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View Full Version : Can somebody please explain why I keep getting zapped!


ichthyogeek
09/08/2017, 09:19 PM
Yup. Apparently my aquarium hates me now. I'm honestly so freaking confused. I came back home, and my protein skimmer wasn't working, stick my finger in the sump, and get zapped (just tingles up the arm). So I test all the other equipment, and nothing but the protein skimmer zaps me (these are very tiny tingles, so I'm thinking at this time "oh, well, I probably won't get /that/ electrocuted"). Fast forward to today, new protein skimmer gets in, I stick my finger into the sump, and here we go again. My hair's poofy enough without needing extra electricity! Can somebody please explain to me what the heck is going on here?

I'm not getting zapped when I'm working in the main tank. I'm 95% positive it's electricity and not just saltwater entering various cuts in my arm from working in the tank. The only time I'm getting zapped is when my finger enters where the overflow drains to; not when I'm putting my hands in the tank, not when my hand is in the return section of the sump (ok, a small tingle there, but I'm not getting zapped zapped). I'm pretty positive it's either the return pump or one of the circulation pumps, but since both work, how come I'm not getting zapped in the main tank as well?!

Is there a cheap way to test if electricity is running the tank without buying yet another doohickie? Like...can I just grab a lightbulb or something, and stick it into the tank at various points to see if it goes "ding" or something? I'd really prefer to not have to keep zapping myself left right and center to see where the leak is coming from, but amp meters seem a bit on the pricey side (yeah I know).

Finally, will this electricity bother my fish?

karimwassef
09/08/2017, 10:30 PM
Install a GFCI. You should always plug any wet equipment or anything in an area where it's possibly wet/high humidity into a GFCI.

Don't do it for the fish or equipment. Do it to stay alive.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Residual-current_device
http://home.howstuffworks.com/question117.htm
http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/skills-and-know-how/electrical-and-wiring/how-to-install-a-gfci-outlet

slief
09/08/2017, 10:32 PM
The cheap way is the get a volt meter. Lightbulbs won't do the trick. You can get a cheap volt meter for around $10 on Amazon or even Radio Shack if you have on that is still open near you.

Heck, here's one for even less.
https://www.amazon.com/Neiko-40508-Multimeter-Resistance-Transistor/dp/B00066ZZO4/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1504927728&sr=8-9&keywords=Volt+meter

Shut everything off in the tank including the lights and plug things in one at time. It's critical that you shut everything off. With the black prove plugged into the ground on a power outlet, place the red probe into the water and measure AC voltage. If you are running a ground probe, that can introduce electricity because of how many homes are grounded. Heaters, pumps and even lights are common culprits of stray voltage. Also keep in mind that salt water has capacitance due to it's conductive nature. This means that it's not uncommon to measure some voltage in the water. Pretty much anything up to 30v is not much to worry about. Besides, it's current that kills. Not the voltage itself.

karimwassef
09/08/2017, 10:32 PM
If there is a flow of electricity, the GFCI will shut the power off to that outlet until you reset.

Then you can unplug everything and then plug them back in one at a time until the "offending device" trips it.

Then throw that device away... don't think twice :)

Just my 0.02

smoothmove
09/09/2017, 08:13 AM
Do what I do. Have you WIFE stick her hand in the sump. You unplug things until she stops twitching. That will be your culprit.

mcgyvr
09/09/2017, 09:53 AM
Install a GFCI now.. .....NOW...

You should be at the store already picking one up..
You can just get one that plugs right into the outlet and you plug all your equipment into it..
Costs like 15-25 bucks or so and can save your life..

karimwassef
09/09/2017, 05:46 PM
No wiring needed. Please don't plug stuff in without a GFCI $8!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00ZQ0BHNS/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1504996955

lagatbezan
09/09/2017, 06:01 PM
GFCI is a MUST.
Then like others suggested a voltmeter and then you plug in one item at a time and see which one is the culprit.

ericarenee
09/09/2017, 08:40 PM
Do what I do. Have you WIFE stick her hand in the sump. You unplug things until she stops twitching. That will be your culprit.

reason number 135 i married another woman.. :debi:



op get volt meter and be sure your using gfci.. STOP STICKING YOUR BITS INTO Elect charged water.. sheesh:frog:

sh4rkbyt3
09/10/2017, 03:48 PM
+1 Smoothmove! :)

devildog999
09/10/2017, 09:16 PM
What was reason 134?

reason number 135 i married another woman.. :debi:



op get volt meter and be sure your using gfci.. STOP STICKING YOUR BITS INTO Elect charged water.. sheesh:frog:

alton
09/11/2017, 06:53 AM
The only thing I would add is a grounding probe to take the shock, versus you to trip the gfci.. If you do not like having a grounding probe in your tank, then remove it after the testing to find your amperage leaking device.

karimwassef
09/11/2017, 11:32 AM
You can use a wire to do that too since youre just using it for a few minutes.

I personally don't like grounding probes. They convert a floating potential to a flowing current that could hurt tank inhabitants...

The floating potential is bad too, and the probe would trigger the GFCI above the threshold, but under that threshold, it could continue to run very small amounts of current.

mcgyvr
09/11/2017, 01:54 PM
A ground probe should only be used in combination with GFCI protection..Never by itself for reasons stated above..
no path = no current flow..
A ground probe creates a path for current to flow..

The only real point of a ground probe is to cause the GFCI trip the instant a fault is present and not to wait for you to become that path to ground..

alton
09/12/2017, 06:43 AM
A ground probe should only be used in combination with GFCI protection..Never by itself for reasons stated above..
no path = no current flow..
A ground probe creates a path for current to flow..

The only real point of a ground probe is to cause the GFCI trip the instant a fault is present and not to wait for you to become that path to ground..

Exactly my point. By the way I have seen a tank that only showed 2 volts but the current would shock the heck out of you. In my younger stupid days I took a bad pump that a previous owner complained shocked them and placed it in a bucket of water and plugged it into a GFCI. Result it did not trip, since the bucket is insulated the current stayed in the bucket, just like our glass aquariums. Here comes the stupid part, I then stuck my hand in the bucket and since there was not enough milli-amps to trip the GFCI I received one heck of a shock. When I dropped a grounding probe in the bucket the GFCI tripped immediately.