The Electrical circuit breaker panel in my new fish room

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Cobrasvt1999

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Hello all!

I'm starting the planning for my new tank build and accompanying fish room but there are quite a few things I need to solve first. I have two major issues however with my room that I would like some advice on for both safety and generally staying up to code. Luckily the room is currently unfinished, so its kinda easy to make large changes at the moment.

1. In my current room there is a indoor electrical breaker panel for the house. While I don't intend for there to ever be any water flying around, this is a room full of tanks, water, filters, ect... anything can happen. What can/should I do about this? I feel like it would be insanely expensive to move this panel to another room, but is that my best choice? Thoughts? waterproof panel cover?

2. I have the houses main sewer drain running down through this room, so adding a sink will be easy. A drain in the floor however will be very difficult because this is a basement floor made of concrete. I do however have the sump and sump pit in the room for the houses foundation. My hope would be to use this as the emergency drain (lets say a seal broke or a float stuck) and waterproof the walls and floor to protect the rest of the house. Naturally I would never normally put water into the sump pit, but is it safe to keep as a emergency drain for the room rather than installing a expensive floor drain into the sewer? Could the water damage my foundation? There is a float activated electric pump in the pit that drains onto the street...

I would really apricate any advice on this as I start to plan out this aquarium.

Thanks!
 

mdb_talon

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Hello all!

I'm starting the planning for my new tank build and accompanying fish room but there are quite a few things I need to solve first. I have two major issues however with my room that I would like some advice on for both safety and generally staying up to code. Luckily the room is currently unfinished, so its kinda easy to make large changes at the moment.

1. In my current room there is a indoor electrical breaker panel for the house. While I don't intend for there to ever be any water flying around, this is a room full of tanks, water, filters, ect... anything can happen. What can/should I do about this? I feel like it would be insanely expensive to move this panel to another room, but is that my best choice? Thoughts? waterproof panel cover?

2. I have the houses main sewer drain running down through this room, so adding a sink will be easy. A drain in the floor however will be very difficult because this is a basement floor made of concrete. I do however have the sump and sump pit in the room for the houses foundation. My hope would be to use this as the emergency drain (lets say a seal broke or a float stuck) and waterproof the walls and floor to protect the rest of the house. Naturally I would never normally put water into the sump pit, but is it safe to keep as a emergency drain for the room rather than installing a expensive floor drain into the sewer? Could the water damage my foundation? There is a float activated electric pump in the pit that drains onto the street...

I would really apricate any advice on this as I start to plan out this aquarium.

Thanks!


1. I had a fish room in this scenario once. Its really easy to protect the panel from water flying around, but much harder to protect from the humidity and salt creep. I know we all say salt dont evaporate and I get that, but the reality is even several feet away from a saltwater tank stuff starts rusting really quickly! I have no idea if what I did was the best option or up to code so dont take my approach as anything other than me saying what worked for me. I built a small cabinet with a removable front around the whole panel. Foam was placed where the removable front panel tightened down to make it as air tight as I could reasonably get. Then I placed those "damp rid bags" in there to keep humidity down. It definitely made a huge difference after I did this. Prior to that I was noticing a lot of corrosion on the panel and was worried about the breakers/etc. After doing this I noticed no further corrosion or issues in the few years I was still there.

2. Again I have done this other than I did use the sump for my everyday drain of wastewater. I ruined one sump pump and the other was so rusted I replaced it before selling. So it worked fine at doing the job, but again the saltwater does a number on the longevity of anything like that.
 
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Cobrasvt1999

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1. I had a fish room in this scenario once. Its really easy to protect the panel from water flying around, but much harder to protect from the humidity and salt creep. I know we all say salt dont evaporate and I get that, but the reality is even several feet away from a saltwater tank stuff starts rusting really quickly! I have no idea if what I did was the best option or up to code so dont take my approach as anything other than me saying what worked for me. I built a small cabinet with a removable front around the whole panel. Foam was placed where the removable front panel tightened down to make it as air tight as I could reasonably get. Then I placed those "damp rid bags" in there to keep humidity down. It definitely made a huge difference after I did this. Prior to that I was noticing a lot of corrosion on the panel and was worried about the breakers/etc. After doing this I noticed no further corrosion or issues in the few years I was still there.

2. Again I have done this other than I did use the sump for my everyday drain of wastewater. I ruined one sump pump and the other was so rusted I replaced it before selling. So it worked fine at doing the job, but again the saltwater does a number on the longevity of anything like that.

I guess that makes sense for the panel. Basically making it a airlock to keep the humidity under control inside the chamber. So you sealed the cabinet to the wall using great stuff or something similar? or was it a foam tube? Seems like one of the most cost effective solutions honestly. Salt creep is a huge concern I would bet for a breaker to operate correctly

Did you never see any damage to the foundation be having all that water in there? I'm lucky in that I have the sewer drain running right through the room, so it will be easy to tap, just need to make sure that if 200 gallons or more of salt water got loose in the room it would have a place to go in the end

Thanks again!
 
