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Old 09-30-2012, 11:57 AM   #91
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Yes you can use your tester anywhere after the GFI. In fact one GFI installed properly at the first outlet will protect all the outlets on that circuit.
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:48 AM   #92
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kdpuffer made some good points. Remember what he said, as little as 4mA, across your heart, can kill you. A lot of field service folks I work with will work on cabinets with one hand in their pocket. It seems lazy at first glance (you think why not use two hands!) but in reality they are preventing a path for the current to go across your chest. If they slip and hit an energized component and their other hand is on a metal surface the current will travel through your body. You really don't want to test things by sticking your hands into a tank that could potentially have electrical issues.

With that being said you should only be reading a few mV. Anything over a volt would be suspect to me. Especially 20v+ readings. It is possible that while your meter reads fine at higher voltages it could be out of tolerance on the lower end. I deal with calibration of electrical equipment daily and this is a fairly common occurrence even on higher end equipment.

I did test my tank and was getting <200mV with my Fluval 406 running (heater was off). If you haven't already, I'd suggest reading through the post I linked earlier, it explains ground probes and GFCI's in great detail and in a variety of situations.

It is possible that your tester is showing the outlet is grounded, perhaps to the box, but not physically tied back to your ground bar in your panel. The outdoor rods are 8 foot rods that are hammered down into the ground. In my area, two 8' ground rods are required, in addition to crossing your water meter (uses water pipes as ground).
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Old 10-01-2012, 04:19 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by meegosh
kdpuffer made some good points. Remember what he said, as little as 4mA, across your heart, can kill you. A lot of field service folks I work with will work on cabinets with one hand in their pocket. It seems lazy at first glance (you think why not use two hands!) but in reality they are preventing a path for the current to go across your chest. If they slip and hit an energized component and their other hand is on a metal surface the current will travel through your body. You really don't want to test things by sticking your hands into a tank that could potentially have electrical issues.

With that being said you should only be reading a few mV. Anything over a volt would be suspect to me. Especially 20v+ readings. It is possible that while your meter reads fine at higher voltages it could be out of tolerance on the lower end. I deal with calibration of electrical equipment daily and this is a fairly common occurrence even on higher end equipment.

I did test my tank and was getting <200mV with my Fluval 406 running (heater was off). If you haven't already, I'd suggest reading through the post I linked earlier, it explains ground probes and GFCI's in great detail and in a variety of situations.

It is possible that your tester is showing the outlet is grounded, perhaps to the box, but not physically tied back to your ground bar in your panel. The outdoor rods are 8 foot rods that are hammered down into the ground. In my area, two 8' ground rods are required, in addition to crossing your water meter (uses water pipes as ground).
We have the same electrical code. I have to bond electronics on towers. Your advice is spot on.
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Old 10-01-2012, 06:07 PM   #94
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Yeah, I know something is fishy.

I can't find the culprit. I've been leaving things off for 1 day at a time to see if I can get consistent readings of around 1 volt. It is inconsistent in that sometimes it will be 1 volt and sometimes it will be 20 volts. I think something is screwy some of the time but not all of the time. Yesterday was my reactor pump and I've been getting readings of 17+ all day yesterday so I don't think that is it. Today I'm leaving my skimmer pump off and testing.

So what you're saying is my outlet may be grounded but not tied to the ground? I don't see any rods outside of the house (where might they be located?).

You're also saying 20 volts isn't normal? Saltwater has a lot more equipment than freshwater (if it matters).

I'm going to try to get my hands on another tester. I really don't want to BUY a different one but I will if I have to.
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:46 PM   #95
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Yeah, I know something is fishy.

I can't find the culprit. I've been leaving things off for 1 day at a time to see if I can get consistent readings of around 1 volt. It is inconsistent in that sometimes it will be 1 volt and sometimes it will be 20 volts. I think something is screwy some of the time but not all of the time. Yesterday was my reactor pump and I've been getting readings of 17+ all day yesterday so I don't think that is it. Today I'm leaving my skimmer pump off and testing.

So what you're saying is my outlet may be grounded but not tied to the ground? I don't see any rods outside of the house (where might they be located?).

You're also saying 20 volts isn't normal? Saltwater has a lot more equipment than freshwater (if it matters).

I'm going to try to get my hands on another tester. I really don't want to BUY a different one but I will if I have to.
Saltwater is FAR more conductive than fresh water is. Most building code requires a ground rod in most areas, but I have seen electricians that just tie into the cold water supply line. Not perfect but better than nothing. If your electrical panel isn't tied into a good ground, it is a dangerous situation. But I cannot believe it isn't.
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:17 PM   #96
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Yeah. I'm just going to hire an electrician to come out and investigate my setup. Fish tanks might not be his expertise but I bet he can tell me where the volts are coming from and if I'm properly grounded and safe.

I'll let everyone know what he says.
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:04 AM   #97
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I tested my 4 gallon that just finished cycling. It only has a heater and a small 98gph pump.

Both on - 35.6 volts
pump off, heater on - 14.4 volts
pump on, heater off - 35.6 volts
both off - 7.1 volts
power strip off - 1.2 volts

Officially think my meter is jacked up. Wouldn't I feel 35.6 volts when i stick my hand in? And this is more reading than in my 55.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:44 AM   #98
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Yes, sounds like your low range is out of tolerance. You would definitely feel 35v, it would be a slight tingling sensation.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:30 AM   #99
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Just so your aware, a ground rod is in the ground and is installed during construction so the wire and rod will not be visible. Also depending on the geological makeup of the ground they may use ground plates instead which are also buried. As far as using the water pipe supplying the house, in Canada our electrical code requires we use that as the ground if the pipe is metal. It would make for a much better ground as it can be miles long. I am an electrician btw. I agree that your meter is suspect and could be giving false readings. I do think having an electrician come in is a good idea cause he can determine if your ground/bond is continuous.
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:15 PM   #100
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You could also chase the bare copper out of your panel and see if it goes to a ground rod(s). Most are not completely hammered down and a few inches-foot are visible with the bare copper tied to it. If it was new construction it may be buried though but should still be able to chase it out of your panel.
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