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Old 07-07-2008, 09:18 AM   #31
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GFCI Nightmare/Mystery


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Originally Posted by jimmy21 View Post
so do other people have washers on gfcis and they don't trip? I've never put one on a gfci. Chris says its code now in 2008, but i haven't wired a house in over a year
Mine is on a GFCI and has been through 2 washers. I have never had a trip. And I have installed many in bathrooms and a few in garages on GFCI circuits, without any problems. In the 2008, all the exceptions go away, so ALL 120v receptacle outlets in garages and unfinished basements, etc are required to be GFCI protected.

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Old 07-07-2008, 09:31 AM   #32
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Thanks everyone:

Based on what you all know, I'd appreciate your troubleshooting sequence to diagnose this issue. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

A "mugger" was mentioned, when and would you still recommend it?

I am going to speak to another electrician today and I want to be as specific as I can so he just doesn't come out and do the basic stuff like the others have and find nothing.

Tnx,

Tom
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Old 07-07-2008, 10:18 AM   #33
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GFCI Nightmare/Mystery


Quote:
Originally Posted by roztom View Post
Thanks everyone:

Based on what you all know, I'd appreciate your troubleshooting sequence to diagnose this issue. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

A "mugger" was mentioned, when and would you still recommend it?

I am going to speak to another electrician today and I want to be as specific as I can so he just doesn't come out and do the basic stuff like the others have and find nothing.

Tnx,

Tom
A Megger will test for a bad cord or leaky conductors. Have him bring along a new GFCI receptacle outlet just for the heck of it. I have seen 3 packs of Chinese GFCI's in the big box stores and would not be surprised to find 3 bad units in one box.
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Old 07-07-2008, 10:32 AM   #34
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GFCI Nightmare/Mystery


While I might be grasping at straws here there is one poosible variable except I have not thought of this and also do not have any documentation if this condition is related to the tripping.

When there is heavy rains the water will puddle outside my foundation against the back wall where these GFCI's are located.

The laundry room is half-grade down, like a Garden apt,, so the standing water is probably 3 ft below where the outlets are mounted. Remember the outlets are mounted in conduit on the inside of the wall (not in the wall) and their is no seepage through the wall that I have ever seen. The closest I can imagine is that there is a large puddle against the outside foundation of the building a few feet away from the GFCI's with a brick foundation seperating them.

Would this be enough to cause this GFI behavior?

TNx,

Tom
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:06 AM   #35
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While it was mentioned before, it did not seem relevant until I thought more about any varibales that would cause intermittant behavior.

Here is a link to a report I found by UL that discusses humidity as a variable for "defective" GFI's.

I am beginning to suspect this might be the cause for the intermittent behavior.. I am going to have another electrician look into it this afternoon. We are supposed to have storms here in the CHicago area this afternoon so I am going to see if I can put the washer under load with a heavy carpet in it and see if I can get it to pop. (WHat are the odds I'll be able to get it to pop?? )

Link to report: http://www.cpsc.gov/volstd/gfci/analysisgfci.pdf

If it is the humidity then there is no real solution as far as I can tell. Any realistic suggestions instead of sealing/waterproofing the conduit ?

I'll let you know.

Tom
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Old 07-08-2008, 12:39 PM   #36
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Here it is:

THEY FOUND NOTHING!!!!

I know you are going to say there is definitely something wrong, otherwise the GFCI's, all three of them wouldn't be intermittently tripping when the washer was plugged into any one of them.

Here is what they did:

1. Verified each GFCI was on an individual circuit.
2. Tested each GFCI for proper operation.
3. Verified all wiring on each GFCI.
4. Tested washer for ground & any leakage/voltage.
5. Ran washer under load and tested voltage draw on each GFCI.
6. Tested grounds and tightened all grounds at panel and inbetween.

In the end they said that the newer GFCI's were very sensitive to nusience tripping and that possibly electronics in the washer were causing it to pop.

I asked about a high humidity level and they said that should not be a factor and there is no water or seepage in the room. BTW, it was very humid in the laundry room when we tested it had rained overnight - no issue.

SO what to do? After 4 electricians, switching out washing machines, changing all GFCI's 3X, etc. I have to conclude that this is NOT solvable.

While I'm sure some of you will say there MUST be a reason, as would I, I am convinced, at this point, that the installation is safe.

This problem has cost me a substntial amt of $ with no resolution. SO you know the $ are not number one, safety is. I am comfortable that this is safe and that the popping, being intermittent, and verified by the electrician does not pose any danger to the tenants based on the steps that have been taken.

While I'm sure more testing could be done and maybe a reason might be found at some point, this would not in any material way affect the safe operation of a washer.

I hope this information will be helful to anyone who has a problem like this. Logic says this should not be happening. 4 electricians say it shouldn't either.

Thanks,

Tom
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:13 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by roztom View Post
Also, this is in a laundry room of a small apt bldg.
Not an electrical solution, but were you in the laundry room when the gfci tripped? Is it possible that another tenant is tripping your gfci?
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:51 PM   #38
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I assume you are asking if the tripping is malicious. I don't believe so.

