Swimming Pool Repair Tips
Underwater Pool Lighting Repair Tips
In 1968, the National Electrical Code (NEC) was rewritten to include swimming pools in their standards and regulations (article 680). If your pool was built prior to 1968, there may exist some electrical design for your underwater lighting and filter pump that is not "up to code". Any new work to the electrical equipment or circuits must include upgrading to these standards of Article 680.
Most local electrical codes require that swimming pool electrical work be performed by a licensed electrician.
Remember that water and electricity don't mix. If you notice anything that "looks" questionable or possibly hazardous, have it checked out immediately by a licensed professional electrician. Underwater lights have resulted in fatalities.
UW lights have become a common, standard item in all pools. There are many manufacturers of light fixtures on the market, including Pac Fab, Hayward, American Products and Sta-rite. Smaller, halogen lamps are now being installed, as well as fiber optic decorative lighting that can run above or below water.
Your Underwater lighting should give you few problems. Most bulbs will burn for 1,000 hours before relamping is necessary. The light fixture itself can last several decades, however, corrosive pool chemistry can weaken the fixture and the screws which hold a pool light together, and this may necessitate replacement.
The light fixture is gasket sealed to prevent water from reaching the bulb behind the lens, however, water surrounds the entire fixture, keeping it cool. Do not operate the light for more than one second without it being fully submerged. A pool light requires submersion to prevent overheating.
The fixture, or pool light, sits inside of a "bucket", turned on its side, towards the pool, called the light niche. The pool light niche is larger than the fixture itself to allow room for several feet of cord to be coiled up behind the fixture. The excess pool light cord makes it possible to bring the fixture up on deck for service and repair. The light niche also provides the threaded hole that accepts the screw which holds the pool light into place. In the back of the light niche is where the wiring conduit connects from the fixture to the junction box, located at least 3 ft back and 18" above water level. The junction box is where the wires from the pool light (load) connect with the wires from the breaker panel (line). This box should be water and child proof.
Light doesn't turn on?
Check all breakers, fuses, switches and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets. Frequently, a GFCI outlet is wired into the UW light circuit. If the GFCI 'red button' has popped out, the power will not continue on towards the pool light. Ensure all of these switches are in the ON position. If you find that a breaker or fuse or GFCI continues to trip, and the pool light will not come on, you should call for service at this point to determine where this irregularity is originating. If all switches are on, but we have no light in the pool, we'd want to remove the fixture from the niche and inspect the bulb for continuity (Of course, we have turned all switches / breakers OFF at this point). Burnt bulbs are replaced with identical voltage bulbs of either 12V or 120V. 12V bulbs are usually 300 watts, while 120V bulbs are available in either 300 or 500 watts. These are medium based, reflective flood lamps of special design. Do not use your garden variety flood lamp bulb, but a bulb specifically sold as a pool light bulb.
Water behind the lens?
This is a startling observation for many to see. Many times the lamp continues to burn even with water surrounding the bulb. If you notice a line of water in the lens, the fixture should be removed from the pool. Allow the lamp to dry out and replace the gasket.
You may notice one hot summer evening that the pool light has attracted bugs to the deep end!
Relamping the fixture: Bulbs used in this application are not cheap. They average $25 each! A gasket is around five bucks. Relamping is usually done in under an hour.
Replacing the fixture: If corrosive water has eaten away at the fixture, or the cord and connections have become damaged, or if the junction box is being moved, a new fixture is in order. New fixtures cost about $195. Labor is usually one hour.
copyrighted information provided courtesy of poolcenter.com