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Heater broke, tank crashed

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This really sucks, right when things are looking fantastic, something off the wall like this happens. I had a 300w hydor Theo heater that decided to break. Obviously didn't know this at first, my wife called me on lunch and said the skimmer was overflowing. I told her to unplug it and I'd check when I got home. 3 hours later when I get back all corals are closed and not looking hot. Everything appeared fine so I began prepping water for a large change. Not sure what prompted me to check the heater but I reached in and grabbed it and it shocked me! I dropped it back and quickly unplugged it. I do have a titanium grounding Probe in the sump also, so hopefully that helped with some stray voltage.

this was on Wednesday. I make a late run to pet smart and get a replacement heater as the temp dropped to 75. I did a 25 gallon water change that night (45 cube with sump, figure it's roughly 50%). Cleaned skimmer and swapped for new carbon.

Yesterday,  corals continue to deteriorate. I bought a 20L and setup last night. Temps were low so I waited until this morning to move corals over.

 

i don't know what the heck is in those heaters but it's bad news. I have to assume some heavy metal like copper but not sure.

 

At this point, my only move is to drain the whole tank tomorrow and restart it after cleaning. Not sure if anyone has experienced this or has any tips. 

Here's a pic from a month ago :'(

IMG_7484.JPG

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Wow, really sorry to hear this.  Can you be more specific on what broke with the heater?  Did it actually physically break open? 

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Wow... that is a bummer - sorry to hear.  Not sure what would be in one of those that might cause the issue - don't recall any mercury switches or anything like that but haven't really dissected one in a long time (which means I haven't broken one for a while - knocks on wood).  Good luck with the rescue, hope you are able to get things back on track quickly.

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Yes the glass actually broke open. These models state shatter resistant not shatter proof like the Jager I replaced it with. I've had a Jager go out before and it sparks inside but doesn't pop the glass open. The Theo heater broke near the end and midway up. Obviously nothing is in the chamber banging around or anything so it could have started with a hairline crack, water hits electrical, then POP. Not sure what is inside but if you are running a Theo heater I'd replace it!

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The grounding probe is probably what did you in. I am NOT suggesting that anyone do something different but if the tank isn't grounded then the electricity has no where to go and won't flow through your water. With the ground, you provided a path for the electricity which unfortunately spans the entire length of your water system. Without a ground it would be like a bird on a bare wire...they don't get fried because the electricity has no where to go.

Don't know aquariums as well as I know electricity so not sure if this is possible but if you can, consider where you put your ground. If you can ground the top of your water then the electricity will flow from pump or heater to the ground. Of course, this all goes to crap if something in your sump breaks and leaks electricity into the system. Maybe the better answer is to put multiple grounds in the tank so it'll go to the closest ground instead of through your corals. It's just so hard because the more salt the water has, the better of a conductor it becomes. 

Does something like this happen enough where if I built a detector many people would have interest in it? Something that either shut down the power to the tank, or turns on a warning light, or send warn via some other means? Could simply have a beeper that goes off until you fix the problem. The electricity shouldn't bother the tank creatures too bad if you get to it quickly.

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36 minutes ago, Robert Iuliano said:

Does something like this happen enough where if I built a detector many people would have interest in it? Something that either shut down the power to the tank, or turns on a warning light, or send warn via some other means? Could simply have a beeper that goes off until you fix the problem. The electricity shouldn't bother the tank creatures too bad if you get to it quickly.

If you had a detector that would hook into an APEX breakout box, I think that would satisfy many people (just 2 bare wires, needs to close the circuit when tripped). 

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I compulsively check my system with my multimeter to make sure I'm not leaking anything into the water.  It'd be nice to have an automated alert for this, definitely!

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Hi all.  New here.

A couple of thoughts:

Yes, looks like the grounding probe functioned to electrocute your livestock somewhat. You probably didn't have it plugged into a GFCI outlet, which would have blown power to the whole system, which in this case would have been the better outcome.  If you don't have a hardwired GFCI outlet near your tank and don't want to install one, you can buy a self-contained type that itself plugs into a regular outlet.

On the advice of an engineer, I added a 1000 ohm 25W resistor to the cord of my grounding probe. Now, small voltage leaks won't result in any current, harm anything, or trip the GFCI, but they will might still shock me next time I put my hand in the tank, which is ok, that'll tell me to look into it further.  Any leaking voltage above 20V will still trip the GFCI.  This way, less important leaks or transient events won't shut down everything.

Robert Iuliano: That would be a fantastic thing to have. As zondebok mentioned, all it would have to be is a simple switch of some kind, no there's no stray current, or yes there is.  Hook it up to the Apex breakout box and many new possibilities exist; shut down specific items, email or text a warning, sound a siren alarm.  I would buy a few of these.

youcallmenny: How do you actually do that?  Just set it to a voltage range and dip one of the electrodes in the water?  Is it that simple?  If everything is functioning properly without voltage leak, should it read zero?

