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How do you properly Bond and Ground pool equipment?

If you own a pool, you must ensure that your pool equipment is correctly grounded and bonded in order to maintain the safety of your pool. Many individuals, however, find this to be one of the most perplexing aspects of pool construction.

We’ll go over the basics of bonding and grounding pool equipment, as well as why it’s so crucial to get it right.

What Is the Difference Between Bonding and Grounding? #

Swimming pools, like the rest of your house, rely on energy in order to run. Pumps, lights, automated pool covers, and certain pool cleaning equipment, among other things, will all require electricity. However, as you might expect, electrical safety is critical anywhere water will be present.

Swimming pool owners must complete two of the most important electrical safety tasks: bonding and grounding. Anyone swimming in the pool is in immediate danger of electric shock if your swimming pool or pool equipment is not properly bonded and grounded.

The terms bonding and grounding are frequently used in the same sentence, and they’re typically used interchangeably. However, bonding and grounding are two completely separate processes.

We discuss the differences between bonding and grounding swimming pools
We discuss the differences between bonding and grounding swimming pools – Photo Credit: Burndy

Grounding Your Pool Equipment #

An electrician will most likely ground your pool equipment by connecting a ground wire to the electrical panel that powers your pool systems. Depending on your design, though, you may be able to connect your pool grounding to your main electrical panel and rely on the grounding there.

Grounding Pools
Grounding Pools – Photo Credit: International Association of Certified Home Inspectors

How Does Grounding Work? #

GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets can also be used to ground pool equipment. When your electrical equipment draws too much power (for example, during a short or a fault), these outlets detect it and interrupt the circuit. The outlet disconnects power from the shorting device and directs it to a safe ground channel.

Electrons have a negative charge, hence electrical current is made up of them. This charge naturally seeks to balance itself by flowing toward neutral or positive-charged items. It is this “flow” of energy that powers equipment such as lights, vacuum cleaners, and pool pumps.

One wire is charged (or “hot”) and the other is neutral in a conventional electric wire. The difference in charge is what gives devices their power.

What Does Grounding Do? #

The most common way for electrons to flow is to follow the electrical circuit from the charged to the neutral wire. However, if a wire is broken or frayed, or if a piece of equipment fails, a short circuit (or fault) can occur, causing electricity to flow in an unintended direction. Because the electric current seeks the path of least resistance to a positive charge, this is the case. This channel could be through exposed metal, wood frame, or a person contacting a piece of equipment when a short occurs.

Grounding eliminates this problem by connecting the electricity to the earth via a low-resistance channel (typically a bare copper wire). This allows the voltage to dissipate, protecting you and your loved ones from electrical shocks.

Pool Bonding - Bonding Metal Parts of Permanently Installed Pools
Pool Bonding – Bonding Metal Parts of Permanently Installed Pools – Photo Credit: Mike Holt Enterprises

Bonding Pool Equipment #

Bonding, unlike grounding, is a less common electrical task. The majority of bonding work is done around water features such as pools and hot tubs. It is critical to have a properly bonded pool to ensure the safety of you and your pool guests. Simply explained, bonding is the process of connecting all of your pool equipment so that they have the same electrical potential. Because the resistance on both sides is the same, the electricity won’t try to leap from one component to another when all of your equipment is carrying the same charge. This equalization allows you to use your pool equipment securely and without the fear of electric shock.

How Does Bonding Protect Pool Equipment? #

The purpose of bonding, also known as equipotential bonding, is to equalize the potential voltage discrepancies between different elements of your pool equipment. Electrical shocks are considerably reduced when your pool equipment is properly bonded.

Even when grounded, electrical equipment can build charge over time, necessitating bonding. A pool motor linked to a power line, for example, can progressively build up a larger charge than other metal objects in the same region. If you come into contact with both the motor and a lower-charged surface, the energy will travel through you on its way to the earth. Electrical potential is the term for the charge differential.

In some respects, this is similar to the static jolt you get when you touch a doorknob. You build up negative charge on your skin and clothes when you rub your feet on the carpet. The charge then bounces off you and through the air when you touch a doorknob or similar metal object. However, when it comes to pool equipment, the charge can jump through the water or even through humans on its way to the ground.

What Is the Best Way to Bond Pool Equipment? #

When it comes to pools, an electrician connects pool equipment by connecting it all together with conductive wire, also known as bonding wire. A partial list of what should be included in your pool’s bonding grid is as follows:

  • Parts of the pool shell that are made of metal
  • All pool lighting shells and brackets
  • Any metal fittings related to your pool structure
  • Motors and fittings for electric pumps
  • Within 5 feet of the pool, any metal piping or sheathing
  • Any exposed metal near your pool, such as handrails
  • The water in the pool itself, which you can achieve by installing a pool ladder and attaching it to your bonding grid.

Most cities and counties require that bonding and grounding be performed by a licensed electrician and that the work be inspected after it has been completed. In order to be in accordance with the local and national electrical codes, we advise you to hire a professional electrician to do the job.

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