Static shocks – Council require full inspection!

by Readers Question

7 days ago

Static shocks – Council require full inspection!

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Static shocks – Council require full inspection!

I received a phone call from the Council Disrepair Unit to say that one of my tenants had complained of receiving electric shocks.

When my maintenance manager attended, half an hour later, it turned out that the tenant was receiving static electricity shocks from the kitchen tap, but only when she touched it with her feet bare. The static was probably generated by the laminate flooring.

According to the council, I will now have to have a full electrical inspection to guarantee the safety of the property.

Tom



Comments

Neil Patterson

7 days ago

Unbelievable for only one scenario!

I checked and we did have an article on a property with a static electricity issue 5 years ago >> https://www.property118.com/static-shocks-in-my-rental-property-what-can-i-do/

Ian Cognito

6 days ago

What type of property is this? When was the last Electrical Inspection?

Gary Bray

6 days ago

I'm not sure if this is a question or what? Although there's no legal requirement to do so, if one hasn't been carried out on the property recently surely that would be a wise thing to do?

Ross Tulloch

6 days ago

Did the tenant no tell you about this first? Straight to the council?

Gary Nock

6 days ago

Sounds like no earth on the installation. Pipes are becoming live. Check to see if you have a green and yellow wire clamped to a water pipe near to the water stoptap. Get an EICR done and the sparky will sort it.

john lloyd

6 days ago

Sounds like the tap is not earthed, and to be fair that can be pretty dangerous.

I would just get the inspection done, get the clean bill of health and move on.

But I would check the fittings are all earthed.

As Gary says, get it checked/inspected by a qualified electrician. If the property is old it could be an earthing problem especially as coming from tap. Don't take chances, could cost a lot more later.

If is static electricity then the problem is almost certainly misunderstood.

The council do not understand and an electrician (we all hope) would give your wiring a clean bill of health.

If it is static electricity then it will not 'come from the tap'. The reverse is the case. The unpleasant zap is a charge (build up of electrons) on the person wanting to fill their kettle jumping to the tap and travelling to earth. This would imply a good earth.

Static discharges may be many thousands of volts but there is no power and are rarely harmful (in a filling station? see link below). There is next to no current and any current is for a very short time (the time it takes to discharge a few micro coulombs ... zap!). Yes it is unpleasant.

If the tenant grasps the tap and feels a continuous tingle then a current is flowing and you have a problem. It's a simple experiment though for the elimination of a possible manslaughter charge, I suggest you grip the tap and not your tenant.

Problems such as static discharge is more prevalent in dry conditions (no water to act as a conductor) and thus humidifiers are often suggested.

Ever got a static shock in a supermarket? You are probably insulated from you trolley by the plastic handle and then you touch the metal trolley or reach for the wine. This does not mean the shelf or trolley has been badly wired.

Anyone here on this forum a pilot?

https://generalaviationnews.com/2016/05/22/tips-to-ground-an-aircraft-while-refueling/

Ship to shore fluid transfer at oil terminals requires the rubber hoses to be of minimal resistance and are regularly measured. Rubber for flexibility but with integral braiding (which fractures with use increasing impedence). One end attached to the ship's superstructure and the other to an earth rod effectively grounding (electrically) the ship so as the fluid flows those electrons that are rubbed off have somewhere to go.

Do you remember school ... that gold leaf electroscope? I bet the council don't. Static electricity is mentioned at GCSE and explored a little at A level. Even at A level all that is required of a student is the ability to hand crank equations to get answers. Only a very few begin to actually get it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu6QCvQCkMc

Ask the council for well argued reasoning and then tell them that the local supermarket has the same problem which is preventing you getting alcohol to calm your nerves. You expect the council to force the supermarket to have a full wiring inspection.

Elbows and fingers ... point discharge. Static charge builds up on pointy bits. Finger tips reaching for the tap, elbows brushing doorways ... Point discharge is why you don't erect an umbrella or stand under a tree in a thunderstorm and why church spires and tall structures have a bloody great copper bar down the side attached to a hoofing great earth rod.

Materials. Nylon (or man made fibre) carpets on dry wooden floors are the worst. Does the same happen upstairs? You will have to experiment but start by earthing your carpet. Perhaps copper sheet(s) (foil) under the carpet with a copper wire to a radiator pipe. Hammering rod(s) into the ground might be excessive. I can see this being hit-and-miss. There must be some papers out there on this subject.

Measure your tenant

https://www.fraser-antistatic.com/en/static-control-products/measurement-of-static

Get a humidifier ... mould ...?

Make the carpet damp with a hand spray (not permanently, just to prove a point)

Try an anti static spray. I think these work by leaving a conductive film once the volatile carrier has evaporated. Though this may simply shift the charge elsewhere to await the presentation of an earth path. Presumably regular reapplication.

I would do the following:

1. Ask the council to present their academic qualifications on this subject and their reasoned argument. I would point blank refuse to accept 'because we can'.
2. State that if it turns out to be static electricity because the tenant has a certain fat content (I'm not joking, we all have different resistances) creating the right conditions then you will charge them for the wild goose chase.
3. Ask the council to present a qualified (relevant physics MSc/PhD?) advisor who actually really practices the subject and not someone who is now in middle management and has never developed the practical knowledge you need.
4. Continuously ask anyone you correspond with whether they have received static shocks in an office. If they say 'no' I would be tempted to suggest they are lying.
5. Be pragmatic, if the next inspection is a year away then bring it forward.
6. Play safe. While pissing off the LA, get an electrician to check the earth and bonding.
7. Experiment.
8. Look for a company that specialises in solving these problems?
9. Do not trust 'life hacks', definitely avoid wiki-how, caution with Wikipedia, ...

Failing everything else, earth your tenant to a radiator

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LUPO-Static-Wrist-Strap-Grounding/dp/B004CS5WIG

You may well think I have gone completely loolah but if the zaps stop (or severity is reduced as we expect the tenant to want a cuppa from time to time and will have to unstrap themselves and walk across a carpet) then you will have proved a point.

Remember, those things you touch that 'give you a zap' are earthed or at a lower potential difference... (you give them a zap, don't blow up your computer). Those things that don't aren't. These are chairs, tables etc. but almost certainly because they are on an insulator and the common culprit is probably the flooring.

Something from Birmingham University.

https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/hr/documents/public/hsu/information/electrical/staticelectricity.pdf

Of course, we all know that bri-nylon shirts and crimplene trousers were the cause of Jimi Hendrix's spherical hairstyle and famously why his guitar caught fire.

Hamish (belligerent hater of ignorance and open accepter of personal limitations) McBloggs

P.S. Remove all garden toys

https://phys.org/news/2017-01-static-electricity-tiny.html

Reply to the comment left by Hamish McBloggs at 16/05/2018 - 10:42
Ah, Laminate flooring.

Same applies

You can get a zap from tap to hand but as Hamish says if earth fault you would feel a tingle if gripping tap for any length of time. Had a similar problem with a tenant and I thought it was static but got it checked out anyway and a mouse had committed suicide across the connection terminals of the cooker, not enough to blow a trip but enough for a zap and a tingle if earthing yourself as in bare feet or leaning on stainless steel sink as i was. The old fashioned earthing (rod) was improved and more modern trips put in and problem solved. Obviously mouse removed with a look of shock on his face!!!!!

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