If I touch a faulty knob of any electrical equipment when I am connected to electrical ground, I would get electrocuted.

But my question is will I get electrocuted when I am above the first floor of a building?

e.g.: When I am on the 3rd floor of a building.

  • 11
    There's a difference between ground and ground. Apr 13, 2016 at 11:11
  • To expand on Daniel's comment, electrical ground is a place electrons can freely go, be it an appliance that's connected to the outlet's ground wire, or the plumbing, or steel frame of the home, or the neutral wire inside the box, there are lots of possible electrical ground sources. The other ground is the physical ground, aka planet earth, which is also a potential electrical ground, but not the only one.
    – BMitch
    Apr 13, 2016 at 17:41
  • 1
    Just a clarification note: Electrocution = death. You can certainly be shocked without being electrocuted. Apr 13, 2016 at 22:48

2 Answers 2


You are not safe from electrocution just because you are on the 3rd floor.

Electrical ground can be anything conductive (like the chassis of another grounded appliance you are leaning on). So it doesn't matter where you are but what else you are touching.

To be safe you need to install a ground fault protection device that will shut off the power when it detects that some current doesn't go through the designated return path.

  • 1
    The water in the pipes of the building will act as a ground conductor even through plastic piping and you could be electrocuted if you get between an energized conductor and the water. If the building has a steel framework and a balcony railing is attached to building steel then it will be at ground potential and you could be electrocuted. That is why GFCI protection is now required in these areas.
    – ArchonOSX
    Apr 13, 2016 at 11:26
  • 2
    You can also be electrocuted without involving ground explicitly as such. Touching a live/hot wire with one hand and a neutral wire with the other hand will deliver a potentially lethal shock. Apr 13, 2016 at 15:20
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Tester101
    Apr 14, 2016 at 12:13

You might get SHOCKED, not ELECTROCUTED.

Most residential doesn't have the voltage to kill.

  • 2
    Voltage doesn't kill, current does. Tasers and stun guns put out tens of thousands of volts, but don't kill people. While it only takes 0.1 - 0.2 amperes of current to kill you.
    – Tester101
    Apr 13, 2016 at 13:56
  • 2
  • 1
    @RedGrittyBrick assuming your quote is accurate, it would be interesting to estimate the number of GFCIs installed & the delta cost; compare with the implied 600 non-deaths to calculate the value of a person! Apr 13, 2016 at 15:35
  • 1
    @CarlWitthoft - There are around 130M households in the USA (this includes renters and homeowners). If it costs $500 to outfit a typical home with required GFCI's and they last 15 years before needing to be replaced, then the estimated annual cost is: 130M homes * $500 / 15, divide by 600 to get a price per life saved of $7.2 million. This doesn't take into account the cost of injuries prevented, not all electrical shocks result in death yet still require medical treatment.
    – Johnny
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:52
  • 1
    While I technically agree that current flowing through the body is what causes injury and death, it IS the voltage that is important and what gets the current to flow. So while the "Voltage doesn't kill, current does" mantra is technically true it is also VERY misleading and pretty worthless. Problem is people equate circuit amperage with this idea, when it is absultely meaningless. A 277V 20A circuit is FAR more dangerous than a 120V 800A circuit. The higher voltage allows the current to flow MUCH easier. Apr 13, 2016 at 22:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.