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skyy
Dec. 5, 2009, 12:59 PM
We have 2 Rubbermaid stock tanks (100 gallons) and I just put brand new drain hole heaters in them. Both are plugged into extension cords which are plugged into 3 prong outlets. I have elevated the cords where they connect (heater cord to extension cord) so they are not laying on the ground or in moisture. Both tanks are along a hot, coated high tensile fence line but not touching the fence. The one heater is leaking current so the horses get a shock when they touch the water. Ideas?

appychik
Dec. 5, 2009, 01:03 PM
Well... I don't know much about heaters, but I know my fiance is having to put grounding rods near all the water troughs where my horses are. Perhaps that's something to look into?

fivehorses
Dec. 5, 2009, 01:47 PM
The instructions state to attach a ground rod to the heater.
I am kind of unclear how to do that, and posted on here about this in the past.

Most people have them plugged into a gfi outlet, are yours or are they just plugged into a regular outlet? That could/may make a difference.

Appychick, can your fiance share with us what you mean when you say he is putting in grounding rods all around?

I know this winter(soon), I will need to use a heater, but I don't want to also put in a ground rod. I do plug into a gfi outlet.

Ok, ideas anyone...

BuddyRoo
Dec. 5, 2009, 02:00 PM
You need a ground rod and a GFCI.

You can put in an "after market" GFCI unit--just go to Lowes or Home Depot--but you will still need a ground rod.

My old barn had electricity but nothing was done properly and nothing was grounded. I had to put in a GFCI adapter and rod to put up my tank.

BuddyRoo
Dec. 5, 2009, 02:01 PM
Oh...the other option is to get a large heated bucket.

Even after I got my "shock" issue resolved--the horses were grounding the circuit--they would no longer drink from the rubbermaid tank. I had to put in one of those 20 gallon muck-bucket-look-alike heated tanks.

skyy
Dec. 5, 2009, 02:10 PM
But why would one tank be okay and the other not?

appychik
Dec. 5, 2009, 02:49 PM
The instructions state to attach a ground rod to the heater.
I am kind of unclear how to do that, and posted on here about this in the past.

Most people have them plugged into a gfi outlet, are yours or are they just plugged into a regular outlet? That could/may make a difference.

Appychick, can your fiance share with us what you mean when you say he is putting in grounding rods all around?

I know this winter(soon), I will need to use a heater, but I don't want to also put in a ground rod. I do plug into a gfi outlet.

Ok, ideas anyone...

I think he's doing exactly what BuddyRoo stated. He's putting a grounding rod near each water trough (there's three of them) to attach the umm, heater to? I'm so not mechnically inclined :lol: so I haven't got a clue. And if I ask for an explanation, it'll be more elaborate then I can even comprehend. :winkgrin:

Anyways, I know some of his parents' horses were being shocked with the heater this winter... so he was going to install grounding rods at all the troughs. My boys don't have their heater installed yet, so they aren't being shocked (but then, they also have a frozen solid 100g trough too).

skyy
Dec. 5, 2009, 02:53 PM
I searched all of the old posts about tank heaters and have come to this conclusion as a possible problem. Let me know what you think, I will test it out and let you know my results.

The non shocking heater is plugged into a GFI outlet. The shocker is plugged into a non GFI outlet. I will buy a GFI adapter for this one and see what happens. If it trips the GFI, I will buy a heavier duty extension cord and make sure it is perfectly dry before plugging it in. The day I installed the heaters it was damp and the plug end of the extension cord had been laying on the ground before I plugged it in.

Electrical gurus, please weigh in. Please note- we did not have this problem last year so I don't think it's a problem with the electrical wiring of the barn per se. Something has changed.

Ruth0552
Dec. 5, 2009, 03:06 PM
I'm not actually sure what a GFI plug is- is that when it has the little test/reset button?

FWIW- I have 2 heaters- 1 is a floater and the other is a drain plug type one. The drain plug one is a shocker and I also have it plugged into an all-weather extension cord, connections elevated, and plugged into an exterior three prong outlet. The floater does not shock using the same conditions, so I gave up on the drain plug one. So your problem might be solved by getting a different type of heater.

LauraKY
Dec. 5, 2009, 03:11 PM
Mine are plugged into a GFCI outlet and I keep the cords off the ground, however, in the past, I have also plugged into an outdoor outlet that was not GFCI and had no problem. Maybe your problem is the heater? Have never used a grounding rod and don't know anyone who has. We have rubbermaid tanks and wood fencing.

