On 7 Oct, 14:35, email@example.com wrote:
Replacing the socket will be a lot cheaper than calling a
professional. Please buy a cheap test meter while you're at the shop,
as testing using your heart is really not a good idea, and my taxes
pay for the ambulance service.
It's not unknown for plastic switches to "leak" electrically, either
due to careless cleaning as others have suggested, or a bad batch of
plastic which is porous, especially problematical in humid rooms like
This is wrong, funny, scary and sad on so many levels.
On one level it's Darwinian. You obviously don't know enough or care enough
to protect yourself from the most basic of dangers. According to Darwin
there will always be risk-takers and natural selection will ensure that the
more extreme of them have their genes de-selected from the pool. We're
watching natural selection in action, the question is which side of the line
On another level you have mis-understood the meaning of DIY. The purpose of
DIY is to provide an excuse to buy expensive tools not to be one. There are
a number of tools for testing electrical circuits but the human body is not
one of them.
On yet another level it's people like you that encourage the Nanny State to
impose ever tighter and sillier rules on the rest of us to prevent stupid
accidents. Part P came about precisely because the government believed that
by tightening the rules they could prevent or at least ameliorate the
effects of stupidity. And to a large extent they were right. Clearly they
don't understand the long term need to allow failure.
Please stop. Right now.
Then choose which of the following (both accurate) pieces of advice to
1. Don't attempt to fix it unless you understand the safety implications.
Isolate the circuit before working on it. Call a professional if you are
2. The human tongue is sensitive to electricity and can be used to check
for voltage. Try it first on a 9V battery then progress it higher things.
Thanks for the reply, but I disagree as no matter how much government
legislate people will still do stupid things. If I injure myself then
I have no one else to blame other than myself. Did the introduction of
building regulations stop unsafe construction?
This is one of the main problems with modern society in that its never
your fault. For example people who are in serious debt or purchased
property and are now in negative equity blame the banks or property
programmes for their problems and never themselves.
It's all down to individual responsibility.
Part P seems to have resulted in an *increase* in accidents and
fatalities (as many of us predicted). So aside from adding cost,
complexity, and bureaucracy to stuff it has hand no effect in
eliminating natural selection!
and convert mere trade Registration Bodies into Regulation Bodies.
- Charitable front writes regs under guise of false safety statistics
- Commercial backend trots round the companies engineering
Extension of "MP writes broad law, stakeholder companies write the
detail with a justification page if ever the civil servant is pulled
up". The bog standard modus operandi of business is to fund research
promoting their product/service/strategy once-removed from the
company, which is then pushed by PR as "independent".
It is securitisation of electrical safety - regulation, education,
certification, engineered upgrade cycle, commercial product push
advertising, commercial product endorsement "because it exists you
have to use it to comply with BS7671 correct materials & workmanship",
affiliate advertising. American marketeer's wet dream.
Just like the health & safety engineered market, some good ideas taken
to extreme levels. Then again, consider the VAT, Income Tax & NI,
Business Rates and so on created by the monster H&S industry. Next one
is Green... then food... then water... energy in its various
incentive, penalty, carbon tax trading, goldman sachs is having a
Who is doing the 18th regs, I thought BS were no longer to be
Reminds me: that dodgy SWA cable I sent to BASEC about a month or two
back? After useful replies nothing further, no replies to two recent
emails. I suspect the Turkish manufacturer (Demes Kablo) is not
playing ball with BASEC, leaving them in a rather embarassing
position. Worse, I've now seen similar with other cables elsewhere and
Atom Kablo (another Turkish manufacturer). Wonder when the electrical
industry gets a shock :-)
So you got a shock straight through the chest/heart (i.e.
finger-arm-chest-arm-finger) and you went back for more???!!!
Seriously - if you have these problems with your electrics, and you don't
know what could be causing it, turn off at the CU, and get a sparky round
Assuming the water pipes etc are equipotential bonded, then the shoes
become somewhat irrelevant - the main path to earth is through the tap.
