Pool bonding/older pools

I see cages and pumps that are not bonded pretty often, and always call it out… But what is typically done when it is an older pool, and there was no underground bonding conductor connected with the pool rebar?
I know simply adding a ground rod at the pump doesnt do anything, so what should I recommend?
Just inspected one yesterday that had a separate ground rod installed just for the pump…

Nothing! That’s the electricians job. Your job is to observe, discover, and report. Period.


Jeff is correct. What would happen if your recommendation for bonding did not work and someone got zapped?

I tried to leave what to do up to the professional that I recommended and I slept better.

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Thanks guys, I agree, that we need to be careful. Just trying to educate myself though as well. Because if I call it out as not being bonded/grounded, client may think that it just needs a rod, and try to accomplish themself. (as I think is the case on this last home) Then they will think it is safe, but it may not be…

I do double duty, property inspector and pool permit drawings. There’s really no quick fix. Your pool is either bonded properly or it’s not. Anything less is a band aid on an axe wound. Most of the time the repair is straightforward: re-establish the bonding network.

In a nut shell, your recommendation is to refer the repair to an electrician. And the default recommendation for older pools should be to have a licensed electrician test the grid. Commercial pools do it all the time.

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Then it is on him if he doesn’t follow your advice in getting a qualified professional…sad, but true.

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You’re not going to see all of the pool’s equipotential bond grid in most instances.

And grounding isn’t the same as bonding. There are some fine white papers on the subject online if you want to learn all the facts.

Pool Bonding

thanks, I guess thats basically what I was wanting to know, is if it would be a major undertaking… If I basically say “recommend electrician, blah blah”, and they buy the home, but then hire an electrician later, and it ends up costing thousands, or being impossible, they may get mad I didnt elevate my comment. I dont want to make it sound like a quick fix if it could actually be a deal breaker. I know its a major safety hazard, but I also like to inform my clients of the potential costs (or impossibility of such correction)
-I never considered this to be a deal breaking defect until now, and want to know if I am not writing hard enough on it?

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Yeah, I understand all that, but in many cases I know there must not be any bonding at all, because there are no exposed conductors near the pump or equipment. Typically all you can see is the pvc conduit coming out of the ground with the conductor. But I would say about 10% of the pools I see have no apparent bonding whatsoever.

Don’t worry about what the client may or may not do. That is on them… it’s not possible to protect people from themselves. No matter your intentions, if you recommend something that isn’t proper or properly done, it could/will come back on you, some day. “But my inspector said all I had to do is…”

This is a great conversation. on my pool, I just have the diving board bonded, the ladder in the deep end and the handrail were not. To get around that, i purchased an insulated handrail and ladder to get around that. What I heard is that years back, bonding was not a recommendation when they were installing a pool. I know when we had a pool installed when we lived in NC 15 years ago, the handrail and ladder was not bonded.

Are there any good pool inspection templates you can recommend?

On a Mike Holt forum some time ago, an IEEE paper titled “Equipotential Planes, A Figment of the Imagination” had this to say about the bonding plane used in livestock enclosures and swimming pools:

“. . . the massive collection of concrete encased reinforcing bars contained within the concrete, which are grounded and bonded to the electrical system act as an ‘electrical sink’. This electrical sink draws stray neutral distribution current to the equipotential plane since the equipotential plane is in intimate contact with the earth and has a very low impedance, resistance to the earth. The stray current could be flowing either into or out of the equipotential plane.” (http://www.mikeholt.com/download.php?file=PDF/EQUIPOTENTIAL_PLANES.pdf)

In other words, the equipotential bonding plane is one giant grounding electrode since it’s connected to the home’s GEC and, accordingly, stray currents typically moving by way of the utility transformer’s primary neutral-to-customer’s GEC connection, or from the utility’s ground rods every 1/4 mile along its lines, in turn produce voltages across the equipotential plane that may harm livestock or people using a pool, as the case may be.

This seems rather alarming to me–if the current understanding is wrong–, and if the finding is correct, making it imperative to advise clients to get rid of any metal ladders and get a pool electrician in to replace the a 120v light before using the pool. Any thoughts from the electrical specialists?