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Old 05-09-2013, 09:02 AM   #121
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I know this is an old thread, but I just discovered a similar situation in my salt water system. My system is 2 tanks, 75Gal and 125Gal, sharing a 35Gal sump. The 75Gal was integrated into my setup about 3 weeks ago. Last weekend for the first time I felt a stinging when touching the water surface while standing on a carpeted concrete slab floor with bare feet, with a small cut on my finger. Turn everything off, and the stinging was gone. I narrowed the source down to my pumps, 4 Hydor powerheads, a Mag 1800 Return, and a Reef Octo Skimmer with a Bubble Blaster pump. My Snap On Vantage automotive volt meter ($3000 new) showed 28 Volts, positive lead in the water, negative to ground receptacle. Unplug the pumps one at a time, and the voltage dissapates little by little, along with the stinging sensation. My hands are cut up all of the time, so my curiousity is why is this happening all of the sudden. Even with just the skimmer running, I feel something. I want to believe that it is the very recent addition of Kalkwasser to my gravity fed ATO, causing something in my water chemistry to make me feel the stray voltage, that was most likely always there. Or maybe the Kalkwasser is making the water more conductive.
Anyway, here is the most interesting part, and I can't figure out the reason for it. If I split the loads, 4 power heads plugged into one receptacle, and the return pump along with the skimmer plugged into a different receptacle on a completely different house circuit, voltage drops from 28 Volts down to 1.4Volts! No more stinging. Unplug either one, half the voltage is back, 14Volts, and so is the stinging. Its like splitting the circuits is making the magnetic fields from the pumps cancel out each other.
Any ideas?
Also wanted to add, with 28 Volts in the water, my Ammeter, capable of DC Milliamps only, showed no current at all. Inconclusive because it is a DC meter, but worth mentioning
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Old 05-09-2013, 01:16 PM   #122
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sounds like a potential grounding issue. When you switched to the other circuit you brought in a better ground terminal. try switching all 4 pumps to the other circuit and see if the problem disappates completely.
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Old 05-09-2013, 02:04 PM   #123
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Total of 6 pumps. Switch them all to either circuit/receptacle, 28 Volts, Split them up either way, 1.4 Volts. Disconnect any pump on either side makes the voltage creep up, like upseting the balance. Also has to be different circuits on different breakers to drop the voltage to 1.4 Volts
I kind of like having them split up, so if one GFCI trips, I will still have some circulation until the problem is fixed, but still very curious why it is acting the way it is.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:26 PM   #124
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Have you checked your electrical outlet (receptacle) if it has a good ground? If you get some voltage reading between the ground (round) and the neutral (larger flat) on outlet you have a grounding problem. The voltage difference between larger hole and round hole in outlet (smaller hole as common when measuring) must be close to zero volt. Check also your grounding probe if it has good conductivity (must be less than 1 ohm). They are sometime covered with algae and what not.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:51 PM   #125
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I don't know if it is a grounding issue so much as an issue with your neutral line. Your ground and neutral are actually connected to the same point in the panel. The way most pumps are wired (hydor I know for sure) they don't have a ground prong so a grounding issue isn't likely. If you do a continuity test on your neutral (white wire) to ground (either bare copper or green wire) you should have continuity, if you don't then it's most likely an issue on the neutral. If you have continuity with alot of resistance (ohms) then there is a loose or bad connection somewhere. Another thing to look at is hot neutral reverse, I actually had this on a receptacle in my basement that I found after transferring everything into my 90g. Unfortunately I had all my tools at work so I had to figure it out the hard way- hand in water, zap, ouch that's not it. As far as your voltage dropping by switching to a different circuit that is most likely the induction canceling itself out due to the phase differential. Also if your having the same issue on the other circuit it's possible there is a loose connection on your main neutral line or main ground in the panel. In the panel your ground and neutral are actually connected.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:55 PM   #126
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I forgot to add that it's also possible (not likely give the number of pumps) that the winding insulation on your pumps is degraded. Like I said not likely but I do have one pump at home that has that issue. Everytime my ATO kicked in it would energize my my main tank through the water it was pumping in. If my hand was in the tank at the time I would eliminate the need to grab a coffee.
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Old 05-09-2013, 10:00 PM   #127
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Quote:
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I don't know if it is a grounding issue so much as an issue with your neutral line. Your ground and neutral are actually connected to the same point in the panel. The way most pumps are wired (hydor I know for sure) they don't have a ground prong so a grounding issue isn't likely. If you do a continuity test on your neutral (white wire) to ground (either bare copper or green wire) you should have continuity, if you don't then it's most likely an issue on the neutral. If you have continuity with alot of resistance (ohms) then there is a loose or bad connection somewhere. Another thing to look at is hot neutral reverse, I actually had this on a receptacle in my basement that I found after transferring everything into my 90g. Unfortunately I had all my tools at work so I had to figure it out the hard way- hand in water, zap, ouch that's not it. As far as your voltage dropping by switching to a different circuit that is most likely the induction canceling itself out due to the phase differential. Also if your having the same issue on the other circuit it's possible there is a loose connection on your main neutral line or main ground in the panel. In the panel your ground and neutral are actually connected.
You are absolutely correct that ground and neutral are connected at the same point at the panel. Therefore, the voltage difference between them with respect to the hot wire should be zero. That only happens when there is no load. However, since your neutral conducts current while your ground wire does not, that explain why they should not be equal because of the voltage drop on the neutral wire. If you notice the more load or pumps you connect the higher voltage reading you get. Simple explanation is you have high resistance or bad connection on your neutral wire. High resistance may be due to the distance and size of wire from the electrical panel. It could also be due to defective extension cord or power strip. The ground probe for tank should take care of this stray voltage if you have a good ground at the outlet where you connect this grounding probe.
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Old 05-10-2013, 12:21 AM   #128
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My Snap On Vantage automotive volt meter ($3000 new) showed 28 Volts, positive lead in the water, negative to ground receptacle.
Some DC voltmeter can pick up AC volts but are not accurate readings. The 24 volts on your DC snap on meter could actually be twice as that (48vac). You definitely need to have a good grounding probe in your tank to prevent shock when touching your water. It is not a good idea to have 2 separate circuits from panel to power your pumps. Good thing you might only have one pump with stray voltage. If you have two pumps with same problem connected to different circuits, guess what? You will fry everything on your tank. The reason why you are getting lower reading is probably because one pump happens to be plugged in reversed where the hot side becomes the neutral and thus would act as your grounding probe.
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:47 PM   #129
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Just to clarify, meter was in AC mode when testing the 28 Volts measured. I do not have a grounding probe, and I am hesitant to use one after reading this:
Aquarium Grounding Probes
I have tested the receptacles with one of those cheap circuit testers from Home Depot, but will bring the meter home again and test the ground, and nuetral circuits, as well as checking for reversed hot and nuetral wires.
Can you clarify why using two different GFCI protected circuits would be a hazard?
Thanks
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Old 05-10-2013, 05:15 PM   #130
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I am assuming that using two different circuits gives the potential to leak 240 Volts if there are failures on both sides? To those who are using ground probes, how many volts did you have in your tank before grounding, and have you noticed any behavior changes in your livestock?
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