Why a gas pipe is shocking: causes and ways to cope with a problem

Amir Gumarov
Checked by a specialist: Amir Gumarov
Author: Maria Govorukhina
Last update: November 2019

Imagine this situation - you touch pipes or gas-powered appliances and get a small electric pinch. If you have already encountered such a problem, you probably wondered how and why the gas pipe is shocking, even if the electrician is fully operational?

Let's deal with this issue in detail and clarify all the nuances of this strange and alarming, at first glance, phenomenon.

Causes of stress in pipes

Just because the pipes can not be shocked. In order for them to "pinch" there must be reasons.

Among the possible:

  • theft by neighbors of electricity;
  • improvised grounding not in accordance with PUE standards;
  • malfunctioning devices that consume current;
  • poor ground contact or lack thereof;
  • broken wiring.

At first glance, tingling is insignificant and does not create any particular inconvenience. However, everything is not so simple as it seems and therefore it is worthwhile to analyze each reason in more detail.

Neighbors steal electricity

Everyone in the house has an electricity meter, and it has 4 contacts:

  • phase that goes from the substation;
  • phase output from the counter;
  • zero to the substation;
  • zero from the meter for wiring.

When neighbors try to steal electricity, they throw the neutral wire from the consumer to the pipes, ignoring the zero wire from the meter.

Let's try to explain in more detail.

Voltage heating
In October 2019, a heating battery suddenly sparkled in a Krasnoyarsk apartment and a curtain flashed. The specialists who arrived at the site concluded that this was due to the fault of neighbors who wanted to save on paying bills and were grounded through the common house riser

Electricity tariffs do not please consumers. Especially in the cold season, when people connect their own heaters and other appliances to help raise the temperature in the house or apartment.

When current flows into the house, it runs in phase and then returns through zero to the power station.So that the return does not go anywhere and is not taken into account on the counter, consumers create their own zero, connect it to electrical appliances. And in order for the unaccounted current output to occur, ground it on pipes of various utilities, including heating.

Accordingly, electric potential arises on the heating pipes.

Imagine that at this moment a person took up a powered pipe and, accordingly, the current flowed along the path of least resistance, that is, through it there is no equalization of potentials. It is not clear whether it is possible to kill a person at this moment. It depends on many factors. In any case, it is dangerous and extremely unpleasant.

In the event of such a “good-neighborly” connection, you must immediately contact the energy supply organization, invite them to your house or apartment to measure and search for the culprit. It will not look like a trick, because your life and health depend on it.

Self-made grounding not in accordance with PUE standards

The instructions for each electrical device have grounding requirements. And if you can make grounding in a private house by looking at the instructions from the YouTube channel, then with multi-storey buildings it’s more difficult.

Three core cable
In old houses, there is still a two-wire wiring system, that is, it is phase and zero. During the repair of their apartment, the owners make the internal equipment more modern - three-core, that is, with a grounding cable

Many owners of houses with old wiring equipment, their modern household appliances, ground to pipes. During the breakdown of the phase, it will fall on them and thus, they will be energized.

The owner of the house or apartment, as well as his neighbors, when connected to a common riser in an apartment building, will be in serious danger, especially if other devices are also grounded on pipes.

Grounding on engineering pipes is an abnormal practice. If you have this, get rid of it immediately and create a quality “land”.

Electric appliances malfunctioning

Devices connected to gas-powered equipment can also be electrically dependent. This is backlight, piezo ignition, automation, and so on. If your device does not have grounding, then in the event of a malfunction, it may begin to punch on the lines connected to it. In this case, the pipeline.

Accordingly, a person is struck by electric shock when the pipe is touched. Again, by the principle of passing through the least resistance.

Grounding of gas-powered equipment
Gas appliances must be grounded in accordance with all the rules of the PUE and not only because of the danger of electric shock, but also because of the risk of ignition

In apartments, current can flow through neighboring pipelines.

