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Thread: Electricity and Water Doesn't Mix.

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    Assistant Moderator Skurvey Dog's Avatar
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    Electricity and Water Doesn't Mix.

    Having any type of aquarium set up, whether it be fresh water, or salt water can bring many hours of enjoyment every day and is a great hobby for the entire family. With all things, safety precautions must come first when there is some type of risk involved. With all tanks, with the exception of a gold fish bowl, you are going to have some type of electrical usage in running that system. And I don't have to tell anyone that "Electricity and Water Doesn't Mix."

    What one's under water eutopia is one day, can be the nightmare everybody thought wouldn't or couldn't happen to them. We always hear of someone having an accident in or around their tank, feeling genuine sympathy for that individual, never really thinking past that thought to where we believe that very same thing can happen to us. It can if you do not follow a few safety rules and take precautions.

    Water and electricity do not mix and can make for a deadly situation. You can get shocked, electrocuted, your heart stop and go into cardiac arrest, have an electrical fire and burn your whole house down. If you have had an encounter with an electrical accident and have walked away with little to no damage, consider yourself lucky and use it as a warning to take some safety precautions.

    Use GFI electrical outlets. They are not that expensive and will immediately cut off the power to that outlet when coming in contact with water. It could save your life.

    Power strips should be secured and out of the way of a possible water disaster; splashes, tank breaks, etc. Never lay your outlets on the floor, but try to hang them in a vertical position, or even upside down.

    Cords for electrical lines should have a "drip loop" in case water runs on the cord.

    Electrical equipment and devises that are not submerseable, should be safely secured to prevent them coming in contact with water.

    Make sure that all of your submersable equipment is kept in good repair.

    Do not touch electrical equipment and plugs with wet/damp hands. *

    Check for stray current in your tank, sump and refugium using a voltage meter. If a positive reading is registered, use process of elimination by unplugging one item at a time, re-testing until you find the source. **

    Do not piggy back multi units, power strips, by plugging one multi unit into another multi unit. It takes more resistance for a GFI or the breaker in your electrical panel to trip in case of a short. That amounts to more heat at the source. ***

    If there are other safety checks and ideas when using electricity around water that is not mentioned here. Please do add to this list. It could save someone's life and well worth the time to post. I do not bring this topic up as a rebuke to anyone that has already had an electrical incident, as I myself have dropped a removeable light into my fuge. I do this out of concern for others and these precautions should actually be listed in the must do list for starting up a marine tank.

    As always, safe reefing is happy reefing. GET REEFY WITH IT!

    * TidePool
    ** Saltaddict
    *** Sunny D Polyp
    Last edited by Skurvey Dog; 03-29-2009 at 08:38 PM.


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    Grand Master Reefer CarmieJo's Avatar
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    I'm guessing that many of us have come away lucky from a close encounter of the shocking kind! I tried to move the glass top on my tank with the PC fixture setting on it. Yeah, real dumb I know.
    Carmie


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    Assistant Moderator rayme07's Avatar
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    Thank you Lori for this awsome post electricity and water is a bad mix but also remember to check every cord for tears or cuts in the cord becasue if water runs down the cord like lori said and it drips into the cut youll have a problem iv had that happen to me and a fire broke out in my room belive me people its not fun when you dont even wake up thank god i had a bird and dog in there or i wouldnt of woke up so please people check your cords for anything wrong with them and everything above me that Skurvey Dog typed. thanks and have a safe and happy reefing. Also carmie dont wory we all make mistakes and were not to pround of them
    Raymond
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    Curious Reefer TidePool Daydreamer's Avatar
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    Don't worry CJo, mine is worse! i was putting some seaweed in the tank for my angel, and and realized my heater was un plugged... WHILE MY HAND WAS IN THE TANK, my genius self decided to plug it back in really quick... now thats dumb... but as long as we all learn from our mistakes and help others to not make the same ones, then my trip to the hospital (i didn't wanna go but the wife mad me...) was worth it.. haha
    -]Casey[- "The day i stop learning, is the day i die."

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    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    I think anyone with an aquarium will eventually have a "HOT" story to tell, here's mine.