LauraKY
Dec. 5, 2009, 03:14 PM
Ground rod is supposed to be driven in near tank and copper wire draped into tank, NOT attached to the heater or cord.

BuddyRoo
Dec. 5, 2009, 03:40 PM
GFI/GFCI does have the "test" button. Kind of like your blow dryer or your bathroom outlets at home in newer homes.

The idea being that if it gets grounded, it will pop the the circuit and kill the electricity to avoid electrocuting someone.

Your horses are currently grounding it out when they touch the water and being shocked. A GFCI will not prevent them from being shocked if there is a short, but it WILL kill the circuit.

You really MUST have a grounded line when you're dealing with these tank heaters.

You might be surprised (as I was) but a lot of barns had their electrical put together in a erm....interesting?...way. Many are not to code and thus do not have appropriate grounds.

egontoast
Dec. 5, 2009, 03:58 PM
I've never had this problem with my stock tank heaters . They are plugged into gfi outlets and without ground rods.

I suspect you may be getting arcing from the electric fence. You can check that by unplugging the fence and seeing if you still have a problem. if it's arcing you may need to move the tank away from the fence (not convenient if you are trying to use for 2 paddocks )or try the ground rod.

skyy
Dec. 5, 2009, 04:01 PM
Sorry for the questions but electricity is one of those areas where I am seriously lacking. I thought the 3rd prong on a plug was the ground. Also, I am fairly certain that there is a ground rod attached to the electrical panel in the barn. Is this still not enough?

fivehorses
Dec. 5, 2009, 05:22 PM
When I speak of ground fault interupptor(GFI), it is specifically meant to kill the electricity when something goes awry. Not exactly sure what GFCI stands for.

The third prong on a plug...not sure what that is for, but you really want a GFI plug. An electrician can install it fairly easily.

I do not know anyone who has a ground on their heaters. I do know they are plugged into GFI outlets via extension cords.

Lauraky, from your description, it sounds like the copper wire goes into the water, is that correct?
What happens when the horses drink below that level?

HungarianHippo
Dec. 5, 2009, 06:14 PM
GFCI=ground fault circuit interruptor

The copper wire should be long enough to drape an inch or so along the bottom, so the water doesn't fall below it. With some sort of clamps or even a length of pvc to keep it in place

ToiRider
Dec. 5, 2009, 07:19 PM
My understanding is that the 3rd prong on a plug is the ground. This prong only does its job if the circuit is grounded. A lot of older wiring is not grounded. I understand that a GFI (ground fault circuit interrupter) can be installed on an ungrounded circuit and will kill the electricity when it senses a change in current running to and from an appliance. While the GFI is designed to trip and save you from electrocution, it does not prevent you from getting a shock, which can cause a tingle or a muscle spasm. Therefore, in my opinion, you need to ground your heater and NOT just rely on a GFI. Your horse may still get shocked, even if the GFI trips, which will make them hesitant to drink out of that tank.

In addition, GFI's wear out and become unreliable. I just had one go bad in my bathroom. The GFI tried to trip and failed and started making a lot of noise. It scared me and I had to turn off all the electricity to the house until I figured out which circuit was having the issue (I have had this house only 4 months). I wonder what would have happened if I had not been there to turn off the electricity. Would there have been an electrical fire?

I would talk to an electrician, rather than get opinions here. Electricity is too dangerous to mess with, and you are clearly having a problem with it.

I just bought heated buckets myself, but I am waiting to use them until my father (my electrician) comes to visit and installs some ground circuits with GFIs in my barn.

Good luck.

BuddyRoo
Dec. 5, 2009, 10:01 PM
Yes...GFI/GFCI are the same thing but the packaging will state either/or so I mentioned both.

The issue w/ a 3 prong plug is that even if you have the 3rd point for the ground, if the electrical in the barn is not grounded, it matters not. You have to check out your barn electricity.

As for the tank though...GFI or not, the point is that all a GFI will do is kill the circuit once it has been grounded--IE AFTER the horse got shocked. So you have to consider the rest of the environment.

