Refrigerator is Hot - 120 Volts at Handle

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by molo, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. DonL

    DonL Out of the Trades

    Messages:
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    If the ground was connected properly then you should not get shocked even if the AC polarity was reversed.


    Did you get it wired correctly ?
  2. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

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    It may have been just capacitance building up voltage on the fridge's frame without any real conductance, or, on the other hand, a leakage current from the circuits in the fridge and enough to give a good tingle or more; still, can't be too safe without a gound to drain it away or trip a breaker if it was a real short to the frame from the hot.
  3. DonL

    DonL Out of the Trades

    Messages:
    3,891
    Location:
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    I would have expected it to pop the breaker, just as soon as plugged in. Or it has no Proper Ground.

    I think there is more to this picture.

    I have some Popcorn.
  4. molo

    molo New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    cold new york
    The electrician rewired the outlet. There is no ground wire and the wire is two insulated wires wrapped in a rubber/plastic type coating.
  5. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

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    Kleenex ® :p
  6. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
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    northfork, california
    Originally Posted by ballvalve

    Whats terrifying is that they came WITH a battery and actually work.
  7. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

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    Location:
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    Man you got that right!
  8. Homeownerinburb

    Homeownerinburb New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Ah. Old non-metalic cable without a ground. I found a bit of that in a house in Pasadena. I think the wire dated to the '40s or early 50's, to judge from the other elements that I saw.

    There was a good bit of knob and tube in the house as well. Apparently there is quite a bit of that left in Pasadena and the towns around it. A real pain when combined with lath and plaster.
  9. DonL

    DonL Out of the Trades

    Messages:
    3,891
    Location:
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    Sounds like you were correct Bob.

    If there is no ground connection in the box then you would be measuring the device leakage.
  10. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

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    1,786
    Location:
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    Oh, how shocking! Thanks Don:cool:
  11. molo

    molo New Member

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    Location:
    cold new york
    Request for more interpretation

    I may be misreading the posts, but although the outlet has been rewired, can the fridge still shock someone?

    Thanks,
    Bill
  12. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    It definitely is possible. Take a voltmeter and take an AC volt reading from the frame of the fridge to a ground connection (water pipe, or ground from another outlet that has a ground). If you can measure (hard for me to say how much voltage will give you a feelable shock) 24 volts or more, than you might feel a tingle if its just capacitance as I said above. If there is a real short circuit from the hot circuits in the fridge to its frame, then it will be dangerous. I guess your electrician must have checked this out for you in the name of safety?
  13. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    @molo: Unless there was some connection between the fridge frame and one of the electrical conductors, it would not be possible for
    anyone to get a shock from it. That is the root cause of the problem. If the receptacle was miswired (reverse polarity), it is all well and good
    to correct that problem, but the fault in the fridge remains. If, for instance, there is a short between what is now the grounded conducter (neutral)
    and the fridge frame, then at present there is no shock hazard; however, by simply reversing the power cord plug in the receptacle the fridge frame
    would again become energized. More indirectly, any modifications to the circuit feeding that receptacle that alters the polarity (very common in ungrounded
    house wiring systems, unfortunately) would also recreate the shock hazard. I am rather astonished that the electrician did not address the fridge wiring
    problem, where the real problem lay. A receptacle with reversed polarity in an ungrounded wiring system is really a minor defect, and extremely common.
  14. molo

    molo New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    cold new york
    Shouldn't the shell/handle be insulated from the current conducting components of the fridge (motor, wiring)? It seems a very dangerous design otherwise. The hinge on the freezer handle caused the original shock. Can this happen without a short in the fridge?
  15. ActionDave

    ActionDave Electrician

    Messages:
    345
    Location:
    Colorado
    Can this happen? Yes

    Can this happen without something being wrong with either the fridge or the circuit it is plugged into? No.
  16. Bobelectric

    Bobelectric Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    38
    Location:
    Eighty Four,Pa. 15330
    I can't understand the replys to this tread. Sounds like repair guy f*** up. Refers don't bond to frame. A circuit with an adapter to plug into a non grounding receptacle.Hot frame.
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