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Thread: Zap

  1. #1
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    Default Zap

    Not a question, just telling an experience

    Fridays job had a drop ceiling with the metal grid.
    I had on a short sleeve shirt and reached up. The inner portion of my upper arm (you know the soft part) touched the grid. ZAPPP
    Almost fell off the ladder.
    As you can guess the grid was live.
    First time in 25 years.

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    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  2. #2
    Raghav Singh's Avatar
    Raghav Singh Guest

    Default Re: Zap

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Not a question, just telling an experience

    Fridays job had a drop ceiling with the metal grid.
    I had on a short sleeve shirt and reached up. The inner portion of my upper arm (you know the soft part) touched the grid. ZAPPP
    Almost fell off the ladder.
    As you can guess the grid was live.
    First time in 25 years.
    Wow! Did you get "stuck" to the grid? was it hard to pull away? Or was it just a zap ( what did that feel like?) and over?

    Always wondered what these situation are like , they happen often enough (sometimes with real bad outcomes). Glad nothing more serious happened , I'm sure it was far from a pleasant experience but atleast you are posting here and not under observation in a hospital .


  3. #3
    David McGuire's Avatar
    David McGuire Guest

    Default Re: Zap

    Well, thats not a good thing. Only good thing was you were able to walk away and healthy enough to get the day over with. Now you'll have an experience lurking in the back of the head for the rest of your life.

    You know, everytime I walk up to the service panel and start taking those screws out I kinda get the weebie-geebies. Only takes a little charge to change or end your life. Glad you could walk away.

    But it sure makes for a special note on the report. Was the sellers realtor present?


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Zap

    Quote Originally Posted by Raghav Singh View Post
    Wow! Did you get "stuck" to the grid? was it hard to pull away? Or was it just a zap ( what did that feel like?) and over?

    Always wondered what these situation are like , they happen often enough (sometimes with real bad outcomes). Glad nothing more serious happened , I'm sure it was far from a pleasant experience but atleast you are posting here and not under observation in a hospital .
    No, I did not get stuck.
    What do you mean "was it JUST A ZAP" ?
    It Hurt, kinda like bee stings (plural)
    Yes, and then it was over, except the shaking.

    I really don't understand why I was shocked.
    I was on a fiberglass ladder, thick rubber soles, and don't think I was touching anything else.

    I took out my voltage sniffer and the whole ceiling was live.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  5. #5
    Raghav Singh's Avatar
    Raghav Singh Guest

    Default Re: Zap

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    What do you mean "was it JUST A ZAP" ?
    Bad phrasing , I meant as opposed to getting stuck to the grid , was it over quickly.

    But "just a zap" sounds more like what you would get from touching a metal railing after rubbing your socks on the carpet, which this, of course was not.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Zap

    Quote Originally Posted by David McGuire View Post
    ... Was the sellers realtor present?
    I was servicing an alarm system
    The employees there asked me to check all the ceiling.
    They were on the phone with a sparky within 10 minutes

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Zap

    Hmmm, it's Halloween...maybe we're actually talking to the living dead. Zap the Zombie.

    That's one spooky story. Glad you're alright! Did it leave a burn mark?

    What's a sparky?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Zap

    Kristi - "Sparky" = Electrician


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Zap

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I really don't understand why I was shocked.
    I was on a fiberglass ladder, thick rubber soles, and don't think I was touching anything else.

    Either you were touching something else or something touching you was touching something else, and I suspect that something else was ground and you touched the energized ceiling grid.

    Anything grounded could lead to that ZAP!, even touching the grid in two places could lead to a zap (the voltage across the grid may not be consistent due to poor grid-to-grid electrical connections.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Zap

    Sparky, of course. duh, kristi! Maybe I need a jolt to wake me up.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Zap

    Worked in a office building built in 1979, each suite had 8, 4-lamp recessed troffers & not a freaking one was grounded so when anyone had the misfortune of touching a gas line or other object while in contact w/ the T-bar would get you zapped, the problem was caused by running NM cable to 1 or 2 gang plastic nail-on boxes for the fixtures & the the installer took a 7/8" holesaw to the side of the box & ran 1/2" steel flex to each fixture, the flex only had 2 conductors, BTW, then it was not prohibited to use NM cable above a suspended ceiling but punching the holes in the NM boxes was a good example of poor & hazardous workmanship.


  12. #12
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Zap

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Not a question, just telling an experience

    Fridays job had a drop ceiling with the metal grid.
    I had on a short sleeve shirt and reached up. The inner portion of my upper arm (you know the soft part) touched the grid. ZAPPP
    Almost fell off the ladder.
    As you can guess the grid was live.
    First time in 25 years.
    I bought a building years ago and turned it into a pet shop for my daughter. I was checking above the ceilings and there was some debris on the next tile over and I reached over to remove it and my arm was pressed against the grid. I did not feel a thing in my arm until my temple on the right side touched the grid. One loud pop and it actually felt like my eye popped and the water was running out of it. I truly thought I was minus an eye. Luckily I lost my footing on the ladder from the shock and fell. One portion of my company for years was accustic ceilings. Never before and never after, luckily, did anything happen to that affect again.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Zap

    Back in the '70s, my dad supplemented his pay as a Baltimore City Firefighter by running a licensed home improvement business. I was his #1 "helper" as soon as I was old enough to carry a 2x4. One of his most popular jobs was installing acoustical suspended ceilings in paneled or drywall club basements.

