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Old 07-04-2008, 05:34 PM   #1
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GFCI Nightmare/Mystery


Have a GFCI outlet hooked to a washing machine which blows intermittantly. It always blows when it has just finished filling and about to change to a wash/rinse cycle.

I have had 3 electricians out and have done the following:

1. Replaced the Washer.
2. Replaced the GFCI, three times.
3. Run new wires to panel.
4. Isolated the circuit with nothing before or after GFCI. Has straight run to panel/breaker.
5. Ran seperate ground from GFCI to ground side of water meter (6 ft) in case there was a bad ground through conduit/ground cable.

Is there any other possibility? Last electrician wanted to do all kinds of grounding work, at panel, etc. After putting direct ground to water pipe and still popping said, "I'll have to ask around."

Would appreciate your wisdom..

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Old 07-04-2008, 08:59 PM   #2
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When you say it blows do you mean the breaker trips or the GFI.

It seems like you tried everything else, but my first try would have been to replace the GFI. You tried that 3 times with the same results.

My second attempt would have been to ditch the GFI all together and put on a regular plug. You could be getting nuisance tripping from the motor in the washing machine.

I know in Canada our washer plug does not have to be GFI protected it could be different in the USA, someone from down there will you let know.

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Old 07-04-2008, 11:24 PM   #3
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THanks. It's the GFI tripping.. If there is anything else I've missed on this I'd really like to know.
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Old 07-04-2008, 11:45 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by darren View Post
My second attempt would have been to ditch the GFI all together and put on a regular plug. You could be getting nuisance tripping from the motor in the washing machine.
The washer machine receptacle does not have to be GFCI protected. I think Darren nailed it with the notion of the motor tripping the GFCI. It is known to happen with vacuums and other devices that have electric motors.

If the washer machine is in the unfinished basement or the garage, install a dedicated single receptacle to be code-legal. A duplex receptacle would have to be GFCI protected in those areas. A dedicated receptacle does not.
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Old 07-05-2008, 08:24 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
The washer machine receptacle does not have to be GFCI protected. I think Darren nailed it with the notion of the motor tripping the GFCI. It is known to happen with vacuums and other devices that have electric motors.
This is simply untrue.

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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
If the washer machine is in the unfinished basement or the garage, install a dedicated single receptacle to be code-legal. A duplex receptacle would have to be GFCI protected in those areas. A dedicated receptacle does not.

These exceptions vanish in the 2008, so get used to finding the real problem with GFCI's tripping.
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Old 07-05-2008, 08:45 AM   #6
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Has a repairman checked the washer? That GFCI could be tripping for a reason.
How old is the washer?
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Old 07-05-2008, 08:56 AM   #7
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Washer is 2 yrs old. Replaced another one with same problems..

Initially replaced motor. Still tripping.

Replaced washer, still tripping.

tb
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Old 07-05-2008, 10:31 AM   #8
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I know you had electricians out lookin at this, but has anyone made sure the washer cord was correctly wired?? I know this washer suppose to be new but i have seen where the manufacter had that 'ground and neutral' bonded together on a washer and this not right. Also have you checked to be sure that the drain pipe is not leaking anywhere near the gfci inside the wall?? that water can cause it trip but you probably would NOT see the water damage for a while. and as others have said, some motors on these washers can cause a gfci to trip as this sounds like the potential problem since it trips as soon as the wash/rinse cycle starts.

Also the gfci should be checked to be sure its wired correctly. Since its a new install, and you had electricians do it, i believe it is. The 'hot' and 'neutral ' should be attached to the 'line side' of the gfci and the connections made good and tight!! loose connections can cause a gfci to trip. I had that happen in my house.

Contrary to popular belief a gfci does NOT need a ground connected to the ground screw to work correctly. A gfci senses an imbalance between the hot and neutral of about 5 milliamps and this is what causes it to trip. You can google gfci's and see for yourself how they work.

In fact, you can install a 3 hole gfci where a 2 hole receptacle was that had no ground and be legal under the 2005 NEC 406.3(D)(3)(b)
So your electricians pulling in new grounds and hookin them up to the ground rods etc.. doesnt sound like they know a whole lot about gfci's and how they work or the proper grounding of things.

Lastly, it is VERY RARE this happens, but ive been told that 'certain' frequencys can cause a gfci to trip but only when its real close to it. Had a guy that said on a job that had a radio and was installing a new gfci breaker and whenever he was close to the breaker it would trip the gfci. Some how the frequencies in the radio when close enough cause the gfci to trip.

Let us know how it turns out.
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Old 07-05-2008, 10:51 AM   #9
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Appreiate your comments.

The ground wire was run to see if there was any issue with the ground going back to the panel, just in case or if the ground side of the conduit was weird, just trying to cover all the bases.

Illogical questions:

If it only trips when the washer tub is full but not otherwise and only intermittantly then why not all the time?

Also, this is in a laundry room of a small apt bldg. The wiring is run in conduit on the inside wall, not in the wall. I have never seen any water on the floor or seeping by the washer.