It's honestly best to get someone out who understands electricity and has the appropriate tools to measure things.

anglotrak
Dec. 5, 2009, 10:15 PM
We had to run a whole new electrical line to the barn as the old line was not grounded properly. I would also suggest to find a way to get rid of the extension cords. They can be dangerous.

jaimebaker
Dec. 5, 2009, 11:02 PM
I've had this problem more than once. I do not ground my tanks, nor are my heaters in GFI outlets. EVERY single time I've found current in the water it's one of two things. Water in or on one of the plugs (blow it out with canned air), OR it's a problem with the electrical cord. Just been my experience. And I run 3 troughs every winter so I get to have all the fun of crossing fingers every year, 3 times:lol:

egontoast
Dec. 6, 2009, 06:00 AM
GFI or not, the point is that all a GFI will do is kill the circuit once it has been grounded

Yes , true, but still a very good idea when dealing with electricity, water and extension cords. They are expensive but important for safety and fire prevention.


I've had this problem more than once. I do not ground my tanks, nor are my heaters in GFI outlets. EVERY single time I've found current in the water it's one of two things. Water in or on one of the plugs (blow it out with canned air), OR it's a problem with the electrical cord. Just been my experience. And I run 3 troughs every winter so I get to have all the fun of crossing fingers every year, 3 times

A GFI outlet should help in these circumstances as the circuit will be tripped when these things happen. If there is a problem with the electrical cord, you want it to trip. I had one catch on fire before the GFI was installed. Fortunately I was nearby when it happened or it could have been a disaster.

Also for safety, if you are using electrical cords (which are not the best idea but sometimes necessary) make sure you use a heavy enough gauge for the heater.

jaimebaker
Dec. 6, 2009, 09:36 AM
Also for safety, if you are using electrical cords (which are not the best idea but sometimes necessary) make sure you use a heavy enough gauge for the heater.

Yes, that and they must be for outdoor use.

skyy
Dec. 6, 2009, 10:52 AM
jaimebaker-thanks for that info. As we didn't have the problem last year, I am a little confused why we have it this year. I mistakenly thought you could buy a GFI adapter to plug into a regular outlet (I was told by the Ace Hardware guy that no such thing exists and if it did it would be highly dangerous). As I bought new heaters this year I think that I must have dampness in the non GFI outlet so I will try to dry that out. I also bought a new heavy duty outdoor extension cord for that heater. I know that extension cords are not suggested but that's the way it has to be. I will report back.

Thank you all for your words of wisdom.

egontoast
Dec. 6, 2009, 11:01 AM
You will need an electrician if you want to install the gfi outlets.

You could try switching the ext cords for the two stocktanks to find out if the problem is related to the cord itself or something else.

skyy
Dec. 6, 2009, 12:33 PM
Once I put the new cord in place (or switch them around as a test) how can I tell if it is still leaking current and shocking the horses without using them (or myself!) as guinea pigs?

Romany
Dec. 6, 2009, 01:35 PM
According to the heater instructions, you need to ground every trough by running a wire from the water over the top and on to a grounding rod.

We had this problem this autumn - some horses care more than others.

Our friendly neighbourhood electrician came and puzzled it out. We ended up driving a second grounding rod (aka step-in electric fence post ;) ) deep into the ground, and attaching the grounding wires to that.

You do also need to use heavy-duty outdoor 3-prong extension cables (the heater instructions say not to use extension cables, ffs), and plug in to a GF(C)I.

We never did figure out why we were getting this problem now, and never before. Wet ground? Wet shod hooves (as opposed to dry and barefoot?)? Who knows. :confused:

The electrician also mentioned that it's also fairly common for older/remoter farms to have too much electricity coming in, which "leaks," thus everything on the farm can potentially be slightly "charged" - which is heightened for a horse with steel shoes on, drinking water from a trough that's hooked up to electricity. If that's the case, call the Hydro Board and b!tch at them until they come and fix it.

It's apparently also a HUGE issue in dairies, and often it turns out that excess power is the root of the problem.

Romany
Dec. 6, 2009, 01:37 PM
Once I put the new cord in place (or switch them around as a test) how can I tell if it is still leaking current and shocking the horses without using them (or myself!) as guinea pigs?


Get yourself an electric fence tester from your local farm supply store. Our water troughs tested at 0.2 v (I think it was v!), which I could NOT feel, but clearly the horses could. :eek:

LauraKY
Dec. 8, 2009, 10:06 AM
When I speak of ground fault interupptor(GFI), it is specifically meant to kill the electricity when something goes awry. Not exactly sure what GFCI stands for.

The third prong on a plug...not sure what that is for, but you really want a GFI plug. An electrician can install it fairly easily.

I do not know anyone who has a ground on their heaters. I do know they are plugged into GFI outlets via extension cords.