    On one particular basement ceiling installation for my cousin, he had just finished installing the wall angle using 1-1/4" ring nails. As he was setting the first T-bar, he lifted one end into the open floor joist bay and set the other end on the angle. On the way down, he brushed the raised end against a copper pipe and was greeted with an unexpected zap and the bang of a breaker tripping! Upon investigation, one of his nails had neatly penetrated through a section of NM wiring and hit just the hot conductor. He was "lucky" to have momentarily hit the copper pipe during the installation exposing his mistake and not have a more dangerous situation such as a plumber working in the ceiling, grabbing a pipe and hitting the grid.


  14. #14
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    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI
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    Default Re: Zap

    I'm glad we're hearing about this experience from YOU rather than a 2nd or 3rd party (i.e. you lived through it!).

    Wiggy, sniffer, glow-stick, etc. makes a great stocking stuffer (but so does a Life Insurance Premium payment, depending on one's point of view).

    Q: was there a power supply wired into the TEL block and plugged in elsewhere?

    Sure hope you follow up with Doctor.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 11-07-2011 at 10:18 PM.

  15. #15
    Patrick Belcher's Avatar
    Patrick Belcher Guest

    Talking Re: Zap

    Old inspectors don't die, they just get recharged.


  16. #16
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Zap

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Bennett View Post
    Back in the '70s, my dad supplemented his pay as a Baltimore City Firefighter by running a licensed home improvement business. I was his #1 "helper" as soon as I was old enough to carry a 2x4. One of his most popular jobs was installing acoustical suspended ceilings in paneled or drywall club basements.

    On one particular basement ceiling installation for my cousin, he had just finished installing the wall angle using 1-1/4" ring nails. As he was setting the first T-bar, he lifted one end into the open floor joist bay and set the other end on the angle. On the way down, he brushed the raised end against a copper pipe and was greeted with an unexpected zap and the bang of a breaker tripping! Upon investigation, one of his nails had neatly penetrated through a section of NM wiring and hit just the hot conductor. He was "lucky" to have momentarily hit the copper pipe during the installation exposing his mistake and not have a more dangerous situation such as a plumber working in the ceiling, grabbing a pipe and hitting the grid.
    This samething happened to my wife and I when we installed a lay-in ceiling in a mobile home we bought to live in while we built our house. I had intalled the wall angle and when we started putting in the cross pieces my wife kept getting a small tingle (or so she said). We kept on working and suddenly I got the doo-doo shocked out of me. She gave me that "I told you so look" and I found that one of the wall angle nails had nicked a wire. That was 28 years ago and I still get reminded of that every now and then.


  17. #17
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    Aug 2008
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    Default Re: Zap

    Glad you're okay Rick. I was waiting for the verdict as to the cause of the energized grid. Can you tell me what you or the sparky determined was the cause?

    I often see exposed conductors without j-boxes or outside of j-boxes that are in close proximity to the metal tee-grid.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Zap

    Quote Originally Posted by Hank Spinnler View Post
    Glad you're okay Rick. I was waiting for the verdict as to the cause of the energized grid. Can you tell me what you or the sparky determined was the cause?

    I often see exposed conductors without j-boxes or outside of j-boxes that are in close proximity to the metal tee-grid.
    I finished my work and left, have not been back.
    They were calling a sparky when I left.

    As to the cause, I think Earnest said it best
    "I see your problem here Vern. Looks like you have a Sh SH SHOOOORRRRRT"

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Zap

    Ungrounded lights, such as the fluorescent ones that sit directly on the grid can put a charge on the grid that can zap a person when the grid itself is not grounded. Remember also that current can be generated through electromotive force (metal in the microwave effect as an example). If the grid has metal diffusers that sit directly on it, the air itself can build up a charge in the grid under certain conditions. That zap can be substantial. I found this out the hard way when setting up a filter testing system that uses potassium salts as test material. After the system was running for awhile, I touched the ductwork and nearly forcefully took a seat on the floor.

    So, an ungrounded grid can be charged up in two ways, either actively, such as the grid being in contact with a live wire somehow, or capacitively, such as with the air example. Either way, completing the circuit between the grid and ground will result in a zap. The path depends on what two parts of complete the circuit. For people, the most dangerous path is one that takes the current across the chest (heart), which can put a person into fibrillation if the current is powerful enough.

    The lesson here is a good one--and one that I have neglected to think about too. Check the grid before moving tiles. I suggest being particularly careful if the homeowner did the grid work. After all, why do lights need to be grounded, right? (Yes, I'm being cynical.)


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