Help! Did lightening strike my pool?

Bama Rambler

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 22, 2009
23,719
SouthWest Alabama
My take on the receptacle is that it's unrelated to the event. We see it all the time in high current appliances, and it's really prevalent in the RV world at the shore power connections. The blade to socket connection isn't the best thing and it will overheat and melt the surrounding plastic.

It was likely already in the process of overheating and just got noticed when this event happened.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
1,908
NY
I just can’t grasp the odds of a mystery substance being added to the pool at the exact time that the water was somehow charged in order to plate said substance to all the pvc/acrylic. If it was simply an insoluble substance it would have taken more time than the short vacation to disperse. The plating to me would have had to have been almost instantaneous. Could the perfect storm of random events have happened ? Of course. But then we’d be talking about the odds of being struck by lightning on your way to cash in your winning powerball ticket.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
17,339
It wouldn't require any special charge. Plastic and fiberglass are naturally attractive to various compounds.

If you get metal stains in a pool, they will usually be most evident on the plastic steps and other plastic items.

It's a small pool with an oversized pump. The circulation is going to be pretty good.

If you have a neutrally buoyant substance, it will remain suspended until it gets caught in the filter or sticks to something.
 

Socojoe

Member
Apr 27, 2019
8
Arkansas
The OP says the pool has a salt system so the water should have a good bit of salt in it and salt water will conduct electricity much better than non salt water. Is it possible some electrical event like a short or a close strike caused enough of a charge to enter the water and cause the unknown substance to plate to all the plastic and possibly turn black? Maybe the substance was already in the water and reacted with the charge? GFCI receptacles can and do fail so it is possible for one to not trip in such an event as a short albeit it would need to be less than the rating on the breaker feeding it unless it was faulty as well. A lot of possibilities would need to line up but it does make one think.
 
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Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
1,908
NY
It wouldn't require any special charge. Plastic and fiberglass are naturally attractive to various compounds.

If you get metal stains in a pool, they will usually be most evident on the plastic steps and other plastic items.

It's a small pool with an oversized pump. The circulation is going to be pretty good.
Ok then I stand corrected on those points. A few turnovers of the pool volume would be easily achieved during a short vacation.

Know what we need ? Adam Savage to be a lurker on here or under a pseudo name. This one has Mythbusters written alllllll over it.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
17,339
If you really want to know for sure, you can locate a lab that will identify the substance. No idea about the cost.

Maybe a local college chemistry professor would find it an interesting challenge to identify the substance. Maybe email a few and ask if you can send them a sample.

There are some state labs that will test well water for low cost.
 
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Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
583
Corona de Tucson, AZ
The OP says the pool has a salt system so the water should have a good bit of salt in it and salt water will conduct electricity much better than non salt water.
Would you believe that many of the other chemicals we add to pool water conduct better than the salt? (Look up seawater conductivity on Wikipedia) Other minerals as well already in the water. In practice the total dissolved solids in water determine the conductivity of the water. It matters little which ion it is measuring, when ther are a bunch it averages out. Cl- ions pretty effectively also come from the various forms of pool chlorine. In the case of pool water, that pretty much fairly resistive chunk of water will actually act like a Faraday cage to stuff of lessor conductivity (like PVC) than a conductor to it. Again, I don't buy the lightning hypothesis in this case. Especially if there isn't damage to surrounding stuff....

A TDS meter is fairly accurate in measuring Total Dissolved Solids, and it measures it by conductivity/resistance ..... so a salt system in this case doesn't really matter...
 

AndyTN

Bronze Supporter
Mar 27, 2019
160
Memphis
I have an electrician coming next week to inspect the pool. I will give an update...
Any other updates on this topic? I just spent 45 minutes reading through this thread hoping to see a grand AH-HA moment at the end. Sorry for all of us getting entertainment from your bad pool situation but it is very rare to see so many TFP Experts get stumped on a topic.

What were the dates you were out of town when you suspect the pool damage happened? Did you get confirmation from neighbors that there were bad thunderstorms during that period with lots of lightning within a few miles? There could be a very random rouge strike but the odds are much higher if it was a bad thunderstorm with lots of lightning in the area.

Take a look at the below website to do a search for a specific date to see historical lightning strikes. You can't zoom in on the Cincinnati area but if you select August 5th and select 48 hour loop, you can view all the lightning strikes in the region for the previous 48 hours. I took a few minutes and reviewed August 1-5 and did not see any major lightning clusters in the Cinci area. Maybe a few at approx. 11pm UTC August 1st but nothing like some of the other clusters you can see.