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Welcome to the Most Educational Swimming Pool Blog in the Country!


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Pool Bonding 101: Why Handrails, Coping, and Water Could Shock You.


swimming pool bonding grid...and you thought you were supposed to shock the pool, not the other way around!


Whether you are experiencing this in your own inground pool, or are in the process of researching for your future pool, this article will give a brief explanation of swimming pool bonding in non-pool guy terms.


The key phrase to become familiar with here is equipotential bonding, which is essentially a function of connecting various pool components together with a bare copper wire to make them the same potential. 


What is Electrical Potential?

To understand potential, imagine how water flows through a pipe.  It will naturally flow from an area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure.  If both ends of the pipe have equal pressure the water will not move, regardless of the level of pressure.  Electricity works in the same way.  There has to be a difference in pressure (or voltage) to create a flow of electricity from one point to another.  The purpose of equipotential bonding is to equalize the pressure around the entire pool so your body doesn’t create the circuit between areas of differing potential which would result in getting shocked.  This is done by creating a “bonding grid”.


What components are in the Bonding Grid?

The bonding grid is established by connecting a bare copper wire to various components around the pool which include but are not limited to:

  • All metal components within 5’ of the water’s edge of the pool including handrails, ladders, diving board jigs (the part that goes in the concrete), slides, pool lights with metal components, etc.
  • The metal reinforcement used in the 36” of the pool patio surrounding the pool.   
  • At least 9 square inches of metal in contact with the water in the pool.


How are the connections made to these components?

swimming pool bonding lugAll components such as handrails and ladders that have anchors recessed into the patio are bonded by connecting the copper wire to the side of the anchor.  The reinforcing metal in the patio is connected to the bonding grid by fastening the copper wire to the metal with a bonding lug (picture) at multiple points around the pool.  The required nine square inches of metal in the water can be satisfied through the use of a submersed metal pool accessory such as a light or ladder, or if no submersed metal component is used, through the use of a metal plate known as a “Bondsafe 680” installed in the throat of the skimmer.  This is a wonderful product and is perfect for fiberglass pools.             


What kind of “Shock” are we talking about here?

The good news is that in most cases the “shock” that occurs is somewhere between 1 and 3 volts, which is considered a nuisance voltage.  This often results in a tingling or stinging sensation when a person touches the handrail, ladder, pool coping, or water from outside the pool.  These sensations can become more perceptible when there is a cut or nick on the part of the hand touching the component or when the skin softens after spending a long time in the pool.  Children are often more perceptive to this than adults and are often the ones who initially notice the problem. 


How Can we Eliminate the Problem?

The first thing you need to do is contact your pool guy or a certified electrician to troubleshoot the problem.  There is a chance the pool was improperly bonded if the pool was built before recent changes to the electrical code were enforced.  The problem could also originate from your utility provider or from a wiring flaw outside of the pools bonding grid that is back-feeding electricity to the pool area.  If the pool was bonded correctly there is a relatively good chance that the solution is simple once the problem is identified.


Well there you have it: Pool Bonding 101.  Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section.  Thanks for Being Here!  

