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-   -   Did My GFCI Circuit Breaker Fail? (http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/did-my-gfci-circuit-breaker-fail-152583/)

Jazan 08-04-2012 12:38 PM

Did My GFCI Circuit Breaker Fail?
 
A Siemens QF-120 GFCI circuit breaker has only two outlets in its circuit. One of them is a duplex outlet on my deck. The other is a kitchen outlet with nothing normally plugged into it. One day my wife plugged a blender into the kitchen
outlet. Nothing happened. When I checked, the breaker had tripped, but not from the blender. The circuit was already dead. I turned it on and it worked. Weeks later, I went to use the outside plug for a small drill. Again
the circuit breaker was off. Today I replaced both plugs, kitchen and deck, thinking there was a problem with one of them. For a
couple of hours it was ok, as indicated by a small circuit tester I left in the kitchen plug so I could monitor it. Three hours later, with nothing at all plugged in except the tester, I saw the circuit go out again. Sure enough the breaker was
tripped, but this time it would not go back on. It tripped off instantly. I let it "cool" for a couple of hours, and it still would not let me re-set it. Again, there
is almost never anything operating on this circuit. Yet, the breaker would trip off.
Usually, I can turn it back on, but not this time. Are these the symptoms of a faulty circuit breaker? What else could cause the problem I've been having?

k_buz 08-04-2012 12:50 PM

My guess would be that water was getting into the outside outlet and over time, that outlet has gone bad.

stickboy1375 08-04-2012 12:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jazan (Post 981285)
A Siemens QF-120 GFCI circuit breaker has only two outlets in its circuit. One of them is a duplex outlet on my deck. The other is a kitchen outlet with nothing normally plugged into it. One day my wife plugged a blender into the kitchen
outlet. Nothing happened. When I checked, the breaker had tripped, but not from the blender. The circuit was already dead. I turned it on and it worked. Weeks later, I went to use the outside plug for a small drill. Again
the circuit breaker was off. Today I replaced both plugs, kitchen and deck, thinking there was a problem with one of them. For a
couple of hours it was ok, as indicated by a small circuit tester I left in the kitchen plug so I could monitor it. Three hours later, with nothing at all plugged in except the tester, I saw the circuit go out again. Sure enough the breaker was
tripped, but this time it would not go back on. It tripped off instantly. I let it "cool" for a couple of hours, and it still would not let me re-set it. Again, there
is almost never anything operating on this circuit. Yet, the breaker would trip off.
Usually, I can turn it back on, but not this time. Are these the symptoms of a faulty circuit breaker? What else could cause the problem I've been having?

Sounds the GFCI is doing it's job, you probably have a ground/neutral fault that is apparently gotten worse over time, this is either a wiring issue, or a appliance issue, some detective work is going to be needed to trace down the root of the problem.

A megger would make short work of finding the real problem.

Jazan 08-04-2012 01:41 PM

k buz, I suspected the same thing with the outside outlet, so I replaced both, the outside and the inside outlets. Same problem.
Stickboy, I will try to follow the romex from the box to the kitchen, as far as I can go, to see if the wire is intact. There are only
two outlets involved, but I can't follow the romex from the kitchen to the outside outlet.
Thank you both for trying to help with this problem. Judging from the other posts in this section, these GFCIs are trouble for a lot
of us! By the way, what is a "megger"?

stickboy1375 08-04-2012 01:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jazan (Post 981314)
k buz, I suspected the same thing with the outside outlet, so I replaced both, the outside and the inside outlets. Same problem.
Stickboy, I will try to follow the romex from the box to the kitchen, as far as I can go, to see if the wire is intact. There are only
two outlets involved, but I can't follow the romex from the kitchen to the outside outlet.
Thank you both for trying to help with this problem. Judging from the other posts in this section, these GFCIs are trouble for a lot
of us! By the way, what is a "megger"?

A megger is an insulation tester, sometimes you can try and ohm out a wire for continuity but will come up with nothing, but a megger will tell you that the wire is in fact bad. It's the perfect tool for telling you if your wiring is infact good or not. im guessing you have some type of neutral fault to ground caused by an insulation failure.


One solution to your problem is lose the gfci breaker and buy two gfci's for the required locations...

Jazan 08-04-2012 04:23 PM

Thanks Again!
 
Thanks for the definition of Megger. I'd never heard of it before.
Regarding the idea of replacing the two outlets with GFCIs, I have
noticed that kitchen plug is first in line (four wires) and the outside
plug is last (2 wires). Would it be enough to replace only the kitchen
plug with a GFCI? Would that cover both outlets? I will, of course,
as you suggest, get rid of the GFCI circuit breaker and replace it
with an equivalent "regular" circuit breaker. Thnaks again for your
help and suggestions.

robertcdf 08-04-2012 04:40 PM

GFCI outlets and breakers have a tendency to just randomly go bad. I would replace the outlet in the kitchen with a GFCI outlet, the breaker with a standard breaker and then TEST the outside outlet to ensure it IS GFCI protected. Follow the instructions included with the GFCI outlet so that you install it properly.

stickboy1375 08-04-2012 04:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jazan (Post 981402)
Thanks for the definition of Megger. I'd never heard of it before.
Regarding the idea of replacing the two outlets with GFCIs, I have
noticed that kitchen plug is first in line (four wires) and the outside
plug is last (2 wires). Would it be enough to replace only the kitchen
plug with a GFCI? Would that cover both outlets? I will, of course,
as you suggest, get rid of the GFCI circuit breaker and replace it
with an equivalent "regular" circuit breaker. Thnaks again for your
help and suggestions.

Im a big fan of individual GFCI's at each location as to ensure proper operation and less downstream issues trying to find a GFCI somewhere... but YES, you could in fact LINE/LOAD the outside receptacle with the kitchen GFI....

Just so you know, it is a violation to supply a outside receptacle off the kitchen small appliance branch circuit, but your house probably met code at that time of installation. It's just not allowed anymore.

stickboy1375 08-04-2012 04:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by robertcdf (Post 981410)
GFCI outlets and breakers have a tendency to just randomly go bad.

While this is true, I find this more common with outside GFCI's than breakers, mostly because of moisture issues, with the new WP GFCI's im hoping this is a forgotten issue.


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