I will echo what others have said here - please don't test this stuff by
touching it - especially when holding the tap. Without an RCD to save
you, this really is in the "one zap and you are dead" territory!
Is this a metal switch? If not then it must have enough conductive stuff
contaminating it for it to have become conductive.
As mentioned above - this shock scenario is *usually* fatal. (my guess
is that you have not got a hard connection to live here, but a resistive
one. Hence your ability to post without the need for a seance!)
Not necessarily - but the cause needs investigation urgently.
It sounds like is more than one fault here. The toaster test shows that
the earth connection to the socket is not earthed - if it were you
should not have got a shock, and more importantly a fuse should have
blown. Its possible the earth is intact on the circuit - but
disconnected (or high resistance) into the socket terminals. It also
sounds like there is a bridge to live somewhere. This could be
accumulated water etc in the socket switch itself, it could be a damaged
cable either in a socket box or in a wall somewhere, or an insulation
failure. It could even be a failed mains input filter on an appliance.
You need to isolate the circuit *NOW*
Then you need to set about finding the fault methodically and safely, or
getting in someone who can.
If you are confident that you can DIY, then you need some test gear; at
least a basic multimeter.
If you want a set of basic tests to carry out, then post back and I will
There is also some guidance here:
Thanks John. I've read the information in the link you posted, but if
you can provide a set of basic tests then that would be great.
If the tests prove negative then I assume that it's simply a tracking
problem as some of the other posters have suggested. The sockets have
been wiped a few times and there does appear to be a fair amount of
debris around the edges of the switch.
I have isolated the circuit by removing the fuse.
OK, isolate the circuit as you have done. Unplug everything from it. If
there are any fixed appliances connected to it, then turn them off with
their isolator switches.
1) First test, visual inspection; take the socket off the wall, and
check the wires are in the correct places, and correctly inserted in the
terminals and the insulation is undamaged, the screw terminals are
tight. Check the earth wires are sleeved.
2) With a multimeter on its highest ohms range, measure the resistance
between earth and live on the socket terminals. It should show an open
3) Measure between live and neutral. Again it should be open circuit.
4) Measure between live and the place on the switch that you touched.
Again, open circuit.
5) Measure between earth and switch, and again expect an open circuit.
6) Now with the meter on its lowest ohms range, measure between earth
and neutral - you should get a low reading - under an ohm.
7) Now measure between earth and tap, you should also get a low reading
(assuming you have metal plumbing to the tap).
A failure of 1 alone, or 2, 3, and 6 suggest a circuit wiring fault that
needs further investigation. The article mentioned before covers the
next steps (i.e. checking ring continuity at the consumer unit, and an
insulation resistance check)
A failure of 4 or 5 above suggests you must replace the socket.
(Although I would replace the socket anyway). Note however that these
are not conclusive, since if there were a high resistance path to live,
you may not see it at the low volts the multimeter tests at. If you have
access to an insulation resistance tester, then that might show a fault
that is otherwise not visible.
A failure of 7 suggests further investigation, depending on your
Once thing to bear in mind, is that the process of inspecting etc can
actually alter the results - for example a poor connection can become
good just by moving the socket on its wires etc.
Now assuming all of the above pass, don't just pile back in and assume
everything is ok - take a cautious step by step approach. First check
the connection between the toasters earth pin and its case (low ohms
range - should be near enough zero). Between live pin and earth (high
ohms range - open circuit).
leave everything else disconnected, but plug the toaster in and switch
it on at the socket.
*** Make sure there is no one who might go near it while testing ***.
Replace the fuse and use the multimeter on a 250V or higher voltage
range to measure between case and tap. You should see near enough nothing.
Let us know how you get on.
On Wed, 07 Oct 2009 15:31:41 +0100, John Rumm wrote:
No, it shows that the toaster is earthed:
He is getting the shock when *touching the switch* and something
earthed, be that the tap or the metal toaster.
No, I don't believe there is a fault with the wiring or toaster. Just
a lot of grunge around/in the switch. Have you never had shock/tingle
from a switch when you have wet hands or from a dirty switch?
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