What are the hot tub or swimming pool bonding requirements? If you have no clue about these bonding requirements for your hot tub or pool, then this guide will inform you on these important guidelines!
When you’re enjoying a hot tub or swimming pool, it’s easy to forget that someone, somewhere along the way, made sure that fixture was installed correctly, because all you’ll be concentrating on is how much fun it is.
Nevertheless, if you’re thinking about installing a pool or hot tub on your own property, you’ll need to know a little about bonding and grounding laws because you won’t be able to just place it on the ground and plug it in.
Fortunately, once you understand the basics, the rest is fairly simple, and since it’s easy to find experts around who can help you do everything right, you don’t have to worry about making sure the installation is a breeze.
Hot Tub Or Swimming Pool Bonding Requirements
The first thing to learn is some of the basic terms that are typically thrown around when people are talking about bonding requirements for fixtures such as swimming pools.
Some of them are thought to be interchangeable, but as you can see from the following definitions, each of these terms means something different.
Here are the terms you should be familiar with before getting a swimming pool or hot tub installed on your property:
- Grounding means connecting something to the earth. This is why it is sometimes called earthing.
- Bonding means creating a conductive path between metallic objects.
- When you bond something, you’re creating a low-impedance (low-opposition) path that allows for fault current to flow.
As you can imagine, bonding a hot tub or pool properly is a must because let’s face it, water and electricity don’t mix.
Since installing a swimming pool or hot tub requires electrical work, you should consider hiring a professional electrician to do the work for you, or a professional pool installer.
Since 2008, the National Electrical Code, or NEC, requires that pools be electrically bonded, which essentially means a professional electrician is mandatory.
The NEC requirements apply to both above-ground and in-ground pools and to all equipment, metal components, and even the water itself.
What Is Bonding?
If you look up bonding in the dictionary, it has a long, drawn-out definition, but if you want to put it in simple terms, think of it like this: bonding’s main purpose is to keep people and electricity away from one another.
A professional pool installer will make sure that happens because these experts know exactly how to make the pool safe after it’s been installed, not just for the people who get into the pool, but also for the equipment and components of the pool so that they can last much longer.
Why is bonding so important? Stray currents can happen at any time, and when it does, those currents can go anywhere, including people, the water in the pool, and all metal components – all of which are conductive and can get harmed by these currents.
Simply put, when a pool is properly bonded, the stray currents balance the electrical pressure and make sure the currents flow outward toward a bonding wire or a grid where they can be dispersed safely.
Since the NEC requires that pool water be electrically bonded and not just metals in the pool’s structure, the organization also requires that the bonding device you choose have the following requirements:
- The connector (lug) cannot have the ability to “back off” at any time, such as when vibrations occur. In other words, the connection must be secure.
- The device has to be in contact with the water 24/7 even if the circulation system isn’t running.
- The device must have a minimum of 9 square inches of conductive material.
Of course, these are the minimum requirements under the NEC code, but it’s best to become familiar with all aspects of the law to keep abreast of what is required when you’re wanting a swimming pool or hot tub installed.
Even if a professional installs it for you, it’s still good to know what the protocol is so that your pool or spa is safe for everyone from that moment on.
The Right Water Bonding Device
Through the years, the pool lighting has been used as the bonding device. It is a metal device and therefore has to be bonded anyway, and since you’re creating a wet niche bond by doing this, the pool water will also be properly bonded.
In fact, according to the NEC, your water bonding device can be any other metal parts of the swimming pool or hot tub, as long as they, too, have already been properly bonded.
If you’re curious about some of the changes in pool lighting that have been made over the past several years – namely, nicheless LED lighting and plastic wet niches – just know that for these changes to be acceptable, you also have to reevaluate how your pool water is bonded to make sure the rules still apply.
In other words, if you choose nicheless lighting or plastic niches but you haven’t yet made any changes to how your pool or spa is bonded, that pool or spa may now very well be unsafe!
Once you get rid of your metal wet niche as your bonding device, you have to find an alternative. This is the bad news. Fortunately, there is also good news, because lots of companies make devices to take care of this problem quickly.
In fact, they offer numerous products that can take care of this problem quickly so that your pool or hot tub will be safe once again.
Other NEC Requirements
When it comes to bonding – or equipotential bonding, as it is also called – a swimming pool or hot tub, there is no such thing as too much information.
When your pool or spa is being bonded, safety is your number-one concern, so the more you know about the process, the better off you’ll be because this is the best way to make sure everyone is safe for the life of your pool.
As such, here are some other “rules and regulations” mentioned by the NEC in all of their literature:
1. When wiring your pool lights, underwater lights have to have an insulated copper equipment bonding conductor of a certain size, and that size is a minimum of 12 AWG.
You also cannot splice the equipment bonding conductor for the underwater light with a few exceptions. The main two exceptions to this rule are:
- there is more than one underwater lighting fixture that is supplied by the same branch circuit, and
- the equipment bonding conductor stops at the grounding terminal of an item such as a clock switch, pool transformer, GFCI, or a manual snap switch that is located between the panelboard and a junction box connected to a conduit that leads directly to the lighting fixture.
2. The junction box, or deck box, when it is directly connected to an underwater pool that is permanently installed, must be listed as a swimming pool junction box and have either threaded entries or a nonmetallic hub.
It should also be constructed of either brass, copper, or some other type of corrosion-resistant material approved by whatever authority has jurisdiction.
In fact, there must also be electrical continuity between all metal conduit and bonding terminals located within that junction box.
3. When a permanent pool or spa is installed, five pieces must be bonded together and to the equipotential bonding grid:
- all of the metallic parts made out of reinforcing metal that isn’t encapsulated with a non-conductive compound;
- all metal fittings attached to or within the pool or spa, such as handrails and ladders;
- metal raceways, piping, and cables, as well as all of the fixed metal parts on any electrical equipment;
- all metal forming shells for underwater wet-niche lighting fixtures;
- metal parts of electrical equipment that are associated with the circulating systems, such as pump motors and water heaters.
4. All metal parts specified in Section 680.26(B) of the NEC document must be bonded to the equipotential bonding grid with a conductor made out of solid copper that is a minimum of 8 AWG.
The bonding grid itself also has to be formed from one or more of the following: the metal walls of a permanently installed swimming pool or hot tub, and/or structural reinforcing steel of a permanently installed concrete pool or spa, and tied together by the standard steel tie wires.
If all of this sounds confusing, there’s no need to worry because a professional pool or spa installer will be familiar with all of the requirements and will make sure your pool or spa is installed expertly so that everyone who ever enters the water will be safe.
To someone with familiarity with bonding and electrical do’s and don’ts, these rules will start to make sense once the installation is in progress.
You can peruse the NEC’s documents related to rules for the bonding of swimming pools and hot tubs to get additional information on the ones that apply to the process.
A swimming pool or spa is a great addition to anyone’s home, but more than anything else, you want everyone who uses the pool or spa to be safe. That being said, it’s good to know that keeping these people safe year after year is not at all difficult.
Hello, my name is David Zal and I’m a plumber with more than 20 years of experience based in Englewood (Florida). I like to teach normal people how to make easy fixes in their homes. I believe that a lot can be achieved just with DYI and that’s why I started this blog.