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Thread: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

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    Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    There are two underwater light fixtures in our in-ground pool (built in 1989). The pool was covered up by previous owner and not in use for over 10 years. We got it cleaned up and started a few weeks ago. Both lights are not working. The light at the deep end still intact with no apparent damage. The one at the shallow end is sort of dangling of the wall, there is water inside the light fixture and also in the hole where the fixture should have been in the wall. The pool service company at the time of clean up told us the light fixtures pose no safety hazard. But I wasnít fully convinced since those guys were not electricians. We have been using the pool but I am losing sleep on the safety issue.

    I am unable to find the on/off switch and GFCI for the lights. I have the copies of the permits from 1989 but no plans that would have indicated the location of the GFCI. In the papers there is document showing the pool passed township electrical inspection back in 1989, therefore am assuming the lights must have been installed with GFCIs. I have looked for it where the other pool equipment is located. There are breakers for filter, timer, and heater in one box, there is a GFCI outlet in a smaller box and thatís about it. There are two stake like plastic pipes coming out of the ground by the pool perpendicular to those lights. There are black and white wires sticking out of the pipes. Could these pipes have something to do with the lights?

    Bottom line, how do I make sure that there is no electricity in the lights and they do not pose electrocution hazard? Thank you all.

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    You should have something like this for each light


    If the fixture leaks and the conduit floods, it still won't get close to the wire connections. One side feeds the light, the other goes back to the switch. Someone may have torn out the wiring for some reason. Pull the inner panel where the circuit breakers are and look for an empty conduit. Or hire an electrician to figure it out.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    Welcome to TFP!!!

    The pipes coming out of the ground with wires very well could be where the deck box like Richard posted used to be. Can you add some pictures?

    You may be able to blow air into the conduit and see if bubbles appear in the pool to confirm.

    The light cord to the light fixtures should have 2 wires wrapped in a rubber coating.
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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    Pool Light Box 1.JPG
    Pool Light Box 2.JPG

    Thanks a lot Richard and Jblizzle - you guys are right on the money, here are the pictures of those deck boxes. As you can see the previous owner ripped them for whatever reason. I am new to pool ownership and just started to learn the associated terminology, so please bear with my ignorance. I have some follow up questions:
    Richard - did you mean to say the light in their current state are not a safety hazard and we can continue using the pool without fixing them?
    Richard - What does it mean by "Pull the inner panel where the circuit breakers are and look for an empty conduit"? The only breakers I see are for filter pump and heater. I don't see any on/off switch for lights either.

    Jblizzle - after I blow air and do see bubbles what does that confirm?

    Thank you for your time guys.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    No need for air, that is clearly the deck box. I was picturing a single pipe and a few wires.

    It is safe if no power connected to the light wires.
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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    There has to be a switch somewhere. Inside the panel there is usually a piece of sheet metal that had knockouts for the circuit breakers. If you undo the screws and lift it out to expose all the wires, you might see where those wires go. Or not.

    As far as safety, if all the white and black wires are disconnected and capped, there's no electricity to the lights so no one can get shocked.
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    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    Thanks again Richard and Jblizzle. I believe now it's making a bit more sense to me. So the wires from the light fixture in the pool and the wires from the panel (running underground in the pipe) are connected at the deck box. If that connection is cut at the deck box, electricity won't flow to the lights.....right?

    I will check all the wires at those deck boxes tomorrow and also look at the panel for the switch as Richard mentioned.

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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    Look at your two deck boxes. The black wire goes to the lights. The other wires go to the power source. You should place wire nuts over the ends of the wire from the power source. You should also replace the deck box but you can leave that for later. You might want to spend some time figuring out where that source is and make sure the wires are caped with a wire nut there too.
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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    Thank you gwegan. Will post new pictures shortly.

    - - - Updated - - -

    DeckBox1.JPG

    Ok this is what I see
    1. Deck box at shallow End:
    • Has 3 pipes coming in to it from the ground.
    • The center pipe has a thick black insulated wire. There are 3 thin wire within the insulation of that thick wire, black, white, and green.
    • This fat black insulated wire has been cut and not connected to any other wires (Could this thick black wire be the power source? If yes, then we can assume electricity is not going to the lights since the wire is not connected.

    • Two white wires, one each from the left and right pipe are connected with a wire nut. (Should I disconnect?)
    • Two Black wires, one each from the right and left pipes are connected with a wire nut. (Could one of these black wires be the power source? If yes, then I would have to disconnect them……right?)

    DeckBox2.JPG

    2. Deck box at the Deep End:
    • Has 2 pipes coming in to it from the ground. (Any idea why would that be since the other one has 3 pipes?)
    • Center pipe has that same thick black insulated wire and it has been cut. There is also a thick green wire coming out of the center pipe.
    • In the 2nd pipe, there are thin black, white, and green wires. The white and the black wires are separately capped with wire nuts.
    • It appears no wire is connected to each other in this box and I guess we can assume electricity cannot be flowing to the lights?

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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    The thick black cables are the wires from the pool lights.

    I am guessing that one of the black wires in the shallow box is the power source from the switch (which would turn on both lights) and the other black would send power to the deep end box.

    So, to hook the lights back up (in the future), you would connect the 3 black wires in the shallow box and the 3 whites and the 3 grounds. Then at the deep box, you would hook the blacks, whites, and grounds.
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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    More than likely, the 3-conductor black wires go to the lights.

    The three-conduit box is first in line. Power comes in one side and splits. One output goes to the light, the other goes back underground and off to the two-conduit box.

    Inside the two-conduit box, power comes in from the first box and then connects to the light.

    The way it is now, the lights are most definitely disconnected, but the smaller diameter wires might still be live.

    Just remember that I'm guessing; who knows what the electrician who wired things up was thinking? It would be pretty easy with an ohmmeter to check things out. But I don't think I'd be able to explain it well enough for you to do it yourself with my instructions.

    This is how I visualize it, with all the wire nuts removed.

    wiring.jpg
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    Well the picture certainly sums up what I was trying to say
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    Re: Unsure of the Saftey of the Underwater Pool Lights installed in 1989

    Thanks a lot Richard, jblizzle, and wgen. You guys have been very helpful.

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