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Thread: ground wire at pump

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    sam03v's Avatar
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    ground wire at pump

    I'm installing a new motor on my pump, replacing the single speed with 2 speed. It's wired for 115v. I'm about to wire it up, but ran into unexpected issue.

    In my house main breaker box all of the neutrals,are connected to the bare copper grounds(as far as I can tell) and the intermatic box on the outside of the house is also grounded to a neutral. The old pump motor did not have ground wire connected on the inside,just hot and neutral. There was/is an extra neutral wire at the pump that was not connected, it had a wire nut on it. There is what looks like a bonding wire on the outside going into the ground(I know these are two separate animals).

    So now the question..Should I use the extra nuetral wire at the pump end for a "ground" inside the motor or just leave it off, or do I need to do,something else? I'm guessing that extra neutral is coming from an outdoor electrical box (GFI) near the pool.

    Thanks in advance.
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Unless the pump is double insulated (quite rare) the green ground wire should be connected to the internal chassis ground screw, and the separate external bonding wire should be connected to the external bonding lug.

    It is normal for ground and neutral to be connected at the main panel. That is the only place they should be connected together. Everywhere else ground and neural should be separate and use different color wires.

    For a 115 volt pump there should be hot (black) neutral (white) and ground (green) wires.

    A photo or two might help clarify what is going on.
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Ok, one pic shows mangled conduit at pump end other shows timer. Red wire is hot to pump. If you look closely you'll see white "neutral" grounded to box chassis. No green wires...
    Last edited by sam03v; 06-01-2014 at 02:06 PM. Reason: Added better picture
    24000 gallon, 18' x 36' IG with deep end, vinyl, built 1986, new liner 2012,
    3/4 hp uprated 2 spd on hayward super pump
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    That black wire goes to the gfci outlet near the pool
    24000 gallon, 18' x 36' IG with deep end, vinyl, built 1986, new liner 2012,
    3/4 hp uprated 2 spd on hayward super pump
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Based on the timer, there are three wires, and they are separate hot (red), neutral (tan), and ground (tan) wires. However, both neutral and ground are that brown/tan color and thus difficult to tell apart.

    I also see a black wire passing through the timer box, but not connected to anything in the timer box. Presumably that is the hot wire for a separate circuit feeding the GFCI.
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    Based on the timer, there are three wires, and they are separate hot (red), neutral (tan), and ground (tan) wires. However, both neutral and ground are that brown/tan color and thus difficult to tell apart.
    Yeah that goes back to my main question...When I took the old motor off, there were only two wires connected at the motor, with an extra tan wire tucked in there with a wire nut on the end. This extra wire has continuity with the neutral wire, which in turn is connected to all the bare copper " ground" wires in the main breaker box. So does it help to use that extra wire as the "ground" wire at the motor?
    24000 gallon, 18' x 36' IG with deep end, vinyl, built 1986, new liner 2012,
    3/4 hp uprated 2 spd on hayward super pump
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Yes, you want a ground wire connected to the pump chassis. In particular, you want the wire that is connected to the ground terminal in the timer box to be connected to the ground terminal at the pump. You do not want the neutral wire, the one connected to one of the timer terminals, connected to the pump chassis. The fact that the wires are the same color is both annoying and a code violation, but none the less it is possible to wire the pump correctly if you keep straight which one is which.
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    The fact that the wires are the same color is both annoying and a code violation, but none the less it is possible to wire the pump correctly if you keep straight which one is which.
    Annoying is the word. We bought this house 2 years ago and it came with more than its share of annoyances...

    Thanks for the help, it's raining now(of course ), but I'll get this thing going ASAP..
    24000 gallon, 18' x 36' IG with deep end, vinyl, built 1986, new liner 2012,
    3/4 hp uprated 2 spd on hayward super pump
    1.5" dia lines, sand filter, polaris 360
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    If there is any doubt the safest thing to do would be to pull the tan wire that's being used for a ground and replace it with a green wire as it should have been wired to begin with. I would at least get some green tape and tape a few inches of the end of the wire being used as a ground at each point it's connected to a lug all the way from the fuse box to the pump just to make it easier on yourself or anyone else as that's an accident waiting to happen (IMHO). As Jasonlion pointed out you need to make sure the ground and neutral don't cross purposes. They may terminate in the fuse box the same way but the ground isn't designed to carry current. If they get crossed the item they are crossed on would pose an electrocution hazard. I'm not sure how it would affect the GFI if it's neutral ended up getting switched? I wouldn't want to find out either.
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    In the box you should identify the two wires under the screw at the bottom of the box with green tape or paint. You also need to verify which one it is at the motor so it can be identified with the green tape as well and hooked to the ground screw. Ideally, you should replace the tan ground wire with a green wire

    Looks like I was typing as kiss4 was posting
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Since it's the internet, IMHO it's always good when you get a couple people telling you the same thing.

    There are a couple things I haven't nailed down that I should have.

    "I'm guessing that extra neutral is coming from an outdoor electrical box (GFI) near the pool."

    Is the black wire going to a GFI outlet that's separate from the pump motor ?? I see the wires sticking out of conduit so I'm guessing the motor is hard wired and not plugging into a GFI outlet at the motor. It could still be run through an outlets GFI but you need to make sure they actually did wire it through a GFI and did it correctly. I had an electrician/spa installer bypass the built in GFI in a spanking new hot tub that the motor burnt up on with me in the water. Seeing smoke coming up scared the heck out of me. His excuse other than he was lazy was that I wasn't located in the city limits and the "code" didn't require it. It was a new install, it was a new spa, it came with a GFI already installed and he was supposedly a licensed professional ... so don't trust anyone. New pump installed (warranty) and I made sure the GFI was wired in !! That two tan wire job and using tan for a ground makes me VERY nervous who did what to it before you.
    If that GFI is just an accessory outlet do you have the "RED" wire on a GFI in the fuse box or ??
    Are you sure the motor is routed through a GFI ?? If you are in any doubt ask questions and post pictures.