Lauraky, from your description, it sounds like the copper wire goes into the water, is that correct?
What happens when the horses drink below that level?

Don't know, haven't grounded mine. But, when I did read the instructions for my plug-in heater they said to use the copper ground. I have never had a problem. Use an outdoor, construction grade extension cord; have the connection between the heater and cord elevated and it's all plugged into a GFCI outlet. Also unplug if there's a thunderstorm, which NEVER happens in the winter, but is supposed to tonight. The weather is Kentucky has been really weird this year!

I also have board fencing, not electric, so I don't know if that's making a difference.

hosspuller
Dec. 8, 2009, 10:25 AM
Folks ... Be careful. There are some mis-informed posts on this thread. This is a dangerous condition. You or a horse can be killed by electricity. There is no circumstance that should allow electricity leakage. "Excess" electricity is NOT a problem. The old electrical system is THE problem. There should be NO leakage to ground. Ground wires in the water are just a band-aid and NOT recommended. Fix the system ground. A ground should be ground not a "maybe" ground. The current standard calls for two ground rods driven at the service entrance. Old farms and houses may have only a water pipe loosely attached somewhere. Critical safety systems deserve solid, tight, connections.

ORIGINAL POSTER: The heater that is shocking is faulty. Prove it to yourself by switching it with the heater that isn't shocking. The GFCI will likely trip. It is working AND shocking in its current location because there isn't a GFCI

A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) will protect only from current going to ground. A GFCI is specificly allowed in non-grounded systems by the National Electric Code. See here: http://www.icgov.org/site/CMSv2/File/housing/genInfo/wiringAlts.pdf

A portable GFCI can be connected between an outlet and extension. They are available! see here http://www.budgetlighting.com/store/agora.cgi?page=tower_in-line_gfci_catalog.html

Tiki
Dec. 8, 2009, 01:09 PM
I have to use an extension cord because of the distance and the situation. I tie the 2 cord ends to connect in a very loose knot to take the strain off the connection and wrapt the connection liberally and tightly in black electrical tape to keep out any and all moisture. I'm talking about dew, not just rain, ice, snow or sleet, and keep the connection off the ground. I have a grounded gfci circuit and a covered, outdoor grade receptacle and have never had a horse shocked.

Romany
Dec. 8, 2009, 03:03 PM
Folks ... Be careful. There are some mis-informed posts on this thread. This is a dangerous condition. You or a horse can be killed by electricity. There is no circumstance that should allow electricity leakage. "Excess" electricity is NOT a problem. The old electrical system is THE problem. There should be NO leakage to ground. Ground wires in the water are just a band-aid and NOT recommended. Fix the system ground. A ground should be ground not a "maybe" ground. The current standard calls for two ground rods driven at the service entrance. Old farms and houses may have only a water pipe loosely attached somewhere. Critical safety systems deserve solid, tight, connections.

ORIGINAL POSTER: The heater that is shocking is faulty. Prove it to yourself by switching it with the heater that isn't shocking. The GFCI will likely trip. It is working AND shocking in its current location because there isn't a GFCI

A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) will protect only from current going to ground. A GFCI is specificly allowed in non-grounded systems by the National Electric Code. See here: http://www.icgov.org/site/CMSv2/File/housing/genInfo/wiringAlts.pdf

A portable GFCI can be connected between an outlet and extension. They are available! see here http://www.budgetlighting.com/store/agora.cgi?page=tower_in-line_gfci_catalog.html


A couple of points, hosspuller...

The instructions that come with the heaters are very clear - the trough itself should be grounded from the water out to a grounding rod.

And there is indeed leaking or excess power on some farms. I'm not an expert, just quoting the electrician. The Hydro Board have tested it coming in at 222 or 223 or more, not just 220. Could be different in your area, though, I guess.

skyy
Dec. 8, 2009, 04:41 PM
Thanks again for all of the info. The service to the barn is relatively new as we had to upgrade when we put up the indoor 5 years ago. Although I have not seen for myself, I would hope that the electrician properly grounded the new panel. The electrician is coming on Thurs to look at our outdoor lights so I will see if they can put in a GFI outlet at the intended spot.

I tried testing with the fence tester and got no reading at all, either with the fence on or off. I stuck my hand in the trough and felt nothing. Since I got no response, I didn't trust that spraying air into the outlet and using the new heavy duty extension cord was enough to solve the problem (since I didn't have a way to prove or disprove). I have strung the extension cord to a different outlet (which is much less convenient and requires a 100' cord).

