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Old 05-05-2016, 08:35 AM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2014
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Shock when draining hot water heater

I was draining my hot water heater yesterday and noticed when I touched the water as it was almost finished draining, I got a small tingle. It felt like I was getting a very small electrical shock. I have drained the heater several times and not noticed this before. Any ideas?

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Old 05-05-2016, 08:51 AM   #2
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I bet you are plugged into shoreline. Do a search for "Hot Skin" and you will find lots to read.

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Old 05-05-2016, 08:51 AM   #3
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I don't have direct experience with this, but I would suggest that it can be caused by a faulty electric water heating element. If you have one of these, for safety, first disconnect power to your rig, then unhook the electric heating element. After you restore power test to see if problem goes away. Water and electricity is a dangerous combination, so please be very extra careful.
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:56 AM   #4
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You may have two issues:

1) Primary Issue: Electrical bonding to ground isn't correct. If there was stray voltage somewhere in your unit it should find its way to a ground where it will dissipate or trip the breaker that is feeding the stray voltage. For now do not correct this so that you can pinpoint failing circuit.

2) Stray voltage: It may be at your water heater but I'm betting you had he electrical turned off to the element if you were draining it. Stray voltage can be a fun challenge to pinpoint. I would tag a VOM meter to the water heater case and the other to a known good ground. See what sort of voltage you read. Turn off breakers until voltage drops real low or to zero. When you drop then you have ID a suspect circuit. Leave this breaker off and turn on the ones you turned off one at a time to see if voltage comes back up. You may have two or more circuits failing.

Once you have corrected the failing circuit go back to the first problem and make certain the boning from the circuit that failed is good. Again, with a proper ground you never should have felt a tingle as the current would have a much easier path to ground via bonding. If your supple is not properly grounded this would be a major issue. Suppose any hot wire were to come loose and fall onto the frame of the unit. With the rubber tires, wooden blocks and all that your unit may be electrically isolated from ground. Your unit is now like a hot wire on an electric fence. Now someone comes up barefooted and step on the steps with wet feet in the grass. Mr. Redi-Kilowatt may very well say hello to this person in an unpleasant way.

There are other methods to trace it out. You could have four qualified electricians do this and you would come up with five different methods.

We have had cases where the short was tripping a breaker but the wire from that breaker went all over the building. We would put a large wire wound resister in series to the breaker and turn the power on. Then we would trace out the current flow using amp meters.

Good luck.
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Old 05-05-2016, 09:10 AM   #5
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If you have a good ground to neutral bond then it sounds like the classic calrod failure. The outer tube pinholes from corrosive water letting the inner heat transfer medium absorb water forming a high resistance short to ground. I'd start by pulling the element and taking a look. You can try to measure the resistance to ground at the terminals on the heater element but the resistance may be higher than your meter can read.
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:44 PM   #6
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Lol take your shoes off and on wet ground touch metal on the rv I beat you'll get shocked had this Happen at a lot of places it's on there end not yours I alway have a ground rod in my bumper
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Old 05-05-2016, 10:14 PM   #7
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Thanks to all. I am plugged into shore power and I think that is the issue. My ground broke off of my 15 Amp plug and I am thinking that is the issue. I had already ordered a new one from Amazon. I will try it again next week. I think the mystery is solved. Thanks all. It had me worried.
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Old 05-05-2016, 10:41 PM   #8
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I'm just curious why you would touch the hot water at all. Its pretty hot!! LOL Glad you found the problem.
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Old 05-06-2016, 06:38 AM   #9
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Hi KIMBASHAW, glad you found the broken ground blade. BUT, don't stop there ,you still have a problem. There should be no ground current flowing,something on board has a defect and that's a bad thing. I suggest you follow some of the suggestions mentioned above and track it down.

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Old 05-06-2016, 08:26 AM   #10
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I will do that Cliff . Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

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