Electric shower faucets are found in many homes around the world. These appliances are pretty and loveable since they offer instant heating for our shower water at home. Who wouldn’t want that? Definitely, Not me.
However, did you know that a series of electrical appliances and circuits are behind the heating of that shower water? Which if poorly installed quickly becomes your enemies as the shower faucet then becomes a common electrocution hazard.
Here’s Why You Can Get Shocked When Toucing the Shower Fixtures ?
In most cases, you can get shocked if the water pipe in your shower water heating system is not properly isolated from the electrical circuit or if the shower fixture electric is not properly grounded, if you felt anything like that please contact a certified electrician before making any changes that may endanger your life.
With that information in mind, let’s delve into why we should act in a particular way in the case of electrical shocks while in the shower.
Can You Get Electric Shock from the Shower?
Yes, the common use of electricity in our homes is heating water, either for consumption or showering. However, it is critical to note that electricity, when misused, is very dangerous. More so when it relates to showers.
Water is a good conductor of electricity! It is for this reason that home appliances that, in one way or another, interact with water are always tagged with warnings encouraging users to avoid mixing water and electricity.
Shower fixtures, just like any other home appliance, are a combination of plastic, metallic, and rubber parts. The only difference here is that the human body is in direct contact with the water in the showers.
The water, being heated, is in direct contact with the electrical heating element in the shower. An error in installation or failure to understand the health hazards of faulty installation is disastrous.
Electricity interacts indirectly with the water through the heating element as it is converted from current energy to heat energy. To do so, at no point will the electricity be in contact with the water. Any form of contact between the two will result in an electric shock.
You might be wondering how & why this happens. Wonder no more! Electricity flows through the human body since our bodies contain a lot of water.
Touching a faulty appliance, such as a shower in our case, means that you have provided the current an alternative path through your body. This is dangerous as one gets electrocuted.
Types of Shower Water Heaters
Water can interact with electricity in different ways depending on the type of shower heater. In this section, we explore the two most common types.
Instant shower heaters
These heaters are very common in most places around the world. They are cheaper, take less space, and are slightly more efficient than storage water heaters.
A heating element heats water as one shower, and thus the name instant water heaters.
Storage water heaters
This is a water heating system that heats water that has been stored in a tank. It is less popular in most homes since it requires extra space to house the tanks. Also, it is inefficient as it requires insulation to reduce heat loss.
It also consumes a lot of electricity as it holds anywhere between 50 to 100 liters of water. This water has to be up to temperature in the tank to be used.
This may come as a disadvantage for homes with one or two people. It is advantageous in homes or facilities with more people.
Why Do I Get Electric Shock When I Touch Shower Fixtures?
Without following the right protocols concerning installing and maintaining electrical appliances, we are at risk of being electrocuted. In the showers, this manifests itself in various ways, all of which are health hazards.
You may have been wondering why you feel some tingling sensation on your skin while bathing or after bathing. This may result from one or more of the following reasons.
- The water pipe in your shower water heating system is not properly isolated from the electrical circuit.
A naked wire in contact with any metallic part within the heating device will leak currents through the water and ultimately through the body. The human body is not designed to withstand heavy currents and thus, having high currents pass through one’s body may result in death.
- The shower fixture electric circuit is not properly grounded.
Electrical grounding is a pathway that allows excess current to flow to the ground (earth) when there is an electrical fault in your system. A properly grounded building protects electrical appliances and living beings from electrocution.
In a poorly grounded home, it is mostly in the showers that one can contact a relatively high current. Touching the shower fixture results in one being electrocuted as electricity always takes the shorter path towards an area of relatively low potential. In this case, the shower floor. It is very dangerous to use a shower that is not properly grounded.
How Do I Prevent Electric Shock in My Shower?
Life is precious, and electricity is dangerous!!
Having that in mind, we will delve into methods of preserving your own life and that of others by looking at several safe channels of preventing shower electric shocks.
- Never install a shower water heater if you are not a certified electrical engineer.
This also applies to all home electrical circuits and fixtures. A common mistake that may result when the above statement is neglected is that many people fail to ground/earth safely.
A failure to ground any electrical appliance is a hazard to human beings and the appliances themselves.
All electrical appliances have specific power ratings for their optimal performance. A case of an electrical fault within a home leads to power surges that fries the appliances. If the home is well-grounded, everything and everyone within is safe.
- Never connect or disconnect electrical circuits when under load.
An electrical load is an appliance, system, or part of a circuit that draws current. In this case, our load is the electrical shower head.
When you power on the shower heating element through a switch, the circuit allows electricity to flow towards the showerhead and back into the circuit, thus completing a loop.
If, in any case, you operate a shower faucet while it is running (electrically loaded), this results in electrical shocks.
- Ensure that Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are put in place when wiring the house.
GFCIs are special circuit breakers that isolate the whole building or specific circuits once it detects that electricity is flowing through an unintended path.
This path can be a person, water, or an irregular connection. Currently, it is a mandatory procedure that GFCIs be installed in all homes.
If not sure about your home, you must consult a certified electrician immediately.
- Dry your hands before switching on or off any electrical appliance or circuit.
This can be the showerhead or the bathroom lighting system. Wet hands are very dangerous as they provide electrical paths through your body.
Remember that the human body is made up of almost 60% water. One should use a towel to dry their hands before engaging any electrical circuit or appliance.
- Replace electric water heating systems that are more than ten years old.
Most energy boards and electrical equipment manufacturers advise homeowners to limit the use of particular water heating appliances to 10 years.
Most shower circuit insulations are made of rubber/plastics and thus are bound to wear and tear as they age beyond this period.
Therefore, the structural integrity of these electrical appliances is greatly reduced after the stated time. It is important to read the appliance’s specific user manual to know its lifespan.
As much as we cannot live without electricity, we cannot assume that it is friendly.
If you are not confident about the state of your shower, you should contact a certified electrician before making any changes that may endanger your life.
Be smart! Electricity is dangerous, life is precious.