There’s nothing like taking a relaxing dip in your pool on a sweltering day. But while everyday pool maintenance is a part of your usual care routine, many Florida homeowners neglect to have their pool annually inspected for electrical safety.
While not many people die from swimming pool or spa electrocutions— 33 total fatalities since 2002— there are a number of shock-related incidents and injuries, according to The US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Faulty underwater lighting, faulty or nonexistent GFCIs, and damaged wiring are often to blame— all of which could be prevented with the right precautions.
Improve your electrical safety around your pool, spa, or hot tub with these important recommendations from Brittania’s trusted electricians:
1. Inspect your pool lighting.
From underwater recessed lighting to dangling string lights, we love to light up our pools! And why wouldn’t you? They’re a beautiful investment, well worth showing off.
But because outdoor electrical equipment is exposed to the elements, it often wears faster than indoor equipment would. Whether it’s that flicking underwater light you keep forgetting to check or mold developing around a leak in your water pump, small inconveniences can turn into huge problems— fast.
Remember, water and electricity are two things you never want to mix, so it’s smart to frequently inspect the whole perimeter around and down in your pool for electrical red flags. Look for dull or flickering lights, corroding or rusty wires or power cords, mold, buzzing noises, or any clear signs that your electronics need attention.
The nice thing about bringing in a professional for an annual pool inspection is that their expert eyes may see issues you don’t, like realizing a pump was placed too close to the water’s edge (it should be within 20 feet to protect against electrical shocks) or noting that the powerstrip you dragged out for playing music isn’t waterproof!
2. Check your GFCI outlets
GFCI stands for “ground fault circuit interrupter” and is a special kind of outlet, specifically designed for being around water. These outlets not only have a grounding third hole to help to prevent electrical shock, but they also are designed to cut off the flow of electricity if they sense liquid, unlike traditional outlets.
You can tell a GFCI from an ungrounded receptacle by looking in the center of the outlet for the “Reset” and “Test” buttons. These are required by The National Electrical Code (NEC) in high-splash areas like kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc. If you are inside reading this post, you can go inspect what they look like for yourself.
When outdoors, all GFCI outlets should be covered with a hinged door over the faceplate, preventing moisture from getting in while nothing is plugged in. Walk around your lanai and check that all of your outdoor outlets have a shield over them.
During their annual pool inspection, a certified electrician can also test to ensure each outlet is pumping out the appropriate amount of electricity. While you could do this yourself, we recommend leaving any direct fiddling with the internals of an outlet to a professional.
3. Be cautious when bringing appliances around the pool.
Many of us have some form of technology on us at all times, even when we suit up for a swim. From playing on your cell phone while on a pool floaty to setting a big speaker right next to the splash zone, we’re constantly pushing the edge of safety by bringing electronics close to the water’s edge.
When using electronics around your pool, hot tub, or spa, make sure the device you’re using is waterproof. Anything that’s not should be kept at least 20 to 30 feet away from the water’s edge to avoid electrocution (and damaging your devices!). You can live without your phone for an hour; we promise.
This 20 to 30-foot safety range and waterproof warning includes power cords and portable lighting equipment like electronic lanterns for night-time dips.
4. Know which circuit your pool is on and have your panel routinely inspected.
Just like all the electronics and appliances in your homework off of your electrical panel, your pool, spa, and hot tub are all hooked up to this important breaker box.
Some folks who had their pool professionally installed never had to worry about which circuits controlled their pool. Come time to replace a recessed light’s bulb or check on their heat pump, they don’t know which circuit to flick off when fiddling with the electrical, or which one to turn back on after an overload and trip. Next time your pool inspector swings by, ask them to show you around your breaker box.
Remember too that just like all electrical, your panel requires an annual maintenance check— and every few years, it needs to be replaced. Be sure to keep up with this important hub by scheduling its yearly inspection ahead of time.
5. Inspect any additional pool equipment.
From your water heater to your pool cleaning robot, there are a lot of forms of technology we count on to keep our pools comfortable and clean.
When installed, all this equipment has to meet The National Electric Code (NEC) Article 680 electrical requirements, as well as any local regulations that may apply. As a humble pool owner, it’s not your responsibility to know these rules off-hand. That’s why you trust a professional to set you up right.
After installation, this equipment still requires routine check-ins to make sure everything’s running properly and not threatening the safety of you or your family. An electrician will know what to look out for in their annual inspection, so make sure you have them look over all your gadgets and gizmos too.
Schedule Your Pool Inspection!
Now that you have some great tips for improving your pool’s electrical safety, consider upgrading your pool lights with LEDs to extend the life of your lights and worry less about frequent bulb replacements.
Schedule a routine electrical safety checkup with the Brittania Electric team by exploring our Residential Electrical Services page or calling us at 239-277-1881, today.