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Old 08-09-2012, 02:49 PM   #1
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GFCI Hot tub breaker


Hello,
I tried searching for this topic but didn't find the same situation, so my apologies in advance if someone already covered it. Sorry for the long explanation, but I wanted to provide anything relevant.

When I moved into my house the previous owner didn't drain the hot tub all the way and left it off in the middle of winter so a bunch of the pvc manifolds in froze and broke into pieces. So I replaced most of them, cleaned it, and got it working again. It ran fine for a few weeks, but there was still one more leak I missed. So I disconnected power again, drained it and left it like this for a few months before I got around to fixing it and filling it back up again (last week). I filled it up and turned on and it ran fine for about a week, until I noticed it had no power all of a sudden. I checked my panel and the breaker (50a) had blown. I reset the breaker and it immediately blew again. So I thought maybe the heater or one of the motors went bad. So I opened it up and disconnected all the electric motors and the heater from the main board, so the only thing getting power was the main board itself. Tried the breaker again thinking it shouldn't draw enough power to trip now, but it did. So I figured the breaker might have gone bad. I also noticed the electrical notes inside the tub called for a 40a breaker but mine was hooked up to a 50a. So instead I got a new 40a breaker. Then when I took the cover off the panel I realized I had a GFCI breaker (this one: http://www.lowes.com/pd_11277-1318-M...8.134.1&rpp=24). Just to experiment I replaced it with the new 40a breaker I bought anyway and turned it on, and it's been on for a week now without tripping. However, I am still concerned that I didn't replace it with a GFCI, since I assume it's required?

So my question is, can I assume that since the new non-GFCI 40a breaker is not tripping, that the old GFCI breaker was bad? And if so should I replace it with a 40a GFCI breaker since that's what the tub calls for instead of the 50a that was there? Otherwise I'm not sure why the the old breaker was tripping.

Another thing worth mentioning I suppose is there is still another very small leak, so it crossed my mind that maybe current is running down that drip and grounding out on the ground and that is what the GFCI is tripping where as the regular is not? But I wouldn't think the water should be touching anything live anyway. This thing is pretty frustrating, I've spent more time working on it more than I have using it. Thanks for any advice you can give.


Last edited by nick26; 08-09-2012 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 08-09-2012, 03:05 PM   #2
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GFCI Hot tub breaker


Because the tub froze, it probably caused more than cracked plastic. The GFCI is there to keep people from dying.

If the gfci trips, it should not have been replaced with the regular. Most likely the motor is also shot, which really means as much te and effort you have sunk into it, probably should have just replaced the whole unit.

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Old 08-09-2012, 03:12 PM   #3
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Because the tub froze, it probably caused more than cracked plastic. The GFCI is there to keep people from dying.

If the gfci trips, it should not have been replaced with the regular. Most likely the motor is also shot, which really means as much te and effort you have sunk into it, probably should have just replaced the whole unit.
Well the motors certainly didn't freeze, because they aren't submerged, and after unplugging them from the main board the breaker still tripped. Also they do seem to run normal now along with everything else at the moment. I guess I'll upload some pictures when I get home to try and show the setup.

Not arguing that maybe I should have ditched the thing in the first place, but I've gone this far, so I'd like to finish the job.
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Old 08-09-2012, 03:21 PM   #4
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GFCI Hot tub breaker


It's likely that the freezing destroyed a seal keeping the motor dry at the impellor end. When the motor gets wet it may still very well run, but it is in effect shorting to ground....not enough to trip a breaker, but enough for a GFCI to trip. Can you have the motor removed for a bench test at a motor shop?
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Old 08-09-2012, 03:29 PM   #5
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I will try removing the motor to see if any water might be seeping in anywhere, but again I did unplug the motor from the main board so there was no way power was getting to it and the breaker still tripped. It has a plastic connector that plugs into the board with 4 large wires and pins (black, white, green, and red? wires I believe) and it looks like that is the only place it could get power from.