When I plugged the "problem" heater into the GFI it did not trip so I don't think the heater is the problem (and they are both brand new).

hosspuller
Dec. 8, 2009, 04:56 PM
A couple of points, hosspuller...

The instructions that come with the heaters are very clear - the trough itself should be grounded from the water out to a grounding rod.

And there is indeed leaking or excess power on some farms. I'm not an expert, just quoting the electrician. The Hydro Board have tested it coming in at 222 or 223 or more, not just 220. Could be different in your area, though, I guess.

I can't speak to the heater instructions... They can say anything they wish.

As for the Hydro Board measurment... (utility power to us in the states) 223 volts is insignificant when the nominal voltage is 220 volts. The utilities are allowed a 5% window. so the max voltage could be 231 volts. 223 as supplied is very good, not excessive. See here for the 5% figure http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=480-100-373

The maximum design voltage for home appliances is generally 600 volts. This is NOT the supply voltage, just the max voltage the insulation is designed for. Hence, if the supplied voltage is 223, a properly operating electrical system should contain the voltage without leakage. That's why I say the/your farm system is at fault.

A little bit of technical background. All utility power in North America relies on a proper ground to transmit power to your home, office, factory, etc. If the grounding at your home, farm is not perfect, the power will look for any other path. This alternate path will be the source for all the problems noted in this thread.

skyy
Dec. 8, 2009, 05:23 PM
Hosspullr-
How do you test for inadequate grounding? Since the electrician is coming on Thurs (btw not the one who installed the new service) can they determine if the grounding is not adequate without looking for the ground rods? (I am fairly certain that the grounding rod(s) is now underneath a floor- don't ask how that happened you won't want to know).

hosspuller
Dec. 8, 2009, 07:21 PM
Hosspullr-
How do you test for inadequate grounding? Since the electrician is coming on Thurs (btw not the one who installed the new service) can they determine if the grounding is not adequate without looking for the ground rods? (I am fairly certain that the grounding rod(s) is now underneath a floor- don't ask how that happened you won't want to know).

There are some instruments that are used, but it may just be easier to JUST drive new rods and connect to them. As important as the rods are, the rest of the connections are important too. It is like a chain. The weakest link determines the effectiveness of the whole system. The electrician may take voltage readings between the ground and hot leg (phase) at various spots. If she/he finds a variation, then further checking is needed.

cssutton
Dec. 9, 2009, 12:53 AM
I can't speak to the heater instructions... They can say anything they wish.

As for the Hydro Board measurment... (utility power to us in the states) 223 volts is insignificant when the nominal voltage is 220 volts. The utilities are allowed a 5% window. so the max voltage could be 231 volts. 223 as supplied is very good, not excessive. See here for the 5% figure http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=480-100-373

The maximum design voltage for home appliances is generally 600 volts. This is NOT the supply voltage, just the max voltage the insulation is designed for. Hence, if the supplied voltage is 223, a properly operating electrical system should contain the voltage without leakage. That's why I say the/your farm system is at fault.

A little bit of technical background. All utility power in North America relies on a proper ground to transmit power to your home, office, factory, etc. If the grounding at your home, farm is not perfect, the power will look for any other path. This alternate path will be the source for all the problems noted in this thread.

I would suspect that the ground in the water trough requirement was put in by their lawyer.

When a company is sued in a product liability case, an aggressive lawyer (the plaintiff's) will invariably pursue the line of questioning as to whether the manufacturer made every possible effort to protect and to inform the purchaser.

Anyway, it is a good idea in case everything else fails.

If I wanted to ground the water, I would put a piece of the same copper rod that I drove in the ground in the tank, full tank length. Attach the ground wire to it with a clamp and lay it on the bottom of the tank.

That way, no matter what the water level, the ground rod is covered.

One more thing. If your horse gets electrocuted and you try to collect the value of the horse from the heater manufacturer, I promise you that the first question that will be asked is whether you have a ground fault and whether the water in the tank has a ground in it. Then each of you will have an "expert" witness, one to testify that the ground in the water is absolutely essential and the other to testify that it is totally unnecessary, a fool's idea.

So a clear cut case could become a nightmare and no telling how it would go from there.

So why quibble over two rods that will cost less than $20 each and a piece of wire with two clamps. It is not worth it.

