Vacuum Cleaner Giving You Static Electric Shocks? Here’s Why

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Using your vacuum should never lead to your being physically hurt in the process. When your vacuum starts to shock you, it’s hard to even have confidence in using it anymore. I dove deep into why this happens and wanted to give you everything I know in this guide.

stop the vacuum from shocking you
Vacuum cleaners should not cause any harm to you or anyone

Your vacuum gives you electric shocks because it has built up static electricity from low humidity environments. As your vacuum is used over time, it will gather static from the carpet and the air, which could cause it to shock you when touched.

Ready to stop your vacuum from shocking you? Let’s dive straight in.

Static Electricity Causes Shocks From Your Vacuum

The hose of the vacuum is where most of your static electricity is coming from. Over time, the hose touches concrete or wood, or other materials in your home and it causes friction.

The same thing happens inside the hose as well. The dirt and debris you’re sucking up from your floors collide against the hose over and over again. 

This friction over time begins to build up negative charges. This in itself wouldn’t cause any problems, because the negative charges don’t have anything to interact with.

The problem happens when you touch the hose with your hand. Your body is more positively charged than the hose. 

To neutralize the charge, the hose sends over some of those negative charges your way. It needs to balance out all the positivity you’re holding. 

Because the charge has nowhere else to go, it gets released into your skin. Electrons go through your body causing you to feel a shock.

Ways to Stop Static Electricity From Building

There are a couple of ways you can stop static electricity from building in your vacuum so that you cower in fear every time you have to use it. One way is to add more humidity to the air and the other way is to use some copper wire in your vacuum.

#1 Adding Humidity to Your Home

Lack of humidity will end up making any environment very dry and it increases the odds of static electricity.

You might not even be aware of your charge but when you touch something you feel a shock.

The water helps act as a protector from electrical charge because it gives the electrons a place to go instead of discharging in your skin.

Water can’t get inside the vacuum hose on its own. Unless there’s plenty of moisture in your home, you’re going to keep feeling shocked from static electricity. 

You can add some more moisture to the air by buying an air humidifier. This will feed in a mist into the air and help circulate some more moisture. The best part is you can keep it on all day without needing to do anything.

consider using a humidifier
Adding humidity can reduce static electricity

If you have a radiator or heater system inside your home, you can place a pot of water on top. This will act in the same way the humidifier does. As the pot heats up, the moisture will evaporate into the air.

If you don’t have a radiator and you don’t want to wait for your humidifier to come in, you can still use your stove. Put on a large pot of water with a pinch of salt and then turn on your heat till it’s boiling.

As the water evaporates into the air, you’ll get more moisture and humidity.

#2 Adding Copper Wire to Your Vacuum

Copper wire is a great conductor for electricity because its nanostructure. The solid copper makes it perfect for electrons to go crazy with so you don’t become the outlet. 

The static electricity would much rather go through a piece of copper than it would your hand. You can prevent shocks from your vacuum by adding some copper wire in the right place. 

All you need is a couple of feet of copper wire to wrap around your vacuum. Always make sure your vacuum is off and unplugged before starting to perform maintenance.

Unscrew the hose from the vacuum cuff and wrap about a foot of the wire around the hose where the cuff should be.

Then, screw the hose back on the cuff over the wire and run the last piece of wire up through the hose itself. You want it inside where all the friction is being created.

If the shocks continue to happen, then you may want to add a longer piece of wire to see if that helps.

Can a Vacuum Cleaner Electrocute You?

If you are cleaning your home regularly and using the vacuum cleaner in the right way, there is very little reason it would electrocute you. Now, if you decide to use your vacuum cleaner in improper ways, you could be electrocuted because the vacuum is running electrical currents.

Let’s say for some reason you want to vacuum the porch of your home but it has just rained. If there are any puddles on your porch while you’re vacuuming, you are putting yourself at a huge risk of being electrocuted.

This would go against every safety measure they warn you about in the manual, so it’s a safe bet to avoid using with water.

The other reason a vacuum cleaner could electrocute you is if the wire is exposed and damaged for any reason.

Let’s say over the years your vacuum had a lot of pull right around the plug that goes into the outlet. So much wear and tear that the outer cord actually tore open and some of the wires were sticking out.

use electrical tape on exposed wires
Use electrical tape to cover any exposed wires and minimize the chance of a shock

These wires run electrical currents through them and if touched by a person it would immediately electrocute them. The damage might not be life threatening, depending on your vacuum, but it would cause some pain.

If you notice exposed wires, you should either use electrical tape to cover any exposed areas or replace your vacuum as soon as possible.

Other Reasons Your Vacuum Shocks You

If there are no exposed wires in your vacuum and you’ve done all you can for static electricity, the problem could actually be your home.

When the wiring is done in your home, it’s possible the electrician didn’t ground the outlets on your walls.

Whenever you plug your vacuum into an outlet, it will pick up the live electricity and end up shocking you when in use.

All new homes are required to be grounded as part of the building code to keep homeowners safe, but older homes never had this requirement. Even worse, they aren’t required to replace the outlets with grounded ones.

If you have an older home and you find yourself getting shocked by your vacuum, this could be your problem. You could test the outlet with other devices to make sure.

When you’ve determined the grounding is the issue, you will need to replace all your current ungrounded outlets with grounded ones.

Because of the high-risk factor, unless you have previous experience, it’s recommended to get this done by a professional.

Not only could this cause you physical harm, but it could also easily burn out your machine, causing you to have to buy a new one.

Preventing a Vacuum From Shocking You

The most common problem when vacuum cleaners shock you is a build-up of static electricity. You can prevent this by adding more moisture to the air, but if the problem is more serious, you may need a professional’s help.

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I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more