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Author Topic: Submersible Pump in a Big Lake ?  (Read 11545 times)
KM4AH
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« on: June 23, 2014, 01:51:25 PM »

A friend of mine has had one to wash his dock, boats etc. for years. He was told yesterday that they are not legal, which very well may be the case. But, he was also told that if it shorted it would electrocute anybody in the water for 100's of feet. I'm thinking that unless you actually touched the pump and had less resistance than the water that nothing could happen. What say you ?
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AA4PB
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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 02:37:48 PM »

Hundreds of feet is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. However, if the pump is not properly grounded it could be an issue for someone touching or very close to it. The normal way to provide protection would be to connect it via a GFI breaker. Pumps are used in swimming pools all the time and that's a whole lot more confined area than the lake.


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K1CJS
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 02:45:40 PM »

Submersible pumps are meant to be used where nobody could be hurt if they did short out--that is down in a well, far removed from contact with people. 

As for the shorting out, the same thing that happens when an electrical device was plugged in and fell into a bathtub would happen to whomever was in the water around the pump.  Since quite a few of those pumps are 220 volt, the danger factor is even worse.  The only way for that not to possibly happen is if it were wired into a GFI breaker set--but I doubt if it would be legal all the same. 

BTW, a submersible pump in a swimming pool?  Even if the pool were in ground, I have never heard of anything like that.  The pump motor is not a submerged type for just that reason.
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W1JKA
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2014, 03:32:33 PM »

   This ranks right up there with a couple of my neighbors who run a 120 line out on their aluminum docks to a weather proof receptacle so they can run the trickle chargers for their boat battery. Probably the reason I have a wood dock and sail boat.
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KE4JOY
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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2014, 03:34:42 PM »

I had a small submersible pump in a fish pond go bad. It dident short but it did leak.

One day I was tending to the pond and got a 'tickle' when putting my hands in the water.

I replaced the pump and put a gfci receptacle out there.

I was lucky  Cool
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AA4PB
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« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2014, 03:51:53 PM »

Are we talking about a big 220V submersible well pump here - or one of the little sump pump types of units?
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KM4AH
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2014, 04:03:06 PM »

It is 110 volts. Somebody explain the physics to me of how it is going to shock you if you don't touch it just by playing in the water. Circuit path ?
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W8JX
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2014, 04:53:27 AM »

It is 110 volts. Somebody explain the physics to me of how it is going to shock you if you don't touch it just by playing in the water. Circuit path ?

The danger is in coming in with defective wiring or pump itself if not grounded proper. Not in open water. Also if you feed it with a GFCI breaker it will interrupt circuit when it detects a few ma of leakage making risk very very low. 
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KM4AH
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2014, 05:18:47 AM »

It is 110 volts. Somebody explain the physics to me of how it is going to shock you if you don't touch it just by playing in the water. Circuit path ?

The danger is in coming in with defective wiring or pump itself if not grounded proper. Not in open water. Also if you feed it with a GFCI breaker it will interrupt circuit when it detects a few ma of leakage making risk very very low. 

That's what I was thinking. Killing people in the water 50 or 100 feet away as the plumbing salesman was stating is what I could not wrap my arms around.
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G3RZP
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« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2014, 06:19:30 AM »

Suppose for the sake of argument that the live side connected to the water. Then there's a potential gradient through the water to wherever electrical 'ground' is. Depending on what gradient is, someone could have enough volts across them to be electrocuted. 50 feet sounds rather a lot, though.

It is the same principle that sees cows electrocuted by a close lightning strike, where current flows along the ground surface as well downwards - the potential between their front and rear feet can be enough to kill them. Apparently (and I don't know why) cows are particularly susceptible, which is why over here, there are fairly stringent regulations on wiring cowsheds and milking parlours.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2014, 06:40:40 AM »

Good point about the type of pump, but the little sump pumps can't put out much pressure--they're not made to work that way.  Heck, most of them have a ten or fifteen foot 'lift' limit, and you can block the hose outlet without too much effort, maybe five to ten pounds pressure--if that--at the hose end.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2014, 08:30:51 AM »

RZP is correct and one other thing.  The pool and well pumps are connected to everything else by plastic pipe. 

The guy using the pump in the lake needs to research this and determine the legalities.  Just thinking of the possible scenarios of what could go wrong will take quite some time!

The whole thing could be resolved by him buying a pump with a plastic suction hose and place the pump on the dock.  Feed the pump with a GFIC outlet just in case the pump gets knocked into the water.

 
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KF7CG
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« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2014, 10:05:17 AM »

His legality problem may be from taking water from the lake. Does he have any "rights" to the water in the lake? Believe it or not he may not have the right to remove water from the lake. This is of course on top of the safety issue.

Water rights can be even more contentious than antenna rights.

KF7CG
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K1CJS
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« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2014, 10:37:45 AM »

That could be true--if the water were pulled from the lake to be pumped somewhere else.  Just using water to rinse off a boat and/or dock, however, just puts the water right back where it was taken from.  Some idiot may claim that water rights prohibit that, but since the water isn't going anywhere, they would be hard pressed to prove the 'theft' of the water, which is in effect what water rights are to protect against.
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VE3FMC
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« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2014, 03:49:05 PM »

Why doesn't he put a length of plastic pipe into the water and simply pump the water out of that to clean his boats etc? My sister and brother in law draw lake water for their cottage and the pump is in the cottage, not in the lake.
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