CSSJR

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ptownevt
Dec. 9, 2009, 06:27 AM
Whatever the electrical situation, I had this problem a couple of years ago. I think it was the heater itself. Anyway, even when we fixed the problem, my gelding wouldn't drink from that tub and I had to switch out the tub, too. His motto is you just can't be too careful.

skyy
Dec. 9, 2009, 07:51 AM
I really hate this time of the year. We have had a horse or 2 in the past who would see the heater in the bottom of the trough and refuse to drink. We knew it wasn't shocking him as he would snort and freak out even before making contact with the water or the trough and the rest of his herdmates drank fine from it. Argh!!!

jaimebaker
Dec. 9, 2009, 01:46 PM
When I plugged the "problem" heater into the GFI it did not trip so I don't think the heater is the problem (and they are both brand new).

Can you not plug the heater into another trough using a different plug and extension cord to test it?? Seriously, every time I've had one zapping water, it's been a problem with the extension cord (water in it, faulty, etc). You don't have to have canned air, it's just convenient. Take the cord, and tap it on your leg, blow into it, etc and see if you see any water droplets come out. Even the tiniest amount of moisture on either cord can cause the problem.


For the poster that said the voltage meter found it but they couldn't feel it, I'd like to add, you typically won't feel the electrical charge unless you have a cut on your finger. I generally have some sort of booboo on my hand so it's easy for me to test. I can stick my hand in and not feel a thing until I reach a cut or scratch. Then it stings or zaps. Anytime I hook my heaters up I like to watch the horses come up and drink. In case there may be something I can't feel but they can.

walkinthewalk
Dec. 9, 2009, 02:46 PM
Sorry for the questions but electricity is one of those areas where I am seriously lacking. I thought the 3rd prong on a plug was the ground. Also, I am fairly certain that there is a ground rod attached to the electrical panel in the barn. Is this still not enough?

That is the ground rod for the barn, not the water tanks.

Ditto calling a qualified electrician.

That being said:

Our outside tanks are plugged into outdoor plugs (they have covers on them and are not GFI).

The tanks are grounded with a heavy gauge copper wire that lays on the floor of the tank and does not touch the heater coils. The wire on each tank is then run up the back wall of the rubbermaid tank and attach to a copperized (can't think of the real word) legitimate Grounding Bars that can be bought at TSC, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

Those bars are 8' long and Mr. WTW drove them clearn into the ground, then attached the copper wire to them.

I guess I should be thankful that he is anal enough with his race car that he has a $300 tester he can use on the water in the stock tanks to check for any electrical leakage.

Orrrr if he's had enough beers, he will just stick his tongue in the water:lol:

GallopHer
Dec. 9, 2009, 02:53 PM
A little of topic, but a timely question -

My barn is grounded and all of my outlets are GFI outlets. On occasion, when I have unplugged my tank heater, I have seen a "spark" come from the outlet, yet the GFI does not trip. Is my wiring faulty? I've completly remodeled my barn and all of the wiring is new. I also had this problem with my original barn.

hosspuller
Dec. 9, 2009, 07:16 PM
A little of topic, but a timely question -

My barn is grounded and all of my outlets are GFI outlets. On occasion, when I have unplugged my tank heater, I have seen a "spark" come from the outlet, yet the GFI does not trip. Is my wiring faulty? I've completly remodeled my barn and all of the wiring is new. I also had this problem with my original barn.

The spark you see is the arc caused by disconnecting under load. The heater was drawing power when you unplugged it. If this bothers you, just flip the circuit breaker before unplugging.
Here's a youtube clip of a switch opening under load at (1/2 million) 500,000 volts. your heater is at 120 volts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GiIVze2Tac

spotmenow
Dec. 9, 2009, 09:55 PM
We were advised by several farmers NOT to use GFI outlets because they trip ALL the time. Were advised to use the copper wire instead...my DH has waited til the last minute and plans on plugging this sucker in tomorrow and hasn't even thought about grounding it...I know we have to do one or the other...how many rods does one need to ground it and how do you keep playful geldings from pulling the copper wire out?

cssutton
Dec. 9, 2009, 10:34 PM
We were advised by several farmers NOT to use GFI outlets because they trip ALL the time. Were advised to use the copper wire instead...my DH has waited til the last minute and plans on plugging this sucker in tomorrow and hasn't even thought about grounding it...I know we have to do one or the other...how many rods does one need to ground it and how do you keep playful geldings from pulling the copper wire out?

If a ground fault trips, you have a problem.

Fix it.

Your neighbor's advice is terrible.

