What is a safe underwater connector?

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Old 01-02-12, 03:05 PM
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What is a safe underwater connector?

Hello - I have to replace a fountain pump. The electrical cord has already been cut - this means I will need a safe way to splice the new pump's cord to the cord already buried in the cement of the fountain base. Let me start by saying - I bought the house with the fountain in place and only discovered the 'do-it-yourself' electrical installation after cleaning it and inspecting the existing pump - which is toast. The previous homeowner had used silicone wire nuts to connect the pump to the buried cord but they are not considered safe for this type of application. I've been to home depot and they have something that looks like a large glue trap but it's longer than the existing cord and besides it's $30. Any ideas?
 
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Old 01-02-12, 03:31 PM
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I had the advantage of building my own fish pond, and using PVC conduit for everything. I would have a tough time recommending any kind of DIY splice for underwater use. I am lucky my submersible pump cords have held up well, because from my perspective, when the cord is shot, the pump becomes spare parts. Even though I have GFCI power, I would only consider splicing if the splice were not subject to immersion, because I don't know if fish can even handle 4 ma or whatever GFCIs are rated for.

I would recommend that you evaluate the option of rerouting a new code-complaint supply so a pump with an intact cord can be plugged in a safe distance from immersion. I know you've probably already looked at that and figured it was a lot of work, but it has to be said in the thread.
 
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Old 01-02-12, 04:26 PM
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On your fish pond...

how did you seal the conduit to keep the pond water out? Are you using conduit wide enough to accomodate the plug or are you clipping off the plug, running the cord through the conduit and then attaching a new plug?
 
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Old 01-02-12, 05:06 PM
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because I don't know if fish can even handle 4 ma or whatever GFCIs are rated for.
That would be 4-6 mA unless used for fixed outdoor deicing and snow melting applications which I believe require a 30 mA trip.
 
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Old 01-03-12, 07:08 AM
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how did you seal the conduit to keep the pond water out? Are you using conduit wide enough to accomodate the plug or are you clipping off the plug, running the cord through the conduit and then attaching a new plug?
Sorry I wasn't more clear on that. The conduit does not run under water. I use the conduit to get close to the pond. The pondmaster pumps I use have 18-foot cords which run to the edge of the pond, to a receptacle located away from the pond. Probably different from your setup.

I looked at using a flexible waterproof conduit to get the cord into the pond, but found that cutting off plugs voids warranties, and with a 5-year warranty on some of the pumps that didn't seem the wisest choice. So, the cord just runs through the pond, through a niche between two loose stones on the coping shelf, then through a "tunnel" to a receptacle located about 5 linear feet away.

You could use a large conduit, however. Maybe a 1-1/4" or 1-1/2" with a mast-type weatherhead on top, modified so one of the weatherhead holes is big enough or slotted to allow the plug through. That would still have to be terminated above pond level.

I am not sure if any code would apply, but physics-wise, you could use a large conduit that terminated under water inside the pond, but extended well above pond level at the point outside the pond where the receptacle is located. The conduit would be flooded, but the water won't be able to go anywhere. I don't see that that would be any different from running the manufacturer's cord through the pond itself. And of course any flooded conduit should be suctioned dry during the freezing season.

Finally, you could do that same thing in the previous paragraph, except inside the pond, terminate the conduit using a large compression fitting with a large rubber bushing, and smaller slotted bushings inside that one that would fit around the cord, so the plug wouldn't have to be cut off.

There's a pond forum on gardenweb, too, where you might get an answer from somebody with more experience.
 
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Old 01-03-12, 07:29 AM
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Any home fountain I have seen the cord ran over the top and down into the fountain. If the sight of the cord bothers you perhaps you could camouflage it. Or do as commercial fountains do and have a drain on the bottom of the fountain to a pump located out side the fountain and a water return running inside to the water dispersal display..
 
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Old 01-03-12, 09:39 AM
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3M/Scotchcast makes a splice kit that is rated for underwater. It consists of a resin kit and a snap on mold.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 02:53 PM
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All good ideas - thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm going to look into the 3M Scotchcast splice Wayne mentioned but if it's not rated to this application then I will install a proper GFI outlet in near proximity to the fountain, like you describe doing near your pond - cut the cord (literally) that was buried in the cement and take Ray2047's advice and drape the new pumps cord over the side and camouflage it.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 04:08 PM
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Let us know how it works out. Other will find this thread looking for answers and you can help them with your experience.
 
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