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problem with tank heater shocking

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  • problem with tank heater shocking

    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?

  • #2
    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?
    Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
    See G2's blog
    Photos

    Comment


    • #3
      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...
      save lives...spay/neuter/geld

      Comment


      • #4
        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.
        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

        Might be a reason, never an excuse...

        Comment


        • #5
          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.
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            But why would one tank be okay and the other not?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by fivehorses View Post
              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 so I haven't got a clue. And if I ask for an explanation, it'll be more elaborate then I can even comprehend.

              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).
              Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
              See G2's blog
              Photos

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                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.

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ground rod is supposed to be driven in near tank and copper wire draped into tank, NOT attached to the heater or cord.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.
                        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                        Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            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?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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?
                              save lives...spay/neuter/geld

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                GFCI and GFI are the same

                                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

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  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.
                                  Last edited by ToiRider; Dec. 5, 2009, 08:34 PM.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    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.
                                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      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.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        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

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