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How to avoid shock hazard with aquarium heater ???

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by [email protected], Jan 31, 2005.

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  1. Guest

    I use a store bought 50 watt aquarium heater to warm water in a 5
    gallon bucket in my cold garage. I use the bucket of water to pre-wash
    my greasy hands before finally washing in the kitchen sink. The heater
    is basically a sealled test tube with resistance wire wrapped around a
    piece of ceramic inside of the test tube. The heater is plugged into a
    regular wall outlet.

    I was wondering what would happen if I didn't know that the glass test
    tube was cracked and I stuck my hands down into the water?

    Would installing a GFCI on the outlet that the heater is plugged into
    be enough protection?

    What about placing a bare copper wire connected to ground inside of the
    bucket. Would this help trip the GFCI the instant that the glass

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You
  2. If you ground the bucket (sit it in a bit of metal that is connected
    to a water pipe) and plug the heater into a GFCI, it should trip the
    moment any connection is made between the line and the water.
  3. Chris

    Chris Guest

    Mr. Popelish is correct. Also, you might want to add some kind of
    baffle over the heater tube. Touching the glass can break it due to
    the thermal stress. Try to keep the baffle from touching the glass,
    You might want to ground the baffle to help with both problems.

  4. Chris

    Chris Guest

    I guess it might also be worthwhile mentioning that the way people
    usually do something like this safely is to use a small hotplate.

    The concept of directly relying on a GFCI for safety in an application
    where you could have a catastrophic fault under normal use doesn't
    appeal to me. They're designed as a last line of protection in the
    event of an accident. The people who make GFCIs would tell you that
    you're misapplying it.

    Good luck
  5. w_tom

    w_tom Guest

    GFCI is secondary protection. A GFCI could be damaged by,
    for example, transients. Then GFCI would only appear to
    provide protection up to and not including when protection was
    required. Press that GFCI test button before washing hands.

    Ground wire to water pipe has a major flaw. Metal water
    pipes are sometimes patched with plastic. IOW was that water
    pipe was a good ground? Do you want to learn after the fact?

    GFCI needs a 'whole house' protector installed on AC mains
    in the breaker box. Water pipe as a ground need be confirmed
    by a large current test or by visual inspection. Pipe must
    make a complete electrical connection back to break box. Best
    make a habit of pressing that GFCI test switch.
  6. David Harmon

    David Harmon Guest

    On Mon, 31 Jan 2005 10:44:53 -0500 in sci.electronics.basics, John
    I am guessing that the bucket is too good of an insulator for that to
    work reliably.
  7. Jim Douglas

    Jim Douglas Guest

    Cut up some PVC pipe larger than then glass to protect it, it's bigger and
    not touching the glass.
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