    Many years ago, before the advent of submersible heaters (Yes there was such a time, in the land of OZ), I was up to my arm pits (both) in one of my aquariums and bumped my 200 watt heater and it went into the aquarium sending shock waves through my body. Did I mention my aquariums were in my basement, concrete floor, always wet from working on the aquariums, and I always had bare feet!!! I really felt I had bought the "FIRST CLASS TICKET" to my maker. As my knees buckled, I fell to the floor bringing my arms out of the water and ending the shocking event of my life. Did I mention I was in bare feet on wet concrete floor??? Did I mention, "I HATE ELECTRICAL SHOCK"? I felt I was one lucky puppy.

    Maybe that explains a lot of things about why I'm the way I am today.

    Dick
    Amphibious

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    Assistant Moderator rayme07's Avatar
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    dang bobby and TidePool Daydreamer that sucks I havent had that happen to me but when I was working on a light at my cabin my hand wore all sweaty and wet from working on the light and the ground was still hot ill tell you one thing I felt the shock go through one arm and back out the other and i was on a metal latter with a meddle siding on my cabin it wasnt pretty my heart did something weird after but I gues its not good that i have a heart problem and it went strait through my heart luckily it wasnt that big of voltage or my but would of been off the ladder and on the rocky ground.
    Ray or Raymond
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    Master Reefer bbl_nk's Avatar
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    Skurvy Dog thanks for keeping this KEY information going. I think this shoul be a sticky or bumped at least once a month so people read it often and is easily accessible for the new reefers.

    Household electricity is dangerous and like Dick's story above shows, you lose body control and luckily he was thrown upwards and backwards and not deeper into the water. Don't be fooled with voltage since its the amperage that kills. You can be safe touching a line with 20,000 volts at a low amp....but household voltage at the right amperage and you're in trouble.

    Electicity is similar to water and will always take the path of least resistance and your body makes a great conducter, so it'll zip right through you.

    Be smart and spend the $15 on a GFCI plug and replace the standard plug you use to power your equipment. If you aren't saavy with electrical repair, you can get heavy duty powerstrips at Home Depot or Lowes with a build in GFCI and I have even seen portable ones to plug into an outlet with no wiring for about $20. A small ivestment for your safety!

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    Thanks for the reminder. I had the opportunity to rewire my cabinet this weekend, and was able to move all of my power to be on the walls of the stand, with cords having drip loops, etc.

    One thing I also did was to zip-tie any of the plugs that have those transformer things (bricks) on the end of them. Since they're heavier than a standard plug, I didn't want them falling off of the power strip into the water.

    Man would I like to buy a beer or ten for the person that invented zip ties.

    -Chris

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    Good little write up

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    Grand Master Reefer saltaddict's Avatar
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    I just wanted to add that all should on a regular basis use a Volt Meter and test the amount of Leaky Current you have in your tanks, sumps and fuge. If you find current in excess in the tank the unplug one item at a time and re-test until you find the source.

    Thanks Skurvey Dog for taking the time to start the post.

    Rhonda

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    Apprentice sunny d polyp's Avatar
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    One more thing...

    Do not piggy back multi units, in other words don't plug a multi unit into another multi unit. It takes more resistance for a GFI or the breaker in your electrical panel to trip in case of a short. That amounts to more heat at the source. Last X-mas Eve we came home to a smokey house and no power on in the house do to my HOB refugium over flowing and leaking into one of the multi units that I had piggy backed into one another. We were very lucky we did not come home to a much worse scenario.
    Don't sweat the small stuff...

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    Electricty kills when the current passes though your body and reaches your heart even in low voltage .So when i do general maintaince I like to only use one hand in the tank at all times even when i unplug the socket.Eg if you have both hands in the tank the current will pass from right to left on its way to your left hand it will go through your heart.Things might be a bit harder to do but it can save your life.I also make sure i am earthed so the current can exit my body as quick as possible and not circuit for a second round.This can be done by standing on plastic and not a water towel or carpet.Also unplug everythin before you start to work in that area.Test the water by just dipping your fingers (not that any1 of you who has already been electroctued dont do you chicken shit lol ).Also make sure you have a phone nearby if something does go wrong you dont want to be crawling upstairs where you left your phone.Also expect your fishes to dash after.Educate yourself on first aid on electrical accidents for you and your family sake incase of emergency.

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    Grand Master Reefer saltaddict's Avatar
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    I also never have both hands in the tank at once while any power is running.

    What does the plastic do? I usually stand on a wooden chair - the only plastic chair I have has four metal legs - a school chair.