CSSJR

hosspuller
Dec. 9, 2009, 11:11 PM
We were advised by several farmers NOT to use GFI outlets because they trip ALL the time.

I'll reiterate CSSJR's post, IF a GFCI trips there is a problem. Fix it.

The GFCI is tripping because electricity is "escaping" the normal pathway. There are fewer farmers every year advising "Not to use GFCI outlets..."

They get killed. The smart farmers survive.

Romany
Dec. 10, 2009, 08:52 AM
I solve the heater problem by not using them. I keep a shovel handy, and break up the ice 2-3 times a day. Water heaters draw a lot of current, and can often be the cause of barn fires. Three of them use the same current that it takes to heat my entire apartment in the winter.

Add that to the fact that some horses will not drink with heaters in the troughs, and it does not get me a better situation.


We installed hd outdoor timers so the heaters are on for 1/2 an hour, off for two - seemed like a good use of $10 to me, plus breaking thick ice a couple of times a day simply doesn't cut it this far north!

I think the gist of what hosspuller and cssssssssssutton should go into a sticky, as this is a common and potentially serious problem, and there are clearly an awful lot of misconceptions out there.

Thanks, the two of you, for making sense of this!

Bogie
Dec. 10, 2009, 09:03 AM
Same thing happened to me a few years ago. I also bought one of the big heated water buckets. My horse simply wouldn't go near the old tank.

Can't say I blamed him!


Oh...the other option is to get a large heated bucket.

Even after I got my "shock" issue resolved--the horses were grounding the circuit--they would no longer drink from the rubbermaid tank. I had to put in one of those 20 gallon muck-bucket-look-alike heated tanks.

Jumpin_Horses
Dec. 10, 2009, 09:29 AM
Folks ... Be careful. There are some mis-informed posts on this thread. This is a dangerous condition. You or a horse can be killed by electricity. There is no circumstance that should allow electricity leakage. "Excess" electricity is NOT a problem. The old electrical system is THE problem. There should be NO leakage to ground. Ground wires in the water are just a band-aid and NOT recommended. Fix the system ground. A ground should be ground not a "maybe" ground. The current standard calls for two ground rods driven at the service entrance. Old farms and houses may have only a water pipe loosely attached somewhere. Critical safety systems deserve solid, tight, connections.

ORIGINAL POSTER: The heater that is shocking is faulty. Prove it to yourself by switching it with the heater that isn't shocking. The GFCI will likely trip. It is working AND shocking in its current location because there isn't a GFCI

A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) will protect only from current going to ground. A GFCI is specificly allowed in non-grounded systems by the National Electric Code. See here: http://www.icgov.org/site/CMSv2/File/housing/genInfo/wiringAlts.pdf

A portable GFCI can be connected between an outlet and extension. They are available! see here http://www.budgetlighting.com/store/agora.cgi?page=tower_in-line_gfci_catalog.html

THANK YOU..

also, have your power company out to check for "STRAY VOLTAGE" if you have "stray voltage" this is something THEY need to fix. they usually put in a "split neutral"

Val Sanford
Dec. 13, 2009, 09:42 AM
Hi there - perhaps someone already mentioned this, but if you run electric fencing, the grounds for that unit are supposed to be at least 50 feet away from you water source. That might be the issue if nothing else seems to work. Val

LauraKY
Dec. 13, 2009, 10:09 AM
We installed hd outdoor timers so the heaters are on for 1/2 an hour, off for two - seemed like a good use of $10 to me, plus breaking thick ice a couple of times a day simply doesn't cut it this far north!


That's brilliant. I try to shut mine off during the day if it's in the high 20s and turn it on at night. Troughs are in the sun, so that seems to do it until it's bitter cold. I'm going to run out and buy timers while the Christmas landscape stuff is still out.

TimelyImpulse
Dec. 13, 2009, 10:27 AM
I had the shocking problem with the drop in heater, and since my water is at the house, dragging 175 feet of hose every day in the winter stinks. I filled my big rubbermaid tank full, then bought one of the big heated muckbuckets. I broke ice from the rubbermaid tank and filled the heated tank for a week from the bigger one. Works ok in makeshift horse facilities.

skyy
Dec. 13, 2009, 10:37 AM
Well, the electrician never showed or called so I am at a standstill at that end. I bought a new heavy duty extension cord and plugged it into a different outlet and the trough level is going down. No one is coming in from turnout and guzzleing their stall buckets so I guess they're all drinking from it. I wish I could unplug it when the horses are out but the reason we put those heaters in is so that we can use those paddocks at night too (they have run ins). In our regular day time only paddocks we fill and dump everyday so that we don't have to deal with the heaters (we put a hydrant between those paddocks so we could stop gas canning it every day).

hosspuller
Dec. 13, 2009, 11:59 AM
Well, the electrician never showed or called so I am at a standstill at that end. I bought a new heavy duty extension cord and plugged it into a different outlet and the trough level is going down. ...