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Old 08-09-2012, 03:33 PM   #6
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GFCI Hot tub breaker


Is there a disconnect at the tub or just the breaker? Isolate the tub completely from the circuit and re-install the gfci and see if it trips. You certainly could have a wiring issue. Is the feed underground? There a re a lot of reasons a gfci trips, it's just a matter of eliminating each reason one at a time.
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Old 08-09-2012, 03:43 PM   #7
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Is there a disconnect at the tub or just the breaker? Isolate the tub completely from the circuit and re-install the gfci and see if it trips. You certainly could have a wiring issue. Is the feed underground? There a re a lot of reasons a gfci trips, it's just a matter of eliminating each reason one at a time.
There is a disconnect box mounted on the wall about 10' away from the tub and flex conduit running from that box to the tub. Then there is plastic conduit that runs along the back of the house and pops in to go to the panel. I pulled the bus-bar out of the disconnect box and flipped the old breaker on and it stayed on. When I put it back in the breaker tripped right away. I was outside for this and listened for any noises when I put it back in but didn't hear anything and didn't see a spark or anything.
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Old 08-09-2012, 03:57 PM   #8
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GFCI Hot tub breaker


The 50A GFI breaker was tripping on a ground fault, NOT overcurrent or direct short. So it was just doing it's job. Your test with the outside disconnect off proved this.
PUT THE GFI BREAKER BACK IN. Then find the reason for the tripping.
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:00 PM   #9
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Well you are getting closer. You know now in what area the trouble lies. I doubt it is the circuit board, so now it's a matter of finding out what is shorting to ground....or at least leaking to ground. Wiggle some wires, move some things around (with power off) and then try again with the circuit. Could be a nick in a wire in that flex conduit and water got inside of it. It doesn't take much to trip a GFCI.
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
The 50A GFI breaker was tripping on a ground fault, NOT overcurrent or direct short. So it was just doing it's job. Your test with the outside disconnect off proved this.
PUT THE GFI BREAKER BACK IN. Then find the reason for the tripping.
Is it ok that its a 50a but on the cover of the tub it calls for a 40a? Should I order a 40a GFCI one instead of re-using the old 50a?
thanks
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:02 PM   #11
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Is it ok that its a 50a but on the cover of the tub it calls for a 40a? Should I order a 40a GFCI one instead of re-using the old 50a?
thanks
I would keep the 50A in there until you can replace it with the proper 40A GFI.
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
Well you are getting closer. You know now in what area the trouble lies. I doubt it is the circuit board, so now it's a matter of finding out what is shorting to ground....or at least leaking to ground. Wiggle some wires, move some things around (with power off) and then try again with the circuit. Could be a nick in a wire in that flex conduit and water got inside of it. It doesn't take much to trip a GFCI.
Ok thanks... btw I found these links for anyone interested:
http://www.electriciantalk.com/f2/ho...ping-gfi-4413/
http://www.hottubessentials.com/trou...pping_GFCI.htm
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:07 PM   #13
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I would keep the 50A in there until you can replace it with the proper 40A GFI.
So ultimately I guess I should use a 40a... I'm not letting anyone use it until I figure this out anyway.
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:41 PM   #14
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for all we know it could even just be left over leakage water touching something it shouldn't. It may dry up on it's own in a few days and the gfci may work just fine. They're sensitive little beasties and it doesn't take much to set them off as stated before. If it worked fine for awhile then stopped one might assume that it might even be a bad gfci. It will be hard to find out if there's leakage current, leftover water, or just a bad breaker until your new 40A arrives.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:02 PM   #15
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Mine was doing the same thing when I first got it. I figured out which connections on the board went to the pumps and to the heater and unhooked all of them. I then flipped the breaker and it didnt trip so I turned it off and hooked up the first pump, flipped it on and no trip.
Did the same with the 2nd pump... no trip
finally hooked up the heater and it tripped within 5 seconds.
Turns out my heater was bad and was making it trip.

Mine would also run fine without a GFCI but when you put your hand in the water it would send a slight tingle up your arm haha After I replaced the heater coil it hasn't tripped since.

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