View Full Version : Help! My sink keeps zapping me.

30-07-2006, 23:28
In the last two months my partner and I have begun getting zapped by the kitchen sink.
No reason that we are aware of, the electrical devices around it (dishwasher and washing machine) appear to be safe and no leads are exposed.
My Dad theorises that there is perhaps an earth leak.

Let me paint the picture in case you might be able to help.
The sink is made of stainless steel with a S/S mixer tap. The dishwasher lives in the cupboard below the draining board and the washing machine sits at a 90 degree angle beside the sink.
We have laminate floors but a small, possibly polyester, rubber backed mat in front of the sink.
Just now, I got a big shock off the sink whilst stood on the mat but my partner a) touched the radiator first b) wasn't stood on the mat and c) did it after me and was not zapped at all.

I had just been using an electrical hard skin sander - I mention this in case it relates to a build up of static.

In the past I used to get zapped by my car but it just stopped again for some reason.
Any ideas? I'm sick of being zapped!

30-07-2006, 23:35
you probably got zapped by the car whilst wearing things like polyester fleeces through the winter, and squirming about on velour seats, so that isn't realted to your current problem

You need an electrician to inspect your system pronto!

Don't forget, it isn't necessarily anything to do with anything in the kitchen, as the sink is connected to the rest of the plumbing, usually by copper pipe, so the electrical bridge could be taking place anywhere.

30-07-2006, 23:36
More likely to be build up of static on you than an electrical fault/leak to the sink. The sink (being metal) will have been earthed when it was installed (should be pretty obvious from looking at the pipework underneath - there should be an earth cable attached somewhere), which when you touch it allows the static to flow through you, causing the shock.

lol, have you started wearing different material socks/slippers/insulated footwear or something? What about new carpet/flowtex/similar?

EDIT - radiators are usually painted & as such aren't good earth points, hence even if you were carryign a static charge you wouldn't earth through it & wouldn't get a shock from it - unlike the bare metal sink. :)

I agree with the others though - even though I think it's static that's causing your issues, check you sink is earthed ASAP just to be on the safe side - if you're not sure how get an electrician in.

30-07-2006, 23:36
An earth leak is a possibility - if that's teh case you should get an electrician in to check the place out.

Another alternative, if the shocks favour you rather than your partner, is static build up. Some years ago I worked in an office where staff bougt in handheld computers to download information from.

These were handed over to a couple of women in the office who plugged them in to a PC and pressed a few buttons to download the data. We had a VERY high error rate, and as I'd written teh software I was tasked with finding out why.

I eventually worked out that the problems were all associated with one girl, so I spent a morning watching her work. Sure enough, every now and again she got a static shock when plugging in computer and that scrambled the data. The next problem was why she got the shock and not her colleague. The reason was rather embarrassing...she wore silk underwear and syntehtic underskirts and th combination of her undergarments caused static to build up as she moved.

We had two suggestions - install better earthing around the computer so the charge was drained before she picked up a PC, or go to M&S and buy some cotton underwear. We did the former; whether she did the latter we were too gentlemanly to ask. :)

Seriously - it might be static, but I would DEFINITELY check for earth leakage or other earthing problems.

30-07-2006, 23:38
I dunno whether you had your taps or sink earthed, but worth checking again anyway.

That's the first thing the electrician did when I moved into this new place. Now I know why !

30-07-2006, 23:44
if there is any metal on your sink it should be earthed so def get a sparky in as it does sound like a phase to earth fault and its better to be safe than sorry

30-07-2006, 23:49
Sheesh! I'll do that then.
In answer to one of the questions, no, no new socks, knickers, slippers or otherwise.
I'm a barefoot lady most of the time but my partner wears socks a lot and normally he gets zapped a lot and me just a little.
I'd better get it checked out again, had a pro fit the dishwasher and it's been serviced etc since plus we've had the cupboard out and checked so I'm mystified but best check again.
Thanks :)

30-07-2006, 23:57
PM scubatony if you don't have an electrician's number already :thumbsup:

31-07-2006, 00:43
Without looking at myself I would not want to be definite, but it sounds like static. If you had a belt off the mains you would not call it zapping and it would probably kill you.
It is most likly you that is charged with static, and as soon as you touch the sink, it goes to earth thruogh the earth circuit.
The laminate floor and the soles of your feet are insulators so you can easily build up a static charge.
If you are really concerned call in an electrician, but in a case like this he will have to extra thorough and it may cost a lot of money.

31-07-2006, 01:57
I can fully appreciate your dilemma.

I have a genuine fear of static electric shocks. I have a stainless steel fridge and can't open it without touching it with my palm first to avoid the dreaded shock to my finger. I even got static shocks off a wooden stair rail in a hotel in New York and used to make my girlfriend open doors and stuff to avoid the inevitable shock I'd get on touching them.

One thing I will advise though - Avoid the GOLDEN BAR OF DEATH IN DEBENHAMS!!

Gets me every time.

31-07-2006, 17:52
I get a shock off my car every time I get out and touch the door to close it and I get a shock off my clothes airer when I put it up to hang clothes on it.

31-07-2006, 21:12
Wow Zebra, it sounds fun. Can I come round and have a go? :D

My TV is extremely static-forming and my cat likes to jump on it when I switch it off as it goes hyper-crackly and he seems to find it a bit of a thrill. Then when I go to stroke him on the nose he discharges it down my fingers. Once my fingertip was about an inch away from his nose, and there was actually a small spark, like on the famous creation bit of the Sistine Chapel.

I don't know if it's healthy, but a girl's gotta get her thrills somewhere, and that's the best I can do these days. :hihi:

31-07-2006, 21:49
One thing I will advise though - Avoid the GOLDEN BAR OF DEATH IN DEBENHAMS!!

Gets me every time.
LOL... omg, this sure brings back memories. :D

I don't think I ever thought about why I get a static shock.

31-07-2006, 23:13
if there is any metal on your sink it should be earthed so def get a sparky in as it does sound like a phase to earth fault and its better to be safe than sorry

There is no longer a requirement in the regs to bond a sink - there used to be but it's no longer the case. Some people are actually of the opinion it's safer not to bond it and suggest using plastic fittings in the hot and cold connections so that there's no copper connection to earth........

Sounds like static to be honest but if it's worrying you then get a sparky out.

01-08-2006, 00:31
Purdy - knock yourself out (just don't bleed on the floor if it zaps you big time!) Not quite seeing the thrill side right now, just the ouch pain in the tingerfips side.
Not had a chance to call anyone yet, I would agree it was just static if it hadn't given me a bigger jump last usual a couple of days ago. I could still be wrong though as I was entirely unprepared for it.

01-08-2006, 00:35
I've just thought - if it is static, then it'll shock you when you touch it for the first time, but then if you touch it again asecond or two immediately afterwards (when no charge will have built up) you shouldn't get a shock at all.

However, if it's not static and instead is an earth leak, the electric shocks should always be there and always be a similar 'jolt'.

Touch it twice in a row and tell us what happens! :D