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Thread: A slight "shock"

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    A slight "shock"

    So I have noticed lately that when I have a cut on my hand or something and I reach down in the skimmer, I feel a small shock. At first, I didn't worry about it thinking it was the chemicals getting into the cut. But my wife has mentioned it too. So I started searching and reading and figured out that it's not the cut. I don't remember noticing this after the pool was first installed, so I can't say if it's been happening the whole time or not.

    I did notice that if I have shoes on and stick my hand in there, I feel nothing. If I am barefoot standing on the concrete and stick my hand in there I feel it. So far this year, my pool light has been acting up. I have to jiggle the switch to get it to come on. So I figured that could be the issue. The switch is on a breaker so I turned it off and did my skimmer test again, and I still felt it. I still need to fix the switch though...

    My next thought was to remove the ladder and see if I still feel it. I have checked the ground at the pump and it is tight. I know for sure that I remember seeing them putting the ground loop around the pool during installation and I remember as we were doing the dirt work, seeing those grounds connecting to the ladder. I called a friend that works at the local electric company and he explained some things to me. He said he will come check it out if these few tests didn't isolate the issue.

    Any other suggestions? I'm not well versed in electrical work.


    UPDATE

    Okay guys, I just wanted to update this thread. This morning I finished replacing my pump and also found that there was an issue with the pool lite switch, so I replaced that as well. It seems that this fixed the "shock" issue so far. I am going to obviously keep an eye on it, but I'm hoping this resolves it. It will sure make me feel better!
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    You have a problem of some kind with the bonding system. This system is designed to prevent shocks, i.e. it should prevent exactly what you describe.

    Figuring out bonding system problems can get a little involved. You need to decide if you want to learn a bunch about electricity or if you want to hire a professional to look into it for you.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    You have a problem of some kind with the bonding system. This system is designed to prevent shocks, i.e. it should prevent exactly what you describe.

    Figuring out bonding system problems can get a little involved. You need to decide if you want to learn a bunch about electricity or if you want to hire a professional to look into it for you.

    I have a friend that will look at it when I get these little tests out of the way. I was just curious if there was maybe a common issue that has been seen over the years.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    We get a couple a year reported here. Usually it turns out the bonding system was not installed correctly in the first place.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    We get a couple a year reported here. Usually it turns out the bonding system was not installed correctly in the first place.

    Can that be resolved without tearing up the concrete?
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    It varies. You need something electrically connected to rebar in the concrete. Often that already exists. If it doesn't, it often isn't too difficult to cut away a small portion of the concrete and connect something to the rebar. However, in a few cases there isn't any rebar in the concrete, and then the entire deck could potentially need to be replaced.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    It varies. You need something electrically connected to rebar in the concrete. Often that already exists. If it doesn't, it often isn't too difficult to cut away a small portion of the concrete and connect something to the rebar. However, in a few cases there isn't any rebar in the concrete, and then the entire deck could potentially need to be replaced.
    Wow...okay. I wasn't there when they poured the concrete, so I have no clue about that. I do know that the guys that did my concrete do all the concrete for the pool company I used, so I'm hoping that isn't an issue.

    Thanks for the quick replies. I will update when I find the answer.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    There's been a lot of bonding questions that have come up lately and various folks have done a great job explaining it to posters. You may want to do a forum search for the term "bonding" and see what comes up. Here's a summary of what I know about the subject. I apologize in advance for my wordiness.

    Bonding means locally connecting together all conductive parts associated with the pool/spa, which include the circulation system (pump motor housing, heater housing, metal filter housing); the pool structure (pool concrete shell and surrounding deck), pool accessories (light, ladders, auto-cover mechanism) and even the water itself (by a special plate that sits in the water or a metal pipe in the circulation system).

    There are a lot of detailed requirements, but locally connecting together means having an 8 ga or larger bare copper wire directly connecting each and every one of the items listed above to at least one other item, so that in the end, every single item is connected to all the others.

    Please notice I have NOT used the words ground, grounding or grounded. Bonding is absolutely NOT the same as grounding. If you speak to an electrician and ask him/her to please bond your pool and they say, "Oh, you want it grounded?", run away, don't just walk from that "professional". Anecdotally, from what I've seen, a great deal of residential electricians do not know what correct bonding is, especially where pools are not very common such as the area I live in. It's unfortunate and potentially very dangerous, but that's the reality you need to be aware of.

