Reduce Electric Shock on Floors
LESLIE: Ron in Iowa has a question about wood flooring. What can we do for you?
RON: OK. What I have is a wood laminate floor …
RON: … in the … in my basement. And I walk across it with my boots on or my socks on and I go to turn a light switch on – I don’t touch any metal – I get a heck of a static charge from it.
TOM: Wow, really?
RON: A big zap.
RON: And I’m an electrician, so I’m used to getting a big zap. (laughing)
TOM: I thought that … well, I thought that static electricity built up more in carpet than it did in hard surfaces.
RON: Yeah, this is worse on the wood floor than it is …
RON: … on the carpet.
TOM: Well, you need to ground yourself, man.
RON: That’s what I’m doing when I hit the switch. (laughing)
LESLIE: Well, and I would think when you have shoes on, this wouldn’t happen.
TOM: Yeah, I would think that your rubber soles on your boots would stop that from happening.
RON: I would think. And I mean it’s … the boots I have are kind of like a Redwing type of boot and …
TOM: Yeah, that’s a good boot.
RON: Yeah, good boot. And boy, oh boy.
TOM: You sure it’s not just the electricity you’ve collected through the day (laughing) as you’ve worked as an electrician.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Looking for an outlet.
RON: (overlapping voices) (INAUDIBLE) You know, it happens, weekly, that I get a … get a jolt. But wow, I mean this is … this is … I mean, it’s a good static charge and it’s …
TOM: Now, is it only when you hit the light switch? Or can you hit anything metal?
RON: No, you can hit anything metal – the sink, anything – and woo-hoo! A good jolt. And I’m not sure … you know, and I’m an electrician and I’m not sure how to stop the …
TOM: You know what would be interesting? I wonder what would happen, Ron, if you ground your floor to your … to your ground rod where your panel is?
RON: That’s what I was thinking too, I really was.
TOM: You know, put a strap on it and see if that changes anything. I can’t imagine …
LESLIE: And where is this room in your house?
TOM: The basement.
RON: (overlapping voices) It’s in the basement and …
LESLIE: The basement. What …?
RON: … it’s actually in the middle of the basement between two carpeted floors, so …
LESLIE: Now, what is the moisture level in the basement?
RON: I’m thinking it must be pretty low.
LESLIE: Because I’ve learned through, you know, doing some search on static shocks because when I was a kid, I always tried to make getting shocks, you know, better, so I could get my brothers and sisters. So actually, if you have a drier space … if you find that it’s not as humid as you’d like it to be – which is, you know, around 40 percent humidity – it tends to cause a lot more shocking.
TOM: You know, that’s a good point. You might want to try adding some humidification if you happen to be a particularly dry basement. But I mean, in Iowa, usually that’s not the problem. Normally you have dampness.
RON: No, usually it’s the other way around.
RON: Evidently, it must be fairly dry. I haven’t really ever tested it, so …
TOM: Hmm. Well, we gave you a couple of ideas. Grounding your floor or adding humidification.
LESLIE: Adding humidity, put some moisturizer on your hands. Because dryness really does help to conduct the shocking. So use some hand lotion.
RON: I’ll try it all.
LESLIE: Good luck. And heck, you know, grab the kids and like shock each other.
TOM: Figure out how to tap that electricity and save some money on your … on your bills.
RON: If it was only that easy.
TOM: Ron, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.