Horses Getting FAKE shocks ?

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I dont know what to make of this. I have had horses for years and never run into this. On top of that, I work with electrical equipment. This makes no sense at all.....
This is a hobby farm. I have several horses and they are in different parts of the farm (due to size, and gender, and who they get along with). Each section is fences with an electric fence, except the pony has a woven fence (he crawls under electric fences).
Each section has a water trough, all but one are plastic. Each has a 250 or 500 watt livestock tank heater which is plugged in when the temperature is below freezing, to keep the water from freezing. One group of two horses is in the same place they were last winter, have the same water trough, same electric fence, same everything. A few weeks ago, I spotted one of the horses kicking the water trough and him stareing at it like it's going to bite him. The next day the weather warmed up so I unplugged the heater, and he did not kick it again. One night it got cold so I plugged it in again, and that night he was kicking the tank all night again, and doing the whole routine as before. The next morning I went out there and found the water level was low, and the water was warm to touch. I figured he didnt like the warm water. I unplugged the heater and filled his tank. Everything was fine. Last night it got cold again, so I plugged the heater back in, and all night the OTHER horse was banging on the tank. I thought maybe the heater got unplugged and there was a skin of ice on top. WHen I woke up, both of them were banging on the tank and I went to check. The heater was working, the tank was almost full, the water was neither freezing or warm.
WHAT THE FU#K?
OK, normally, I would suspect AC leakage except for one thing. It's plugged into a GFCI. That should have tripped. I stuck my hand in the water, wearing only some damp tennis shoes and standing in light snow. I felt not even the slightest tingle. I waited until they came back over and started banging again, and I noticed they would back away from the water after trying to take a drink. I unplugged the heater, and after being real cautious, both of them guzzled the water and all was well. I plugged the heater back in, and placed my multimeter between the water and the ground. ZERO !!!! A few hours later they were banging again on the tank. I removed the heater and swapped it with some other horses. I brought the OTHER heater back to these two. The other horses have shown NO problem with their water, but these same two are banging again, in fact are doing it right now.
In summary, I have changed the tank heater. This and every tank heater on the farm are on a GFCI (each has their own). I measure no noticable voltage with my multimeter, nor do I feel anything when I touch the water. The tank is plastic. There is a 50 foot extension cord between the heater and the GFCI outlet, laying across lawn.
If it was just one horse, I'd say "a goofy horse", but both of them are doing this. Yet, I can not comprehend what the heck is wrong. My only suspicion would be that somehow the electric fence is leaking thru the soil, and the heater is serving as a ground, and there is a voltage difference (of course, neither my hand, nor my multimeter picked up anything). Yes, the tank is near the fence, but so is EVERY water trough on the farm. You dont place them in the middle of everything, or horses knock them over when they run around.
I'm Clueless..........
Anyone got any ideas, recommendations, tips, or ????
I keep wondering if it would help to sink a ground rod (piece of pipe) outside the fence, attach a piece of wire and stick it in the water ???? It's worth a try, but pounding that rod into icy soil wont be easy, and I hate to do it for nothing. So, I thought I'd ask on here first. Till then, I just unplug it every so often, and these horses get slushy water....
Thanks
Irish Settler Farm
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Can you try switching the heaters? I don't think it is wise to do anything that might cause any animal to shy from their water. I would consider it a very importing issue.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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On Mon, 05 Jan 2004 12:08:50 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"

I agreee this is important, they NEED their water, but I am at a loss what to do. Maybe I was not clear in my message. I DID change the heater. Another horse has the original one, and there is no problem with that horse. These two "problem horses" now have the heater the other horse originally had, and are still acting goofy.... (in other words, I swapped the heaters from one horse pasture to another, and the same two horses are having a problem with the OTHER heater.
Thanks
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I think one of the other responders may have been on to something with the idea that it may be sound. I don't know where to go with this however since you changed heaters. I might suggest calling in a electrician and see if he has equipment to detect a very very slight leakage.
Is this a plastic or metal tank? Are any of the plastic tanks grounded is some way, like a through bolt?
How about some sort of reaction between the warm heater and the plastic releasing something into the water from the plastic or a galvanic reaction between the heater and a metal tank?
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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Hi, Why don't you install GFI outlet for testing and to get a clue what's going on? Tony
Joseph Meehan wrote:

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There could be some other path for an electric current(leakage) to that tank,that doesn't go through the GFI outlet. And the horse's hooves may be better conductors than your tennies.
That was very 'brave' to stick your own hand in there to test the water.;-}
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik-at-kua.net
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Jim Yanik wrote:

I suspect a ground loop of some sort; the equipment ground for the outlet is interacting with the electric fence ground, and a little high-voltage is getting into the bucket through the ground on the heater. A GFCI won't catch this, and it's probably not dangerous, but the horses sure will notice it. Stick your tongue (or some other sensitive body part) in the trough and you'll feel it too.
My prediction: The problem is the electric fence ground.
Even if you don't have an electric fence, it could still be a ground loop causing a voltage potential at bucket.
Bob
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On Mon, 05 Jan 2004 23:57:20 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"