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Thanks for the information - I have had my pool for 8 years without any shocking. This year I converted to a salt water system. The shocking did not start right away, salt system has been installed for about 3 months now. All electrical conections are grounded and there is no potential between ground and the incoming nutruel line. I do get the 2 volts measuriong from my coping to the water. no voltage from my water to my electrial ground. We are very dry here in Arkanssas, my thought was the dry earth in creating a potential between the ground around my pool vs the ground at my electrial box. Around 100 ft away. I'm I just crazy or is this truly what could be happening? If so as soon as we get rain the problem may go away.
Posted @ Friday, July 06, 2012 7:41 AM by John Lukassen
We recently had an inground pool put in. It is a metal wall pool and I am sure they did not bond anything I watched all of it and did not see this grid or any wires ran from the ladder or hand rail connecting this grid. there was some wire laid right before they poured concrete but no wire connecting to anything. We are getting the shock. We had a very large concrete patio and deck poured around the pool. Could you please tell be there is a way to take care of this without tearing out all the concrete decking
Posted @ Thursday, July 26, 2012 3:35 PM by Jaw
I had an inground metal walled with a vinyl liner pool with a 5 foot concrete walk completely around it installed this spring. The pool installer did not install any bonding for the project. The retail store that sold me the pool said it was not necessary. Needless to say, the project failed its final inspection and the town is now threatening to fine me daily until it is fixed or the pool is removed. The installer and retail store are refusing to help and trying to claim it is not thier problem. Do you have any recomendations on how to fix this situation? 
Thank you, Sean
Posted @ Tuesday, September 11, 2012 8:53 PM by Sean
How exactly do you go about doing the equipotential bonding. Out pool has been installed for several years, at least we now know this is the problem. Is there a way to fix it without tearing up concrete? Please advise.
Posted @ Sunday, November 04, 2012 7:22 PM by Alicia
I have a bonding wire that runs from the pool and comes out in my pool equipment area, but is just wrapped around a PVC pipe. Then there is a boding wire that connects, my pumps and heater, but are not connected to the wire coming out of the ground, is this correct? 
Posted @ Sunday, February 17, 2013 6:14 PM by Brian
Hi! Thanks a lot for the useful information shared first. Really appreciate the swimming pool bonding tips shared via this informative article.Cheers! 
Posted @ Friday, March 15, 2013 5:08 AM by Pool Filters Cartridges
John, we had the same issues last summer. Our pool is 10 years old and although the installer states it was bonded, the power company advised the electrical code has changed since our pool was installed. The power company indicated the drought conditions have magnified the problems. They stated in the north american grid, there is always stray voltage present. I had an electrician check and rewire everything from my house to the pool and also checked the wiring to the fiber optic light.
Posted @ Wednesday, May 15, 2013 12:19 PM by larry haywood
I have a fiberglass pool and 2 years ago switched to a salt chlorinator. Several months later my grand kids were getting shocks when getting out and holding the railing.the littlest one claimed to get get shocks on his hands and feet when he jumped in. I have had several electricians and we have tried everything. I bought a pool defender that is a zinc Anode... And had it installed. when the pool was installed,it was grounded along with the ladder and rail. But now they use a" bond safe 680 in the skimmer. 
I am at the point that I turn off everything when we use the pool. That means the bubbler seats and slide with water flo do not work. 
Any suggestions? 
Posted @ Wednesday, June 12, 2013 11:08 AM by Nancy Marracco
Nancy, when you turn the turn everything off does the shocking stop?
Posted @ Thursday, June 13, 2013 11:47 AM by Jason Hughes
Jason, I also have an in ground salt pool and it was put in in September 2012. It was grounded all the way around the pool. We also have the shocking issues. We have had Alabama Power come out and turn the power off at the pole and the pool still had voltage in it. Any suggestions? We have called everyone we can think off.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 19, 2013 8:36 AM by Tina Stevens
ive recently inspected a pool in which no bonding wire could be found.A city inspector prohibited the continuation of any futher work on the pool until such bonding is discovered or complete. How would i locate a bonding wire if any, the pool equipment has an equipment ground yet no bonding #8 wire is to be found. the investors dont want to tear up an plaster, only if necessary. an a bondin be found?g
Posted @ Saturday, June 22, 2013 12:22 AM by eric
Is there any testing equipment to verify if a bonding wire exists or present?
Posted @ Saturday, June 22, 2013 12:24 AM by eric
I have a 16 doughboy with vinyl post and vinyl top rail. I am not quite sure what to bond to. The pump is double insulated and its not a salt-water solution. 
Is bonding a safety issue or annoyance? Is the shock any greater than static shock touching a door knob? Has anyone died from an improperly bonded above ground pool? 
How about an inground pool? 
60 deaths in 13 years, most due to bad wiring or lack of working GFI and yet they have to add to the code.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 26, 2013 1:31 PM by Justin
