Thursday, June 30, 2011

Electricity in the shower.

Dangerous electricity in your shower?

Here is a handyman fix of some old electric line that must have stopped working. On the left is some Armored Cable or BX. On the right is a piece of knob and tube wiring. In the middle is your cold water pipe. 

What is wrong with this picture?

Bad Grounding

Your bath tub should never be part of your electrical system. Yes, the copper pipe will carry electricity back to the ground but this is clearly a bad way to fix a problem. Knob and tube wiring has been in use for over a hundred years. The bigger problem here is that this is not an uncommon in many older Philadelphia homes. We get at least one or two calls a year where a homeowner feel small electrical shocks in their bathrooms. This is because somewhere in their electrical system their plumbing has become energized. The shock is normally small because a connection is starting to go bad. If the connection completely fails that shock can become life threatening.

Knob and tube wiring inside a 1930 Pittsburgh ...Image via Wikipedia

 Above is a picture of what Knob and Tube looks Like inside you walls. They are individual cloth covered conductors  held off the wood by knobs and isolated through the beams with tubes.  The idea was that the air space between the wire and the wood  kept the system safe. It does work but now 100 years later the demands on these wires are different.  Home have be altered, reconfigured or made over. This new life of a home makes it likely that the original electrical system has be disturbed in an unsafe manor.  Knob and Tube should be replaced when ever possible. 
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