French Kissing Electric Eels

electricty So I got myself zapped by electricity, not once, but twice yesterday.


The first one was all fun and games. Jason and I were installing some phone lines and computer wiring and had been joking about the fact that phone lines carry a small current.


Most times, you don’t worry about it, because the <40V doesn’t really bother you if you touch it together. If you happen to be working on it when the phone rings, then you could get up to <=150V and really catch your attention.


When I was in college, such a thing happened to me, and we were laughing that it might happen to us. So to play it safe, we would just disconnect at the source while doing the splicing.


Trying to strip the casing off the copper with our tools was getting cumbersome, so we started using our teeth. Sharper and stronger than fingernails, we could expose the end copper in under a second.


* Fun electrocution #1 *


After testing the line once, we went back to splicing. We forgot to disconnect at the source, and I bit into the end wire, while the other hit my hand, thus completing the circuit and giving me a little ‘ha ha” jolt, which was repsonded to be “you left the phone line plugged in fu***er”. Standing on the ladder, fan times were had by all.


* Not so fun electrocution #2 *


About 20 minutes later, we finished all our primary splices and were running the last extension. It required going across some HVAC ducts and under the stairs. I was just ‘blind’ pushing the phone cable over the duct, but it didn’t come out the other end. I reached up to try and push it over, and BLAM. Bright white flash, knocked me off the ladder and I fell to the ground, sweating and unable to speak for about 15 seconds.


My first (and only thought) was that there was a exposed electrical wire over the top of the HVAC system. We looked and couldn’t see anything. We then thought one of the other pipes or something was shorted and carrying a current. Nothing there either.


What we finally surmised (and hopefully was correct), is that the HVAC ducts acted like a capacitor. They are all covered with foil and insulation, and there is a ‘chance’ that as I was pushing the phone line across it, that a charge build up. When I reached up to push the phone line, my head hit the HVAC duct causing the discharge. It was more painful then because of the contact with the head.


In any case, I proceeded to let Jason finish the rest of the wiring, and I went to work on the Access Point. He worked as if he was dealing with razor blades for the rest of the night… just in case…


Now, Mythbusters has confirmed that under the perfect circumstances you can get electrocuted on the phone in a lightning storm, and even CSI had an episode about it.


But I don’t think they considered the hazards of the HVAC system in their analysis!


Snopes aside, I was on the receiving end of it.. so I know it’s possible.


Now Playing: Brothers 3 – The Journey That Lies Before – Slip Me 5
Current Mood: (restless) restless

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