Fire prevention and our reefs

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DoctaReef

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I love this hobby, don’t get me wrong, but the one thing that keeps me up at night is the possibility of a fire from all the electrical cords and plugs in and around all this salt water. Am I the only one?

I know most people will say “cord management is key” but I’m curious to know and see what else people are doing to minimize the risk to their homes.
 
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LordofCinder

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yes thats scary for me too, and a close second fear is catastrophic tank or machine failure that will flood my home, probably resulting in divorce. If something ever happens, all I can do is say that I did my best, maintained everything properly, checked the tank daily, and reduced the chances of disaster as much as possible.

But for me the bottom line is that we are in a hobby where we store hundreds (or thousands) of pounds of water in a glass box, powered by thousands of watts of electricity. It IS a risky hobby
 

mdb_talon

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Ah, but at least a good story when you tell people your house burnt down due to a big box of water !

Honestly though I worry very little about it. As you say cord management is key.... including keeping powerstrips away from easily flammable items, etc. Never come close to overloading a circuit or powerstrip. I use GFCI and arc fault. The arc fault significantly increases safety... but can also significantly increase nuisance tripping and really need to have multiple circuits and monitoring in place to not have this be the cause of livestock death so I understand why people dont normally use it. People that dont have GFCI though are just begging for issues though.
 

Reefjnky

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I had a socket with a grow light above my refugium that wasnt saltwater safe. It eventually deteriorated but never caught fire. I think the bigger risk is getting shocked. I also spilled water in an strip outlet that just ended up killing the plugs

Edit: mdb_talon brings up good points with overloading outlets though. That can definitely cause fires
 

James_O

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My concern would be getting shocked, not your house burning down. Marine tanks tend to leave a bit of salt spray that can conduct electricity and give you a shock, so it’s best to have a lid on your tank or a covering on your electrical strips.
 
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AlexG

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This is always a concern which is why I take a few steps on my builds to avoid fires.

AFCI/GFCI combo breakers: AFCI - ARC Fault Circuit Interrupter is designed to help prevent electrical fires as it is meant to detect the flow of current from an arc between the hot a neutral wires on a electrical circuit. They are part of the NEC code now for many rooms in new home builds. GFCI is more of a safety device to prevent shock and electrocution but an arc to ground could also be a fire hazard on an unprotected circuit.

Keep all outlets above the water line of the aquariums when possible and use outdoor weatherproof boxes. If the plugs for electrical devices are mounted above the water it eliminates the possibility of spills going onto electrical devices or outlets. The weather proof boxes help avoid splashing of water getting on electrical devices above or below the waterline of the aquarium system.

Ensuring that a circuits are not overloaded will also help prevent fires. For large systems its best to install several dedicated circuits for the system which will keep the circuit load down and also provide the possibility of device diversity in the event that one breaker trips due to a fault it will not shut down the entire system. I always keep return pumps and flow pumps on separate circuits incase of a breaker trip.
 

KrisReef

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We check the batteries in the smoke alarms each year and keep up the payments on the home owners insurance. If I was scared I would probably sleep with my boots on with a fire extinguisher inside of a wildfire fire shelter. You need to take the precautions that allow you to sleep without worrying about a domestic conflagration.
 
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DoctaReef

DoctaReef

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We check the batteries in the smoke alarms each year and keep up the payments on the home owners insurance. If I was scared I would probably sleep with my boots on with a fire extinguisher inside of a wildfire fire shelter. You need to take the precautions that allow you to sleep without worrying about a domestic conflagration.
Thank you for your answer, but "keeps me up at night" is just a saying, boots and wildfire shelters aren't needed.

Insurance (which if you don't keep up with would result in a mortgage default before a fire anyway), smoke alarms and fire extinguishers seem like a given, though all that only helps AFTER the fire starts, IF you are home, and IF the fire is small enough to be put out by an extinguisher. Though now that you mention it, I wonder whether homeowners insurance would cover a fire started by the 15 plugs near a box of saltwater. Basically, I'm not looking to find out.

I was more looking for ways to prevent a fire from happening in the first place, or "best fire prevention strategies for minimizing risk with a reef tank."
 
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