Memorial Day weekend is past and pool season is just beginning. Every pool owner is aware of the drowning hazards that a swimming pool represents, and almost everyone takes steps to minimize that danger. But many owners don’t know that electricity also constitutes a serious safety issue with their pools. It’s something you need to be aware of, because improperly installed or poorly maintained electrical systems can lead to electrocution. Of much less importance, but still of concern, improperly installed or maintained electrical systems around the pool can corrode or fail rapidly, requiring expensive repairs.
Pools Must be Bonded
Metal objects in and around the pool must be electrically bonded. That is, they must be connected to copper wires and grounded. Certainly this applies to metal pool ladders and drains, but it also applies to other fittings near the pool that are likely to be wet – a slide or diving board base, for example.
Grounding metal fittings ensures that stray electricity runs “to ground” rather than through the water. Stray electricity can take the form of an unexpected lightning strike that hits the metal, improperly wired pool lights or other equipment, or an incident in which a live wire touches a metal fitting. In any of these scenarios, you want the electricity to find the shortest path to ground, rather than passing through the water and – possibly – through the body of someone who happens to be in it.
If you have an in-ground pool, you might be unaware that there are wires for bonding below the deck or embedded in the concrete. If your pool was properly installed, they’re there, but it’s hard to tell if all the metal fittings around the pool are still connected. Over time, corrosion and mechanical accidents might weaken or sever the connections, leading to a potentially hazardous situation. A visual inspection might reveal some problems, but the only way to ensure that everything is properly bonded is to perform an electrical test.
Pool Lights are Especially Important
Many pools have lights installed in them, and these especially need to be grounded properly, because they have 110 volts of electricity running through the wiring. The fixtures themselves must also be installed securely to prevent accidentally exposing the wiring.
When different kinds of metal are connected by water (for example, a bronze drain strainer and steel stairs in the same pool), they can set up their own electrical current, using the water as a conductor. This current is so weak that you can’t feel it and it can’t harm you, but it can cause one of the metals to corrode. This corrosion might eat away at one of the metals so that eventually it has to be replaced. That might be merely an expense and an inconvenience. But if the corrosion compromises connections to the pool’s bonding system, it might represent a danger as well.
Before you use your pool this summer, you owe it to your family and friends to have its electrical systems checked for safety. In you own a home or business in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, contact Eric M. Krise Electrical Contractor LLC: 856-769-3932.