In this article on how to bond a pool, I will first explain why, then how, and finally where to get supplies. As an above ground pool builder, I usually leave it to the electrician to bond the pools I build. But when I learned many electricians were overcharging for this service, I started offering to bond pools myself.
Pool bonding is not rocket science, and with a little knowledge, you can save $200-$300 on the electrical service required to install your new above ground swimming pool.
Why Should You Bond An Above Ground Pool?
A lot of people mistakingly call this grounding the pool; While that is somewhat true, bonding is a little different. Have you ever seen a bird land on non-insulated powerlines and wondered why the bird wasn’t electrocuted? It’s because the power does not pass through the bird, and this is why we bond above ground swimming pools, to prevent getting electrocuted.
If the bird could reach a different potential, like a ground wire or a wire with a different current/potential, then current would flow through the bird, and it would fry like a piece of chicken at Kentucky Fried Chicken, Maybe Popeyes for you Southerners. The bird would act like a conductant creating a link from one potential to another.
When we bond an above ground swimming pool, we are creating a field, making it impossible to reach a different potential. Imagine you had one hand on the swimming pool or in the pool water, and your other hand was touching a pool pump that was electrically shorting out, you could get hurt or dead. Having the field or bonding wire keeps everything neutral.
Lastly, it is the law! Local state and federal building codes require all permanent above ground pools to get correctly bonded.
How To Bond An Above Ground Pool
To bond an above ground pool and effectively create the safety field around your pool as discussed in the last section above and essentially making you a bird on a wire, you need to connect all the components with a number 8 solid copper wire, including the water which is kind of silly as I will explain. Building code requires you to take a number 8 solid copper wire and go completely around the pool. You must bury the bonding wire 6 inches down in the ground 12 inches from the pool wall. You must also touch the above ground pool in four spots as you go around the pool. Then the same wire has to connect to the bonding lug on the pool pump motor and lastly contact the water.
The reason I say bonding the water is silly, is because you have to bond the pool, and all above ground pool walls are metal which is an excellent conductant. Even resin pools have metal pool walls.
Parts Needed To Bond An Above Ground Pool
There are a couple ways to bond water, but I will only be discussing the way I do it, as my way is the best, easiest, and cheapest way.
- Skimmer bonding plate
- Number 8 solid copper wire
- Bonding lugs to attach the copper wire to pool
Pool Bonding Water
The guy who invented this skimmer bonding plate is now a millionaire, and rightly so as his product is great! This kit is available on Amazon for 37.00 with free shipping for Amazon Prime users.
It comes with a bonding lug to attach the bonding/field wire to it.
Wire To Bond Pool Pump Motor & Pool / Number 8 Solid Copper Wire
The bonding wire is a little expensive, but going DIY should be way cheaper than what your electrician would charge for the bonding service. You need enough length of number 8 solid copper wire to go all the way around the pool plus an extra 18 feet to make connections. If your pool is round like a 24 foot round above ground pool, add two feet and multiply by PI (3.14) so 26×3.14=81.64. Then add the extra 18 feet for making connections, and a 24 round requires 100 feet of the bonding wire. Here is the cheapest vendor I can find, but it only comes in 50-foot lengths requiring you to make a mechanical connection. But for just 22 bucks a roll and free shipping for Amazon Prime members, it is a smoking deal.
If you have an aluminum or metal deck next to your swimming pool, make sure you add enough length to also touch the deck in two or three spots.
Bonding Lugs To Attach Bonding Wire
You are going to need special lugs to attach the bonding wire to the pool and deck. The water bonding plate and pool pump motor come with connecting lugs, so we only need to discuss attaching bonding wire to the pool and deck.
Attaching the bonding wire can be a little tricky as many pools now come with resin/plastic wall tracks and vertical uprights/columns. But do not bum-out, all pool walls are made of metal. I prefer to attach to the bottom track when its metal, but if you have all resin/plastic, here is what you do. Drill holes in the bottom of the pool wall about an inch and a half up and pre-attach bonding lugs. If your pool wall bottom track is taller than an inch, place bonding lugs accordingly. If you drill a hole in the wall, treat the area with some paint, so it doesn’t rot out, especially if you’re dealing with steel metals.
These little suckers are stupid expensive at like four bucks each. If anyone can share a better place to buy them, please do so below in the comments! Amazon seller
Conclusion: How To Bond A Pool
Water and electricity are a dangerous combination, installing a pool bonding wire helps mitigate the danger. Even if you have a temporary pool like an Intex pool, please take the time to install a proper dedicated GFI service and bond the pool and equipment. I will be glad to answer questions in the comments below; phone lines are for customers.