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Why does my studio setup keep electricuting me?

Discussion in 'Room Acoustics / Isolation / Treatment' started by Kerfoot32, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. Kerfoot32

    Kerfoot32 Active Member

    So I've been trying to setup a studio in my new two story house. My upstairs is a large one room, loft like area that I want to use as my control room. There is a small door upstairs that leads to a uninsulated attic like storage space. In that space I drilled a doorknob sized hole in the floor. Directly below that hole is a closet to a bedroom downstairs. That bedroom is the room I want to use as my recording room. I ran my 8 channel snake and a 1/4 inch extension cord (from my interface) through the hole in the floor to the bedroom downstairs. But whenever I try to plug in anything downstairs (headphones, microphone) I just get electrocuted by anything metal (microphone, metal end of headphones). Any idea why this is happening? Is there a solution?
    Kurt Foster likes this.
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    You may have an open wire and possibly a ground problem or inverted ground and live wire in your electric outlet(s)...
    Stick around, I'm sure @Boswell or others will have more precise theory ;)

    Anyway, I'd start with a AC polarity checker. Something like this :
  3. Brien Holcombe

    Brien Holcombe Well-Known Member

    Polarity doesn't matter with AC 110...it goes in and it comes out.

    Check the extension cord. And then ask your Dad if he knows.
  4. Kerfoot32

    Kerfoot32 Active Member

    Very silly response. I'm on here asking people who actually know these things. It's not my cord genius, already tried that. It does it for everything I run through, like I said in the OP.
  5. Brien Holcombe

    Brien Holcombe Well-Known Member

    Pretty convoluted post...so you get what you play for.

    It's like you have a puzzle you present that has nothing to do with the issue...like saying "I have a piece of string in my hand...how long is it?"

    Recreate the issue. If it is happening in one place it will continue to happen until you narrow it down. If it is happening everywhere then you need local help not mine.

    Btw...any McKnuckleHead that would use an upstairs uninsulated room in the onset of winter to house sensitive equipment is asking for trouble to begin with. Think of the heat exchange and the potential condensation coupled with the heat of the day.
  6. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    My response would be to consult a licensed electrician.

    You don't want to be playing around with electricity. Period.

    Even if its only 110v, unlike here in Australia where everything is 240v.
  7. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    It's some kind of grounding issue. I'd call an electrician.

    Check to see if you're ok in one room everything plugged into the same breaker/outlet. Then check the other if they are both ok by themselves but don't play nice together. The you know it's a difference of the 2 of them. If you have shocks everywhere it has something to do with your gear or both rooms have a grounding problem.

    Unless it's a piece of gear that you can troubleshoot call an electrician.
  8. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    -Also, if you have to touch it to test it, use the back of your hand...not your palm.

    But my advice is Not To Touch It....consult an electrician.
  9. dprimary

    dprimary Active Member

    Something in your house in wired wrong. You can check your outlets with something like this.
    In any case you need to have and electrician fix it.
    What do you mean by a 1/4" extension? a power cable?
  10. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    For goodness sake. There are two main types of electric shock. Static shock where charge builds up, often through leaky capacitors and insulated metalwork on case etc, where when you are grounded, the charge leaks away through you. Usually very low current so it hurts but isn't dangerous. It can wreck sensitive equipment. The other type is much more dangerous and occurs when one of your items or a chain of them is carrying your full mains input voltage, 110 or 220v. If the path between this and ground is through you, then you can die. Incidentally you are dead if you have been electrocuted. If you are alive, you got a shock! Do not use your hand or body to test the problem, use a meter. Current through your heart will kill you. Using the back of your hand just means the thinner skin is a more sensitive to low current, high voltage surfaces, and if the current is high it will burn there rather than conduct through your body. If you suspect your equipment and are unskilled, do NOT touch it, get somebody in who knows! If you are competent, then stick a meter on it and measure.

    As I understand it in America it is common for homes to have electricity supply from multiple phases to give 220v on certain outlets. If you have fed your kit from 110v on one floor, and other kit is supplied from somewhere else, then you have double the voltage available, and faults can be much more serious.

