Stray Electricty

Discussion in 'General Aquatic Talk' started by Peter, Sep 15, 2006.

  1. Peter
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    Peter Algae harvester

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    Hi

    How does one know if you have stray electricity....yea yea I know, stick your finger in and if your eye’s glow and your hair gets a perm, that answers the question, but seriously how do you know? :scratch:

    The reason I’m asking, yesterday I nicked my finger, which is now tender, and when it came into contact with the water in my tank, I felt a continuous burn/prick/sharp pain, (can’t quite put my finger on it.....excuse the pun) but it was not pleasant. I have had a heater that broke a year ago and had the experience of it letting me know, but this is very slight in comparison.
     
  2. Rattail
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    Rattail Algae harvester

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    what happens when you put a finger in that is not nicked?
     
  3. Nicolaas Nel
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    Nicolaas Nel Algae harvester

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    Hi Peter,

    Stray electricity! Better known as "earth leakage", the symtom is a "shock" when you come between the live conductor and earth. To find this "stray electricity's" source maybe needs an electrician with a device called a "meggar". Normally, (as required by law), every electrical installtion requires a device called an "Earth Leakage" switch, which often is built into the Main Switch, this device "detects" these stray electricity faults, and trips the mains, to protect your good life. Now, if you are experiencing some "stray electricity" shocks" then you must have your Main Switch checked to see if it still operates to trip at 30milli-amps. Another thing to check is your EARTHING to your setup.

    NB - There must be a good earth to your setup! This is the earthwire (normally a green or Grn/yel, or even a bare copper earthwire, that normaly runs with the cable feeding your plug that you take your power from. However, if you only connect the two wires ie. the red and black (live & neutral), commomnly done with a 2 core flex, YOU HAVE NO EARTH. Man you are looking for trouble! You will regret the loss of your loved one if they should die!

    Many people have no respect for electricity, and do the most stupid and dangerous "wiring" installations you can find. My advice is, SPARE NO COST when doing the electrical installtion to anything!

    I hope this helps you, if you want more say so!
     
  4. Peter
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    Peter Algae harvester

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    Hi Nicolass and Rattail

    Thanks for the information and reaffirming the respect one should have for electricity, I couldn’t agree more. Everything I have is compliant to the point where I insert a 2-prong plug for my heaters etc...

    What I’m experiencing is not that full grip of electricity but like I said, just sensitive to only my nicked finger, so just concerned, if I can feel something I’m sure my fish can. I don’t know the extent of electricity, if it’s possible to have a small "leak"
     
  5. Nicolaas Nel
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    Nicolaas Nel Algae harvester

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    Hi Peter,

    You mentioned that you have "two pronged" plugs to your heaters! Now thats a sure chance of a possible problem. Depending on certain conditions, and i don't know what they are like around your setup, but, if say
    there is a small "current leak" from one of your heaters, this current would be in the water (ofcourse), but would do nothing to your fish (and I'll explain that later), and now you put your finger intothe water aaaand you are bare foot on the floor (not wooden), or touching some other part of the tanks stand (if metal), you would feel that "tickle".
    As for the fish, they are safe,because they are swimming in a (lets say) "positive" field, and they can never be in contact with the "negative" side as well. Its like a bird sitting on an "overhead" power line with 11,000 volts or more! and they don't die, however, if they stretched their wing out far enough to nearly touch the other line, they are cinders, in a flash! It only happens in the movies, you know, the hair dryer in the bath murder episode!
     
  6. Peter
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    Peter Algae harvester

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    Hi Nicolass

    My Jager heaters come standard with 2 prong and to be on the safe side I have checked each one, all with out fault. It has also been suggested, that possibly my water pump has a slight crake in it or through condensation from my lights could be causing this. Thanks for your help and reassuring me my fish are safe. :thumb:
     
  7. d3tained
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    d3tained Algae harvester

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    Hi Peter!!!

    I have exactely the same problem.When ever I have a open wouned on my finger it will stink a bit when you touch the water surface "just just" but will feel nothing if you put your hole hand in.

    You will also feel this in certain showers when you touch the metal of the tap.Very weird I know.

    Ive given up on finding the problem.
     
  8. Andre
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    Andre Green fingers

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    Hey guys

    Firstly: NEVER EVER EVER put an open wound into your fish tank, you really are asking for trouble, especially if you are sick. There are lots of horrible diseases that you could get from your fish tank, fish TB being one of them. Also, wash your hands whenever they were in the tank with soap (preferably anti-biotic) and hot water.

    Now Nicolaas, I have a few questions for you seeing as I am really very bad with electricity:

    Most aquarium equipment comes standard with two pronged plugs. Are these safe? Are they earthed? How can we make them safe if they are not?