 

 

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14 hours ago, Robert Iuliano said:

The grounding probe is probably what did you in. I am NOT suggesting that anyone do something different but if the tank isn't grounded then the electricity has no where to go and won't flow through your water. With the ground, you provided a path for the electricity which unfortunately spans the entire length of your water system. Without a ground it would be like a bird on a bare wire...they don't get fried because the electricity has no where to go.

 

I must not be understanding.  If the broken heater and the probe are both in the sump, why should the voltage journey up and through the display tank?

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14 hours ago, rkpetersen said:

youcallmenny: How do you actually do that?  Just set it to a voltage range and dip one of the electrodes in the water?  Is it that simple?  If everything is functioning properly without voltage leak, should it read zero?

 

 

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2182599

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I'm not sure my livestock got shocked too bad, I had my hands in the tank and sump prior to discovering the heater was broke and didn't get shocked at all. It wasn't until I touched the actual heater where it was broken (on accident of course) that I got shocked. 

 

Currently my survivors are in a hospital tank for the time being. My tank is drained completely, everything cleaned with vinegar, and now in the process of filling to restart the cycle again.

 

as I precaution I plan on running Triton Detox for good measure in case any metals are present still. Hopefully everyone will be happy in the hospital tank for a month or so while things level out in the main tank again. Fortunately I had an extra light, powerhead, new heater, and aquaclear to run some carbon in. No skimmer on that tank.

 

Jeremy, I will take you up on some frags in a while when things are back to normal again :highfive:

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On 10/7/2017 at 2:58 AM, Trailermann said:

I must not be understanding.  If the broken heater and the probe are both in the sump, why should the voltage journey up and through the display tank?

You're correct. It'll get there but not directly. If they were both in the sump then it must have been broken for a while. Long enough to effect your corals. :-( Voltage can do really crazy things to your pH among other issues it can cause. 

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[mention=16179]pdxmonkeyboy[/mention], how long have you been using those?  Pretty cool and super cheap if they're reliable!
They do require a controller in addition to the heater, which adds to the cost a bit.

Still nice not to have glass tubes in the tank, especially as the only barrier between the electricity and the water.

Sent from my LG-H871 using Tapatalk

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I have one of these, no glass at all.  I think going cheap on the thing that is most likely to go wrong and destroy your tank is a big mistake.  With so much money invested in livestock a quality heater is a no-brainer IMHO.

Cobalt Neo Therm

Edited by ninkylou
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Right now everything is doing ok in the 20L I setup. The cube is cycling with the help of Aquaforest BioS. Currently looking gross with brown algae. After that calms a bit I've got the Triton Detox to run as a precaution as I am reusing my rock work.

 

Reef Octopus had a similar titanium heater without controller I was considering but feel good about the Jager despite being glass. I do use my RK to control temps so it is a viable option.

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Since you are in the rebuild mode, here are a few things I am doing these days FWIW...

I have been running mostly the aqueon pros behind either an apex temp controller (main system) or the 30 dollar inkbird controller (son's system).  They are 'shatterproof' or at least far more than the glass versions. 

On the main system I run 5 smaller heaters off of 3 separate GFCIs, just a second layer of protection.  If a gfci trips I would catch it within 24 hours and the other heaters keep on chugging.  If they cannot keep up I get the apex alert.

I also run 2 temp probes for a second opinion.  There are situations where one of them can be high and dry, no good...

Lastly I run a couple grounding probes in the hopes that a broken heater, pump, powerhead or anything triggers the gfci as the voltage leaks to ground.

Well good luck on the rebuild and glad to hear that stuff is hanging in there.  Glad to hear aquaforest bios is good stuff, was curious about it.

 

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2 hours ago, zondebok said:

They do require a controller in addition to the heater, which adds to the cost a bit.

Still nice not to have glass tubes in the tank, especially as the only barrier between the electricity and the water.

Sent from my LG-H871 using Tapatalk
 

I've got a JBJ controller already hooked to two of those black heaters they sell at petco.  That other glassless heater @ninkylou linked looks nice too!

Edited by youcallmenny

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For whatever reason those neotherm heaters require a lot more power per gallon than the jagers though.  300W neotherm is rated for 75g max (and is basically 2 150W heaters put together). 300W Jager is rated for 264g max.  Assuming these are both accurate, you would need 3 neotherms to even come close, which would run you $420 instead of $30...

They seem nice, but hard to justify.

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1 hour ago, zondebok said:

For whatever reason those neotherm heaters require a lot more power per gallon than the jagers though.  300W neotherm is rated for 75g max (and is basically 2 150W heaters put together). 300W Jager is rated for 264g max.  Assuming these are both accurate, you would need 3 neotherms to even come close, which would run you $420 instead of $30...

They seem nice, but hard to justify.

That's really interesting.  I never look at that aspect of the hobby.  Do you know what that is?  Now you have me curious!

 

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