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Old 11-28-2009, 11:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Shocked by my plastic marineland heater

I was cleaning my tank this morning, arm deep in it, when my upper arm touched my hanging light fixture, which is metal and has a grounded case. I received a severe shock as something in my tank was grounded to the water. Unfortunately my house doesn't have GFI outlets, and this hurt quite a bit (actually still hurts throughout my entire forearm). Luckily it was my right arm and I was able to throw myself off the tank after a second or two.

Anyway, after troubleshooting, I determined it was my Marineland Stealth Pro heater, which is "Shatter-proof submersible aquarium heater with safety shutoff". What a bunch of BS...

My main complaint is that there is absolutely no way to tell if the heater is messed up. Glass heaters usually are broken or have a crack in them when they ground out your tank. This thing looks as new as the day I took it out of the box.

99/100 times someone is shocked it's a heater, and apparently plastic ones are no exception.

Last edited by jestep; 11-28-2009 at 11:59 AM..
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Shocked by my plastic marineland heater

You can get a power bar with GFCI protection.
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Shocked by my plastic marineland heater

Damn! Well lucky you are ok and all. I'm sure the tank volume helped a lot in reducing the shock delivered to you, so it could have been worse. I also get small shocks sometimes when my arm touches the reflector of my lights, which is strange since the lights aren't connected to anything electrical and the only thing they touch is the glass bulb so I really don't see how the electricity is conducted from them, in any event its mildly annoying.

Anyway, that is pretty epic This story is up there along with the guy whose DIY CO2 exploded, the guy whose Jebo lights caught on fire, and the guy whose piranha nearly bit his finger clean off, oh and not to mention the guy who crushed a snail with his finger and the shell cut him, only to give him a terrible infection nearly requiring the amputation of his whole arm!
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Shocked by my plastic marineland heater

It's not as epic as those you mentioned (Staff infection from a shell would really suck), but no fun. Forgot how much getting shocked hurts.

Funny thing is the heater may have been shorted for months or even from day 1 which was about 2 years ago. Since I've never grounded myself (thick carpet and usually wearing shoes), I may have been playing with a live tank for while. Switch light fixture to one with a metal case, and bam! Anyway, I would highly recommend testing a tank every 6 months or so. Household electricity (US at least: 120v 60Hz) is about the most dangerous for humans.
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Old 11-30-2009, 07:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Shocked by my plastic marineland heater

Wow, I'm glad all you got was a shock. I would second the recommendation of at least a GFI power strip.
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:15 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Shocked by my plastic marineland heater

Test each outlet connected to aquarium devices (incl. light) to make sure that the earth ground and the hot and neutral are correctly wired. Device grounding doesn't help if it's not connected at the outlet.
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Shocked by my plastic marineland heater

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asphenaz View Post
Wow, I'm glad all you got was a shock. I would second the recommendation of at least a GFI power strip.
It's connected to a surge protecting power strip. I'm guessing that the resistance of my arm was still high enough that the current wasn't seen as a ground fault. In this case a GFI may not have helped anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JERP View Post
Test each outlet connected to aquarium devices (incl. light) to make sure that the earth ground and the hot and neutral are correctly wired. Device grounding doesn't help if it's not connected at the outlet.
I tested all the outlets afterwards. I originally thought the light was shorted as it was new and that something was wrong with the ground line. After the light case, and the outlets checked out ok, I realized that there was something shorting to the water, and I just grounded it to the light with my shoulder. Testing from water to ground with a voltage meter confirmed that something was fully shorted into the water. Never would have thought the plastic heater would be the problem.
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Old 11-30-2009, 12:34 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Shocked by my plastic marineland heater

OK, just checking. When I bought my house, every outlet in it was wired incorrectly. The outlets were two prong unpolarized outlets. That's what I get for being the second owner of a 40 year old house.

FYI, A surge protector does not provide GFCI protection unless specifically stated. A surge protector protect against excessive current and is meant to protect devices and a GFCI is meant to protect people. You probably know this, but your comment implied otherwise.

Many moons I tried to summarize the differences in a different post. It's accurate enough for this discussion.

https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...tml#post216073
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Old 11-30-2009, 02:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Shocked by my plastic marineland heater

Quote:
Originally Posted by jestep View Post
It's connected to a surge protecting power strip. I'm guessing that the resistance of my arm was still high enough that the current wasn't seen as a ground fault. In this case a GFI may not have helped anyway.
Don't kid yourself! Long before triggering the surge protection circuit, a person would have been dead. Surge protector protects equipments while GFCI protects people.
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Shocked by my plastic marineland heater

A GFCI will protect you from the smallest for currents. I work at a haunted house most of it is out doors and every thing is on a GFCI much to my dismay sometimes but they do save lives. We've had them trip out just because the humidity in the are was to high and it was effecting a power amp.

Get yourself one of these to test the circuits in your house, they make some that can test a GFCI outlet.

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