Help. Is my heater dangerous? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-11-2017, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Help. Is my heater dangerous?

Ive noticed today that there seems to be sand at the bottom/tip of my heater. Theres also condensation near the top.
Its fully submerged and came with the tank secondhand, i dont know how old it is. Its maintaining heat fine and been in constant use for about two weeks.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-11-2017, 07:40 PM
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yes,your heater is dangerous.Replace it.The condensation is an especially bad sign,it might be leaking.Ever touch an aquarium and get a shock? also,enough water gets in there,it can break the glass.

MTS? no,I just need one more tank...
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-11-2017, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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Do I need to remove it straight away? Im worried about my fish overnight.

Edit: ive removed it. Im not messing with electricity and water. Ive covered my tank in insulation.
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Last edited by Modestlysublime; 02-11-2017 at 08:13 PM. Reason: Update
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 10:43 AM
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Yeah good rule of thumb for aquarium heaters: When in doubt throw it out.

This is also a good illustration for why you should be running your aquariums through GFCI outlets if you aren't already.
You could install a decent one yourself for around ten bucks or get one that plugs into the wall for thirteen. Very minimal investment in your own personal safety as well as that of your livestock.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 12:56 PM
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I'm very curious is your heater an Aqueon? I have two and both have some "condensation" in them? I was extremely worried and TBH still am. I actually emailed the company and they told me that when they were manufactured there sometimes is a little gas left inside...or something to that extent. I swear the only aquarium equipment I ever have trouble with or bad luck is heaters. I still haven't replaced but they are still running normal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by goodbytes View Post
Yeah good rule of thumb for aquarium heaters: When in doubt throw it out.

This is also a good illustration for why you should be running your aquariums through GFCI outlets if you aren't already.
You could install a decent one yourself for around ten bucks or get one that plugs into the wall for thirteen. Very minimal investment in your own personal safety as well as that of your livestock.
This is great advice and this is exactly what I went and did even though I was told "they were OK" by Aqueon. I bought a $13 GFCI from Lowes or Home depot

#TheLand

Last edited by gnovince; 02-12-2017 at 01:42 PM. Reason: Edit
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 02:27 PM
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A GFCI as well as a temperature controller are basic protection for me and my tanks. But then there is also a fair amount of hysterical lack of thought involved when speaking of water and electricity.
Condensation inside the heater doesn't necessarily mean it is leaking. The basic air you breathe has moisture in it so unless there is a really strong effort to assemble the heater inside a totally dry environment, the air in the heater will have moisture in it. Whether there is a enough and you see it will vary. The "sand" in the bottom sounds more like small particles of the form the heating coils are wrapped around. Can you see a white block of some type inside? Some chips/flakes off.
To ease your fears a bit, this may help. For you to be electrocuted, it requires the power to come from the "hot" side of the power through the water, through you and then back to a ground. So consider that there is a "hot" power wire and a ground wire both in the heater and about an inch or less apart. So think of which is more likely to happen, will the power go out of the heater to the water and you and then you touch a ground or will the water touch both hot and ground inside the tube? Once that happens the power breaker or fuse will blow.
But for all the other equipment like lights, pumps and powerheads, it still is really good practice to add the simple plug-in GFCI. They shut the power down much sooner and much safer.
So I recommend not buying a new heater but spend the same amount or less to protect from numerous hazards from ALL the electrical stuff.
This is one I feel works very well for the novice electrical folks. Plug in and go.
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Shock-Buste...dapter/1135923
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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Hi, thanks for all the replies. I must confess I have no idea what you all mean by GFCI. I've googled it and it seems to only be a US thing. Could someone explain what it is and why its needed above trip switches in houses? Then I can figure out what the equivilent is in the UK.
Thanks!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 07:40 PM
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A GFCI is a "ground fault circuit Interrupion".It basically has a built-in circuit breaker on the outlet itself that will blow when something plugged in to it pulls too many amps.