    Also, I have been thinking of installing one of those electricity boxes (dont know what you call them) to get rid of all the plugs. How would I go about wiring something like that? I really would appreciate your comments on this.

    Thanks!

    Andre
     
  9. d3tained
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    d3tained Algae harvester

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    My bad.Thx for advise Andre did not know that atall and dont wanto get a fins growing on me.
     
  10. Nicolaas Nel
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    Nicolaas Nel Algae harvester

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    Hi There!

    I see I've started something here, and this can get technical! However, Yes, you do buy appliances, heaters, power tools, etc. that are "earth-free". Technically they are illegal in this country, but the suppliers get away with it on one fact only, ie. the Electrical "Code of Practice" states that the "owner" of the electrical installation is responsible for the "requirement of the law", so that puts you, (not the seller) in "the line of fire" when somebody dies as a result of an electrocution, and never mind those that will sue you (if their loved-one dies).

    So how do you protect yourself? Its quite simple! NEVER ALLOW YOURSELF OR ANYONE TO COME BETWEEN THE LIVE CONDUCTOR AND EARTH.
    To prevent this, simply EARTH your equipment! If you have a metal stand, or frame, or water that has power operated equipment in it or on it, then EARTH IT!
    How do you earth water? Well, if you had metal pipes, you earth the pipes, if plastic or glass, then insert a stainless steel wire or probe into the water with the earthwire attached.
    The earthing must be done with a copperwire (bare or insulated) from your equipment all the way to the Main Board in the building. Normally an earthwire is installed to the Switchplug socket on the wall, so taking your earthwire to this socket is good enough, but check it out! There are some bad installations out there!

    If you have a situation where your floor is concrete, beware! the moisture in the concrete is a good conductor.
    If you have wooden or carpeted floors, you should be safe, but only if dry!

    And Peter! if you have an electrician as a friend, invite him over for a beer, but tell him to bring his "megger" with him, so that he can test your "suspect" heater for an "earth fault".

    And Andre! Thanks for the advice on putting an "open wound" into the fish tank! I never knew the danger of it, Thanks again!
     
  11. Andre
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    Andre Green fingers

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    Hey Nicolaas

    Wow, that really is an eye opener.

    I live in a flat. Is earthing still a problem here?

    Could you maybe explain a bit more on how we can earth the water and metal tank stands ? Where do we find the earthwire in the wall socket?

    Sorry for the stupid questions, but I really am a noob when it comes to electricity.

    Almost all aquarium equipment has these two pronged plugs, which is actually quite scarey from what you are saying.

    Oh yes, and if the stands are painted will they still be a problem?
     
  12. Discus
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    The earth is the top pin of a three pin plug; earth wire colour is usually green and yellow stripes.

    But surely just connecting your tank up to the third pin via a probe would be a fairly bad idea? If another appliance does end up running to earth, you then have a situation where you've inadvertently made your tank "live" - of course, in a decently earthed electical system, this *shouldn't* be a problem because the earthing system should be a lot more conductive than tank->you->carpet->ground, but you never know...

    I personally would prefer a dedicated "earth spike" just for the tank if I felt the need to earth the system outside of any electrical appliance earthing.
     
  13. Nicolaas Nel
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    Nicolaas Nel Algae harvester

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    Hi again!

    You see! I said this topic can get technical. Its just like the one on the Lighting for the tanks, which I found very interesting, and will follow it right to the end, and look into the links as refered to to gain more knowledge.
    However, back to this problem!
    Andre, living in a flat is no different from any other place (except climbing stairs, if there's no elevator) Ha Ha! But the earthing problems are the same. It is considered quite rare to get yourself electrocuted in your home if its dry, but bring in a tank with water with electric's is narrowing your chances down of not getting electrocuted. You are creating an enviroment for electrical faults (which, with luck, may never happen) but I say "be prepared".

