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Old 03-08-2006, 08:32 PM   #1
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Anyone ever have a heater blow up while under water?

I had a 25W heater in a 5g bucket heating some water I was preparing for yet another water change. I was in another room and the lights started flickering and a terrble odor was noticed. I ran to the bucket--I knew immediately what had happened. The **** heater shorted out under saltwater. When I got to the bucket the heater was glowing a bright white fire/light and sparks flying. I yanked the plug from the wall immediately.

That experience has almost made me want to forget about this dangerous hobby. Saltwater and electricity I know is a deadly mix and I could have been dead. Just a few moment ago I had my hand in that bucket turning the thermometer to see what the temperature was up to.

I will never again put my hands anywhere near water in a tank with so called waterproof electrical equipment in the water with my hand. I won't put my life in the hands of manufacturers that sell faulty equipmebt.

Can I discard this bucket of water now that it's over without any recidial effects to my body? Is the current gone from the water? It has some crud in it at the surface and what looks like gases or oils floating in it. Am I now safe--can I call out ALL CLEAR to my kids?

Are there any safety precautions I can take in the future to not kill myself or my family? I think I'll get a bird instead. This hobby is over...
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Old 03-08-2006, 11:16 PM   #2
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Yeah..your good to dump the water.No danger after the heater was unplugged....and no current.

I'd take it back and explain what happened.If you get another I would try a different brand of coarse.

As far as the overall safety...I'm not sure why you can't unplug your underwater heater every time you have to go in the tank and plug it back in when you finish....but thats just my opinion.

Fatz
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Old 03-09-2006, 12:03 AM   #3
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I had one explode on me while fully sumbmerged
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Old 03-09-2006, 12:25 AM   #4
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Scare me why dont ya? lol. That sucks. What brand was the heater?
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Old 03-09-2006, 12:56 AM   #5
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Well, first of all, may I just say that you are overreacting a little? It sounds as though you went directly from the shorted out heater right to the computer!

You may have gotten a little jolt, but I don't think that a 25 watt heater would carry enough voltage to kill you. A heater that size is designed to heat a small coil just enough to warm 5 gallons of water over several hours. This is not your vaccuum cleaner, which carries over 100 volts and 12 amps. Water does not hold a current without a source, so without the heater in the water, the water is not conducting any electricity, so you are good to pour it out.

Now, as for the short out...how sure are you the heater was fully submerged? Is it possible the heater may have shifted and floated to the surface? If so, upon exposure to the air, it would have begun heating up as high as it could go...the temperature of the heater as opposed to the temperature of the water would have caused a massive temperature difference so quickly that BLAM! It blew apart. Many of us (myself included) have experienced what happens when a heater is exposed to the air for even a short time, and many of us have had heaters explode. I did not get a shock when this happened, and none of my fish died, so I think that the risk of me dying was fairly minimal.

Now, as to what you could do to avoid this in the future? Purchase a much higher quality heater with an auto-shut off. The Visi-Therm Stealth line is a good choice. These are very high quality, shatterproof, and if accidentally exposed to the air, will shut themselves off rather than go to max heat.
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...m?pcatid=12060

Also, if you are going to put a heater in a bucket without being in the room to monitor it, find a way to make sure it stays underwater. Make absolutely sure it cannot shift and come to the surface.

Overall, don't let a newbie mistake terrify you from the hobby. The better brands are very well put together and very rarely malfunction to the point where they release voltage into the aquarium...even then, death is not a huge probability.
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Old 03-09-2006, 02:53 AM   #6
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Yep yep . . . .and if you go look RIGHT NOW . . . .DrsFosterandSmith.com are having a sale on the Visi-Therm Stealths!

The other option you could use if you are still nervous about submersible electronics would be to go with an in-line heater . . . a little more expensive, but you wouldn't have to worry about it being in your tank.

Quote:
That experience has almost made me want to forget about this dangerous hobby.
Anybody got any statistics on aquarium related deaths?
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Old 03-09-2006, 11:41 AM   #7
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i would just like to say I totally understanf about the safety issue. I was working on my tanks monday night. I decided to move an empty tank, it had lodged and I tried to tap it a little with my hand. well my hand went through the tank and I ended up at the ER getting 20 stitches. The thing is I knew better than to do that in the first place. so it is noones fault but my own. My husband said he didnt want me messing with my tanks anymore. but I was back to work on them tuesday just a little short handed. It is not the hobby that is dangerous. It is just every once in awhile our common sense evades us. Dont let this scare you things are bound to happen we just have to try our best to minimize them.
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Old 03-09-2006, 01:25 PM   #8
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I slept on it and decided to forge on. Life itself is a gamble and I can get struck by lightning tomorrow.

Gonna get that Visi-Therm Stealth on sale at DRF&S.

I need a protein skimmer for a 20g tank. Are they all basically the same except for price? All it really does is mix water with filtered air, creating a froth of bubbles for gas exchange, right? GARF says get this one. Whataya think?

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...pc=1&N=0&Nty=1
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Old 03-09-2006, 01:45 PM   #9
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Once, and it was because I left it plugged in as I drained the tank.
Then, like an idiot, I resubmerged it.

Pop!
the whole thing shattered and was ruined. Fish were not affected. It was a visi-them, so it killed power instantly when it shattered.
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Old 03-09-2006, 05:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkremer
You may have gotten a little jolt, but I don't think that a 25 watt heater would carry enough voltage to kill you.
pkremer, not to jump on you but you are flat wrong. While that heater is only rated for 25 watts of current the feed to it is 110 volts and the house breaker it is attached to is rated for either 15amps or 20 amps of electrical service. Under the right (wrong) circumstances 110 volts can indeed kill. Don't ever underestimate electricity.. the moment you don't respect it that's the very moment it can kill you.

I hope everyone reads this.. you need to be careful with anything you plug into a wall that gets anywhere near water.
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