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mdb_talon

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I guess that makes sense for the panel. Basically making it a airlock to keep the humidity under control inside the chamber. So you sealed the cabinet to the wall using great stuff or something similar? or was it a foam tube? Seems like one of the most cost effective solutions honestly. Salt creep is a huge concern I would bet for a breaker to operate correctly

Did you never see any damage to the foundation be having all that water in there? I'm lucky in that I have the sewer drain running right through the room, so it will be easy to tap, just need to make sure that if 200 gallons or more of salt water got loose in the room it would have a place to go in the end

Thanks again!

I basically just built a wooden box around the panel (about 1ft space on all sides. Then I caulked where it met the wall. Then placed the hard foam insulation stripping on the front edge of the box and three wood screws on each side to tighten the front panel down and compact the foam. Again just to clarify though I have no idea if that met code. Also made it kind of a pain to get to the panel, but at least for me thats something that was almost never needed. Then when we were selling I just removed that box and did a little spackling on the wall and was good to go.

As for the sump no never saw any issues whatsoever other than with the pump itself. Initially I just drained any water into the pit anytime I needed to. After the first pump failed and had turned into a pile of rust I started using a 55g barrel next to the sump pit and I would drain wastewater into the barrel. When it filled up I had a drain on the barrel i opened up to drain it to the sump pit. Then once it all drained I would run a few gallons of tapwater into the pit to rinse it off. It did seem to help the longevity of the pump, but it still got pretty rusty after a few years .
 

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A Zoeller sump pump is the best. Would only ever use this pump. Would definitely figure a way to get positive air exchange with outside. Is the sewer drain on wall or in floor?
Post up some pics
 
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A Zoeller sump pump is the best. Would only ever use this pump. Would definitely figure a way to get positive air exchange with outside. Is the sewer drain on wall or in floor?
Post up some pics

It dosent look like much right now, but its plenty big enough! just have to work around the plumbing thats already in place. Pardon the mess, we just moved in and there is alot of unpacking that will still need to get done. I'm thinking about moving my 180 gallon down here to use as one of the filtration stages. I'm hoping to put a 400gal upstairs above this room... Thats a whole different set of problems (yay structural support codes!)


20221205_191121.jpg

Sump and sewer drain in the room
20221205_191136.jpg


20221205_191128.jpg
 
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theMeat

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I’m a contractor of 30+ years. I do plumbing and electric too.
Would build a small closet around the breaker box and call it good.
Would add ventilation.
Would tee into sewer line for sink. Then put sump on a stand so it’s higher than sink drain so you could siphon water from sump into sink if/when needed.
Would run four pipes from the floor above down to basement. Three pipes for a bean animal drain system, with a gate valve on the main drain upstairs. On the fourth pipe put a ball valve in the basement and a u-tube up on top that you could swing into tank for water change time.
Sounds like the beginning of a nice build. Post up pics along the way. Good luck and congrats on the new house
 
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Cobrasvt1999

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I’m a contractor of 30+ years. I do plumbing and electric too.
Would build a small closet around the breaker box and call it good.
Would add ventilation.
Would tee into sewer line for sink. Then put sump on a stand so it’s higher than sink drain so you could siphon water from sump into sink if/when needed.
Would run four pipes from the floor above down to basement. Three pipes for a bean animal drain system, with a gate valve on the main drain upstairs. On the fourth pipe put a ball valve in the basement and a u-tube up on top that you could swing into tank for water change time.
Sounds like the beginning of a nice build. Post up pics along the way. Good luck and congrats on the new house
Sounds great, thanks for the suggestion!

What would you say about using the sump as the emergency drain incase of a large spill?

That was my thinking, any day to day water waste would just go into the utility sink, just utilize the sump for spills that would otherwise risk flooding the house
 

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It looks like a sealed sump basin, so you’d have to open it up. Is there radon gas in your area?
The next question would be does your floor pitch toward sump pit? Or would you have to pour another floor?
 
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It looks like a sealed sump basin, so you’d have to open it up. Is there radon gas in your area?
The next question would be does your floor pitch toward sump pit? Or would you have to pour another floor?

It is sealed and we do have radon in the area. As for the floor pitch, my thinking was to seal the floor and use a plastic siding like you would have in a commercial bathroom or kitchen, that way while I might need to squeegee water into it, in the end, it's not loose in the rest of the house.

I suppose with it being sealed that's for radon? So that might cause a issue...
 

