Electric showerhead heaters

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by Powershouse, May 24, 2011.

  1. Powershouse

    Powershouse Flower Sniffer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,470
    Location:
    Minn-knee-sooo-taaa
    A friend posted that her grandson in Costa Rica had almost died in a freak accident. The boy's father reports:

    ~ Today, my son was taking a bath in our shower. The shower heads we use here heat the water electrically as it comes through the shower head. While he was bathing, the wiring shorted out and exploded, catching on fire. Thankfully, I was right there and was able to quickly pull Alex out of bath tub to safety. We were also able to extinguish the fire quickly. The electrician said that the the explosion was the result of the ground wire coming into sustained contact with the other wires. He showed me how the main wires going into the top of the shower head had burst. He said if that had not happened, the electricity would have gone through the shower head like a lighting bolt, killing whoever was underneath it.

    Sounds like it was a shower head like the one pictured below. They seem to be common in Mexico and Asia, and I'm sure other places, but they've always made me nervous.

    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/kN9D2ILcmKSWNVNXq0Vukg?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_pQhZNLDMehw/SZ8f1fdtKII/AAAAAAAAB6I/zrqQ60qy7DA/s800/Kevin%20Mexico%202009%20100-1.jpg" height="600" width="450" /></a>

    Maybe I'll just wash up in the sink from now on!
    #1
  2. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2003
    Oddometer:
    130,745
    Location:
    Valle del Sol AZ
    That one looks pretty good compared to some I've used. At least the wires aren't exposed.
    #2
  3. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,150
    Just for fun, take one of those $1 circuit testers from a hardware store that have a 3 prong plug on one end and a series of LED's on the other. These are used to tell you what a typical domestic 110v circuit is doing. Pay attention to the sequence that shows if the circuit has a physical ground. In Mexico, you will find most locations to not have a physical ground. Those electric shower heads made me laugh the first time I saw them. I was assured they were safe and when I inquired if they were grounded, I got a blank stare of the "Tierra physica? Que es eso?" type deal.
    I think there is an error in the description because the circuit doesn't look grounded and if it was, the breaker should have tripped. This part doesn't make sense to me but I am not an electrician.
    The electrician said that the the explosion was the result of the ground wire coming into sustained contact with the other wires. He showed me how the main wires going into the top of the shower head had burst. He said if that had not happened, the electricity would have gone through the shower head like a lighting bolt, killing whoever was underneath it.

    T
    #3
  4. Kamuk

    Kamuk lost in the ozone again

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    131
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    Yep, those are scarry.

    So common in C.A. as they are inexpensive, efficient in their use of power, and easy to (incorrectly as well) install; they are the "norm" in most non-gringo showers.
    I have one in the house I now rent... they scare the @#$% out of me too. I try to never touch it as I have, at other locations, in the past had "tickles"...:eek1
    As the M. Goat states, the one in the photo could be a better than average hook up. I have seen un-covered wire nuts, non-electrical taping, bare wires just twisted together, NO GROUND connection, etc. in my travels.
    Interestingly enough on its own... but I have also learned that most wiring in many places that we like to explore does not include a true ground. Two hot legs and the neutral, with the neutral serving as "ground" as well for the entire building...
    :huh
    HOT water feels good after a long, wet, cold ride - doesn't it?
    #4
  5. MCP

    MCP Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Oddometer:
    640
    Location:
    Nanaimo, B.C.
    in my house here and I disconected them. The only good thing about summer here are hot showers, and the only bad thing about winters are cold showers.

    And the electricity here is screwed too, my dish convertor is always live, and last week I got 35 volts off my USB cable. Thats a wake up call at 6 in the morning:D
    #5
  6. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    Oddometer:
    6,128
    Location:
    Passing ADV Stalkers in California
    Those Elec. Shower Heads kill people every year in Latin America. I've stayed in many dumps with far worse set ups also. 220V Power with a big Frankenstein type knife switch to turn on power ... all open 220v bare wire, no wire nuts used, bare, open hot wires left hanging at random. Simply unbelievable. A good electrician can always make good money in Latin America.

    TIP: If you shower ... use your GLOVES to turn on power and ALWAYS wear Zorries (flip flops) !! DO NOT TOUCH anything! They can be deadly!
    #6
  7. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    They don't call them Suicide Showers for nothing...

    We have 2 here - but I rewired and cleaned everything thing up. Haven't gotten tickled yet...
    #7
  8. ElReyDelSofa

    ElReyDelSofa Desubicado Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    136
    Location:
    Salt Lake, Cuenca y La Union Ecuador
    Yeah what he said, I have two of these in my house in Ecuador. I did make sure they were wired up cleanly no exposed wires etc. They work great and are better than the tank of gas, for the calafon, running out as soon as I am in the shower.
    #8
  9. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,566
    Location:
    Alaska
    Ah ha! So maybe this is why I keep waking up on the floor of the shower with a really bad headache? :lol3
    #9
  10. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2003
    Oddometer:
    130,745
    Location:
    Valle del Sol AZ
    :rofl
    #10
  11. SteelB12

    SteelB12 Our Purity of Essence Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,669
    Location:
    Prince William County, VA
    Who thought these were a good idea???
    #11
  12. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,566
    Location:
    Alaska

    People that dont have another method availible to have a hot shower. When youre at 14,000 feet in the andes and you see one of those death heaters in the shower, you will be totally stoked. :lol3
    #12
  13. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    Bellingham, Washington
    Hey, give me a choice between cold showers at the end of a long day of riding through wind and rain and, in Crashmaster's case, bottomless mud, and a statistically small probability of suffering lasting damage due to electrocution in a nice, hot shower....well, I'll choose the hot shower. Most of the time. There've been a few I won't get near, with or without dielectric flip flops on my feet.
    #13
  14. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2003
    Oddometer:
    130,745
    Location:
    Valle del Sol AZ
    I took a cold shower in the Hauncayo after riding that big fucking pass in a cold driving rain. I'm convinced that's where I picked up my never ending cough. Oh and that was the night I lost my ATM card. Cold showers in CA are nothing compared to cold showers in the Andes. :deal
    #14
  15. Beerslayer

    Beerslayer Journeyman Bike Knocker

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,830
    Location:
    "Looking For Beer"
    I've received electrical shocks in the shower so damned many times, it never gets old :eek1

    Here is a beauty at Selva Negra in Nicaragua. We called the place Selva Helva. Froze our asses off there and couldn't wait to leave.

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    33,003
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    they were calling them widow makers in guatemala.
    #16
  17. MJS

    MJS Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,760
    Location:
    Off the grid in San Felipe, Baja
    You guys know there is not much difference between these and an insta-hot don't you?

    Biggest problem I saw when in CA was the lack of a ground wire. The shower head is just a heater element in the water stream with a pressure switch so the power is only on when the water is flowing. The ground wire is downstream from the heater element and should/would conduct any stray current to ground if it was hooked up. Electricity always takes the path of least resistance. These actually work pretty well when properly installed and they never run out of hot water. :D. But like a lot of things in developing countries, there is no code or standard for their installation. User beware.
    #17
  18. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,150
    Yes, one is used for making coffee and the other is used for boiling gringos!
    What do I win??????
    #18