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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today I was messing around with my tank and I felt a buzz, not a shock but buzzing feeling when running my finger along one of the reflectors on my light hood. I grabbed one of those current detectors that beep when you want to check if there's live power at a fixture and this thing is beeping like crazy when I'm even 4' away from my tank!! The thing is detecting current in the air and it gets louder as I get close to my tank. The whole hood and all the metalic objects are setting the thing off.

When I turn the lights off I get no current detection but I did get current when I dipped the tip of the probe into the water with the heater on! Again, nothing when I turn the heater off.

So what I'm wondering is if anyone else has tried this around their tanks or if I'm sitting here with a dangerous electric shock hazard waiting to occur. The fact that there's all this current in the air also raises concerns that this electric field could be a cause of cancer to myself or someone who might sit near the tank for long periods of time.

I've been using this ballast now for almost 6 years, I switched to PC lights on it 3 years ago. The lights I'm using are 55w power compacts that are hooked up to a Fulham workhorse 5 according to its wiring instructions. The ballast is wired with a grounded power cord which I'm wondering if I should have or not as well. Anyone familiar with electrics I'd be interested in hearing about this one.
 

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You have a grounding problem. It's not in the air, but in everything around your tank. Have you checked that your plugs are properly grounded? Be careful, as the whole water/electricity not mixing thing is good advice. You might just unplug your lights until you figure out what the problem is.
 

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Older houses often don't have a ground wire hooked to the outlet socket, in fact they rarely have 3 hole outlet sockets. Some people want to be able to connect grounded things to those outlets so they either use an adapter, not grounded, or replace the socket assembl with a grounded type, but no ground attached. I agree with 2wheelsx2 that you need to be very cautious with this and get a little tester that tells you if the socket is properly hooked up. And, you really should have a ground fault detector socket assembly (GFCI) installed for the aquarium.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Is a GFCI the same thing as the outlets you'd find in the bathroom with the trip switch on it? I tried plugging the ballast directly to a wall outlet and I'm getting the same thing. The ground wire from the power cable is bolted right on to the metal part of the ballast. Is this the problem? Could someone explain why the filter, heater, CO2 reactor pump all have no ground plug while other aquarium accesories like my CO2 solenoid has one?
 

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yes the gfci are the ones with the switches. becareful with them, as they age they can trip more often.

you can use a multimeter to check your tank for stray voltage. usual suspects are heaters and powerheads.

is your light grounded to the reflector?

if your outlet has a good ground, you can also add a grounding probe to the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
1) what's the best way to test stray voltage with a meter. What are acceptable levels and what is too much, please elaborate.

2) no, my ballast is not grounded to the reflectors. Should I be running a wire from the ballast ground point to the metal reflectors?

3) Could you elaborate on the grounding probe? I looked it up on google and found places that are saying it could be even more dangerous to use one of these.

4) I'm still wondering why some of the accessories do not come with a ground on the power cords?
 

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Manufacturers have a choice between using a grounding, 3 wire connector, or using double insulation on devices they make. They pick the cheapest way for what they make. Most electric hand power tools, for outdoor use, have double insulation rather than 3 wire plugs.
 

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Do you or your Dad have a friend or a buddy that is an electrician?

I ask because now might be the time to have them come by and check things in person. I say this because you sound like a nice person and I would prefer that you stick around, and not have something very bad happen to you or someone in your household.

A hobby is one thing. Potentially getting seriously hurt is another.

I hope it works out for you. Does Brian (Bpimm) come onto PT? He might know the answer to your question.
 

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i live in a fairly old house and my Coralife aqualights give of a small shock if your hand is in the water and somewhere delicate touches the metal legs but if i just touch it normally nothing happens, it needs the water and my forearm to give a shock. Sorry for thread hijack.
 

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The thought police have your location and retraining will start immediately.

Oh that's right, I am plantedtank.net and people here are mellow and ENJOY the hobby and fellow hobbyists.

You have escaped the radar of the thought police. They are stalking on other tank websites.
You may resume creative thinking and freedom of speech.

Whew!
 

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All the above is good advice....my "shocking" experience happened when I did a water change and let the water line get below the level of the heater.....As I filled water back, the overheated glass cracked on the heater, causing a current leak. A couple days later I put my hand in the water and got a little surprise. The fish didn't seem to notice it though.....You should check your heaters out in the tank and see if they are cracked.

(side note: Jimbo - why are you letting yourself get so upset over a thread being closed? Is it really that important that you're posting on multiple forums and in multiple threads that have nothing to do with the subject that's gotten you so visibly rattled? Just let it go bud....)
 

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i live in a fairly old house and my Coralife aqualights give of a small shock if your hand is in the water and somewhere delicate touches the metal legs but if i just touch it normally nothing happens, it needs the water and my forearm to give a shock. Sorry for thread hijack.
Get one of these:

Aquarium Safety: Ultra-Ground Titanium Probe

You have a bad ground somewhere and it can be realtively bad for the fish.

Tommy
 

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current tester

first thing is your ''current tester'' is actually a voltage tester theres a diffrence and the quickie testers that beep are really not that reliable you need to use a quality multi meter to make any accurate readings.those quickie testers will beep in your pocket for no reason at all sometimes. when you felt a buzz you were very lucky that your body was not grounded or theres the real possability of being seriously hurt or even killed by electricution.unplugg your light take it apart make sure all the wires are tightly spliced together make sure it is tightly grounded to both the ground wires and to the actual light fixture(green ground screw)also check your outlets to make sure they are properly wired and grounded,grounding is extremely important! check the connections to all your equipment i recomend a titanium steel heater glass heaters just pose an eletricial hazard if the crack.as for stray voltage 1-3 volts is normal as long as theres no stray current (amps). agian make sure everything is gounded properly.if everything is in proper working order and grounded consider getting a reliable electrician to take a look and give you there opinion.
 

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It's likely that the ground hole in your outlet isn't connected to anything inside the wall. That's dangerous, but common, especially in older houses. If you have a friend who knows about electricity, have him open up the outlet and see if there is a ground wire available to connect. Turn the power off before you do that, and if you don't know what you're doing, leave it up to someone who does; less than half an amp going through your body can (will) kill you.

You might see suggestions to ground your plug/equipment to a metal water pipe. Although this used to be standard practice, it is now against building and wiring codes because it presents dangers of its own. Everything may work correctly for a long time, but several things can happen. If a wire breaks and contacts the ground wire, all the faucets in your house will become energized, which can easily be lethal. Additionally, water flowing through pipes can build up dangerous voltages on the ground through friction, which can fry electronics and body parts. Plumbers will use a meter to check before beginning any work if your electricity is grounded to a pipe anywhere before they begin work; if it is, they will call an electrician before they will begin - it's their life at risk.

If you have any metal studs in your house that go to the ground, it would be acceptable to wire your ground plug to those. Otherwise, call an electrician and have him fix the problem. The voltage present on your 'ground' can flow through your body, and out your feet to the floor, which is truly grounded (the fish don't notice because they aren't grounded, similar to birds sitting on electric lines). Best case scenario, you'll feel an unpleasant tingling and pull your hand away. Worst case scenario, the current will cause your muscles to tense up and you won't be able to let go; the coroner will have to pry your hand off whatever it is you touched.

Really, get it fixed.
 
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