Electricity under water

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I built a lake home for some clients and later installed an underground drop to a pedestal with a 240 volt disconnect (exactly like an AC disconnect). From there, the people who built the dock tied into the disconnect to run wire out to the dock.
Then the rains came. The lake rose almost 35 feet in a matter of weeks. More rain. The lake rose to flood stage and submerged the pedestal. Yet power remained to the dock. The pedestal was under about 15' of water, yet did not trip the breaker at the main service. The owner called me and asked if this was dangerous and I said yes, turn off the breaker at the breaker box, which he did.
My question is: why did the breaker not trip when the disconnect was submerged? It is not waterproof by any means.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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Robert Allison wrote:
OOPS! meant to post this to alt.home.repair!
If any of you have the answer, though, let me know.
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Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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Water doesn't conduct well. In fact, one method of measuring water's purity, is by measuring how badly it conducts electrical impulses. One of the reasons the human body conducts reasonably well, is the saline content in our bodily fluids, Mandrake. (Obscure reference intended)
r
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My bet is it was shorting through the water, but not enough to trip the breaker. It would have been interesting to check the amp draw on the circuit. I few years ago I was helping a friend do some construction. We had a couple extension cords run and it rained. The one cord ended up with the end laying in a water puddle. When I noticed it in the water, the water was bubbling at the cord end, but it did not trip the 20 amp breaker on the circuit. So it was definitely drawing some power. Greg
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could be electrocuted. They found some current between the toaster and the drain, when the drain was metal and grounded; otherwise nothing. I am surprised there was even that; the toaster neutral is a rather better ground than anything else; why would current go through a person instead?
Oh, to answer your question; without dissolved salt; water does not conduct electricity. All the rain was distilled water.
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wrote:

That's not true. *Pure* water is a very poor conductor of electricity -- but having *anything* dissolved in it (not just salt) makes it conductive.

What, you think all the water in the lake got there directly as rainfall? None of it was runoff? And nothing ever dissolved in it afterward?
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

Way back when, long before now, hopefully long enough ago for the statutes of limitations to expire, we used to do what we called "telephoning fish". We did this using the generator from the old crank telephones. Drop a weighted wire to the bottom and another wire that we just stuck in the top of the pond, stream, creek, etc. Crank on the handle, and fish would float up. This was fresh water. It seemed to conduct the current well enough to stun the fish.
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Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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Cool! I've heard of that before, but never saw it done. How big a fish can you stun this way? And how far away from the apparatus?
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

It stuns every fish around no matter what size as far as I can tell. We were getting catfish about 10-20 pounds. The others we just left in the water and eventually they would swim off.
It just gets the ones close by, I guess within maybe a 4-5 foot radius of the area between the wires. It is really hard to know for sure about that, because this was not clear water. It was pretty murky.
I have done the same thing using a car battery and an old coil from a chevy truck. If you have ever touched the spark plug wire and gotten zapped, then you know what they can put out.
You know that this is illegal, right?
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Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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Damn!!
It'd be fun to experiment in a clear lake. I've fished in a few inland lakes in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where the bottom was clearly visible at twenty feet. *Very* easy to tell where the fish are.

Oh, yes. And I would never ever try anything like this. Except maybe for experimental purposes.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

Make sure that you carry the test far enough to decide if the method changes the taste of the fish.
And I don't know about this for sure, cause I have never tested it, but everyone used to say this: Don't try this in an aluminum boat.
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Robert Allison
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On Thu, 16 Aug 2007 19:15:38 GMT, Robert Allison
[snip]

Do they also say to get out of your car during a lightning storm?
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Makes sense to me. Guess that ancient fiberglass canoe is still good for something...
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Somebody wrote:

A quart Mason jar with screw on lid, a rock inside to sink the jar, some carbide (once used by coal miners for their lamps), and a little water.
Place rock in jar, add carbide and water, screw on lid, throw in water and watch it sink.
Pretty soon, Mason jar will explode and fish will rise to surface, belly up.
Time to start dinner.
Lew
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"Brian" wrote:

As in "Better Living Thru Chemistry"?<G>
If you have evr been an old time welding shop, you would find a metal pony barrel with a tight fitting lid containing carbide.
Some carbide, some water and you get acetelene gas formed.
Pretty basic stuff.
Lew
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You can also use the same thing for gathering worms for fishing. Just wet two spots in the soil, stick two large nails into the soil and hook the magneto to the nails. Crank like hell.
Dave N
Doug Miller wrote:

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The same type of system is used by fisheries to stun fish so they can count them.
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Doug Miller wrote:

Very little is dissolved in rainwater run-off. There may be a huge amount of dirt and stuff in suspension, but dirt in suspension is no different from a log floating by.
The only thing that COULD dissolve in the run-off was stuff put down since the last rain.
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Hmmmm.... So you think that there isn't much dissolved in lake water, eh? Try an experiment: dip a quart jar full from your nearest lake, then measure the electrical resistance.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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