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Old 09-15-2009, 09:44 AM   #1
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


I will try to keep this short...being that my longer post got lost as I was typing it and how 220/221 likes long posts


- Bathroom remodel required extending wiring for whirlpool tub. I added a metal J box and extended it with 10AWG wire since the old one was 10 as well.
- 20 A GFCI breaker
- 20 A outlet.
- Breaker tripped a few times but never as I was using the outlet. One time as I was resetting it sparked inside. I decided to get a new breaker.

- Electrician put in the new breaker few weeks ago and when he removed the old one, he said it was broken and showed it to me. The terminal screw was basically broken off. I don't know if it broke as he removed it or what, but regardless we wrote it tripping to the bad breaker.

- Last night I went to the panel to check something and breaker was tripped again. I am fairly certain I didn't use the outlet between the time I saw the breaker on and when I saw it tripped.

WTF is going on and how do I troubleshoot this?

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Old 09-15-2009, 01:19 PM   #2
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


Quote:
Originally Posted by BimmerRacer View Post
I will try to keep this short...being that my longer post got lost as I was typing it and how 220/221 likes long posts


- Bathroom remodel required extending wiring for whirlpool tub. I added a metal J box and extended it with 10AWG wire since the old one was 10 as well.
- 20 A GFCI breaker
- 20 A outlet.
- Breaker tripped a few times but never as I was using the outlet. One time as I was resetting it sparked inside. I decided to get a new breaker.

- Electrician put in the new breaker few weeks ago and when he removed the old one, he said it was broken and showed it to me. The terminal screw was basically broken off. I don't know if it broke as he removed it or what, but regardless we wrote it tripping to the bad breaker.

- Last night I went to the panel to check something and breaker was tripped again. I am fairly certain I didn't use the outlet between the time I saw the breaker on and when I saw it tripped.

WTF is going on and how do I troubleshoot this?

Check the J box make sure there aren't any connections touching. Did you ground out the box?

Try a couple different things...

Unplug everything and see if it still trips

Is there anything else on the circuit besides the tub?

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Old 09-15-2009, 01:29 PM   #3
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


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Check the J box make sure there aren't any connections touching. Did you ground out the box?
If connectors were touching, wouln't it trip right away? Yes, I believe the box is grounded, same with the outlet. I will double check.
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Try a couple different things...

Unplug everything and see if it still trips
Nothing is plugged in when it trips.
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Is there anything else on the circuit besides the tub?
Not that I know of, but I have not traced the wire back to the panel.
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Old 09-15-2009, 01:58 PM   #4
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


You said there was an outlet and a gfci outlet on same circuit, correct? If so, does the GFCI feed to outlet or vice versa?

I have seen numerous faulty GFCI outlets that have caused breakers to trip. Disconnect the GFCI and see what happens. If that doesn't help, disconnect everything up to the point to where the old wire is.

If it trips after that, then you know the problem is in the breaker panel, or the wire running from the panel to the jbox.

Let us know what you find...
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Old 09-15-2009, 02:30 PM   #5
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


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You said there was an outlet and a gfci outlet on same circuit, correct? If so, does the GFCI feed to outlet or vice versa?

I have seen numerous faulty GFCI outlets that have caused breakers to trip. Disconnect the GFCI and see what happens. If that doesn't help, disconnect everything up to the point to where the old wire is.

If it trips after that, then you know the problem is in the breaker panel, or the wire running from the panel to the jbox.

Let us know what you find...

No, I said a GFCI breaker which feeds a 20A outlet for a whirlpool tub. It's marked as a dedicated circuit in the panel.
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Old 09-15-2009, 03:00 PM   #6
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


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No, I said a GFCI breaker which feeds a 20A outlet for a whirlpool tub. It's marked as a dedicated circuit in the panel.
Unplug the jacuzzi motor, reset the GFCI circuit breaker, and see if it holds.

If it holds, then the problem is your jacuzzi motor.
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Old 09-15-2009, 03:02 PM   #7
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


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Unplug the jacuzzi motor, reset the GFCI circuit breaker, and see if it holds.

If it holds, then the problem is your jacuzzi motor.
Nothing is connected to the outlet. I have connected a simple wiring tester, a construction lamp and a table saw into that outlet and it never tripped while under load. That's what is puzzling to me.
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Old 09-15-2009, 03:19 PM   #8
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


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Nothing is connected to the outlet. I have connected a simple wiring tester, a construction lamp and a table saw into that outlet and it never tripped while under load. That's what is puzzling to me.

haha ohhhhhhhhhh my bad. Yeah if it's a GFCI breaker...that's probably why...i've had so many problems with those before, i just switched all mine out to a regular 20a breaker
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Old 09-15-2009, 03:57 PM   #9
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


Or put a 7-1/2w incand. bulb in series with your jacuzzi motor ground lead. More than 1v with the motor powered is a ground fault.
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Old 09-15-2009, 03:59 PM   #10
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


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Or put a 7-1/2w incand. bulb in series with your jacuzzi motor ground lead. More than 1v with the motor powered is a ground fault.
Yes, I read that post, but as I said already, I have no motor connected to it currently.
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Old 09-15-2009, 04:09 PM   #11
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


The GFCI works on the principle that it will trip when it detects current leakage.

You may just have a bad GFCI breaker or there's something else you're not telling us.

I'm leaning towards there's something you're not telling us, not that you don't want to, just that you don't know.
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Old 09-15-2009, 04:10 PM   #12
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


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Or put a 7-1/2w incand. bulb in series with your jacuzzi motor ground lead. More than 1v with the motor powered is a ground fault.

Are you serious?
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Old 09-15-2009, 04:13 PM   #13
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


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Are you serious?
Using 5 mA and the cold resistance of that lamp, work out the math
The advantage of using the lamp is that you don't blow out your milliammeter.


Trust me, I'm also from "Joisey" [Bergen County].
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Old 09-15-2009, 07:10 PM   #14
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


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Originally Posted by Magnettica View Post
The GFCI works on the principle that it will trip when it detects current leakage.

You may just have a bad GFCI breaker or there's something else you're not telling us.

I'm leaning towards there's something you're not telling us, not that you don't want to, just that you don't know.
Given the fact that the problem happened with the old breaker as well as the brand new one I think we can pretty much rule out the breaker itself.

Don't know what else to tell, certainly not hiding anything I just don't know what would cause this and what steps I should be taking in order to get this resolved. Switching out to a non-GFCI breaker is not an option IMO.
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Old 09-15-2009, 07:19 PM   #15
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GFCI breaker trips randomly


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Given the fact that the problem happened with the old breaker as well as the brand new one I think we can pretty much rule out the breaker itself.
I agree. About the only thing left is the wiring in and downstream of the panel.

This problem has come up before but the OP didn't provide feedback on what finally happened.

GFCIs at the load end are way easier to troubleshoot because how they are wired and where the current is going is much clearer.

If you can post a link to your particular panel GFCI there might be things that haven't yet been tried.

You'll need a DVM.


Last edited by Yoyizit; 09-15-2009 at 07:24 PM.
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