    Ground loops, often spoken about are quite different. Very small voltage differences in the ground potential inducing hums. If something gives you a shock, then that is more serious. The safety ground may have been lost somewhere, and a different fault condition has occurred, that the lack of grounding is not able to protect you from. If you can't identify it yourself, then you MUST get somebody in. This is not something to fiddle with or get advice on a forum.

    It could be a stray wire in one bit of kit, connecting live to ground, and a failed ground not tripping a breaker. It could be a safer problem. Tube equipment in fault conditions often put half the supply voltage on the chassis when things go wrong, centre tapped transformers sometimes being the culprit. So many causes, we can't guess at a distance.

    The only advice is consult an expert.

    If you know what you are doing, you could disconnect everything, spend a small amount on a meter and add kit, bit by bit checking the cases for voltage, one by one as you connect them. That, however, is stupid unless you can do it safely.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Maybe polarity is not the right word.. remember I'm a french guy ;)
    If I put the live wire to the outlet's ground pin and the ground wire to the positive or negative pin of the outlet. I think it mathers because you are sending live current to everything that is grounded..
    Anyway, that's the idea why I suggested the tester. But even if that's not the problem, the tester cost is lower than 10$, everyone should have one ! If you get faulty results, you have an idea someone made a mistake in the wires and then you have something to say to the electrician... If every outlets of your home are OK.. I doubt an electician can help but hey... like other say, no chances to take !
  12. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    In AC circuits it is Live and neutral - the neutral nowadays is often exactly the same potential as ground where the cable comes into the building. You just can't say polarity, because it changes every 50/60th of a second.

    Sticking a meter between say, the case of a microphone, and something grounded - like a water pipe (on the AC range) should give you zero volts. If you get a couple of volts, this can be quite normal, but be the reason you might get the odd hum. Anything over half mains voltage is worrying. In most cases of this, there is very little current - but still makes your lip or cheek tingle if your guitar is properly grounded and the recording equipment or mixer isn't! In the event of a proper fault, where the casing is connected direct to the mains live feed somewhere, then instead of a tingle, you will at best be on the floor, and worst - electrocuted and very dead.

    A meter takes a short time to master, and at the very least, will warn you something is wrong. It won't help you fix it - but a reading of 110, or worse, 220 is enough to make sure you really do find somebody who can sort it for you. With the US mains voltage less than ours, the old electricians trick of a fleeting wipe of a suspicious wire is not quite so bad, and a few old timers here still do the same thing - but it's wrong and is a stupid risk to take. If you get a shock, touching it again is plain daft.
    Sean G and pcrecord like this.
  13. Brien Holcombe

    Brien Holcombe Well-Known Member

    Personally....I think the poster AND the question are a setup...so there is no right answer.
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Well, there's one thing for sure... getting shocked is not a "normal" occurrence, it points to a definite problem, and it's not something anyone should have to just "deal" with.

    On top of the very real potential dangers of actual physical harm, you don't want really any of your gear seeing any voltage that it's not supposed to, either.

    I'm not sure why the OP decided to post here - because there's no real way any of us can accurately diagnose the cause without actually being there ... and even then - personally speaking - my first contact would have been to a certified electrician...
    And by "certified", I'm not referring to a neighbor, or a cousin, friend, or uncle who just so happens to own a voltmeter, or who has successfully managed to wire a light fixture in the past without burning their house down.

    There are times when a "DIY" approach can work, but there are those occasions when you should just bite the bullet and call in an expert.
    IMO, these "call an expert" occasions would include things like laying the foundation of a house, asbestos removal, messing around with gas or electricity...

    It's not something I'd ever want to "guess" at... or in any way screw around with.
    I'm not ready to die yet, so I have no desire to experiment with being a human grounding rod, and, I have way too much money invested in my gear to take a stab at solving a serious electrical issue on my own.
    And I'd put "getting shocked" into the "serious" category.

    But, that's just me. ;)
  15. Brien Holcombe

    Brien Holcombe Well-Known Member

    "and a 1/4 inch extension cord (from my interface) through the hole in the floor to the bedroom downstairs."

    OK, what is plugged in and in what configuration is it plugged in, in the upstairs area (control room)?

    Pictures help so take a few.

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