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#26440 - 06/12/03 09:44 AM Son Electrocuted-faulty GFI?
meg Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/12/03
Posts: 6
Loc: Granbury, TX, usa
My son was electrocuted when he came in contact with a Speedrooter that a plumber was using to unstop a drain line. Sparks were generated when the "snake" came in contact with the cast iron sleeve on the floor-he touched the bear metal handle bar to shut-off & move the machine-became grounded, he died fron low voltage electrocution. Machine was equiped with a Leviton GFI. My son (25) was not wearing shoes and the floor was damp. I am trying to find out just how this could have happened. Why did the gfi fail, receptical was not grounded (house 30 yrs old). Just looking for answers from the professionals-hope this posting does not offend anyone-any input is appreciated.

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#26441 - 06/12/03 09:55 AM Re: Son Electrocuted-faulty GFI?
BuggabooBren Offline
Member

Registered: 11/15/01
Posts: 336
Loc: NM
Meg, first let me extend my condolences and offer my empathy as I have lost a child (due to natural causes) and know at least a portion of the monumental burden of sorrow it brings.

Next, have you had a professional or licensed electrician or an inspector (outside of the medical examiner's office or police dept) conduct an investigation of the electrical systems of the building where the electrocution occurred? It may be somewhat difficult for someone (such as those here at E-C.net) to assess a situation from a distance without seeing the location. I know there have been similar non-fatal situations discussed here but all of them, if I recall correctly, were brought by folks who had actually done on-site surveys or inspections of the locations in question.

Again, my heart goes out to you and your family. This group of people may be a good place to get accurate information so you may have found a good starting place in your search for the cause of this accident.

Bren

[This message has been edited by BuggabooBren (edited 06-12-2003).]

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#26442 - 06/12/03 10:16 AM Re: Son Electrocuted-faulty GFI?
Bjarney Offline
Moderator

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2561
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
My sympathy for your loss.

If the GFCI was located on the motorized rooting machine, it could not sense conditions of electrical leakage that were electrically ahead of the GFCI. With this configuration, unprotected electrical components may have included the power cord and internal wiring feeding the GFCI.

If ‘frayed insulation’ in the rooter’s power cord allowed contact of the machine’s {in this case, ungrounded} metal parts to the energized conductor in the cord, the GFCI that was part of the portable machine could offer no protection.

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#26443 - 06/12/03 10:16 AM Re: Son Electrocuted-faulty GFI?
meg Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/12/03
Posts: 6
Loc: Granbury, TX, usa
Thank you Bren for your kind words-thankfully he left 2 small ones to carry on-very difficult to say the least.

This happened at our home. We had a team of electricians come in to do an inspection after the accident. House is 30-35 years old-this particular recepticle was in a master beadroom & not grounded. Their pliminary report said they felt it was due to a faulty gfi-it should have worked in this situation. Older home-damp water-no shoes all attributed to situation but the bottom line-gfi should have activated.

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#26444 - 06/12/03 10:19 AM Re: Son Electrocuted-faulty GFI?
meg Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/12/03
Posts: 6
Loc: Granbury, TX, usa
The gfi was located on the cord which also had the floor "on" switch -foot operated.

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#26445 - 06/12/03 11:08 AM Re: Son Electrocuted-faulty GFI?
BuggabooBren Offline
Member

Registered: 11/15/01
Posts: 336
Loc: NM
FYI:
This may be the Speedrooter that was used as there is a built-in GFI on the cord: http://www.generalpipecleaners.com/pro/propdf/p11sp91.pdf

Another website asks a simple question:
Have you tested your GFCIs to be sure they still offer protection from fatal electrical shock? A GFCI can provide power without giving an indication that it is no longer providing shock protection. Be sure your (?) GO I still provides protection from fatal electric shock.
(site: http://www.shermco.com/shermcoweb/safety1.htm )

Presumably this is referring to a decline in product performance, perhaps due to a known tolerance of usage - similar to surge protectors being able to protect from either repeated surges or large surges up to a limit until they are 'used up' and should be replaced if testing shows they're not performing or providing protection as intended.

[This message has been edited by BuggabooBren (edited 06-12-2003).]

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#26446 - 06/12/03 11:08 AM Re: Son Electrocuted-faulty GFI?
Redsy Offline
Member

Registered: 03/28/01
Posts: 2138
Loc: Bucks County PA
I don't know what to say about your loss, other than I'm sorry.
My first question is why was the receptacle ungrounded. A 30 year old house should have grounded receptacles.

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#26447 - 06/12/03 03:02 PM Re: Son Electrocuted-faulty GFI?
BuggabooBren Offline
Member

Registered: 11/15/01
Posts: 336
Loc: NM
FYI, For a good picture that demonstrates how the GFCI would function, Leviton's website offers a technical description with a good pictoral diagram at http://www.leviton.com/pdfs/ipd/ipdcat2003.pdf on page 130.

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#26448 - 06/12/03 03:55 PM Re: Son Electrocuted-faulty GFI?
Roger Offline
Member

Registered: 05/18/02
Posts: 1779
Loc: N.C.
Meg, I offer my condolences also. The machine should have been confiscated for a complete examination. Was this done?

If so, what was the outcome?

Was the machine connected with an extension cord.

Was the cast iron pipe examined to see if it could have possibily had voltage on it?

I know this is probably not something you want to go through again, but the more info you can give the more we could eliminate as to the possible cause. (to a point)

As Bren points out GFCI's do quit providing protection and still work under some conditions.

I have three in my house that stopped working as far as protection after a lightning hit, yet all still worked as far as power.

Roger

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#26449 - 06/12/03 06:12 PM Re: Son Electrocuted-faulty GFI?
meg Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/12/03
Posts: 6
Loc: Granbury, TX, usa
Yes-machine was confiscated and is in the process of being test by A&M. No results yet.

No- it was not connected to an extension cord.

Initial exam by an electrical contractor said in his report that the sleeve could have been energized-but not very likely.

I appreciate everyones attempt to work out this puzzle.

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