I recently had my fiberglass pool resurfaced with plaster. I was fiberglass over concrete. I also  had a new pool pump installed and replaced some old copper pump return lines. The concrete deck was cut to move my water fill line and replace the copper pipes. I believe my old fill line had a  wire connected to it but had no idea what it was for. I also believe the fill line with the wire connected to it was removed when they cut the pipe out. The contractors worker installled my new pool pump and when i questioned the lack of a bonding wire, he said 90 % of pools aren't bonded.  My old pump had a bonding wire connected from he pump to the timer housing.  I have never heard of bonding nor knew what the wire was until I didn't see the wire on my new pump. Is the licsened contractor liable for any issues for not making sure the pool was properly bonded.  Is my pool safe to use? I still have no idea if the wire I saw on the fill pipe was part of the bonding grid. If I would have known about bonding, I would have ensured the contractor bonded everything. Also, is the contractor required to have a licsened electrian to wire my pump?  My concrete deck was also refinished with a nice flagstone pattern overlay by the same contractor.  He has a current licsense for concrete and pool construction. I'm in San Diego county.  I paid a lot of $$ (although i have made the last 1/3 payment) and this is reallly stressing me out!! Thanks.   
Posted @ Friday, June 28, 2013 11:45 PM by Andy
To add to my post above, I think my pool was built in the 60's, but not positive.
Posted @ Friday, June 28, 2013 11:48 PM by Andy
That may be a ground wire, not a bonding wire. 
Your new pump may be double insulated and not have a ground wire. Since its probably all plastic (external), it likely doesn't need to be bonded either. 
As for safety, I can only say this. So far I can only find a single instance where a death could have been prevented from bonding. That incident required a boom truck, overhead lines, and a tragic placement of a life guard to cause a fatality. 
Given the VAST majority of pools are not inspected nor bonded and we don't have lots of deaths due to a lack of bonding, well you make the call.
Posted @ Saturday, June 29, 2013 12:39 AM by Justin
Its a bonding lug as the pump manual states.. And I don't think it is double insulated although I wish I purchased one of those. Not sure if the motor housing is plastic. Its a pentair intelliflo. Thanks for reply.
Posted @ Saturday, June 29, 2013 12:48 AM by Andy
We had an above-ground pool installed a week ago. An electrician installed the bonding wire around the pool. It encircles the pool (about 2 ft. from the pool edge, about 6" deep in the ground)and is attached to the base of one pool support, not four. It passed electric inspection. The bonding wire begins at the pool pump and goes around the pool to the pool support closest to the skimmer... then attaches to the skimmer. Just wondering how to landscape over the bonding wire. How do we hide the bonding wire that goes from the base of the pool support to the skimmer? It just sits on top of the ground presently. I'm concerned that someone may trip on the exposed wire.
Posted @ Saturday, July 27, 2013 8:14 PM by marg
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Posted @ Wednesday, September 04, 2013 1:14 PM by Pool Builders St Louis
I need to know if anyone has a way to fix an electrical bonding problem in my concrete deck. An electrician and the ultility company have found no problems with my house or pool wiring or with the ultility grid although they have not found the source of the stray voltage. We have checked the water and it is bonded. The electrician believes the bonding wire has broken. The pool was installed about 12 years ago. We have no problem when touching metal handrails or the ladder, only when touching the concrete deck and having a hand or foot in the water. I am hoping that I do not have to tear out the concrete deck.
Posted @ Wednesday, September 18, 2013 3:15 PM by Larry Haywood
Thanks for this valuable information, it really help me a lot.
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Posted @ Thursday, November 14, 2013 12:10 PM by Pool Builders
I have an inground pool with a AquaLumin lll Nicheless Light. It was installed when the house was built in 1998. I think the Existing Bonding Connector wire has come loose on the back of the mounting hub. Since this is all underground/concrete - there is no way to get to it. When I turn the light on - it kicks the circuit breaker. Is there any other way that you can ground the mounting hub? 
Posted @ Monday, January 13, 2014 5:03 PM by Wanda Mc Conihay
We have had power company and a master electrician out and still just maybes. We turned all power off to our property and the amps read from 2 to 4 with power on 1 to 2
Posted @ Thursday, May 22, 2014 2:10 PM by susan obrien
I am getting the slight electric charge from my coping. Installing some new concrete in one area of the pool I found that the wire connecting coping sections was broken. I have no idea what the status is under the concrete I have not taken up. Can I bond all of the coping sections by inserting/soldering a good conductive metal plate below the coping face plates? I now have a very good ground on one section of coping that I am sure of and this also attches to the ladder and I have extended a copper wire underground from there that I will attach to the grounding lug on the motor.
Posted @ Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:33 AM by John K
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