When Toronto pool owners hear the work “shock” they usually associate it with the process of adding chemicals to their pool to ensure the water is clean. But that’s not the only type of shock that a pool owner may encounter. If your pool is not properly bonded you, a family member or friend could wind up getting an electrical shock while playing near the pool. In this post we’re going to go over the process of swimming pool bonding and also cover some bonding mistakes less experienced pool builders make.
The Proper Bonding of Fibreglass Pools
In order to understand the need for bonding fibreglass pools you need to understand something called “electrical potential”. To understand what electrical potential is it’s often helpful to think of how water works. Water naturally moves from an area of high pressure to one of lower pressure. If the water at both ends of a pipe are at equal pressure the water won’t move. Period.
Electricity is pretty much the same. In order for electricity to ‘flow’ there has to be a difference in pressure (voltage). The reason pool builders perform bonding is to create a zone of equal voltage around the pool so that the pool’s electrical potential is neutralized and you don’t wind up getting shocked as electricity moves from one area of the pool to another through you.
The Bonding Grid
In order to neutralize the electrical potential of fibreglass pools the electrician establishes what’s called a “bonding grid” by connecting components of the pool system with a bare copper wire. Any imbalance in the electrical field around the pool is thereby negated as excess voltage moves down the copper wire to the area of lower voltage. Typically the bonding grid is composed of:
- Any metal components near the water’s edge like ladders, pool lights and handrails.
- The rebar used to reinforce the concrete pool patio.
- 9 square inches of metal that’s in contact with the pool water.
Connections are made discreetly attaching the copper wire to anchor points that are recessed into the patio. The rebar in the concrete patio is also attached to the ‘grid’ at multiple points around the pool. The requisite 9 square inches of metal can be any large submerged metal pool accessory like a ladder.
Some Common Pool Bonding Mistakes
Using the earth as part of the bonding grid: Some inexperienced electricians will try to bond fibreglass pools to the earth. They’ll create a grid in one area then drive a grounding rod into the earth and attach the area’s grid to the rod, then repeat this mistake with several areas of the pool, never tying all areas together.
Using the wrong connectors: For the bonding grid to be useful you want to connect the copper wire in the most effective way and that means using lugs rated for the specific wire size you’re using. Also, if you simply tie the wire to the metallic component you likely won’t create adequate electrical contact.
Using insulated wire: Some electricians unfamiliar with the process will use insulated wire instead of uninsulated wire. Using insulated wire will result in a compromised bonding grid and potential shocks.
The type of shock you’re likely to receive from a poorly bonded or unbonded pool will be nothing more than a nuisance shock like you receive from static electricity. That is, something in the neighbourhood of a few volts. Still, who wants to deal with that when you’re trying to have fun? In order to ensure fibreglass pools are properly bonded Toronto homeowners will want to be sure to hire Seabreeze Pools to conduct their installation.