Can I make a room so steamy/moist that electrical outlets become a hazard?

So I was thinking about this the other day.

I was in the shower and I had my cat in the same room. The door was closed. I recently took my cat to the vet due to having a cold and she told me a good way to clear the nasal passages was to steam up the bathroom.

So I did this…however, also having a fear of electricity, I started wondering something:

Can I make my bathroom SO steamy and the entire air in there gets so moist that the electrical outlet in there becomes dangerous? Because eventually, you’d think, the steam would grow thicker and thicker and retain more and more water and it would go into the outlet holes…would this not make the steam become electrified akin to dropping a toaster into a tub of water?

What about light sockets that are empty? Can they do/cause this? I have one light socket in the bathroom that doesn’t have a bulb in it. If I create a HUGE, MOIST, STEAMING mass in my bathroom, is it possible I could get electrocuted from either of these things (the outlet or socket) just from the moist steam touching it?

If it’s actually wet–as in literally dripping–from condesnate, then the answer is “possibly.” Otherwise, no.

So, possibly or no. That really puts my mind to rest!

Hah, I get what you’re saying…anything wet enough would eventually create a passable current if contact was reached, but…does this happen often? Has it ever happened? Is it fatal? Does it cause more harm than someone dropping a toaster into a tub (which is pretty damn fatal).

The mirrors get steamed up and has actual dripping water sometimes. This is not allaying my fears. : p I’m almost ready to call off steaming, hot showers for the rest of my life.

Look out the window at the power poles during a driving rain, there is no short circuit. However a fireman or anyone with a garden hose could be electrocuted if the water stream is unbroken and directed at an electrical source.
Put your mind to rest, you will be ok!

Well, considering that every time it gets especially foggy in San Francisco, there are mass electrocutions in the streets, I’d say this is a legitimate concern. :wink:

The conductivity even of extremely moist air (say, 100% relative humidity) is so far below what could be dangerous that it’s certainly not worth worrying about.

There could possibly be an issue with condensation on the metal of an electrical outlet. But it should be noted that the conductivity of water has a great deal to do with its purity: according to this site, the conductivity of sea water is about 500,000 times that of distilled water. And recently condensed water will be relatively pure. There’s also the point that bathroom circuits usually have GFCI (ground fault circuit interruptor) protection.

In short, the electrical danger in a humid bathroom is not nearly enough for concern.

Screwing in a bulb does not shield the electrical socket’s contacts from the air. So (except to probing fingers) a socket with a bulb in it presents the same risk as an empty one.

Which in round numbers is zero.

Okay, thank you, guys. :slight_smile: Or girls. I won’t be worrying as much when I steam up the bathroom, which about about to do majorly. Just throw my cat in there and leave the scalding water running for about half an hour and let it all steam up the whole room 100 times over. Just was making sure this wouldn’t kill her (or me when I go to open the door again).

The path of least resistance will be across the socket, so it’s not going to arc across the room and kill you. you shouldn’t be putting your fingers against the face plate though if it’s wet, because some stray current could flow through that water, before the GFI outlet trips.

Isn’t there a drought out there? Are you really just going to run the shower for half an hour because your cat has the sniffles? Why don’t you just wait until you’re going to take a shower anyway?

I was badly shocked by an aquarium cover that contained a fluorescent lamp. Enough moisture had accumulated inside it to make it electrically hot.

Is there? I have no idea. But you’re right…although “has the sniffles” is putting it mildly. More like “my cat is so stuffed up she can’t even breathe out of her nose and has to resort to breathing out of her mouth”, heh.

She just seems to have more difficultly breathing more and more but the vet said all you can do is:

  1. Give it time and
  2. Create a steam room using a shower since that helps.

But chances are I will wait until I take a shower next, although I don’t usually spend a half an hour in the shower nor shower under water as hot as I’ll have it for her.
Is there a drought? I hadn’t heard.

I create amateur steam baths by running hot water into the tub for a regular bath while aiming a fan down into the tub, and also putting a vaporizer into the bathroom. I leave the heat on full, too (it’s baseboard heat without any HVAC to dilute the steam). When water actually starts condensing on me, I know it’s ready, remove the fan, and take a soak.

There’s water running down the walls at this point, including over the recepticals. I’ve never sensed any tingly leakage. Also, the recepticals are GFI protected, and they have never tripped.

I’m surprised by how wet you can get many electrical devices and systems without making them behave differently. That being said, electrocution is a real hazard in systems that leak a little but not enough to make them act any differently. It isn’t that the power going through you will cook you in such a situation, but rather that it will scramble the little signals your nervous system is trying to use to run your body. If you complete a circuit and get enough of a current to do this (which is way less than an amp), if you are lucky your body motion will move you enough to break the circuit. But if you are UNlucky, you will freeze in a position that leaves you connected, so that you are practically paralyzed until something changes or until you suffocate because you can’t control your diaphragm.

I think the OP’s situation is probably fine and dandy, and also plan to keep up the steam baths. It is good, though, to have some of these ideas floating around when faced with a question about unusual electrical situations.

Depends where you are, of course. Your location field says ‘Arizona’, though–doesn’t that basically mean ‘drought-land’? :slight_smile:

I don’t know, when I think of droughts I think of a place that has a lack of water…but there isn’t any here as far as I know. No mad rushing to the store to stock up on sports drinks or bottled water. No raised prices of water or limits on how much you can get. Water still comes out of my faucets so I’m not worried yet. : p

My BIL ran a line out to his shed underground and when it rained it would trip the GFI but there was also a splice involved so I’m not sure if that was the cause. Water isn’t a particularly good conductor of electricity so I would say no to any chance of getting shocked from water vapor.

Whoa. Please tell me that you’re joking.

Get started here: which is a few months out of date but covers all of AZ.

Here too: More up to date but regional. You’ll have to look for your area.

Huh. I guess there is one going on. I usually don’t watch the news or read newspapers or keep up to date on current events. I certainly hadn’t heard anything about it from anyone living here with me.

But like someone else said above, I think that Arizona being in a drought seems par for the course, haha. Business as usual, what else is new? That sort of thing.

The underground wire should be rated “direct barial”. And they make stuff for water tight splices.

I worked at a hotel whete the water table was 6 inches. The parking lot lights were 480 vac. When ever I opened a Cristie box all the wires were under water, including the wire nutted splices. We never tripped a breaker. But I never put y hand in the boxes until I had every breaker off.

With the amount of moisture you are describing I would worry much more about molds and mildew. They can be a very real problem. This could get behind any paneling or other opening in a wall.
And do not put so much faith in GFI’s. they only trip if the short goes to ground. The short in some cases can go to the neutral, thru you, kill you, cook you well done and not trip. :wink: