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Author Topic: Are electrical plugs watertight?  (Read 7504 times)

Offline _Stefan_

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« on: 26/09/2009 17:30:08 »
I've had to bleach some aquarium equipment recently and threw the submersible heaters into the solution, cord and all.

Are electrical plugs generally watertight? Can water get into the plug through the connection between the plastic and the prongs?

If they are not watertight, can water damage the inside of the plug? And if they are not watertight but won't be damaged by water, how long would I have to wait before the plug is safe to use again?

Thanks


 

Offline graham.d

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #1 on: 26/09/2009 19:32:11 »
Generally plugs are not watertight - not even close. If you want mains plugs to be watertight they are usually of an entirely different design and will have an associated socket also of a different design from normal. You will have to read the manufacturers' recommendations because even one's claiming to be waterproof may not be designed for submersion.

If you have an ordinary plug that has been dunked in fresh water, it may well dry out over a period of time, but if salt water I would junk it. If it had been carrying power and had caused a short circuit as a result, I would also throw it away, trim back the wires a good way, and fit a new one. Also if it has been wet for some time (with wires attached) even without power, I would be concerned that water had ingressed into the cable so that the insulation may not be good. 

On the whole, unless designed specifically for wet conditions, don't risk it.
 

Offline Geezer

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #2 on: 26/09/2009 20:17:28 »
I agree with Graham. Junk it.

Cut it off, strip back the cable, and replace it. It's not worth taking a chance.
 

Offline RD

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #3 on: 26/09/2009 21:33:20 »
Should use an RCD trip-switch with a submerged pump ... http://www.mywatergarden.co.uk/rcd.htm

« Last Edit: 26/09/2009 21:35:01 by RD »
 

Offline JnA

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #4 on: 27/09/2009 02:31:23 »
I agree with the safety messages, but wouldn't 'aquarium equipment' have some added protection to the plug?
 

Offline _Stefan_

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #5 on: 27/09/2009 09:44:46 »
Thanks everyone :) I'll replace the plugs or replace the heaters entirely.
 

Offline graham.d

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #6 on: 27/09/2009 09:59:04 »
The question was "are electrical plugs watertight?" and, in general, they are not. If it is a plug specifically designed for underwater use in an aquarium, then I expect it would be fine, though I doubt that it would be carrying mains voltage. It is important to follow manufacturers' instructions and not make any assumptions.

An example is Black and Decker's plug/socket systems for outdoor equipment - it is OK in a light rain shower but would not be good enough if submerged. It is quite hard to keep water out but there are companies who provide such devices (US company "Leviton" has a range for example).  
 

Offline _Stefan_

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #7 on: 27/09/2009 10:13:25 »
I don't think the plug would be designed to be watertight if most plugs are not designed that way - the heater plug isn't supposed to be submerged with the heater.

Would I be able to tell by looking if the plastic around the prong is sealed? The plastic extends onto the metal like a sleeve.
 

Offline graham.d

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #8 on: 27/09/2009 10:41:51 »
I would not risk it. Could you look on the manufacturers website?

Watertight plugs will have rubber o-ring seals to the contact points and rubber seals to stop water ingress where the wire goes in to the plug too.
 

Offline that mad man

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #9 on: 27/09/2009 17:23:10 »
Normally watertight plugs are used in conjunction with watertight sockets and would have a dust and water I.P. rating mark. Although sold separate they are normally used in pairs. There's no point in having a watertight plug if the socket is not watertight.

First digit is for dust protection and the second is for water with the highest number giving greater protection.

IP66 = dust tight and sea spray or wave protected
IP68 = dust tight and complete water immersion protected.

If you have accidentally immersed the plug in water then as already said it would be better to cut it off an put on a new one.
« Last Edit: 27/09/2009 17:36:17 by that mad man »
 

Offline Geezer

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #10 on: 27/09/2009 18:28:42 »
Would those standards apply in Australia? BTW, does Australia use the same 13 amp plugs and sockets as the UK? What's the voltage? I seem to remember it was 250 rather than 240.
 

Offline that mad man

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #11 on: 27/09/2009 20:59:44 »
IP rating is an international standard so should apply to Australia. The voltage wont matter much but I'm not sure about their use of 13A 3 pin plugs.

BTW the voltage in the UK used to be 240V but is now set at 230V.
 

Offline Geezer

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #12 on: 27/09/2009 21:10:11 »
I'm showng my age again! When did they switch to 230? Was this to line up with the rest of Europe or something?
 

Offline Don_1

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #13 on: 29/09/2009 09:06:41 »
Just a min, I'll give it try for you.

YEOOOW!!!

I guess not.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #14 on: 29/09/2009 18:29:45 »
I'm showng my age again! When did they switch to 230? Was this to line up with the rest of Europe or something?
It's just slightly stupider than that.
We have a nominally 230V supply in the UK- the same as in the rest of Europe.
However, in fact, we have a 240 volt supply and the rest have 220V.
By calling it 230V and designing kit to run on 230+- 10V we effectively harmonise the supply without actually having to change it.
 

Offline Geezer

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #15 on: 29/09/2009 21:30:09 »
I'm showing my age again! When did they switch to 230? Was this to line up with the rest of Europe or something?
It's just slightly stupider than that.
We have a nominally 230V supply in the UK- the same as in the rest of Europe.
However, in fact, we have a 240 volt supply and the rest have 220V.
By calling it 230V and designing kit to run on 230+- 10V we effectively harmonise the supply without actually having to change it.
Crikey! Sounds like something I might have cooked up to get around a specification issue. Not that I'm saying I ever did, you understand.

Wonder how many trips to Brussels that one took  :D
 

Offline graham.d

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #16 on: 30/09/2009 09:46:09 »
Supply voltage is allowed to change and will do so under high load conditions. The tolerance is not just to harmonise with the rest of Europe. I have not checked, but I expect there is also a tolerance on the 220V, which if at its lowest value, would then not be in the range of the UK's tolerance. For the most part it doesn't make too much difference except the brightness of lights or the speed at which a kettle boils will change depending on the voltage.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #17 on: 30/09/2009 18:38:52 »
For my next trick I will declare that carrots are a type of fruit.
 

Offline _Stefan_

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #18 on: 30/09/2009 19:01:48 »
Thanks for the help everyone :D
 

Offline Geezer

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #19 on: 30/09/2009 19:06:24 »
"help"? That's a funny way of putting it!

More like "Thanks for all the baloney!"  ;D
 

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Are electrical plugs watertight?
« Reply #19 on: 30/09/2009 19:06:24 »

 

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