Using ground probes in aquariums

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by Brew12, Oct 20, 2016.

  1. siggy

    siggy Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    @Brew12 Hey great thread, i often wondered about all the talk of stray voltage around here. In an earlier post you mentioned a reduced treat in a freshwater systems. In ultra Pure water there is nothing to conduct electricity it's the contaminants or minerals that conduct. But Water flow through Plastic piping/tubing creates friction which causes the plastics to give up electrons and can build to lethal levels and why NEC Greatly expanded ARTICLE #680 Pools, Fountains, and Similar ( decorative pools ) specifically subsection 680.26 7C Pool Water, it goes on to say the water itself must be bonded with a minimum of conductive surface area of 9"squared. It's my understanding that PVC is one of the worst culprits in shedding Electrons ( Master licensing instructor ) and may explain why some see problems while others don't . I see a lot of pvc in the Build threads. Thanks for the link for the titanium ground probe, I wondered how to ground without using a exposed copper or zinc anode.
     
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  2. Ramasule

    Ramasule Well-Known Member

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    Yes, pvc is fun... thats why your central vac will have a bond wire running threw it.

    Also I have built a vandegraph using it.
     
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  3. jgvergo

    jgvergo Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    Wow. I am really surprised that the issue of PVC building up a charge has not come up before this. I did a little research and it is indeed a real possibility. Even though PVC is not conductive, it CAN hold a charge! Rubbing a balloon against your shirt to cause a static electricity build up is a common example of this phenomenon. Regardless, ground your system with a probe!!! There are many ways to die. Don't let this be the way you go!
     
  4. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    The static built up in PVC can reach very high voltages. I wouldn't expect it to be a personal safety hazard except in very remote sumps or water change systems. A ground probe reduces all risk but even a small amount of salt creep would reduce the threat of PVC related shock issues.
     
  5. tdileo

    tdileo Well-Known Member

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    I have heard about grounding probes in the aquarium before but thought it wasn't anything important and I know many people who ran saltwater systems for years without issues. I want to be safe since I've put a lot of money into my tank and it would suck to lose it all from an accident so I will be purchasing a Seneye soon and figure a grounding probe would also be a good purchase after reading this. Is there a certain one you would reccomend?
     
  6. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Nope. They are so simple that the brand doesn't matter imo. Just make sure the probe itself is titanium coated and you should be fine.
     
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  7. Ramasule

    Ramasule Well-Known Member

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    Yes but in salt water I highly doubt PVC will build up any charge, as salt water is an excellent conductor, provided you do have a ground probe and somewhere for it to go...
    I would suspect you would feel the discharge when you put your hand in the tank, prior to it damaging any equipment though, as those who have used a shopvac will attest to :O
     
  8. siggy

    siggy Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I realize the risk in a such small systems would be negligible but I was thinking more about people blaming stray voltages on poor coral growth or death of a fish
    and now that i think about it Probe degradation thru electrolysis may also benefit from proper grounding as well as eliminating noise in electronics.
     
  9. Ramasule

    Ramasule Well-Known Member

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    If you've ever worked at a large industrial site, people always blame the electricians first, haha. Voodoo
     
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  10. siggy

    siggy Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    We call it FM F.......ing magic
     
  11. Charterreefer

    Charterreefer Well-Known Member

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    I just put a ground probe in my reef tank after reading your article. Been meaning to put one in for a long time, however, after I did my gfci circuit shut off the tank while I was out. Never had that happen in all the years it was running until the ground probe went into the water. What do you think could be happening?
     
  12. Ramasule

    Ramasule Well-Known Member

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    Ha, well your probe just fixed your problem.

    Unplug everything aside from the probe, reset the socket, plug things in one at a time,

    Find your failed component

    Replace your failed component
     
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  13. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Well, I'm not sure that it fixed the problem, but it did let you know that you have a problem.

    Since it didn't trip immediately I would suspect a failed heater.
     
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  14. Charterreefer

    Charterreefer Well-Known Member

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    I hope that will work. The probe was on the tank for a couple of days before the tank shut down. Must be a small current leak?
     
  15. jasonrusso

    jasonrusso Well-Known Member

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    Any Hydor powerheads? I had a crack in one.

    Heater is also suspect because it is one of the only components that cycles
     
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  16. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I'm a big fan of having something like this to help troubleshoot.
    https://www.lowes.com/pd/Shock-Bust...-Single-to-Single-Yellow-GFCI-Adapter/1135923

    You can get them from most hardware stores.

    Finding intermittent faults can be frustrating. Using something like the portable GFCI would allow you to split your equipment and put some on your normal GFCI and put some on this unit. When one or the other trips again you can narrow down the possible culprit.
     
  17. Charterreefer

    Charterreefer Well-Known Member

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    I found the source! Very interesting. It was actually coming from the a 5 gallon skimmate bucket via the tube that carries the skimmate from the skimmer to the bucket! I have an SOS liquid sensor that uses two electrodes to sense when the water level is touching them (indicating a high water level). Apparently there is normally a slight voltage/current between them. When the water rises it completes the circuit. It's a wet environment and they must ground out slightly from just sitting in there. I fixed the problem by shortening the skimmate tube so it's no longer touching the skimmate bucket, just over it. No more current in tank.
     
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  18. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Glad you found it, I wouldn't have guessed that one correctly!
     
  19. linus.chan

    linus.chan Well-Known Member

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    I want to make sure I understand. I have 2 gfci outlets that I use for my aquarium equipment. They are about 6 feet away from each other and use powerstrips.

    I have plugged one titanium grounding probe to one of the gfci outlets.

    If a fault occurs will both gfci s trip? Or just the one where the fault is coming from, or the one where the probe is plugged into?
     
  20. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Only the one the fault is coming from will trip.

    You could plug the ground probe into your neighbors house using an extension cord and both of your GFCI's would still work properly.
     
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