    I do not wish to debate the point with Discus the "you have a situation where you've inadvertenly made your tank "LIVE"" by earthing it. Consider this: Electricity will always flow back to its source, thru the best and lowest resistance it finds. A faulty stove element in the kitchen could never flow in the earthwire earthing your tank in another room somewhere, it would use its own earthwire back to the main board, and trip the Earth leakage switch. But on the other hand (taking the example i've used), if there is an earth fault in your "unearthed Fish Tank", and you just happen to have spilt a lot of water around the tank wetting the floor and you are bare footed, you touch the water in the tank (which is isolated from earth being in a glass tank), then you become "alive" looking for a path to earth, the water on the floor has happened to find a path for the electricity to flow "back to its source", you will feel it.
    Nothing beats an "earth-spike" in the ground, that is what Eskom does around its transformers and substations! But knocking in a spike "10 floors down" heh heh, would be ridiculus. I would just pick the closet socket outlet on the wall, and take a seperate wire from the earth pin in the plug and connect it to your setup.
    Earthing your setup can be quite tricky! To give you an example, I will explain how I did mine.
    If you have seen my setup in the pic's I sent, you will see that I have a wooden cabinett and canopy, a glass tank with no metal frame, but inside the cabinett I have a galvanized drip tray (which I have earthed) but on top of that, the Bio-Filter standing inside the tray, has a "standard Hardwater geyser element" which is also earthed.
    I have installed a seperate cable from the Mains DB in the building to an Isolator Point on the wall next to the setup, (because I do not want to use the standard wall socket outlet on the wall for my setup, because the current rating of my setup is higher than the circuit will allow), so this cable has its own earth all the way.
    The element, "being metal" earths the water in the Bio-filter tank, thru all the water in the pipes to the water in the main tank. So it was easy for me to do.

    I hope this gives you an idea how to do yours.
     
  14. Discus
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    Nicolaas: extremely improbable, but thinking worst case scenarios, imagine if the earth connection in your DB box was severed (gardener putting a spade through the cable to the spike outside, crap electrical installations with lose wires, for example). Your sockets are now no longer earthed at all, and *should* you have a faulty appliance somewhere leaking to ground (remember now your earth leakage circuit breaker equipment probably won't work) and you stick your fingers into the tank, congratulations, you just became the best and least resistance link to ground. *Highly unlikely* but if you're trying to advocate safety, it just doesn't seem very clever to wire your tank up to a socket, even if the chances of something going wrong are really small. Slightly more likely is some palooka hooking a wire up to the wrong terminal...
     
  15. Nicolaas Nel
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    Nicolaas Nel Algae harvester

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    My good friend Discus!

    Loosing the main earth to your building installation, would never cause your "Earth Leakge" switch not to operate. Basically, and earth leakage switch works on a "core balance" where both the live & neutral passes thru this core. Whatever current flows in the live wire to the load, must return in the neutral wire, to stay in "balance". should there be an "in-balance" like some current "leaking" to earth on the live-wire to earth (which is highly unlikely to loose, since the substation in your area is not too far away), this "leakage current" will find its way to the source, and the "core balance" inside the switch will be tripped by a relay, which will operate at 30mA (if in a good state). This topic started with Peter getting a "sting" or sensation by sticking his finger in the water, now I'll put anything on it, that if he still experiences this problem, and he sticks an earthwire (even just temporarily, to prove my point) into the water, that "tingle" will disappear! And you may find that his Main Earthleakge Switch will trip! So Peter, if you are still following this topic, please prove my point!

    As for some palooka hooking a wire up to the wrong terminal.... Well! What can I say! If one is so stupid, he should employ the services of a professional Electrician, and be glad to pay him. Remember, I said the law puts the owner of the installation "responsible". I would take that seriously! Its your wonderful choice and right.
     
  16. Peter
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    Peter Algae harvester

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    Hi Nicolaas

    What I did was put in a copper wire (speaker wire) into the water of my tank and the other into a three-prong plug using only the earth prong and then plugged it straight into the wall.......yep, it is gone, though nothing tripped, but the "tingle"
     
  17. Nicolaas Nel
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    Nicolaas Nel Algae harvester

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    Hi Peter!

    Thanks for doing as I requested. I hope Discus takes note!
    Your Earth leakage switch will only trip when it "see's" a fault greater than 30mA. and trust me it will trip if something like that happens in your tank.
    Now, a loose piece of copperwire in your tank is probbably unsightly and I don't know if copper will affect the water chemistry. Its difficult for me to give you a defenite plan, as I don't know what your setup looks like to stick in an earthprobe somewhere.
    If you have a Bio-filter that is seperate from the main tank, it should be easy. Maybe you could put a length of stainless steel rod (say a 5 or 6mm dia.) into the corner of your tank and fix it there.

    I hope you come right!
     
  18. Discus
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    Discus Algae harvester

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    Ah, thanks for reminding me about how earth leakage units actually work :)
     
  19. Ryan
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    Ryan Green fingers

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    Ok, so let me get this straight. I have hang on back filters on all my tanks. I'm a bit of an Aquaclear fanboy. If I wanted to earth all my tanks would it be ok if I ran a wire that touched the water in the filters to the earth prong of a 3 prong plug and then plugged that into the wall, with it on? This would then take care of earthing the heaters too?
     
  20. Peter
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    Peter Algae harvester

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    Hi

    Yesterday I got another tingle from touching the water in my tank and even though I had a probe linked to my earth I still felt a "tingle"
     

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