Hot Tub Wiring Mistakes
Hot tub wiring mistakes can result in shock from electrocution and even death. According to the New York Times, 6,646 people ended up in the hospital because of hot tub injuries in 2006. However, the most mammoth consequence of a wrongly installed hot tub occurred in September 2015 in Napa and Sonoma counties near San Francisco.
Officials stated that the so-called Valley Fire that killed four people, burnt 76,067 acres, destroyed 1,995 structures, and cost the state about $57 million to extinguish was ignited by faulty tub wiring at home. It started with a poorly connected hot tub wire that overheated, melted, and ignited dry brush nearby at home in Cobb town.
Electricity is not something to meddle with. Therefore, if you consider getting a hot tub onto your home, make sure to administer electricals with care and safety. Here are a few mishaps to avoid when installing a hot tub or swim spa.
Neglecting Grounding: Hot Tub Wiring Mistakes
A tub that is not grounded goes against any safety measures. Without that “path of least resistance,” it will allow a stray voltage to build up in places that can be extremely dangerous. Besides, grounding helps control massive power surges or lightning strikes that could damage a hot tub, shock nearby people, and even cause fires.
Hence, it is imperative to establish a connection between the equipment, the electrical appliance, and the ground. The electrical flow always finds the shortest way into the ground, pointing out that grounding a hot tub will reduce the power surge when there’s an emergency with a neutral connection.
Overlooking Bonding: Hot Tub Wiring Mistakes
Bonding akin to grounding must be up to the required standard. It also reduces the risk of electrocution when touching two separate metal fragments during a fault in the supply of electrical installation. By joining all metal parts that are not meant to be carrying current during normal operations, bonding brings them together to the same electrical potential.
As a result, electricity won’t accumulate in one or between two different pieces of equipment. No current supply can occur between bonded conductors (person, surface, and product) because they have the same potential.
Not Paying Attention to a Breaker Tripping
Bonding exists to allow a breaker to trip. So if you are using your hot tub and your breaker keeps tripping, don’t consider it an inconvenience. Instead, you should immediately get out of the tub or turn it off. When this happens, it means that a breaker attempts to terminate a fault. It can be due to moisture in the electric system or loose wire. Whatever the reason, you can’t ignore it; otherwise, this hot tub wiring mistake can turn out to be very ruinous.
Not Installing GFCI Receptacle: Hot Tub Wiring Mistakes
Needless to say that during hot tub wiring, the device known as the ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI should be installed. It protects any electrical outlet located close to the tub. Every time there’s a short circuit, the GFCI will shut the power off, thus, helping to prevent the potential harm. But just having GFCI is not enough. You should regularly test the circuit interrupter using its TEST button. Broken GFCI can cause a fatal shock, and it’s crucial to check it frequently to ensure it’s working correctly.
Having a GFCI is not a choice. The National Electrical Code (NEC) states that hot tubs can only operate on the GFCI. There are some requirements to adhere to, and you have to confirm the electrician working on hot tub wiring is familiar with the NEC standards.
Installing a Hot Tub under Overhead Power Lines
With an outside tub, there’s always a chance for a wiring problem to induce a threat to anyone enjoying the hot tub. The common issues are down wires or power lines. There are millions of miles of these lines connected through a power grid. Any accident near some of the power lines, such as a storm or heavy wind, can cause the lines to fall.
The downed fire still runs electricity, and if they fall into hot tubs, the water becomes energized. Fatality can happen if someone gets into the hot tub without noticing a downed wire.
Wrongly Installed Lighting and Buried Wiring under Hot Tub
The first step in installing your spa or hot tub is finding a safe place, which is not only restricted to not running wiring under power lines. In addition, low-voltage lighting should never be installed if the distance between them and the tub is less than 10 feet. The wires should be at least 18 inches underground and not directly underneath the hot tub as it could lead to electrocution.
Using Aluminum Wire:
Although copper wiring is more expensive when compared to aluminum wiring, the best practice is to use the former because by investing in copper wiring, you are investing for your safety. The tensile strength of copper is over 40% higher than aluminum, so it is less likely to break than aluminum. Also, when exposed to heat, it doesn’t expand as much as aluminum. With hot tub wiring, the #6 AWG aluminum won’t suffice for a full 50 amp service. The common practice among electricians is running #6 copper for a standard 50 amp service.
Using Undersized Wire
The NEC stipulates the requirements for the wire size. When conducting a hot tub wiring, using undersized wire can cause the electricity to fire. When a wire is not big enough to process the amount of current flowing through it, the resistance to current flow generates heat. Then the wire begins to accumulate heat as flow increases. Consequently, the wire insulation melts, after which it can kindle any nearby flammable materials. A circuit breaker will automatically shut off the current before wiring overheats if this happens.
Connecting a 4-Wire Hot Tub to a 3-Wire Circuit
Old version 240V hot tubs and some newer ones use 3-wire circuits. These include two hot wires and a ground wire, without a neutral wire. A 4-wire tub must not be connected to a 3-wire circuit. Moreover, it is illegal. As mentioned earlier, proper grounding is required as well. Anyways, the disconnect panel must be equipped with a 4-wire service for the GFCI to operate correctly.
Important Information to Avoid Hot Tub Wiring Mistakes
For those looking to install a hot tub, here is important information about electrical requirements for installing an outdoor hot tub when the wire is less than 50 feet or 15 meters.
- Copper wires should be used as conductors.
- A dedicated circuit must be in place to connect to the hot tub. In addition, the tub should be protected by a two-pole class “A” GFCI.
- Two bonding lug marks are required for the terminal box, both external and internal supply boxes. In order to minimize the risk of electric shock, the local common bonding grid within the hot tub area needs to be connected to these terminals with insulation or copper conductor. The size of the copper conductor should be No.8 AWG for the US standards.
- GFCI receptacles should be installed for outlets, plugs, lighting, and equipment within 1.5 meters or 5 feet from a hot tub.
- Hardware with metal components within 3 meters of your hot tub should be bonded to the equipment grounding bus. The copper conductors assisting must be no smaller than No.6 AWG.
- Ground terminals should be attached to the grounding means provided to the electrical panel, all with an extended copper wire that meets the minimum required size.
Why Hire a Professional Electrician
Hot tub wiring is not an easy and safe job to do. When it comes to grounding, bonding, or GFCI protection, you should delegate the work to professionals. They are highly trained in wiring the tubs, and unlike self-learners, they have extensive work experience in dealing with these kinds of projects.
Furthermore, they understand specific electrical and building regulations, while non-electricians need permits to wire something like a hot tub. Lastly, if you do it yourself and encounter failure because of not following the book, the insurance will not cover any damage. For these reasons, it is wise to search for fully-qualified electricians.
RG Electric is a team of licensed and insured electricians. From light switch and outlet upgrades to hot tub wiring and other electric services, you can rely on Los Angeles electrical technicians to get it done adeptly and without risks. Plus, our dedicated crew is available 24/7 for any emergency repairs. We take pride in serving customers in Los Angeles, LA Metro Area, Culver City, Huntington Park, Long Beach, Santa Monica, and other areas in the county of Los Angeles.
To learn more about the delivery of our electrical services or to get a free quote from our expert electricians, reach out to us on our website or call (323) 5215131.