrical current to flow along the water pipes, leading to an electric shock. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to have a licensed plumber check your water heater once a year.

What Causes Electric Shock From Water Pipes?

Water pipes are long, hollow tubes through which water travels from its source to its destination.

These pipes are usually made of copper, steel, or plastic and are usually attached to a faucet or tap.

Electric shock from water pipes is a common occurrence and is caused by a faulty joint, loose fitting or worn out faucet.

In some cases, pipes can leak water internally or externally, which in turn causes an electrical charge.

Electrical shocks from water pipes are potentially fatal and can cause minor burns or severe injuries such as cardiac arrest, brain damage, or even death.

Here are some of the most common causes of electric shock from water pipes:

Faulty Joints

This is the most common cause of electric shock from water pipes. A faulty joint can be due to a faulty installation or wear and tear.

When water flows through faulty joints, the pressure can build up and a spark can occur when the pressure is released.

Loose Fittings

Loose fittings are often caused by worn out or damaged pipes. When water flows through loose fittings, it loses pressure, and this can cause a spark.

Worn Out Faucet

A worn out faucet can cause pressure to build up, which can result in a spark.

Leaking Pipes

Leaking pipes can cause an electrical charge due to the accumulation of water on or around pipes. This water can build up when pipes are damaged internally or externally.

Rusted Pipes

The presence of minerals in water can cause rusting of pipes if water is not drained properly. The presence of minerals in the water can cause corrosion of pipes, which can lead to the formation of small electrical charges.

Exposed Metals

If faucets and pipes are installed directly over a metal surface, it can result in an electrical charge. Exposed metals can cause sparks as water loses pressure and passes through them, especially when the water pressure is low.

How To Prevent Electric Shock From Water Pipe

Relocate The Wire

Once you’ve found the live wire on your electric water heater, move it away from the heater so it doesn’t get broken while you’re fixing it.

You will do this by determining where the active wire is located and running a new line to a safe location.

This might be due to how the heater is wired or if your house has old wiring that needs to be replaced.

If the wire is slack, tighten it to prevent any damage from occurring.

This is required, otherwise it can damage other appliances connected to the circuit of the water heater.

If the wire is broken or damaged, you should replace it so that you don’t get shocked while installing or fixing it.

You should also ensure that your electrical wiring is up to code and that it is not overloaded with too many appliances connected together.

In other cases, you may need to move your water heater to a different location so that it does not touch any other appliance that might cause a problem during repairs.

Locate The Active Wire

When you’re ready, turn off all the power to the house, including the circuit breakers, before checking the wiring on your electric water heater.

This wire will most likely be near the top of your water heater and should be the same color as your hot water tank or have white insulation around it.

This is prevalent because of the way most water heaters are wired.

These appliances need both hot wires to power them correctly, and this is the reason for the two colored wires on the cable leading to your water heater.

When there is an active wire in your electric hot water heater, it is very dangerous to touch because the electricity can pass right through your body, causing severe burns and injuries, and in some cases, death can occur.

When an energized wire comes into contact with a human body, it can cause severe shock and even death in some cases.

Turn Off The Main Power

The last thing on your check list should be to turn off the main power to your home before you attempt to work on your hot water heater.

However, if the metal pipe comes in contact with water, the water can actually conduct electricity from one side of the pipe to the other, causing an electric shock when touching a person or even causing a fire.

If you see sparks coming from your hot water tank or the pipe that comes into contact with water, you need to call an electrician immediately.

You should start by turning off the hot water heater and your home’s main electrical panel by turning off the breakers around your house.

This will prevent electricity from flowing through your wires and cause a short circuit to occur in your electrical system, which could cause damage to the heating elements in your appliance.

It’s normal to want to fix the problem yourself, but there are several dangers involved with this type of repair.

However, the main power supply should be turned off by a professional electrician before you begin any type of repair work on your hot water heater to avoid this from happening.

It’s the only way to know for sure that the problem is fixed and that the appliance has been turned off safely to prevent any electrical fires from occurring in your home.

Seek Professional Advice

This is one of the most crucial things to remember when you are dealing with a malfunctioning water heater or any other appliance in your home for that matter.

If you suspect an active wire in your hot water tank, never attempt to repair the appliance on your own but instead contact a licensed professional to come and take a look at it for you.

They’ll figure out what the problem is with your heater is and whether or not it’s safe to use it until the repairs can be made to ensure that there is no risk to you or your family from the faulty equipment.

This is considerably better than trying to repair it yourself. Because you don’t know if the part you are attempting to replace is working properly.

While this is a do-it-yourself activity, the risk is high that you may cause more harm than good to your system, so leave the job to the pros to avoid this from happening.

Also Read: Can You Run Whirlpool Dishwasher Heat Dry Only?

Final Words

If you observe an electric spark coming from the water heater or any metal pipe that comes into contact with water, you should turn off the circuit breakers located in your home and contact your electric company right away to have them come out and repair the issue for you.

When an active wire comes into contact or close to any wet areas in the home, it could cause a fire to break out due to the high temperatures within the heating elements and the metal pipes surrounding it.

Turn off the main power, identify where the spark is coming from, and then call a professional electrician to come take a look and make the necessary repairs to get your system back up and running again in no time.

This is how you will ensure that the active wires are repaired properly and that your hot water system is safe to use once again.

In most cases, this issue is caused by a faulty heating element in the water heater, and it is caused when one of the wires comes into contact with a metal pipe.

It causes the wire to overheat, and once it heats up enough, it sparks and causes a loud popping noise to occur, which is harmless. But, it could ultimately cause a dangerous fire to break out if not taken care of properly and quickly.

If you are having difficulty locating the breaker for your hot water heater, look behind any cabinets that may be near your water heater and check the label on the breaker itself to see what it says about it being for that particular unit.