• I am feeling unpleasant electric shock when I touch metal water pipes or faucets.
  • This happens also when the main breaker is off (L1, L2 and L3). This rules out my appliances (hot water boiler and etc.) being faulty.
  • From my understanding, the two remaining sources of electricity could be:
    • Neutral wire
    • The soil itself (as in something big nearby is leaking)
  • When measuring the voltage difference between soil and neutral wire at the inlet, it reads 10-20V volts.
  • The house doesn't have its own grounding. Grounded appliances connect to the neutral wire at the breaker box.
  • European power grid


  1. Are my assumptions correct?
  2. Is there a way to find whether it's the neutral wire or soil that's responsible for the issue?
  3. Any way to mitigate this issue?

Rough sketch of the layout

  • Should have grounding for the house. It might be a ground wire from panel to a ground rod/s outside or if you have metal water pipes going outside, will have ground wire champed on them. New plumbing work with plastic pipes might have broken ground path.
    – crip659
    Jul 12, 2021 at 15:12
  • Adding general location to your question might help also, it seems you are using three phase instead of the general single phase north american system.
    – crip659
    Jul 12, 2021 at 15:27
  • Are there any other houses or industrial facilities near you? What is the normal standard for grounding in your country? Jul 12, 2021 at 15:34
  • @Harper - Reinstate Monica it's a residential housing area, no industrial facilities around. New developments typically have their own perimeter grounding for each house. We had no issues with the current setup for many years. However as @ crip659 suggested, we will plan to do our own grounding too.
    – 3399
    Jul 12, 2021 at 15:47

3 Answers 3


With the main breaker off the source has to be from the neutral line the power company is connecting you to. To find the source will be difficult, it could be anybody else connected to the same transformer with a fault to ground. Try installing ground rods, I used an array. I was only getting a few volts but was told that was normal. We eventually found it was the neighbor's pool pump.

  • 2
    This turned to be out our case. Electricians confirmed that our neighbour's equipment was leaking to the neutral line.
    – 3399
    Jul 13, 2021 at 10:54
  • Thanks for letting us know. Have a great year!
    – Gil
    Jul 13, 2021 at 19:26

Are my assumptions correct?

They look reasonable.

Is there a way to find whether it's the neutral wire or soil that's responsible for the issue?

Try a long lead and measure the voltage difference from several different places to the neutral. If the voltage is consistent, it's not the ground that's the problem.

Any way to mitigate this issue?

You contact your electricity company and tell them you are getting electric shocks. They should be around to fix the problem urgently.

Adding grounding rods may help a little bit, up until the point where the neutral fails completely, and you get electrocuted.


Adding on to Simon B's answer..

If you'd rather not assume the main breaker is working correctly, you can test the voltage at both sides of the main breaker and visually inspect it to make sure nobody has connected some bonus wires to the wrong side of the main. Remember the entrance side is always energized and you should wear eye and hand protection.

If you still suspect a transformer issue, get the utility lineman out there ASAP and don't take "no" for an answer. If they don't take you seriously for any reason, hire a licensed electrician to help motivate them.

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