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    i BEEN ELECTROCUTED TWICE TODAY VERY SMALL THOUGH .i touch a wet plug from the socket it was over before i knew it had began.But in the past i got it real bad when a wire for t5 extensions draged into the water from a dodgy chinese brand my skin got burned and i thought i was going to day as it lasted for like 3-4 seconds.Thats how i know so much about electricty.Plastic is one example of a bad conductor of electricty ,wood is good enough to break the circuit of the current.Standing on a chair can lead to a fall if you do get shocked so i would make sure there isn't anything for me that i could fall onto behind me.

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    Expert Reefer stefalopod's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for this thread! The voltmeter idea was key as well... I wonder if those aquarium grounding rods work. they look like voodoo to me, although I understand the principle.

    My story: I was painting a bedroom in Norway. Electricity to the room was through externally wired outlets which ran off a light switch. I turned the switch off, and detatched the whole length of cord and all of the outlets to get ready to paint. Unbeknownst to me, someone came along behind me and turned the switch back on. While I was working, I knelt on the reverse side of one of the outlets (bare wires) and had 220v run through me for four or five seconds. I was glued to the outlet, and let out an unearthly involuntary bellow that lasted throughout the whole shock -- that means that if I hadn't been killed by the voltage, I would have suffocated, unable to take a breath. My muscles stiffened up, straightening my leg, and that pulled me off the outlet.

    Apparently, my bellow was so bizarre, and far from sounding like a scream (it was almost operatic), that it didn't alert anyone in the house to a problem (I think they thought I was just strange). The lights didn't dim or anything.

    Precautions I take now when working around electricity: always kill the circuit breaker, and tape a warning over it letting anyone in the house know that you're working. Never rely on just a switch, that means light switch, surge protector switch, etc.

    With fish tanks, I always secure a powerstrip as high as or above the level of the tank, and to one side, if not in a separate cabinet, placed to one side. That way you're never working with electricity and water at the same time.

    My new DT is not on a gfci at the moment. I'm going to change that this weekend. Thanks again!
    I ought to be reading from casebooks, but reefs are so much more interesting!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skurvey Dog View Post
    Having any type of aquarium set up, whether it be fresh water, or salt water can bring many hours of enjoyment every day and is a great hobby for the entire family. With all things, safety precautions must come first when there is some type of risk involved. With all tanks, with the exception of a gold fish bowl, you are going to have some type of electrical usage in running that system. And I don't have to tell anyone that "Electricity and Water Doesn't Mix."

    What one's under water eutopia is one day, can be the nightmare everybody thought wouldn't or couldn't happen to them. We always hear of someone having an accident in or around their tank, feeling genuine sympathy for that individual, never really thinking past that thought to where we believe that very same thing can happen to us. It can if you do not follow a few safety rules and take precautions.

    Water and electricity do not mix and can make for a deadly situation. You can get shocked, electrocuted, your heart stop and go into cardiac arrest, have an electrical fire and burn your whole house down. If you have had an encounter with an electrical accident and have walked away with little to no damage, consider yourself lucky and use it as a warning to take some safety precautions.

    Use GFI electrical outlets. They are not that expensive and will immediately cut off the power to that outlet when coming in contact with water. It could save your life.

    Power strips should be secured and out of the way of a possible water disaster; splashes, tank breaks, etc. Never lay your outlets on the floor, but try to hang them in a vertical position, or even upside down.

    Cords for electrical lines should have a "drip loop" in case water runs on the cord.

    Electrical equipment and devises that are not submerseable, should be safely secured to prevent them coming in contact with water.

    Make sure that all of your submersable equipment is kept in good repair.

    Do not touch electrical equipment and plugs with wet/damp hands. *

    Check for stray current in your tank, sump and refugium using a voltage meter. If a positive reading is registered, use process of elimination by unplugging one item at a time, re-testing until you find the source. **

    Do not piggy back multi units, power strips, by plugging one multi unit into another multi unit. It takes more resistance for a GFI or the breaker in your electrical panel to trip in case of a short. That amounts to more heat at the source. ***

    If there are other safety checks and ideas when using electricity around water that is not mentioned here. Please do add to this list. It could save someone's life and well worth the time to post. I do not bring this topic up as a rebuke to anyone that has already had an electrical incident, as I myself have dropped a removeable light into my fuge. I do this out of concern for others and these precautions should actually be listed in the must do list for starting up a marine tank.

    As always, safe reefing is happy reefing. GET REEFY WITH IT!