That may tell us something. The original outlet or extension cord could be wired incorrectly. Each outlet has a prong that is "Hot" The other prong is neutral and the ground prong. The two prongs could be reversed. or the ground may not be a good connection. Either could be a cause of "stray" electricity. A simple outlet tester ... (plugs into an outlet with different lights) may pinpoint the issue.

see here for tester http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2665480&CAWELAID=109389922

1Walks1Trots
Dec. 18, 2009, 08:00 AM
Thank you, thank you for this thread! We installed a drain plug heater from TSC into our Rubbermaid trough about two weeks ago. We had to leave town shortly thereafter, so (because I'm paranoid) we also filled our 100 gallon metal trough. When we came back we noticed the water hadn't gone down in the heated trough but thought the farm sitter had filled it back up. My husband then commented that the horses keep drinking from the other tank, but then they always preferred that in summer, too.

Two nights ago, I noticed my horse come up and paw at the tank. I didn't think anything of it, until he started to put his nose in and jerked back like it was shocking him. I remembered this thread and tried to tell my husband the water was shocking him. He assured me it wasn't and said I read on the internet too much. :no: Yesterday, my horse had pawed all of the water out of the heated trough, and continued to paw at the empty trough. My husband said he was just being a PITA (my gelding is one of those perpetual 2 year-olds). I finally convinced him that he (the horse) was trying to tell us something. My husband tested the water with a voltmeter and it was charged with almost 3 volts! The worst part is, it was doing that when it was plugged in and off. Only unplugged was it not showing the charge. We grounded it with the suggestions shown here and *poof*, no more shocking water. My poor horses! I was so upset and of course my husband feels terrible. We'll continue to monitor it closely and thank God I had been watering them in the barn at night. It could have been very scary!

skyy
Dec. 6, 2010, 10:28 AM
Well, here we are again. It's now 1 yr later and we installed a GFI outlet and the same trough is shocking the horses (but the GFI is not tripping). It's not the electric fence arcing because it's not even plugged in. I really hate winter.

HPFarmette
Dec. 6, 2010, 12:36 PM
I spent 6 hours outside yesterday arranging troughs, arranging tank heaters, trying to make sure all my darlings had lots of nice not-frozen water all the time...it's so nice to be reminded I'm not the only one slogging away with this stuff...My feed store puts up a sign on their door after the 'official' start of winter of How Many Weeks Left Till Spring then each week they update it.

justonemore
Dec. 6, 2010, 10:54 PM
Do you have a ground rod driven into the ground next to your tub and a copper wire running directly from the ground rod into the water? You really need to do this for it to be safe. I was having problems with horses getting zapped off and on until I finally figured this out. (Of course, that's assuming your electrical wiring and outlets are all set up / grounded correctly)

Jumpin_Horses
Dec. 7, 2010, 09:52 AM
THANK YOU..

also, have your power company out to check for "STRAY VOLTAGE" if you have "stray voltage" this is something THEY need to fix. they usually put in a "split neutral"

:yes:

skyy
Dec. 7, 2010, 11:11 AM
I just bought a new 12 gauge extension cord and plugged it into a different outlet. As well, I bought copper wire and a ground rod which is going to be driven in today. However, o wise ones, am I going to have trouble because the ground rod is about 6 inches away from a hot fence? The ground rods for the fence charger are 100' away from the trough.

bill.czora
Apr. 8, 2014, 04:56 PM
differences in the quality of the heater construction/care taken in manufacturing it properly.

bill.czora
Apr. 8, 2014, 05:02 PM
@skyy, I think your heater must have changed. I may not be an electrical guru, but I am not unskilled either. An isolated heater (no ground connection) should not be able to trip a GFCI. The GFCI works by detecting an imbalance in the current going out the hot lead, and less coming back in the neutral lead. The presumption is that the "missing" current must be getting conducted to ground (i.e. ground fault) by something like a human or equine body. Each time a horse gets shocked, the GFCI should trip.