Stray voltage mitigation is the very necessary process of ensuring stray voltage doesn’t enter the pool system and possibly electrocute someone. It achieves this in several ways, but the most important step is making sure the pool is properly grounded during the construction phase.
Stray voltage itself occurs not while you’re in the water, but rather when you touch metal fixtures in your pool, such as metal bars used to get out of the pool. If your body offers the least resistant path for electricity to flow through, you’re going to get shocked. Mitigation ensures that this stray voltage stays in a grounded system. This is achieved by connecting any metal in the pool together and then to a grounding rod or wire. The stray voltage is discharged safely into the earth.
Connecting each piece of metal is vital, as it ensures that if any metal comes in contact with stray voltage, it will be kept in the system instead of posing a shock risk. This applies not only to the water, but to any metal fixtures near the pool, even metal parts of a deck. All of the nearby fixed metal has to be connected together to prevent someone from being shocked when they come in contact with the metal.
Pools were not always built with stray voltage in mind. This is partially because they were constructed in a way that made stray voltage mitigation unnecessary. There were also fewer sources of stray voltage that are common today, such as pool lights and heating systems.
Stray voltage can be difficult to detect, and in earlier times, people didn’t really know that it existed as a possible problem. What primarily helped was the use of metal rebar in pool construction. Rebar is a connected web of metal, buried in poured concrete, that channels electricity. Today, however, it is not ubiquitous in pool-building. Fiberglass is more common. For this reason, pools should be constructed with stray voltage mitigation in mind.
Pools years ago were not built as efficiently as they are now, and they had fewer electric elements. Yet they had a type of built-in shock-proofing. Stray voltage has to be carefully constructed into pools today to keep occupants safe from shock. This doesn’t mean that older pools are better than modern versions; it just means savvy pool builders have the opportunity to construct pools more safely by ensuring stray voltage mitigation is up to code. It becomes a differentiator when homeowners choose a pool contractor.