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Reduce the risk of electric shock when installing pools and spas

If you are installing or constructing a swimming pool or spa you should be aware of the risks associated with electrical bonding of concrete steel reinforcing.

Where electrical equipment associated with swimming pools and spas, such as a pool pump, is in contact with the pool or spa water, a hazardous voltage may appear if there is equipment failure.

In a swimming pool or spa, even a very low voltage and minor electric shock can present a serious risk due to muscle spasms and potential drowning.

To reduce the risk of electric shock in swimming pools and spas, the AS/NZS3000 (the Wiring Rules) has very specific requirements for electrical bonding of concrete steel reinforcing and other conductive metal parts located near the pool (within 1.25m), such as metal fencing and/or metal spigots or poles supporting non-metal fencing.

The installation of electrical bonding conductors is electrical work and may only be carried out by a suitably licensed electrician. Furthermore, the electrician will need access to the entire steel reinforcing to confirm it has been satisfactorily electrically connected together. The electrician can then connect the bonding conductor and conduct the necessary testing. This work must be carried out before any concrete is sprayed or poured.

Pool installers must consult with their electrician during the initial design stage to determine whether bonding is required. Your electrician will need to know:

the location and type of electrical equipment being installed the type of electrical equipment being used for water circulation and filtration the location of any conductive fittings within or attached to the pool, such as pool ladders and diving boards the location of any fixed conductive parts within 1.25 metres of the pool edge, such as pool fences and light poles. If bonding is required, to avoid unnecessary and costly delays, the electrician should attend site while the reinforcing is still exposed and before concrete is poured or sprayed, so that they can carry out the required electrical work and testing.

Some installers have tried to avoid the need to have an electrician attend before concreting commences by leaving a length of reinforcing out of the pool shell for the electrician to later connect the bonding conductor. This practice is not safe, as it does not allow the electrician to carry out tests to ensure the pool shell itself is effectively bonded.

In addition, attaching a bonding conductor from the pool structure to an earth electrode driven into the ground near the pool or spa does not satisfy the bonding requirements for swimming pools and spas.

Effective electrical bonding of swimming pools and spas is vital to pool safety and it is the pool installer’s responsibility to ensure that when the pool is installed it complies with the requirement of the Wiring Rules.

Always consult with your electrical contractor to ensure suitable bonding arrangements are put in place and always obtain a Certificate of Test from your installing electrical contractor confirming that the electrical work complies with the Wiring Rules, has been tested and is electrically safe.

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