Home Page Products Reference About Us Contact Us Articles

Press Kit



A Problem Bigger than Power Lines

  Imagine that you just purchased a gauss-meter to check the level of electromagnetic fields inside your home or office. There are no visible power lines outside; they’re buried underground. Therefore, you don’t expect any significant readings but the readings are high. You turn off the TV. But the reading is still high. You think the meter is broken. You go outside and the readings are almost zero. You go back indoors and high readings return. What’s going on?

It is safe to say there are probably errors in the installation of electrical wiring in your building, a common problem. In some cases the wiring errors can cause a higher level indoors than standing under power lines outdoors. According to Karl Riley, author of Tracing EMFs in Building Wiring and Grounding, almost 70% of elevated magnetic fields in homes, offices, and schools are due to wiring errors and grounding problems – not power lines. Only about 20% of the time is power lines responsible10.  These wiring errors are simple mistakes that electricians routinely make without knowing it. How do these errors happen?

If you look at a piece of electrical wiring you will see a black wire and a white wire. The black wire carries electrical current to where it is needed and the white wire completes the circuit, taking the current back to the fuse box. The black wire is called “hot” because it will shock you if you touch it. The white wire is referred to as neutral. Technically the neutral wire is not neutral. It carries current, just at a lower voltage that will not shock you.

When current flows on the black wire to where it’s needed, a magnetic field is created. This is a beautiful phenomenon of the universe, a law of physics that simply is. This phenomenon is actually what is used to generate electricity. When magnets are rotated around copper wires at the power utility plant electricity is produced. There would be a high magnetic field everywhere the black wire carries electricity to inside the building except for the white wire. As current flows back to the fuse box on the white wire, a field is created of the same intensity that cancels the field. As long current returns on the same set of wiring as the black wire it came with, no net magnetic field is created inside the building.

How Errors Happen

Electricians are only allowed by code to connect so many outlets with the same wire going to a given circuit. Sometimes when installing wiring in new construction they end a circuit and start a new one in the same outlet box. They tie all the white wires together inside an electrical box. This is ok for wires of the same circuit but not ok for wires from different circuits. Commonly this occurs where there is a set of switches on a wall. When this happens the current on one set of wire does not return with the wiring it came from. It returns on the wires from both circuits creating a net magnetic field where ever those wires go. The level may be negligible to large depending on how much current is flowing, i.e., how many lights are turned on.

In one an example of how small wiring errors can result in high magnetic fields, workers found a “hot spot” due to an emergency light that was improperly wired in a three year old school. The parents were concerned about high magnetic fields from the nearby power lines. Readings taken at the edge of the playground near the power lines averaged 8 mG, much lower than the 50 mG in the area near improperly wired light.11

Other types of wiring errors

Tying white wires of different circuits together is just one of several types of wiring errors that may cause elevated magnetic fields.

Three way-switches are another common place wiring errors are found. Ceiling fans that are controlled with three-way switches and have a light present a special problem. There is only one neutral for both the fan and the light. If you want your electrician to understand what you are talking about tell him, "Three-way switch travelers must be 3-conductor and not two-conductor."

A less frequent but serious problem errors occur at sub-panels. Most homes don’t have sub panels and this applies more to apartment buildings and offices. The tab connecting the ground to the neutral bus is not removed at sub-panels. This allows return electricity from one sub-panel to get on the grounding system of the other sub panels and travel everywhere.

Eliminating Wiring Errors

It is easy to check for wiring errors and magnetic fields in your home. You will need a gauss meter. A list of suppliers is included at the end of this chapter. It is an easier meter to use. Simply turn it on read the number displayed. The testing procedure to check your home is as follows:
  1. Turn on ALL the lights in the entire house. It is important to turn on everything you possibly can. If you don’t test with everything turned on there may be something causing a problem that you’re not detecting.
  2. With all the lights on, go from room to room and turn on and off each light or fan switch while looking at the meter.  It is normal for the meter to twitch but if the reading goes up or down and stays there that indicates a possible wiring error.

Consult an electrician to determine which circuits are affected and to make the repairs. Most electricians are not familiar with the concept of wiring errors causing high magnetic fields. When you talk to the electrician use the term “net current”. Tell them there is “net current” as a result of wiring errors that is being detected by a change in the level of magnetic field when the lights are turned on. Net current is not allowed by the national electric code. Refer them to the National Electric Code13 or www.mikeholt.com, a useful website for electricians discussing code matters. Wiring errors are not caught by the building inspector because they are difficult to see during a walk-though inspection.

Suggested Reading

For a more complete list and explanation of the types of wiring errors that cause high magnetic fields, see Tracing EMFs in Building Wiring and Grounding by Karl Riley. If you have a difficult problem that needs solving, Karl can be reached at by e-mail at kriley3@bellsouth.net. His DVD can be purchased at magneticsciences.com and mikeholt.com

The on-line Electromagnetic Field Course offered by the Institute for Building Biologie & Ecology is also very useful especially for those who want to do testing surveys. The institute offers what are probably the most comprehensive training seminars on the topic in the county. Contact www.bau-biologieusa.com (727) 461-4371


To purchase Gauss Meters and Testing Equipment

For a list of professionals who are trained in performing electro-magnetic field surveys

Back to top 
  Copyright © 2014-2017 Healthy Living Spaces LLC.  All rights reserved.   877-992-9904
Revised: July 05, 2017.

Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered tra
demarks of their respective companies or trademark holders
Home Page Products Reference About Us Contact Us Articles

Media Center