Thursday, March 24, 2011

Think before you enter a Pool or Spa Rescue.


It absolutely amazes me that with the potential fire and electrocution dangers that Swimming Pools and Spas pose that the majority of owners of these devices allow slipshod wiring to be installed to these Units.
One of the main problems when people purchase a pool or hot tub is they never consider
the Additional costs of having the Pool or Spa wired properly and what usually happens is they either have a friend who knows a little about electric do it or they do it themselves or they hire a less than reputable Maintenance man / Electrician to do it.
and what results is danger to everyone who goes near that pool or spa including you the rescuer. And this even includes Large public Pools and Spas I have found dangerously wired.
It should be part of every SOP when performing a rescue from a Pool or Spa that involves a Possible drowning that in fact the drowning may be from Electrocution and proper precautions be taken. Which would include making sure the power is off to the pool or spa.

One of the most frequent violations I run across is people with above ground pools running these pools off of extension cords often times plugged into an outlet which has no ground or ground fault protection unit.
The other major violation I run into is in ground pools that have concrete decks around them not being properly grounded and bonded to the electrical system .
When it comes to in ground pools all surrounding metal parts are to be bonded to each other and to the electrical system grounding wire this type of grounding known as a Equipotential Plane,
Keeps all potential items that can be come energized at the same potential there by eliminating a shock hazard when swimmers go from the water on to the deck and vice versa .Pool Contractors mistakenly believe this grounding procedure is to protect you from lightning so they often will not install it. If you do not have correct grounding and bonding of an in ground pool should one of the Electrical devices such as a light or pump become energized to a shorted out wire against its metal case the current can travel thru the swimmer delivering a fatal
Shock to the swimmer instead of being carried away by the Equipotential plane grounding.
And when it comes to the proper wiring and Inspection of all types of pools and spas the specialized education needed is very much lacking . When it comes to commercial pools and Spas most jurisdictions require either annual or bi annual inspections of wiring to commercial pools and spas in PA it is every 4 years but all too often I come across commercial pools newly re-inspected or Just Built inspected and find major code violations missed by the Inspectors. Even after these inspectors had to pass a special test to certify Pool Wiring. This is because the rules for wiring Pools and Spas are very complex and can be confusing even to the pro's .
Often times I would be called to give bids on a Pool or Spa too be told I was too high on my bid.
but in reality I was not ,the other Electricians did not figure in all the proper wiring and equipment
Required such as GFCI Breakers, 4 wire cable not 3 wire and a disconnect within 10 feet of the tub
and correct size and type wire or piping for the application, which would put there bids similar or higher than mine.
And of course 6 months down the road I would have these same people calling me up complaining
how there pool or spa was burned up or malfunctioning and even giving them a mild shock ,would I please come out and correct it.
Then there is the problem related with Spas and Proper GFCI Protection of Electrical outlets
near by how many times I walk into a home to find the home owner has put a spa in inside his home and there would be an electrical outlet right next to the spa or even covered up by the spa and they have no GFCI protection as required by code. All electrical outlets within 5 feet of a spa are to have
GFCI protection but the home owner brings his new spa into his already built home puts it in the basement and never converts the outlets to GFCI Protection and what do you know some one plugs a radio etc into one of the receptacles puts it on the Spa tub rail and the next thing you know it falls into the tub and who ever is the lucky person inside the tub is toast.
You name the possible hazardous wiring condition you can create with either a Pool and Spa and I have seen it. Like the man who built his pool deck up against his home and right under his Electrical meter with out any type of proper grounding, But until there is proper education and installation combined with proper inspection and enforcement these ticking time bombs are out there waiting to get you and remember you are no safer going to a public facility.
like I tell every home or building owner who tells me he knows how to do proper electrical wiring my response is always " Well people prove to me just how well they know what there doing with electric wiring every time I have to get on a fire truck and go to a call"

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