Props to me! Long Distance electrical/plumbing diagnosis


My sister called me the other day and said that my mom and dad were feeling a slight tingle when they touched both the kitchen faucet and the metal sink. (They live about 300 miles from me)
I mentioned that the only wires that should be under the sink would be for the garbage disposal, so maybe it was related to that. She said it happens even with the disposal off.
Since this tingling was something new, I offered this possibilty:
There was water leaking onto some electrical part of the disposal *and* the disposal switch has been wired incorrectly for years, switching the neutral instead of the hot. Therefore, there is always power available at the disposal looking for a return path and the water is now providing that path through the disposal housing to the sink/faucet/copper plumbing and then into the user.
My sister called an electrically-talented friend who looked under the sink, saw water dripping from the disposal and then checked the wires. Sure enough, the neutral was being switched.
He rewired the switch and I'm driving over to replace the leaky disposal this weekend.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Great, logical, diagnosis. Congratulations.
This also illustrates why plumbing should be grounded to the electrical system (and not the electrical system grounded to the plumbing).
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I wonder who did the original incorrect installation. I wonder how many more that same person wired wrongly.
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wrote:

That was my concern also. I know that Grandpa ("Don't throw that out! I can fix it.") was a mason by trade and built the house many decades ago, but I don't know who wired the disposal - or the house. Grandpa is long gone.
It was originally built to be rental property, so there have been many tenants over the years before my parents moved in. Based on the size (and sound) of the disposal, it has been there for many, many years.
The stainless steel sink is obviously not the original but it's possible that the disposal was dropped, the new sink installed and the same disposal re-installed. I'd have to talk to my Dad, who may or may not recall the exact circumstances.
I'm reluctant to point fingers at dear old Grandpa, but as builder/ owner/landlord, and knowing his penchant for a DIY lifestyle, I'd have to say that he is the most likely candidate.
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You may very well have saved a life. Excellent job, sir.
--
Christopher A. Young
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Go ahead. Admit it. You felt like Sherlock Holmes for a minute, didn't ya? :)
It would be equally a good call if you diagnosed it from a foot away or a thousand miles, but the distance diagnosis adds to your overall reputation.
R
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re: You felt like Sherlock Holmes for a minute, didn't ya?
Actually, it was more like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Mike Holmes.
Or maybe that should be Sherlock Ohms?
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re: You felt like Sherlock Holmes for a minute, didn't ya?
.Actually, it was more like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Mike Holmes.

Really nice catch for the OP as I am confused by now.
and I vote for Sherlock Ohms. :)
Colbyt
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I think you just came up with your new business' name.
R
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Just the other week my brother emailed me a pic of a 100watt bulb in those bulb sockets with pigtail wires. He had one wire on the faucet and the other to the stainless sink. The bulb was as bright as can be. Of course I can't remember where the short was. They said they were getting a little tingle.
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Tony wrote:

I would be very impressed if there was arcing when the water hit the sink after the faucet was turned on. *snicker*
TDD
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The Daring Dufas wrote:

Ahhh, that would take water from Salt Lake to carry that much current, maybe even more minerals. This sounds like a good video for you tube science experiments!
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Tony wrote:

I think there are some burning water videos. Oh yea, the guy with the high power RF machine that burns salt water. Search for burning salt water on The Tube and there should be several videos.
TDD
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