Usually, devices with such problems seem to buzz and vibrate slightly in the hands or when touched. In general, faulty equipment is usually immediately visible and in order to avoid any problems with it, it is necessary to immediately repair it, and of course, make good grounding.

Shorting wires to pipes

So, it seems like the neighbors or you have everything done according to the rules. But when you touch the pipes, it will still shock you. How can this happen?

As a rule, this is possible in the absence of RCDwhen, for some reason, the counter automaton is not knocked out.

This may be when:

  • problems with grounding (wrongly done or there is a contact failure);
  • when the phase closes to ground.

As a rule, if the phase touches any conductor in the wall, the voltage will go through all the devices and, importantly, it can go into pipes connected to the conductor, including heating pipes. And in this case, they can be plucked with current.

Stray currents in a gas pipeline

Have you ever heard the phrase “wandering current”? For those who are not in the know, this is such a process in which the movement of charged particles occurs in the conductor.

To form a standard current, a potential difference and a connected conductor are provided. But it happens that for some reason the conductor is earth or metal placed in the ground. That is, in our case, gas pipes.

Stray currents
As a protection against stray currents for gas-powered equipment, a dielectric insert should be installed immediately after the shut-off valve. And its presence, by the way, is mandatory, according to SP 402.1325800.2018

By the way, this is not the whole danger of stray currents. Because of them, electrochemical corrosion occurs that destroys the pipes.

Why are conductive pipes dangerous?

Even a slight voltage (from 42 Volts) can kill a person, depending on many factors, including:

  1. Painful condition.
  2. Diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
  3. Alcohol intoxication.
  4. Factors that enhance the conductivity.

It is difficult to say unequivocally what an electric shock will lead to - from a minor pinch to a fatal outcome.

Heated towel rail
Not only in the case of gas pipes, but also with any other pipes, the wires that get on them are dangerous. During the repair in one of the apartments, the man allowed the bare wires to touch the pipeline. When he touched the heated towel rail, he was instantly killed by an electric shock. A sad fate awaited the neighbor, who came to the rescue and tried to save the landlord. Water from a device plucked when a man fell was an unfortunate conductor of electric current

In addition, we will not forget that electric current and gas are still a negative combination, which, under adverse circumstances, can provide a fire or explosion.

How to protect pipes from current?

If the gas pipe beats current strongly or slightly, then the first thing to do in this situation is to immediately find the source of the problem and eliminate all the malfunctions.

For this:

  1. Turn off the power in the house or apartment.
  2. Inspect all your gas-powered equipment connected to the power grid for breakdowns; if a defect is found, correct it.
  3. If the house was bought or rented recently, inspect the pipes for incomprehensible connections - this should be done even at the time of purchase.
  4. Make and check grounding from each device, if you yourself cannot do this, invite an electrician.
  5. Spend a visual diagnostics of existing grounding.
  6. If it is not possible to arrange standard grounding, portable grounding pins (also called portable buses) are installed.
  7. As protection against stray currents for gas-powered equipment, it should be installed immediately after the shut-off valve dielectric insert. And its presence, by the way, is mandatory, according to SP 402.1325800.2018.

And, of course, be sure to invite a specialist from the energy supply organization to look for a possible problem if you yourself do not have sufficient experience and knowledge in electrics.

Gas safety check
Mandatory, if you notice a current in the heating batteries, you should also call the gas service to check the safety of the equipment

For residents of apartment buildings, contacting the supplier directly is optional.

You can call or appear beforehand in the Criminal Code and state your problem.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Video. Is the heating battery grounded? Do not repeat, dangerous:

Heating pipes in a house or apartment quite often present their owners with a “surprise” in the form of electric current discharges. You should not joke with your life, and even more so, refuse the visit of a specialist who will conduct a troubleshooting and eliminate them.

Have you ever been shocked by gas pipes? How did you solve the problem? Share your experience in the comments and ask your questions about the topic of the article.

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