General Question

CrusoeStudio's avatar

Why do my wall outlets make things shock me?

Asked by CrusoeStudio (155points) 3 weeks ago

So I’ve lived in this house for a few years and what I’ve noticed is that if I have something plugged in, a t.v. for example, when I touch something metal on the tv it shocks me. Or when I plug things into my computer (that’s plugged into the wall) those things shock me. It makes it very difficult to do much of anything when I can’t touch things like my phone when it’s charging for fear that it’ll light me up. This only happens in one side of my house (mine and my sister’s room) it’s a constant electrification as well, not a one time shock.

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14 Answers

filmfann's avatar

Do you live in a very cold climate? Get a humidifier. Seriously.

stanleybmanly's avatar

My bet is that your outlets aren’t properly grounded. If your outlets have 2 holes per socket instead of 3, it’s almost certain that your lines aren’t grounded and Remove the fuse or throw the circuit breaker for the outlets in which you plug your shocking items. Remove the cover plates from the outlets and check that there are 3 wires. The ground wire should be green and attached to the terminal for the round holes in the socket.

flutherother's avatar

Does the side of the house affected have a different floorcovering? Nylon carpet for example is bad for generating static electricity. Try treating the floor with an anti-static spray. If this reduces the problem then it is static.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Get one of these
to check your wiring.

kritiper's avatar

Find your circuit breaker panel. There should be a heavy or even a bare wire that comes out of the bottom and connects to a metal stake in the ground outside. Make sure this cable is secure. It might be a better idea if you call a qualified electrician.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Does anyone else in the house experience this? Are your parents aware of the problem?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Rather than explain in great detail I’ll let you read about this

If it’s not just static electricity and you really are getting shocked I think your outlets have reverse polarity. That little tester I linked will safely diagnose this.

Dutchess_III's avatar

From what I gleaned he’s young enough to be living at home so he needs to get with his folks.

kritiper's avatar

It’s a good thing you’ve noted exactly which outlets provide the shock. This info will help the electrician, if you call one.
I was working on a electrical box in my attic when I grounded the box itself to the white circuit. The sparks flew and the breaker popped. Turns out the electrician who had installed the box had over tightened a clamp and broken through the insulation on the load (black/hot) wire.
I have also seen where someone who knew a little about automotive 12 volt systems had grounded the black wire. It was on a 110 volt battery charger in a gas station. Lucky no one got electrocuted!

LuckyGuy's avatar

The effect you are seeing is real. Unfortunately some people cannot feel it.
Decades ago, my wife complained that she felt a buzzing when she touched the refrigerator. I felt nothing and ignored the issue – until I actually checked and measured the voltage with a voltmeter. 30 volts AC!
The outlet was wired in reverse. I switched the black and white wires and became a hero.

The black wire goes to the brass screw which is connected tot he smaller slot.
The white wire goes to the gray/silver screw which is connected to the larger slot.

If you can’t change the wiring yourself see if you can plug in the appliance in the opposite direction. Unplug it, reverse it and plug it in again.

It is much better to actually measure the voltages so you know for sure what is happening. You can get a voltmeter for free at Harbor Freight or buy one of the outlet testers mentioned above for a few dollars. A good investment.
Good luck.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I found two reverse in the last house I bought, they were both in the kitchen on either side of a stainless steel sink with a toaster plugged in on one side and a coffee pot on the other. My home inspector missed it. No GFCI. I have copper plumbing… scary stuff.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me i found about 6 reversed outlets in my house. The house was built in 1957 and was wired by the very capable farmer across the road – who was not particularly careful. – “It’s AC. It doesn’t make any difference.”

For well over 20 years it didn’t make a difference to the previous owners, apparently.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

All the outlets in my place were originally installed “ground up” so apparently when the previous homeowner remodeled the kitchen they hooked up the outlets like they were “ground down” as shown on most diagrams. It did not matter for that length of time either but it could have cause a serious accident.

CrusoeStudio's avatar

The problem was fixed. I replaced the outlets with new ones and no more shock. I think whoever installed them painted over the entire side of the outlet, causing the ground wire to lose connection. That’s why even though a ground wire was connected, my plugs weren’t grounded

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