Here is a small thought: There is a cable box of some kind, might be an amplifier that is plugged in at the next outlet near along side the GFCI but NOT on the same outlet box or circuit. In fact it is in it's own GFCI and has never popped. The cable box itself is mounted 5 ft away. It is not a junction box but some kind of amplifier, might be for the internet but I don't know. It is not radio frequency as far as I can tell.

Thanks,

Tom
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Old 07-05-2008, 11:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roztom View Post
Appreiate your comments.

The ground wire was run to see if there was any issue with the ground going back to the panel, just in case or if the ground side of the conduit was weird, just trying to cover all the bases.
Still, it has nothing to do with the operation of a GFCI.


Quote:
Originally Posted by roztom View Post
illogical questions:


If it only trips when the washer tub is full but not otherwise and only intermittantly then why not all the time?
Thats the problem, you have certain conditions that when met, trip the gfci, your going to just have to find a smarter person to fix your problem.

The problem is NOT the GFCI, its letting you know you do have a problem though... and I always love the just remove the GFCI logic, yeah, lets just forget the fact that we have a serious problem that interferes with our life. (Not directed to the OP)

Last edited by chris75; 07-05-2008 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 07-05-2008, 11:48 AM   #11
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Based on this information, nothing else on the circuit until it gets to the box/breaker, all wires tight, no water anywhere and the conduit run on the inside, not in the wall and only popping after the tub has filled and only intermittantly - where would I look?

BTW: This washer is next to an old concrete tub and the drain hose from the washer dumps into it. I do not know if the GFCI trips at the first tub fill or after it drains and refills. I "suspect" it is both.

Also, since this drain tub is next to the washer, does humidity play any part in this - seems like a longshot and it also trips in the winter and summer. There are also boilers in thew laundry room so it is very warm and dry in the winter and still trips (FYI).

TNx,

Tom


Last edited by roztom; 07-05-2008 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 07-05-2008, 01:56 PM   #12
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well moisture/humidity can affect the gfci if it gets wet any kind of way.

maybe i should not have said 'radio' frequency, im told any kind of frequency if its real close to the gfci can have some effect.

But you never answered the other question, is the washer itself been check for proper wiring??? I know its new but it still needs to be checked since you claimed you eliminated the other possible problems. Also did any electrician see if there was a small leakage of current on the washer itself even if its wired correctly (ground and neutral seperated on the washer).?? they can use a megger to check things. remember it only takes 5 milliamps to trip a gfci.

When that 'motor' kicks in (after the tub is full it starts agitating or pumping water out) its possible there is a sudden 'surge' in amps and there maybe just enough leakage on the washer that trips it.
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Old 07-05-2008, 02:24 PM   #13
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I replaced the washer..can't imagine there would be leakage there.

BTW, what would make it intermittant? IF there was leakage there, it would be there all the time wouldn't it? Also, since moisture/humidity might affect it, with the 2 boilers 6 ft from the washer running that laundry is warm and dry during the winter and it still blows...

The GFCI doesn't pop on spin, etc. IT only pops when there is water in the tub probably when it is shifting cycles from fill to run... GRRR

Would anything other than ground leakage cause this? What would I need to test this with to see what is going on?

Tom
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Old 07-05-2008, 03:00 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by roztom View Post
I replaced the washer..can't imagine there would be leakage there.

BTW, what would make it intermittant? IF there was leakage there, it would be there all the time wouldn't it? Also, since moisture/humidity might affect it, with the 2 boilers 6 ft from the washer running that laundry is warm and dry during the winter and it still blows...

The GFCI doesn't pop on spin, etc. IT only pops when there is water in the tub probably when it is shifting cycles from fill to run... GRRR

Would anything other than ground leakage cause this? What would I need to test this with to see what is going on?

Tom

I thought i made it clear in my last post. You can use a 'megger' to check for the leakage. And as i said before , its possible that the leakage only gets high enuff when there is a sudden surge in the 'amp's when the motor is just starting, when its SHIFTING cycles like u said. You really need to let an electrician/ some experience in testing like this to do it.

Also water in the tub CAN lower the resistance in the washer for there to be more leakage to trip the gfci.

In fact, believe it or not, when they make new large wire and put it on a spool, they way they test it is cap one end and SUBMERGE it in water and test for leakage there from the megger. if it passes the WATER test, its good to go.

I strongly sugges that there be some meggering done on the other 'line side' of the wiring as well.
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Old 07-05-2008, 03:37 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by brother View Post
I thought i made it clear in my last post. You can use a 'megger' to check for the leakage. And as i said before , its possible that the leakage only gets high enuff when there is a sudden surge in the 'amp's when the motor is just starting, when its SHIFTING cycles like u said. You really need to let an electrician/ some experience in testing like this to do it.
I agree, you need someone who is good at troubleshooting, a megger will eliminate some of the guessing at what you think could be the problem.

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