Swimming pool light

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Homeownerinburb, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. Homeownerinburb

    Homeownerinburb New Member

    Messages:
    525
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Hey guys,

    I have very little experience of swimming pool lights. I've changed a few bulbs, and replaced a housing.

    But I am up against a problem I had not seen before.

    This is a 400w bulb in a water-tight (well, it was) housing about 18" below the water surface.

    The client's kids were in the pool the other day when volts started to leak into the water. They managed to get out and then figured out to turn off the light. As it turns out, you guessed it, there was no GFI. No big deal to set that straight.

    But my limited experience with these lights is that the cord comes from the factory fitted to the lamp housing, you will never rebuild it like a table lamp. And the cord runs thru a conduit that turns up to a j box.

    And it should be free. If one wants to install a new unit, one just pulls the old one out and fishes the cable for the new one in.

    BUT. For some reason the cord at the back of the niche that should hold a new lamp is sealed with a brittle white product. I had a kid go in the pool and chisel away at that for a little while, but he did not free it up.

    I am on the verge of buying a hand brace (a tool that you'd expect to see some Amish guy using to bore a hole) and drill right thru the wire with a ship's auger that is a little larger than the cord of the new unit.

    Has anyone got experience in this sort of mess?
  2. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,532
    Location:
    North Carolina
    What you have described sounds like a dry niche light. It is not designed to have the cord replaced but instead the bulb and cord are replaced at the same time.

    Chipping away at the epoxy is not a good idea
  3. Homeownerinburb

    Homeownerinburb New Member

    Messages:
    525
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA USA

    No, I know that the cord is not to be replaced, hence I wrote that this is not rebuildable the way a table lamp is.

    I expect to go and buy a complete unit, lens, housing, lamp, cord, all of a piece. At 400w we are talking nearly $200.

    I am asking: how do I get the cord out of the niche? And it is not dry. As I wrote, it is over a foot below the water level. It is most definitely not dry.

    Why is the cord epoxied into the conduit? How do I release it without draining the blasted pool? Does it sound as if the conduit, which could easily be 30 years old, is leaking and was plugged up at some point?

    The pool parts dealer tells me that the lamp itself is no more than 7 years old.
  4. DonL

    DonL Banned

    Messages:
    4,010
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Sounds like you will need to drain the pool below the light to fix it properly.
  5. Homeownerinburb

    Homeownerinburb New Member

    Messages:
    525
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    1) God, I freaking hope not.

    2) I'm inclined now to think not.

    I have reviewed some youtube videos. Apparently leaking at the conduit of a niche is common, and commonly repaired with what is called "A-B", which is a very dense epoxy putty. And which looks to be what was plugged into this mess.

    It will adhere and cure underwater. Glory be, we are living in the third millennia since Christ......

    So, what a treat. I need to get in there and chisel out the existing epoxy, pull out the existing cable, with string attached, then pull back in the cable of a new lamp. And mix up more blasted A-B and shove it in there.

    Such a deal.
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    There should be a copper conduit sealed to the back of the niche, and extending under the pool deck and rising a foot above water level. I thought this was inteded to be "wet" but maybe not. You do not want to damage the back of the niche. Might be time to call in a good pool repair company.
  7. Homeownerinburb

    Homeownerinburb New Member

    Messages:
    525
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Indeed, I agree there SHOULD be copper conduit. It assuredly is a "wet" location. Yet often enough these things begin to leak. And apparently the common solution is to stuff epoxy into the hole until the leak is stopped. (Leak detection is easy, one uses harmless dyes, food coloring works, to detect currents in the water hence leaks.)

    I am certainly open to the idea of handing this off to a pool company, having installed the gfi and cleaned up the electrical details above ground. I will present that to the client, but I want as much information as available for that conversation.
  8. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,532
    Location:
    North Carolina
    There are three different type of pool lights as follows;
    Wet-Niche Luminaire. A luminaire intended for installation in a forming shell mounted in a pool or fountain structure where the luminaire will be completely surrounded by water.
    Dry-Niche Luminaire. A luminaire intended for installation in the floor or wall of a pool, spa, or fountain in a niche that is sealed against the entry of water.
    No-Niche Luminaire. A luminaire intended for installation above or below the water without a niche.

    Now for a question that you must answer. What kind of pool is this? Is it a liner or concrete?
  9. Homeownerinburb

    Homeownerinburb New Member

    Messages:
    525
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    It is a wet niche luminaire. The lamp is in of itself watertight, and is meant to be set in a wet niche.

    I am pretty sure it is a concrete pool, but I would hate to swear to that.

    The client is happy at this point: he has a GFI to protect the lamp. He is going to have a pool company come review the issue.

    Frankly, leaky pools are not my cup of tea.

    But do feel free to tell me more if you have it.
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