MTS? no,I just need one more tank...
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 08:55 PM
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GFCI is a somewhat new (as in last 25-30 years?) that is a safety item that is in addition to the fuse or breaker. A fuse or breaker will cut off the power when the current goes beyond it's limit. That is 15 Amps or more here in the states. The difference is the speed and amount of current that flows before it trips. They are much more sensitive and designed to trip before most people would be harmed. Waiting for a 15 Amp fuse to get hot enough to work is often way too late. They are now required in almost all places where there is water like kitchens bathrooms and outside when not in totally rural areas of the US.
A common time to need them is when somebody drops a small hair drier in the sink of water. A person reaching in to grab it would die but not if there is GFCI protection. They have to push the little reset button and may complain but that is much better than the husband calling the emergency folks!
On a quick look I don't see any mention of them being in the building codes for your area. More I see requirements to keep electrical out of the bathroom. That seems a bit restrictive to a guy who uses an electric shaver!!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-13-2017, 09:15 PM
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The UK equivalent of a GFCI is an RCD.
They don't protect against over current between live and neutral (that's what a fuse does) they protect against any current at all between live and earth or neutral and earth.

Imagine you touch the live wire of your heater. The resistance of your body is quite high so less than an amp flows. That means a fuse would never trip. However, an RCD / GFCI will notice that some current is flowing out of the live wire but none is flowing in through the neutral wire. That must mean there's a fault so it cuts the power.

TL;DR its already standard protection in UK wiring, you don't need to add one if you have a house with modern wiring. If your fuse box has a "press to test" button, you're covered.

Last edited by TwoTurtles; 02-13-2017 at 09:32 PM. Reason: Old houses might not have this
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoTurtles View Post
The UK equivalent of a GFCI is an RCD.
They don't protect against over current between live and neutral (that's what a fuse does) they protect against any current at all between live and earth or neutral and earth.

Imagine you touch the live wire of your heater. The resistance of your body is quite high so less than an amp flows. That means a fuse would never trip. However, an RCD / GFCI will notice that some current is flowing out of the live wire but none is flowing in through the neutral wire. That must mean there's a fault so it cuts the power.

TL;DR its already standard protection in UK wiring, you don't need to add one if you have a house with modern wiring. If your fuse box has a "press to test" button, you're covered.
Ah! Thank you that makes sense, I was thinking I already had that built into my wiring. Thanks. It sounds like I don't need anything extra then?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
GFCI is a somewhat new (as in last 25-30 years?) that is a safety item that is in addition to the fuse or breaker. A fuse or breaker will cut off the power when the current goes beyond it's limit. That is 15 Amps or more here in the states. The difference is the speed and amount of current that flows before it trips. They are much more sensitive and designed to trip before most people would be harmed. Waiting for a 15 Amp fuse to get hot enough to work is often way too late. They are now required in almost all places where there is water like kitchens bathrooms and outside when not in totally rural areas of the US.
A common time to need them is when somebody drops a small hair drier in the sink of water. A person reaching in to grab it would die but not if there is GFCI protection. They have to push the little reset button and may complain but that is much better than the husband calling the emergency folks!
On a quick look I don't see any mention of them being in the building codes for your area. More I see requirements to keep electrical out of the bathroom. That seems a bit restrictive to a guy who uses an electric shaver!!
Yeah, nothing that can be plugged into the mains should be taken into a bathroom, and extension cables can't be used. Battery powered shavers or specifically designed 'shaving points' are used.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
A GFCI as well as a temperature controller are basic protection for me and my tanks. But then there is also a fair amount of hysterical lack of thought involved when speaking of water and electricity.
Condensation inside the heater doesn't necessarily mean it is leaking. The basic air you breathe has moisture in it so unless there is a really strong effort to assemble the heater inside a totally dry environment, the air in the heater will have moisture in it. Whether there is a enough and you see it will vary. The "sand" in the bottom sounds more like small particles of the form the heating coils are wrapped around. Can you see a white block of some type inside? Some chips/flakes off.
To ease your fears a bit, this may help. For you to be electrocuted, it requires the power to come from the "hot" side of the power through the water, through you and then back to a ground. So consider that there is a "hot" power wire and a ground wire both in the heater and about an inch or less apart. So think of which is more likely to happen, will the power go out of the heater to the water and you and then you touch a ground or will the water touch both hot and ground inside the tube? Once that happens the power breaker or fuse will blow.
But for all the other equipment like lights, pumps and powerheads, it still is really good practice to add the simple plug-in GFCI. They shut the power down much sooner and much safer.
So I recommend not buying a new heater but spend the same amount or less to protect from numerous hazards from ALL the electrical stuff.
This is one I feel works very well for the novice electrical folks. Plug in and go.
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Shock-Buste...dapter/1135923

I had (I think it was an) aqueon with condensation in 2002. The instructions it came with explained it was manufactured in Italy and to expect condensation inside during operation and that there was no issue or it may have been on their website but I do remember the manufacturer explaining not to worry.
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