    * TidePool
    ** Saltaddict
    *** Sunny D Polyp

    Well I had an electrical accident tonight I was coming home from a marine society meeting and noticed one of my display tanks had a clog in one of the overflow's so I started to reach in the tank and got the shock of a life time. So stupidly not realizing it was electricity I thought I touched a bristle-worm or had a cut that was fresh so I reached in the tank a 2nd time and got shocked so bad my leg's went numb and I felt all tingly long story short. How can I determine What device went bad so I can remove it. Cause I did a dumb thing I unplugged everything and was like oh I'll take the device's outta the tank and try to figure it out in the morning. Well electricity doesn't leave water right away so I had my 3rd shock of the night to make it strange is the fish are fine doing what they do every-night all the inverts are out and about scavenging are the less affected by this? I'm just completely doing what I should no not to do since I know I need a GFI but had this new tank that's been up for a year and a half and never installed one or a ground probe which is my stupid fault but what would you guy's recommend for me? Cause I have had a terrible week and not thinking smart.

    lance
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    Quarantine quarantine quarantine your tank's will thank you and so will your corals u'll also avoid a lot of aggravation with pests, predators, or disease's that come on coral's or live rock or fish

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    Grand Master Reefer CarmieJo's Avatar
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    Yikes! This thread should help you. Leaky Current
    Carmie


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    Quote Originally Posted by CarmieJo View Post
    Yikes! This thread should help you. Leaky Current
    thanks for the thread link carmiejo
    http://s704.photobucket.com/albums/ww49/lancelesko/
    http://www.youtube.com/user/CoralMan24
    www.marinebreeder.org


    Quarantine quarantine quarantine your tank's will thank you and so will your corals u'll also avoid a lot of aggravation with pests, predators, or disease's that come on coral's or live rock or fish

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    Apprentice 7perseo7's Avatar
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    In the industry that is called LOCK<TAG<AND TRY i have been a master Mechanic for 20 years and i have seen a lot of accidents from people not following this,somebody coming behind and turning the power on.
    I must say i work on live equipment all the time and get shocked periodically.. so much that i won some money with a fair guy when he cranked up his little Shock machine and i did not budge.
    Any way what i wanted to add is that the basic principle of GFCI as the first letter denotes GROUND will not work if the plug is not grounded,so is a good rule to check the plugs by computers acuarium and bathrooms specialy to make sure the ground is good and the live wire is in the right place. they have a plug real simple with 3 lights
    green yellow and red and it tells you in the wires are reversed or the ground is open no lights if the power is off.
    And yest the ground rod might be VOOdo but it works

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    Apprentice 7perseo7's Avatar
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    Plastic is one of the best insulators standing on a chair with plastic,even if the feet are metal (wich most have a plastic tip) will be safer the standing bare foot on Concrete (no Bashing intended AMphibous) another thing is BAllasts with power compacts and MH, VHO their Job is to convert 120V from the line to high voltage 4,000 and up Volts and the transformers inside are famous for leaking intoo the ground of the enclosure that is so high tha even on a well grounded plug you can be the easier path and get a shock like static on a jewelery store.

  21. #21
    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7perseo7
    standing bare foot on Concrete (no Bashing intended AMphibous)
    No offense taken. I was young, dumb and full of stupid back then.
    Amphibious

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    Master Reefer Iron E's Avatar
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    So, now it comes out! We finally see the real reason your nick name is Amp!

    OHM my gosh! How reVOLTing!

    You'll have to excuse me. I barely have the capacity to resist!

  23. #23
    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    Confessions of an old salt!!!

    You'll have to excuse me. I barely have the capacity to resist!
    Shouldn't that have been, "capacitor" to resist???
    Amphibious

    Good Luck comes to those who research and prepare.


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    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

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    Master Reefer Iron E's Avatar
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    You'll excuse me for my errant discharge!

    My brother wears womens clothes. I call him my trans-sister!

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    Assistant Moderator Skurvey Dog's Avatar
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    Thank you 7P for the indepth info on proper grounding and insulators. IMHO one can never have enough information when it comes to safely working in and around water which involves electricity.

    Dick, I too remember younger years, feeling immortal, having life by the ......, but funny how added years makes us more cautious, wise, and paying close attention to the "Darwin theory " as in those with some common sense survive! Lol I plan on keeping my gene pool and not adding any chlorine if I can help it!

    And Iron, I have wrote some of my best writings when I was "WIRED!" Lol


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