    Side notes

    I believe the confusion between bonding and grounding often comes from the fact that the two systems use similar style bare copper wires connected to the outer housings of pool parts. More confusion may come from the requirements that certain pool items be both bonded AND grounded . For example a pump motor may be required to be grounded to the home's safety ground system and ALSO bonded to all the other other conductive pool items. Those are two SEPARATE requirements, and both have to be achieved using SEPARATE wires. The common error is when installers see an item that is already grounded and say, "That doesn't need to be bonded, it's already grounded"……WRONG!!! Grounding connects to your home's safety ground system (green wires, third pin on a plug, etc); bonding uses a SEPARATE local wire connection between pool components.

    The concrete of your pool shell and pool deck is considered a conductive pool part and needs to be bonded to all the other conductive pool parts. Bonding wires need to be attached to the rebar that's imbedded in the concrete using specific types of connectors (clamps) and at specific locations.

    What needs to be bonded is any conductive pool element greater than 4" in any dimension that is within 5' of the water's edge or any conductive pool component in contact with the water even if greater than 5' from the pool (pump, heater, etc). There's plenty of other details but thats the general gist of things.

    EDIT: That 5' dimension is from memory so please correct me if I'm wrong.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    It is entirely possible that your water is not bonded properly
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    Okay guys, I just wanted to update this thread. This morning I finished replacing my pump and also found that there was an issue with the pool lite switch, so I replaced that as well. It seems that this fixed the "shock" issue so far. I am going to obviously keep an eye on it, but I'm hoping this resolves it. It will sure make me feel better!
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    I just want to point out that you may have resolved the issue that was causing the electrical fault or stray voltage. But you still have a pool that is not correctly or completely bonded. That means if this issue ever reoccurs you will be vulnerable to electric shock. It may be mild but it still could be dangerous.

    The bottom line is this, if you feel an electric shock in or around your pool you have two failures. First, there is an electrical fault in your system or you have stray voltage. Second, you have a failure of the bonding system.

    I would recommend having a electrician look at it. As getkmin above states it is sometimes tough to get a electrician who understands bonding and how to trace down a problem. But its well worth it.

    The main purpose of grounding is to provide an alternative current path to protect the equipment. The main purpose of bonding is to protect people from voltage gradients which can in some cases be life threatening. They do different things and bonding protects you and the other users of the pool.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    Quote Originally Posted by gwegan View Post
    I just want to point out that you may have resolved the issue that was causing the electrical fault or stray voltage. But you still have a pool that is not correctly or completely bonded. That means if this issue ever reoccurs you will be vulnerable to electric shock. It may be mild but it still could be dangerous.

    The bottom line is this, if you feel an electric shock in or around your pool you have two failures. First, there is an electrical fault in your system or you have stray voltage. Second, you have a failure of the bonding system.

    I would recommend having a electrician look at it. As getkmin above states it is sometimes tough to get a electrician who understands bonding and how to trace down a problem. But its well worth it.

    The main purpose of grounding is to provide an alternative current path to protect the equipment. The main purpose of bonding is to protect people from voltage gradients which can in some cases be life threatening. They do different things and bonding protects you and the other users of the pool.
    AN electrician is who was helping me today. But I just went out messing with the chemicals and it's back. So I was going to get on here and ask a question. I can stick my hand in the deep end and feel nothing. But if I stick my hand in the skimmer, I feel the tingle. Not knowing how the pools are bonded and grounded, does this narrow the issue down for any of you guys? I have a guy that I am contacting to come and check but wanted to bring the question up here as well.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    Hi,

    Is your skimmer near to the lamp?

    FYI, I found this article about testing bonding very useful during a recent light upgrade which uncovered some deficiencies in the original installation.

    How to Test a Swimming Pool Bonding Grid - AQUA Magazine

    Unfortunately article indicates you need to drain below your light niche to test bonding of a light niche, but perhaps there is a way it can be done without draining?

    HTH,

    ft.
    ~22,000 gallons, freeform, Pebbletec, beach entry AquaRite SWCG v1.33 Jandy Lite2 heater 1.5 hp pump for main draw, skimmer and Hayward sand filter 1.5 hp booster pump for Paramount PCC2000 in-floor cleaner, skimmer, debris containment canister, and waterfall Pentair Intellibrite 5g LED light in Pentair stainless wet niche Auto-fill deactivated

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    Re: A slight "shock"

    No it really doesn't narrow it down much.