    Is the two speed switch already mounted on the motor and if not where and how will you be mounting it ??
    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    kiss4afrog, the "extra neutral" is actually the ground wire.
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Yup, I got that part. That's what makes me question who and how they did this.
    Another five minutes of looking at the photos and trying to figure out what's bugging me about it. For the motor to be switched it can't be protected by the outlet GFI since the outlet has it's own "Hot".

    So I'm concerned if that red wire is coming off a GFI breaker or ???
    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
    Solar Blanket, Well Water, Borax Added, TF-100 tester. ? too cold
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    It can't be a GFI breaker because it shares a neutral with the GFCI outlet, which would trip the breaker if it was also GFCI. So the pump isn't GFCI protected.
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Spot on. Can't have a GFI breaker so the motor isn't protected. Wonder if he understands the danger ??

    IMHO Pulling a green for the ground and using the present white or tan "ground" for the common on the motor would be the way to go.

    It would be nice if the OP jumped in and furnished a little info. This is starting to hurt my head.
    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
    Solar Blanket, Well Water, Borax Added, TF-100 tester. ? too cold
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    My understanding of how it SHOULD be done, you need to figure out how that compares to how it is done, and what should be done to fix it - it is sketchy in the extreme to have it any way other than how it should be... Remember that the electrical code has been referred to the "Book of the Dead" because someone DIED from doing it differently than what is in the book... Pools are extra risky in that water makes shock risks worse...

    For 110V you should have THREE wires running all the way from the main panel to the end equipment, such as the pump. In the US they are supposed to be Black, White and Green. (Other countries use other colors - standards are wonderful because we have so many to pick from....) Black should ALWAYS be "Hot" White should ALWAYS be "Neutral" and Green should ALWAYS be "Ground" NO other color should be used in the main wiring, and no wire should be used for anything other than it's color. There is ONE exception, if using Romex to run power out to a fixture and back to the switch, you can use the white, for one side of the circuit, but the exposed white in the box should be covered with black tape in that case.

    (Note that the electrons don't care what color wire they are running around in, but the color code is a requirement to make sure that the wiring is done properly)

    The Neutral and Ground wires are tied together ONLY at the main panel, and should not be connected any where else in the system. They should also be free from ANY interuption - no switches in either!

    The ground wire should have a pigtail connecting it to any metal box / fixture it passes through. (Note that unless clearly marked otherwise, you should NEVER put more than one wire under a screw terminal - if needing to connect multiple wires, use an appropriate size wire nut and a pigtail to the screw)

    The Hot (black) wire should go from a GFCI outlet to the time switch switched contacts (in and out) and from there to the pump. Most codes say that the circuit should be dedicated, with nothing on it but the pump, the time switch clock, and maybe an SWG. Any auxilary function outlets should be separately wired, again with their own GFCI protection.

    The GFCI breaker will have both the hot and neutral wires connected to it, and a pigtail running from the breaker to the neutral busbar in the panel. This is critical to get right - the way a GFCI works is based on the electrical law that the current in a circuit should be the same everywhere - the GFCI compares the current going out on the hot wire, and coming back on the neutral - if things are working right, the two will be identical. However if any current is leaving the circuit (i.e. going through your body to ground) the amount coming back will be different and the GFCI will trip....

    If connecting things like outlets and plugs, motors, etc. the screws are also color coded - sort of... The neutral screw will be silver plated, the hot screw will be brass (or sometimes black) and the ground screw will be green....

    Most GFCI breakers and outlets will have a "test" button on them - I don't totally trust this as it doesn't verify the downstream wiring. You can buy for a few dollars an 'outlet checker" which has three LEd's on it that will all light up if everything is wired right, and the good ones will also have a "GFCI test" button on them, which I prefer as it gives a true "end-to-end" test that is as close to simulating a real problem as you can get. I have made a short pig-tail adapter that I can use with motors and other fittings to verify the wiring by hooking it up temporarily to let me check....

    (Note that I'm not a licensed electrician, but I do my own work with a code book in one hand....)

    ex-Gooserider
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    It can't be a GFI breaker because it shares a neutral with the GFCI outlet, which would trip the breaker if it was also GFCI. So the pump isn't GFCI protected.
    That's right.

    The black wire goes to the GFCI outlet and the pump is hard wired.

    I spent the afternoon chasing wires and getting this nailed down. The pump is not GFCI protected as previously stated. There is a junction box below the GFCI outlet so it looks like the GFCI outlet was added later. I'm not sure. I'd post a pic but my limit has been reached. Anyway I labeled the ground and neutral wires at both ends, installed the new motor and it's running right now. I'm going to run new wires ASAP and get the pump on a GFCI circuit. Probably a dumb question , but is it unusual for an older pump not to be GFCI protected?
    24000 gallon, 18' x 36' IG with deep end, vinyl, built 1986, new liner 2012,
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    It is fairly common. GFCI protection for the pump was practically unheard of 20 years ago and only started being required relatively recently.
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    Re: ground wire at pump

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    It is fairly common. GFCI protection for the pump was practically unheard of 20 years ago and only started being required relatively recently.
    Ok. That makes me feel a little better, not much, but a little...

    At least the new motor seems good to go, no leaks, and quieter. I have another thread started about the particular motor so I'll post my comments about it there.


    Thanks.
    24000 gallon, 18' x 36' IG with deep end, vinyl, built 1986, new liner 2012,
    3/4 hp uprated 2 spd on hayward super pump
    1.5" dia lines, sand filter, polaris 360
    TF-100 test kit

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