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
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.
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
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
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.
Mythbusters did a segment on tossing a toaster in the bathtub and see if you
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.
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.
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?
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
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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.
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
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,
Time to start dinner.
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.
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.
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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