    So you have a source. That could be your pool light, a screwed up receptacle in your kitchen or a power pole twenty yards away. It just so happens that when YOUR hand is in the skimmer resistance is such that there is a voltage gradient and you conduct current and feel a shock. You may be receiving a shock with your hand in the deep end but it's below your threshold of perception. But a child or small adult may feel it.

    The test mentioned above may determine the soundness of your bonding system. But if you discover your deck is not properly bonded then the remedy is to replace the deck.

    In one sense a properly bonded pool hides or captures an electrical fault so it does not harm people. It does not solve the original problem.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    While it is true that many of the shocks felt around pools are from a defective electrical source, many of them are not. All physical items in the universe have an electrical potential. Wind traveling across a surface such as your lawn and pool can develop static charges that will cause shocks once those voltage potentials get too far apart. I have told this story before and it may bear repeating again.

    Several years ago, I had a customer call me about a shock his wife and kids were feeling in their pool. I went to investigate and found that there was no bonding around the pool at all (owner install). He was certain that the voltage (measured around 3 volts) was coming from somewhere off of his property and seeking out the water in his pool. I did several checks and found that the voltage between the water and the ground surface around his pool was fairly consistent. We turned off different circuits in his power system and did not see any changes. With that he was convinced that it was the power company causing the problem. He called them and they came out and did a complete check of their system and pronounced it good although they could not dismiss that something there could be still causing it. I suggested that we install a proper bonding grid on the pool including a waterbug in the skimmer. This eliminated the problem though he still was convinced that something was wrong electrically with some system near his home. Fast forward a couple of months... We had a large area wide power outage Northeast blackout of 2003 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia From what I heard from a friend with the local PoCo there was not a drop of electricity anywhere to be found. when I heard this an idea popped into my head. I went over to the customers house and, after a short discussion, unhooked his bonding grid from the pool. Guess what, with no electricity in the area, we still had voltage between his water and the ground. Once we connected the bond back to the pool it went away.

    A couple of things to take away from this...
    electricity does not "seek out" water. It looks for a couple of things. It either looks to return to its source, or it wants to go to a lower voltage potential.
    The bonding grid is the conductor between these two different voltage potentials instead of you or your family members.

    These voltage gradients are also what causes lightning. Lightning is simply two voltage gradients equalizing. Friction in the clouds builds up a massive charge and once that charge gets sufficient, it finds a lower voltage potential to "discharge" to

    Dan
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    Thanks guys. I have two different guys looking at it. The 2nd guy came over yesterday. With his volt meter, he checked the voltage between the water in the skimmer and the ground. It was like 1.2 volts. There was no change while turning the pool light on and off. The SWG is on the same breaker as the pool light. But when I turned the pump off and then back on, it went to 3 volts and then back to 1.2. He told me to check the connections at the pool light once it got warm enough because it was the only thing metal touching the water, then we would go from there. This test was with the ladder not in the pool either.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    Quote Originally Posted by familytr33 View Post
    Hi,

    Is your skimmer near to the lamp?

    FYI, I found this article about testing bonding very useful during a recent light upgrade which uncovered some deficiencies in the original installation.

    How to Test a Swimming Pool Bonding Grid - AQUA Magazine

    Unfortunately article indicates you need to drain below your light niche to test bonding of a light niche, but perhaps there is a way it can be done without draining?

    HTH,

    ft.
    Very good article. I can at least use this to properly test everything except the light. And then if it comes down to the light, I will just drain it and test it as well. I just have to figure out where this issue stems from and take care of it.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    That test will not be overly helpful. We know you have a defective bonding grid, at least the deck to the water. The question is the source of the current. I have my doubts it's metal in the pool. Try shutting off all the breakers for the pool. see if the voltage gradient remains.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    Quote Originally Posted by gwegan View Post
    That test will not be overly helpful. We know you have a defective bonding grid, at least the deck to the water. The question is the source of the current. I have my doubts it's metal in the pool. Try shutting off all the breakers for the pool. see if the voltage gradient remains.
    I'll check again, but I am fairly certain that with all the breakers off, it still reads 1.2V AC

    I am currently at the mercy of the electricians I have looking at the issue because I'm no electrician. We just need to figure out how to fix this bonding grid issue.
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    Re: A slight "shock"

    That may be a utility problem. At the mercy is the operative them I'm afraid I hope this gets resolved.
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