Filter short circuit?

JimSinclair

Can a HOB filter have a short circuit? If so, is it repairable?

I was doing a routine water change for a tank that has two HOB filters, one on each end. Following my usual procedure, I unplugged one filter, then came around to the other end of the tank and unplugged the other filter.

And the floor lamp, which is plugged into the same power strip as several filters, went out.

And all the filters in the other tanks also went off.

I checked to see if the power strip had somehow fallen loose from the outlet. It was plugged in securely.

I flipped the reset switch on the power strip. Everything came back on, except, obviously, the filter I had just unplugged.

I didn't know what had happened, but wondered if perhaps one of my cats had walked across the room and stepped on the power switch. It happens sometimes. I didn't see any cats in the room at the time, but I speculated that could have been what happened.

I went on with the water change. Completed the water change. Plugged back in the filter on the side I was working from-- the one I unplug second before starting a water change is the one I plug back in first upon completing the water change.

And the lamp and all the filters went off again.

This time flipping the power switch button had no effect. And I realized it couldn't be just that one power strip, because nothing plugged into *either* socket on that outlet was working. Further investigation revealed that the light in the kitchen was out as well.

I went into the basement and found the circuit breaker marked LR/Kitchen. I flipped it. It made a zapping sound and I saw what looked like a big spark behind it.

When I went back upstairs, everything that had been out before was still out.

I unplugged the filter from the power strip. Then I went back downstairs and flipped the circuit breaker again. No zapping sound, no spark, and I heard filters restarting upstairs.

I came back up to find the lights back on, and all the filters running, except for the one I had unplugged because it apparently was blowing my circuit breaker.

I plugged the offending filter into a socket in the bathroom. That socket has a ground fault circuit interrupt, so it didn't blow the whole circuit. It just went "bzzzp click" and turned itself off. And when I unplugged it, I noticed the filter cord was hot.

So the problem appears to be with the filter power cord, not with the outlet or the power strip.

The filter plug is not wet. That was the first thing I checked.

Why would a filter do this, and is there any way I can fix it myself tonight? I don't have a spare filter large enough to move all the cycled media into from that one.
 

BigManAquatics

I wouldn't risk repairing it. If you keep the media wet, shouldn't lose much bacteria before you replace that filter.
 
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ForceTen

Have you checked the filter impeller? If its locked up and cannot spin it might cause enough current to trip the breaker. It seems you have many things on that breaker. Clean the filter and make sure the impeller spins freely. Then go to another receptacle (not the one for your strip) and briefly plug it in. This will tell you if its the filter.
 
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JimSinclair

Have you checked the filter impeller? If its locked up and cannot spin it might cause enough current to trip the breaker. It seems you have many things on that breaker. Clean the filter and make sure the impeller spins freely. Then go to another receptacle (not the one for your strip) and briefly plug it in. This will tell you if its the filter.
I had checked the impeller routinely as part of the cleaning when I did the water change. It's clean and mobile. And last night I did try plugging the filter into a different outlet, one in the bathroom that has a GFCI. It tripped the GFCI.

I stuffed all the filter media into a mesh bag, ran in two airstones connected to my two available spare airpumps, and submerged that in the tank for the time being.

This afternoon I plan to take the filter to the LFS and ask if it's possible to replace just the electrical part (motor and cord), if that would be less expensive than replacing the whole filter (which is just the electric part plus a conveniently shaped box), and what the proprietor thinks about various DIY filters I'm looking at online.
 

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ForceTen

What type of filter? Aquaclear filters have a removable motor with cord attached.
Some filters have an integrated motor that cannot be accessed.
 
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JimSinclair

What type of filter? Aquaclear filters have a removable motor with cord attached.
Some filters have an integrated motor that cannot be accessed.
Fluval 110.

Here is the problem:

20210729_211357.jpg

The LFS guy said it would cost about $50 to replace the motor, and advised replacing the whole filter with a new one for about $80.

I am looking at articles and videos showing DIY filters, and wondering how much better filtration I can get for $80 if I buy a pump and build everything else.

Anyone reading this have any DIY recommendations?
 
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ForceTen

Clearly its shorted. Why did you not post that picture first? Had I seen that i would have told you to toss it and buy something else.
BTW. I just looked up the Fluval 110 and you can replace just the motor. Its simple.
The advantage to buying a new one is you will have spare parts.

Heres the 110 motor. Shop around. You might find a much better price. Google "Fluval 110".

1627662002527.png
 
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JimSinclair

I didn't post the picture first because I didn't notice it until later. I did try to twist off the motor, but couldn't do it. My grip strength is pretty poor. The LFS guy got it off in seconds.

He told me a new motor would cost about $50, and a whole replacement filter would cost about $80. Meanwhile I see that I can order an 800 GPH powerhead online for under $25. (The filter I can replace for $80 is only 500 GPH.) This is why I am interested in learning how to make cheap filters myself.
 
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Islandvic

Replacement motor:

-Big Al's Pets $32

-Ken's Fish $38, no tax and free s&h on orders $49 and above. So buy the new motor plus some fish food or dechlorinator to get to the $49 to trigger free s&h

New AC110:

-Petsmart $83 - 25% = $62, download their app and play the game to earn 15%, 20% and 25% off coupon codes.
 
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JimSinclair

Replacement motor:

-Big Al's Pets $32

-Ken's Fish $38, no tax and free s&h on orders $49 and above. So buy the new motor plus some fish food or dechlorinator to get to the $49 to trigger free s&h

New AC110:

-Petsmart $83 - 25% = $62, download their app and play the game to earn 15%, 20% and 25% off coupon codes.

Vivosun 800 GPH submersible pump $21.32 on Amazon. (The Aquaclear 110 motor only moves 500 GPH.)

3/4" ID tubing, I don't remember how much it cost per foot at the nearest hardware store, but it wasn't very much.

Filter salvaged. Cord cut off so I don't absentmindedly forget that's the broken one and try to plug it in again.

These pictures were taken when I first put it together and plugged it in to see if it would work. I have since done a big water change and moved the pump down near the floor of the tank.
 

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Islandvic

Excellent job !

You can now use that pump for water changes if you get a long enough vinyl hose to drain the tank with.
 
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