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Thread: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

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    Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    So I am new to pool ownership, but I'll try to provide accurate details...

    About a month after purchasing a home with inground pool here in Houston, the pool light went out. I am fairly handy, so I read up a little then 'dove in'. The fixture came out easily enough and I noticed that it was 1/3 full with water...a leak I assume in the seal. Upon disassembling the light fixture (Amerlite SAM changing color light), I see the resin in the back of the lamp is broken. Before I buy a new light fixture, I want to pull the cord out to measure the length I'll need on the new light. I tied a string to one end, clipped the old cable at the lamp fixture, removed the wire nuts and the j-box for that light and pulled. No luck...not an inch. I am able to slide a fish wire from the j-box end for about 40 feet. From the pool side, I reached in the wet niche and inserted the fish...it only slid in about 4-6 inches.

    SO...what could be stopping the fish wire? I would think that's probably the location of the cable being stuck but not sure. I haven't drained the pool to be able to clearly look in there and I'd rather not. I can't find good data on wet niches...is there typically a wire clamp on the back side of the niche? It's a Pentair wet niche(metal).

    Other info: I felt a rubbery substance that the cable goes through in the back of the niche...it came out of the hole in the niche easily. Feels like it was some kind of seal or plug, but I assume the conduit is supposed to take on water?

    Second question, there was crumbling substance around the niche ground wire (inside the niche). Does that matter? Do I need to replace whatever was applied over the ground wire/screw? And if so, is there anything that works while there's water in there?

    Thanks! I'm about at wits end on this silly cable and just need someone with experience to share what they know or have seen!

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    Welcome to TFP!

    Afraid I will not be of too much help. The wire should be able to slide freely ... it would not be normal for there to be a clamp on the back side of the niche where you have no access. There could have been a clump of epoxy type stuff that was previously used to try to seal the conduit (which should be capable of holding water anyway, btw) By pulling from the J-box, maybe that got pulled into the conduit and got stuck (maybe by a previous owner?)? Can you try to pull from the pool side?

    I have read that there is something that is usually put over the ground wire connection (for corrosion protection?), but I am not sure what it is and whether it is required.
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    Re: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    Thanks JBliz...yes, fortunately here in TX we have warm Autumn days, so I hopped in the pool, wrapped the cable around my arm, pulled with my feet against the pool side...nothing. And I'm 6'3", 275 lbs! There is really nothing to pull on from the j-box end, just a couple inches, so from the pool was my only good bet.

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    Re: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    Unfortunately, what's going on is the conduit that runs from the light niche to the J-box has collapsed or corroded or been crushed by ground movement; thus locking the cord in place. The rubbery stuff you found inside the niche was to prevent water from leaking.
    To fix, I'm sorry to say, you're going to have to excavate the conduit and replace the offending section, after which you can replace the fixture.
    In the industry, CSP (Certified Service Professional) by the NSPI and it's successor the APSP. My company services over 600 pools every year. I think the practices regularly espoused on this forum (especially the BBB method) are outstanding; however my comments will be often oriented towards the goal of getting it done, and getting it done right now!

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    Re: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    That is what I am afraid of. Dang. Well that's not happening since the the conduit runs the entire length under the Kool Deck patio. Perhaps I'll just screw the empty lens and ring back in place for now to cover the cavity.

    What about the grounding wire issue? Any harm in leaving it as-is (with the deteriored compound around it)?

    Thanks!

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    Mike_W's Avatar
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    Re: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    A bit of a long shot - but consider cutting the insulation a few feet from the niche at the pool end and pulling on one of the wires. If you could get one of the wires out of the cable it might free the cable. Had a similar issue a few weeks ago - but we (wife and I) were able to muscle it out. Also, our thin flat metal fish tape hung up after the cable was out - but a round nylon one ($9.95 for 50 ft at Harbor Freight) worked fine. Good luck.
    Mike
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    Re: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    Question:
    Is there a ground wire in the conduit with the cord?
    If so, you are trying to pull them together, right?

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    Re: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    When I replaced my lights I had the same issue that the cord would not move at all. What we had to do was to have me in the pool pushing the wire into the conduit and my son pulling at the junction box at the same time. It was a lot harder than I imagined. Just that one light. The other lights were easy to pull through. BTW - I thought my light would have used less than 50 foot of cord, but it was way longer as they went the long way around the pool. It was over a 100 feet but only 25 feet in a straight line to the panel. They must have had two 180 turns in the conduit.
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    Re: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    When I replaced my in-laws lights they wouldn't budge at all. I ended up filling the conduit with water to lube the cable. Worked like a charm.
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    Re: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    Quote Originally Posted by ping
    When I replaced my in-laws lights they wouldn't budge at all. I ended up filling the conduit with water to lube the cable. Worked like a charm.
    We used one of those mini-firehose nozzles (HD calls them sweeper nozzles) on the garden hose and jammed it in the conduit at the J box. As you say, it really helped with freeing the cable.
    Mike
    ~17' x 34' IG pool with attached spa - 20500 gallons - Gunite with a "pebblesheen"-ish finish
    Jandy iAqualink with iPad and Jandy PDA remote - Pentair IntelliFlo VS 11018 Pump
    AquaRite SWCG - Pentair SMBW 4060 DE Filter - Really Old Raypak heater
    "Wall-E" an Arneson-Hayward Navigator - A couple of Jandy/Zodiac WaterColors LED Lights - Blue-White F-1000 Flow meter

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    Re: Could use advise on pool light cord problem

    Try filling up your conduit with dawn or another dish type soap. Let the soap sit in the line for a day or so. I run water threw the conduit till i see the soap coming out the niche. The wire should pull threw just fine.. You could also have a problem where when the po was wired up they ran the wire and conduit at the sametime and accidentally glued some of the cord to the conduit. If that is the case tie a rope or something to the light and then try pulling the light with lots off effort behind the rope.

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