I FOUND THE GUILTY PARTY.........
Defective GFCI. The GFCI was passing current, but there was no ground on the output side of it. How in the heck that is possible, I have no clue, because I always thought that was a solid piece of brass that passed thru.
What I did was call the electric company. The horses were all upset and banging again, and I was just plain frustrated with it. I asked to speak to someone about "Stray Voltage" (a common problem on farms that are incorrectly wired) (except I know mine is correctly wired).
Anyhow, I explained the whole story, and the guy said that everything I told him suggested a lack of ground. I told him there are ground terminals on the heater and extension cord, and they are intact. He suggested taking a digital multimeter (not analog), tossing one lead in the water and placing the other on a good ground or sticking it into the ground. Well, I could not stick it into frozen ground, so I filed the paint off a metal t-post (part of the fence), clipped an alligator clip on there to my meter. Tossed the other lead in the water and sure enough..... It fluctuated from microvolts up to 45 volts, but seemed to settle around 3 volts, constantly fluctuating. (I think the 45 volts was my ground wire not making good contact).
I unplugged the heater from the outlet, and read zero. I got a 100 foot extension cord and ran it into the kitchen door. I plugged it into the kitchen GFI outlet, and it read ZERO volts in the horse tank.
Thats when I figured that my 50 foot extension cord, even though it is brand new and has no frays, must have a bad ground internally. I plugged the same 100 foot cord (that I used in the kitchen outlet), and plugged it into that outside GFI that I was originally using. Sure enough..... I got the voltage reading on the meter again.
I then grabbed one of those little testers that have 3 little colored lights on them to determine proper polarity, and immediately saw there was only one light lit up (there should be two yellow lites). There was the problem.......
The GFCI WAS properly grounded to the electrical systems ground wire. It tripped when I pushed the test button, and everything else appeared normal. Somehow the ground is not connected INSIDE of it.
I WILL be tearing it apart to see why..... This is just weird. I have never run into such a goofy thing in my life.
A new GFCI solved the problem. The horses are happy (but still leary of that SCAREY water THAT BITES).
Next time I'll use that little colored light tester FIRST, in fact I'll be checking every outlet on the farm with that thing, as soon as its a little warmer outside.
Why the analog meter did not pick up this voltage, I am still not sure???
I'm just glad this mystery is solved. Now I can sleep again....
Thanks for everyones help.
(But I WON'T piss in the tank) <evil grin>
Irish Settler Farm
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Now we see the devastation of cheap goods manufactured in Mexico courtesy of NAFTA.
I'll bet those were $9.00 Levitton GFCIs made in Mexico. Lack of quality control is the problem. I put your horse barn in almost the same catagory as Nursery, Hospital or School - you're caring for beings that can't do it for themselves - and electrical safety is paramount to prevent death or serious injury. I'd look into hospital, or at least commercial/specification grade electrical devices especially considering the enviroment your system is exposed to.
Also, a GFCI is a somewhat electro-mechanical electronic device, and as such, should be well protected from the elements. Those old style weatherproof boxes with a simple spring hinged door are not the best way to protect them from corrosion. They're not even water resistant while something is plugged in. The least you should have is the newer "code-keeper" covers which are like a square, clear plastic "bowl" which shields GFCIs and the devices they cover even while something is plugged in.
Beter yet is to locate the protective GFCI in an enclosed, "indoor" space, and down-feed your outdoor outlets from there.
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Some analog meters are low impedence, and would have shorted out the stray leakage to the point where it won't show any voltage.
Does the meter say "thus and so ohms per volt" or something like that? "Good" analog meters are 20K ohms or more. Some cheap ones are as low as 1K ohms/volt, and that could have shorted out microamp leakages quite easily.
Almost all DVMs are very high impedance.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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wrote:

with
however
see
grounded
plastic
reaction
Analog meters have much lower impedance and will not detect very light leakage currents as does digital meters. The stray capacitance from the hot conductor to the ungrounded ground conductor in the long cord caused the stray voltage. John

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Any correlation with this?
http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/recalls/reclfull/2003/16sept2003.html
RB
snipped-for-privacy@NoEmail.com wrote:

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Made in Communist China. What a shock.
-- Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
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Doug Miller wrote:

I like the way it has counterfeit UL and ULC marks.
Best regards, Bob
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That should not be a surprise to anyone either, given where it came from.
-- Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
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Too bad it wasn't counterfeit CSA marks. Anybody involved with that within reach of Canadian law would end up in prison.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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On Wed, 07 Jan 2004 13:10:03 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

No, not one of those listed on that site, but yes, it was made in China.
The person who said about the capacitance in the long cord hit the nail on the head. That makes lots of sense. Thanks I sort of lost track of who said what in this thread, but everyone was very helpful.
Thanks to all
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Unlikely. That was about non-tripping. The issue at hand wasn't to do with tripping per-se.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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One possibility that occurs to me is that the heater may be humming slightly (and inaudibly to you). I don't need to tell you that horses are kinda weird anyway; and since you've checked the electricity thoroughly, it's probably something else setting them off.
Joe F.
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Swap horses with others from another pasture.
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