Despite their ground-ready, durable and insulated construction, submersible water pumps present severe hazards for homeowners and should never be used in ponds meant for swimming or human immersion.
The problem is simple: electricity and water do not mix. Installing an electric submersible water pump for water gardens, natural ponds, or natural swimming pools requires skill and expertise to avoid electrocution.
Before installing a submersible pond pump this year, look at these 5 facts you need to know to protect yourself and your family.
Top 5 Facts to Know About Submersible Water Pumps and Electricity
Manufacturers design submersible pumps to be safe. They encase them in cast-iron housing designed to isolate electrical and working parts of the unit.
All cables are shielded and sealed by standard rubber.
However, the casing and rubber shielding do not guarantee the submersible water pump will never have contact with water. That’s why you need to know the facts about submersible pond pumps before you install one.
1. Rubber Water Seals Protect Against Electrified Water
The rubber water seals on a submersible pond pump contain no adhesive. Instead, they form the seal due to a crimping method that tightens components within the pump. The seal insulates the inside of the pump from water, humidity, and outside air.
While this produces a high level of insulation, seal failures occasionally occur. A tiny malfunction can bring the inside of the pump into contact with your natural swimming pool. The result of this malfunction would be electrified water inside the pond.
If you notice that the water seal is loose on your submersible pond pump, you first need to disconnect the pump. Once no longer connected to the electricity, you can safely remove and replace the water seal.
2. Water Pond Cables are Surprisingly Strong
Like the main components of your submersible pond pump, manufacturers go to great lengths to properly seal the cables. For instance, they will fill gaps with epoxy to prevent water from invading the unit. They also wrap the cables in air-tight and water-tight neoprene.
Epoxy is incredibly effective at forming a waterproof seal. If the seal cracks, water might get into the cable, thus creating a higher possibility of electrocution.
3. Never Use a Regular Outlet
The National Electrical Code (NEC) and OSHA require that all homes now contain GFCI receptacles in areas where water exists or potentially exists. These areas include bathrooms, kitchens, utility rooms, garages, and anywhere outside.
GFCI receptacles prevent electrocution by cutting off the power source when an unusual increase or “leakage” in power, like that caused when water comes into contact with electricity, is detected.
Unfortunately, many older homes do not have GFCI receptacles. As a result, plugging an electric water pump into a regular outlet can make it vulnerable to a power surge and increase the risk of electric shock. Therefore, if you use an electric pump, you must make sure that you plug it into a GFCI receptacle or replace your old outlet.
4. Remove Your Water Pump in the Winter
During the winter, removing the water pump from your water garden or natural pond is a good idea. Winters in Illinois produce frigid temperatures that can plummet below zero. As a result, the water in a natural pond or garden may stay frozen throughout the season.
Frozen water can damage a submersible water pump. One freeze can cause the casing or cabling to crack open, exposing the electrical parts. You may not notice the cracks due to the multilayered casing. Therefore, when you turn on the pump in springtime, you may be vulnerable to electric shock.
5. Be Careful of Hard Objects
Since most natural ponds or water gardens contain rocks, plants, sand, and other objects, it is crucial to ensure they do not come into contact with the water pump.
When placing your pump, isolate it from heavy rocks, sharp objects, or metal objects. Also, if you use sand, position the pump to filter the least amount of sand possible. Since sand is abrasive, it can damage the inner parts of the pump over time.
Bonus: Never swim or wade in a pond with a submersible water pump
You should never swim or wade in a pond or pool with a submersible water pump.
Even though these pumps are designed with many safety features, it is not worth the risk. There are special pumps designed for swimming pools and ponds that do not carry this risk.
If you need to enter your pond or pool with a submersible water pump to retrieve something or perform routine maintenance, you must turn off the electricity to the submersible pump and enter with caution.
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