You may have seen the notation to make a "drip loop" on your filter or light instruction sheet, or perhaps you read it on a website. It tells you to always have a drip loop when plugging in electrical equipment around an aquarium. So, what is it, and do you need one?
What Is It?
If you've asked yourself this question, you're not alone. Drip loops are an important safety measure when dealing with electricity and water, but this method is not common knowledge for most new aquarium owners.
If you've ever tipped over a glass of water, you know that it will quickly travel down any surface in its path. An electrical cord is like a superhighway that will allow water splashed out of the aquarium to flow right into the electrical outlet it is plugged into. The result can be disastrous.
What is a Drip Loop?
Creating a drip loop is a way to plug in electrical cords when they are used for equipment involving water. It ensures they loop down below the outlet before they plug into the outlet, allowing any water dripping down the cord to land on the floor before reaching the electrical outlet.
How to Make One
There is no magic to creating a drip loop. Just make sure your electrical cord has enough length to droop down below the outlet, then loop back up to the area it's plugged in. If it's too short, use an extension cord to prevent a straight line to the outlet. Ensure the plug for your extension cord is placed after the "loop" so it's not in danger of any dripping water.
Last but not least, to be sure the cord stays looped down, use a cord clip on the wall just below the outlet and thread the cord into it. The clip costs pennies, and the peace of mind is priceless.
To be even more certain you protect yourself from dangerous situations, have a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet installed. GFCIs are a great insurance policy, and not all that expensive. It's an option that is well worth exploring.