Safety First: The Drip Loop

for the week of 3/19/98

It’s almost inevitable that at least a small amount of water will splash or be spilled when working on an aquarium, and generally it’s no cause for alarm. Occasionally, though, it seems that we are flirting with catastrophe!

Quite regularly, both here at the store and in reports from customers, we find that spilled water from the aquarium runs down an electrical cord from a heater or pump, and collects in an electrical outlet! The result is often an electrical shock hazard or worse yet a (thankfully usually small) fire. Needless to say, this sort of thing should be avoided at all cost, and fortunately, it is not difficult to reduce the risk.

The easiest remedy is to make sure that all cords dangling down from the tank have a “drip loop” (see illustration). This simply means to arrange the cords so they hang down well below the outlet before running back up again. Any water running down the cord will drip down from the loop, rather than running uphill to get into the outlet.

Extension cords should be mounted in such a way as to allow for drip loops as well. Avoid the temptation to plug everything in and just toss the whole tangled mess out of sight behind the aquarium. This may take a little effort, especially considering how short the power cords seem to be on many heaters and power head pumps, but safety is always worth the effort.

Finally, airline tubes should also have drip loops. Water running down these can go directly to the air pump, which again can result in a shock or fire hazard.

Submitted by: Jim Kostich

“Tip of the week” appeared regularly in 1999 and 2000.