Fountain Safety


New User
Santa clara
A little background. I was recently called to inspect two fountains that were not working. Both fountains are floating fountains with a 5hp' 3phase motor. Both fountains were installed 8 months ago. The motor starter was on but the fountains were not working. After locking out the fountains I took a boat out and pulled them.out.of the water. Both motors were full of water and meggered shorted.

My concern is that someone could be killed since both motors had power to them, were full of water, meggered as shorter but nothing was tripped. They are installed m on a lake where people are fishing, renting paddle boats and wind surf boards.
Though these be installed with a 3 phase GFI like "TRC HD-PRO"? It can be set at 10, 30, or 50 mA Gfi.

Also, doesn't code require this?

Thank you for your help.


"Locking out the fountains" means what?

How is 480V/3PH power supplied to the fountains and from where?

Perhaps there was a required GFCI installed and removed due to nuisance tripping.

So you measured what voltage at the shorted motors with them "locked out"?

Yes, I would expect a motor "full of water" to megger shorted depending on where you put the probes.

Usually fountain pumps have integral submersible motors.

What is this "motor starter" thing?

Perhaps you removed the motors(from the pumps), brought them to shore, dried them out and did your troubleshooting?

I would be more worried about about the motor failures after only 8 months.

"Since both motors had power to them" when you checked them out in the boat, did you get zapped?

tom baker

First Chief Moderator
Staff member
Are these floating aerators, that spray water to prevent stagnation? Like this
the spec sheets show GFCI on the 208/240 unit I looked at.
But if its 480 there may not be a GFCI available. Seems like the otterbine 480 is industrial, why did they use 480?
I suggest you review Article 682 carefully, be careful to document what you do, If the installation was 8 months ago, was a permit pulled?
And there is a new definition of Fountain in the 2020 NEC, in Article 680, but not sure yet what the requirements are.