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Thread: My garage is electrically charged w/120v!!

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  1. #1

    Default My garage is electrically charged w/120v!!

    I've been in my house for about 3 years, but only recently did I accidentally touch the side metal rails/tracks of my garage door while bare-footed. A shock was sent all the way up to my shoulder.

    An electrician friend of mine came over to discover that the tracks, garage door and any other metal was charged with 120v of electricity. There was NO current when I unplugged my garage door opener from the ceiling outlet. But, the current returned when plugged back in, even when plugged into an outlet in the home away from the garage using an extension cord. The grounds (cold water grounds?) in my house checked out fine.

    I was told by the garage door opener manufacturer that maybe the motor was damaged, causing this problem, but the electrical current is still there after replacing the motor.

    While researching this online, I came across a news story of a boy who was electrocuted to death touching his garage door after getting out of a pool. The story mentioned something about underground lines?

    What do I do? Who do I call? Is the home builder responsible? If it's underground, how do I determine that? How is it corrected? Who is financially responsible for this repair?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helpmeplease
    There was NO current when I unplugged my garage door opener from the ceiling outlet. But, the current returned when plugged back in, even when plugged into an outlet in the home away from the garage using an extension cord.
    By using two different receptacles and the problem returning it would seem that the problem is in the garage door opener.
    Quote Originally Posted by helpmeplease
    Who is financially responsible for this repair?
    This is answered in your opening statement;
    Quote Originally Posted by helpmeplease
    I've been in my house for about 3 years,

  3. #3

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    I will guess that the cord is a 3 prong. I would get your friend back out to replace the cord (just cook him dinner he should do it for free). If itís still there itís the door opener. I would toss it and install a new one. With the amount of vibrations it makes a lot can happen.

    You might get him to toss a GFI on it for a few seconds to see how log it takes to pop it. He should have a few with extension cords. This is one reason I think every thing in a garage should be GFI. To me it could be a wet location.

  4. #4
    General Contractor, Farmer HandyAndy's Avatar
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    more than likely there is some thing not correct in the grounding circuit of the door opener or the receptacle it is plugged into,
    as well as the opener it self having a short to ground,

    the opener is shorted to ground, or the case in this instance regardless it be via the chain or the rail or what ever the case is hot and the frame of the opener and door is hot,

    the purpose of the ground prong is if it does short to the case the case is to be grounded via the ground prong and thus make a good path back to ground to over load the breaker, (not leaving the case electrified)
    (the ground wire on the cord of the opener should be attached to the case of the opener),

    You apparently have the short to the case, but no path back to ground that is low enough resistance to trip the breaker, and when you touch it your providing an additional path to ground and electricity is flowing through you,

    I would suggest you have your electrician check the grounding on that circuit as well.

  5. #5

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    In lieu of the foregoing, I suppose it wouldn't be a bad idea to bond the tracks/rails. NEC 250.104(B) suggests bonding all piping metal air ducts for additional safety, so it couldn't hurt to bond the tracks/rails too. Had that been done, the breaker would've opened (assuming no other malfuctions) and that significant potential hazard would've been avoided.

    I could also see this happening if the hots and neutrals were reveresed in the premise wiring - all too common on DIY installs.

    I would check the outlet with an inexpensive GFCI outlet tester, just to make sure the outlet is properly wired.

    Is this a detached garage? Is there a separate sub-panel in the garage?

  6. #6

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    Thanks for all the quick and helpful replies!

    To answer 'Joe in Queens', this was originally a detached garage rougly 10' from the back of the house, which is a cookie-cutter floor plan in this development built in 1997. But, the original owner (previous to us) shortened the garage by several feet and enclosed the area between the garage and house to make a new room for additional square footage. There is not a separate sub-panel.

    Obviously, rewiring took place, as new lighting was installed, but I was told that all electrical work was performed by a certified electrician.

    I am having an electrician stop by tomorrow to look at things in more detail, incorporating the suggestions that all of you conveyed. I have also contacted the builder to see if they have information on any underground wiring.

    Please keep your thoughts coming. I'll let you know what I discover tomorrow, in case you're interested in the outcome.

    Thanks Again!

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