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With radon that’s another reason you should look into a positive ventilation situation. Unless you already have some sorta radon evac system in place.
For a simple floor drain that won’t take a lot of gph you could just find the low spot in the floor and drill some holes through the slab. The water will find its way to the sump pit. Another option is to build a catch basin that the sump and stand sits in. You could put a small sump pump in it that evacs into sewer drain or sink.
Would also look to seal the floor with some sealer that is radon rated, which will also keep the concrete dry, easy to clean up, and won’t get stain from whatever spills, cough cough, skimmate, as easily
 
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With radon that’s another reason you should look into a positive ventilation situation. Unless you already have some sorta radon evac system in place.
For a simple floor drain that won’t take a lot of gph you could just find the low spot in the floor and drill some holes through the slab. The water will find its way to the sump pit. Another option is to build a catch basin that the sump and stand sits in. You could put a small sump pump in it that evacs into sewer drain or sink.
Would also look to seal the floor with some sealer that is radon rated, which will also keep the concrete dry, easy to clean up, and won’t get stain from whatever spills, cough cough, skimmate, as easily
OK, so I'm understanding that I should probably keep the sump pit sealed for the radon then? We do have a ventelation system installed with a fan drawing from under the slab.
 
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OK, so I'm understanding that I should probably keep the sump pit sealed for the radon then? We do have a ventelation system installed with a fan drawing from under the slab.
That’s good news. Yeah, keep the pit sealed. You probably have a sealer on concrete already but it doesn’t last forever and a second coat is a good thing. Especially because for the first few years concrete has a higher moisture content that prevents the sealer from penetrating. It’s best to seal after a couple of years after pour.
With this revelation, if I were you would look to seal the floor and build catch basin.
 
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That’s good news. Yeah, keep the pit sealed. You probably have a sealer on concrete already but it doesn’t last forever and a second coat is a good thing. Especially because for the first few years concrete has a higher moisture content that prevents the sealer from penetrating. It’s best to seal after a couple of years after pour.
With this revelation, if I were you would look to seal the floor and build catch basin.
Sounds good. I was thinking about using garage floor coating to seal the floor in that room. Maybe sealing it and sealing along the baseboards will hold enough incase of a leak.

And building a small closet around the breaker pannel really will save so much money I think over paying to get the thing moved...

You mentioned ventilation, was that to the room or to the breaker closet? I feel like that would allow too much airborne moisture into the pannel, wouldn't it?
 

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How do you get slat creep and rust everywhere? Do you have fans blowing over the tank or air stones bubbling everywhere?
I’ve got my tank backing into the hvac room / fish room for 1.5 years now and I don’t see any salt or rust anywhere. Wonder what the difference is.
 
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I have a CB sub panel I'm my fish room (click on my build thread badge to see it).

Tank has been running for 4 years and I have an exhaust fan that runs 24/7 and I've never had an issue with rust, corrosion etc. I believe code was 30" from a water source, but I've since set up a frag tank that violates said code. My point isn't that I live life on the edge, my point being that even with a tank less than 2 feet away everything is fine.

That being said, what people are suggesting is probably worth the ounce of prevention.
 
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Cobrasvt1999

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I have a CB sub panel I'm my fish room (click on my build thread badge to see it).

Tank has been running for 4 years and I have an exhaust fan that runs 24/7 and I've never had an issue with rust, corrosion etc. I believe code was 30" from a water source, but I've since set up a frag tank that violates said code. My point isn't that I live life on the edge, my point being that even with a tank less than 2 feet away everything is fine.

That being said, what people are suggesting is probably worth the ounce of prevention.
Yeah, I'm figuring that the prevention is by far the better method of doing this, Especially as I can really take nearly as long as I need to to build it right... Or as right as I can manage
 

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I have a fish room. The moisture in there is always too high and not a good place for a huge amount of electrical current flow through. Even if you have a dehumidifier, moisture will still high in there and then there will be time when the dehumidifier not function for whatever reason. In my fish tank, there art tune the water just condense on the surface of everything. If you still can decide, don’t do it.
 
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Sounds good. I was thinking about using garage floor coating to seal the floor in that room. Maybe sealing it and sealing along the baseboards will hold enough incase of a leak.

And building a small closet around the breaker pannel really will save so much money I think over paying to get the thing moved...

You mentioned ventilation, was that to the room or to the breaker closet? I feel like that would allow too much airborne moisture into the pannel, wouldn't it?
Personally would use Radonseal. If you’ve ever seen what radon can do to concrete you’d agree. Epoxy paint, or any paint for that matter is a layer on top. As durable as it might be if the bond between concrete and paint is undermined it will come loose. A sealer is more like a penetrating that soaks into the concrete. A safer bet.
Yeah, meant ventilation for room. Maybe with humidistat control
 
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theMeat

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I have a CB sub panel I'm my fish room (click on my build thread badge to see it).

Tank has been running for 4 years and I have an exhaust fan that runs 24/7 and I've never had an issue with rust, corrosion etc. I believe code was 30" from a water source, but I've since set up a frag tank that violates said code. My point isn't that I live life on the edge, my point being that even with a tank less than 2 feet away everything is fine.

That being said, what people are suggesting is probably worth the ounce of prevention.
A fish tank is not a water source, just water, and does not violate code, at least in my neck of the woods.
 
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