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panhandlion 12-11-2007 10:18 PM

20 Amp Breaker tripping with GFCI
I had origianlly posted on here a week or two ago looking for help with a 20 Amp breaker that was tripping sporadically and for no apparent reason. I thought it was my computer and peripherals but they are now on a different circuit via an extension cord and the original breaker is still tripping.

I totally removed ALL loads from the suspect circuit but the breaker still trips...

Here are some facts...

It does NOT trip immediately when reset. Sometimes it takes over a day to trip.

I checked all receptacles on the circuit and none of them had loose connections or other signs of a loose connection (arcing, burns, etc.)

There is a GFCI Receptacle in one half bath that also has other receptacles downstream of it inside and outside of the house. Tonight I tripped the GFCI by pushing the TEST button and reset the 20 Amp breaker back in the panel. The only other potential loads on this circuit are 2 interior ceiling lights and an exterior ceiling light out on the porch. The breaker lasted about an hour and tripped again.

Question... Does the fact that the GFCI was manually tripped mean there is no problem "downstream" of the GFCI Receptacle? I hope so because some of the receptacles it serves are not in a place where they can easily be rewired.

I also put a new breaker in the panel and it still trips so I have ruled out a faulty breaker.

I also swapped the new breaker to another position in the panel so I have ruled out a bus connection problem.

Has all of my testing isolated my problem down to the circuit's HOME RUN wire OR to one of the three ceiling/porch lights or switches to them?

One other thing that really bothers me is that this circuit is over 5 years old and NEVER had a problem before. Coupled with the sporadic nature of the breaker trips, I am totally puzzled. No new work or loads have been added to this circuit...


Any other suggestions are welcome.

Andy in ATL 12-11-2007 10:22 PM


You need to check connections on EVERYTHING to do with the circuit. If everything still checks out, then we will go from there. You have a slow fault somewhere....

panhandlion 12-11-2007 10:35 PM

A "slow fault"? Never heard that term before... what is it and what do I need to do to determine if that is the actual problem? Can it take 5 years to show up?

Have I isolated any problem "upstream of the GFCI when I manually tripped the GFCI Receptacle?

I appreciate ALL help... this is driving me nuts...

HouseHelper 12-12-2007 10:43 AM

You have isolated the problem to "upstream" of the GFCI by tripping it. Now try doing the same by disconnecting the other known devices (lights) on the circuit. Also, try to confirm that nothing else is on this circuit (pumps, heaters, wall wart transformers).

Is it possible to trace the wire route of this circuit from the panel? I have seen instances where a siding nail penetrated the insulation, but would only trip the breaker when the sun heated the nail enough to move it. A PITA to find!

NateHanson 12-12-2007 11:07 AM

Maybe I've missed this detail - have you replaced the breaker? Could that cause these symptoms? Seems like it might be worth the $5 bucks to try it before going through what sounds like a painfully long trouble-shoot.


skymaster 12-12-2007 11:14 AM

After all that I personally would toss the GFCI and put in new one. If the problem still remains then you have a really tuff one

goose134 12-12-2007 08:17 PM

Is this a standard 20 A breaker, or a 20A GFI breaker? Two GFI's in line with each other cause nuisance tripping much of the time. If not a GFI breaker, then the boys are right, check the wiring.

panhandlion 12-12-2007 08:59 PM

Thanks to all who have posted...

I do believe I found the problem... (fingers crossed tightly)

Appears to have been a loose connection in one of the switches for a ceiling light...

Tightened it up and have not had a trip for over 24 hours now...

Wish me luck that this was it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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