IT has been going on intermittantly for over a year, maybe 2 and my tenants are all professional non-lunatic types and I have also turned all my tenants over so.... I beleve it is just a thing that happens.

I have also discovered the GFCI popped during a load but have never seen it pop while observing it in realtime...

I suspect this will just stand the way it is.

Tom
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:00 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roztom View Post
Here it is:

THEY FOUND NOTHING!!!!

I know you are going to say there is definitely something wrong, otherwise the GFCI's, all three of them wouldn't be intermittently tripping when the washer was plugged into any one of them.

Here is what they did:

1. Verified each GFCI was on an individual circuit.
2. Tested each GFCI for proper operation.
3. Verified all wiring on each GFCI.
4. Tested washer for ground & any leakage/voltage.
5. Ran washer under load and tested voltage draw on each GFCI.
6. Tested grounds and tightened all grounds at panel and inbetween.

In the end they said that the newer GFCI's were very sensitive to nusience tripping and that possibly electronics in the washer were causing it to pop.

I asked about a high humidity level and they said that should not be a factor and there is no water or seepage in the room. BTW, it was very humid in the laundry room when we tested it had rained overnight - no issue.

SO what to do? After 4 electricians, switching out washing machines, changing all GFCI's 3X, etc. I have to conclude that this is NOT solvable.

While I'm sure some of you will say there MUST be a reason, as would I, I am convinced, at this point, that the installation is safe.

This problem has cost me a substntial amt of $ with no resolution. SO you know the $ are not number one, safety is. I am comfortable that this is safe and that the popping, being intermittent, and verified by the electrician does not pose any danger to the tenants based on the steps that have been taken.

While I'm sure more testing could be done and maybe a reason might be found at some point, this would not in any material way affect the safe operation of a washer.

I hope this information will be helful to anyone who has a problem like this. Logic says this should not be happening. 4 electricians say it shouldn't either.

Thanks,

Tom
And it shouldn't, but what are you going to do? And who did these tests? and why does everyone insist on tightening the grounds? Did they use a megger? are they qualified testers?
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:43 PM   #40
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Try replacing the GFCI receptacle with a GFCI breaker, and run this to one dedicated outlet.
It is possible that the GFCI breaker will be less susceptible to motor spikes.

BTW, if GFCI are required for washing machine in 2008, is there a Grandfather clause that will allow my washer to remain on a non-GFCI receptacle?

FW
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:38 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by fw2007 View Post

BTW, if GFCI are required for washing machine in 2008, is there a Grandfather clause that will allow my washer to remain on a non-GFCI receptacle?

FW

New codes are not retroactive. And washing machines are not required to have GFCI protection in 2008.
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:42 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by fw2007 View Post
Try replacing the GFCI receptacle with a GFCI breaker, and run this to one dedicated outlet. It is possible that the GFCI breaker will be less susceptible to motor spikes.
I don't mean to be argumentative, but what is the rationale here? I don't want to get hot about this but motors DO NOT cause GFCI's to trip. Inrush currents do not matter. Spikes? Hogwash. Phase angles? Sorry. Unless the motor's insulation is breaking down (and a leakage can be intermittent and triggered by heat and/or vibration), motors do not mysteriously eat, steal, hide or leak current. As long as |I(in)-I(out)|<5mA, there is no trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fw2007 View Post
BTW, if GFCI are required for washing machine in 2008, is there a Grandfather clause that will allow my washer to remain on a non-GFCI receptacle?
If the installation exists prior to the adoption of the new code, then what you have now is acceptable "as-is."
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:45 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by BigJimmy View Post
I don't mean to be argumentative, but what is the rationale here? I don't want to get hot about this but motors DO NOT cause GFCI's to trip. Inrush currents do not matter. Spikes? Hogwash. Phase angles? Sorry. Unless the motor's insulation is breaking down (and a leakage can be intermittent and triggered by heat and/or vibration), motors do not mysteriously eat, steal, hide or leak current. As long as |I(in)-I(out)|<5mA, there is no trip.

Thank god, someone else that understands how a GFCI works...
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:19 PM   #44
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210.8 only states that a GFCI is needed in the Laundry room, not for the Washer. This would mean that the circuit for the Washer needs to be a dedicated outlet, and because of the fact that the motor would cause nuisance tripping, you do not want to use a GFCI. Same for a Freezer or Refrigerator, or even Garage Door Opener.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:28 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
210.8 only states that a GFCI is needed in the Laundry room, not for the Washer.
What? Actually the only receptacle needing GFCI protection in a laundry type room would be one within 6' of a sink. So, if the washer is installed within 6' of the sink guess what, GFCI protection is now required.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
This would mean that the circuit for the Washer needs to be a dedicated outlet, and because of the fact that the motor would cause nuisance tripping, you do not want to use a GFCI. Same for a Freezer or Refrigerator, or even Garage Door Opener.
THis is just sooooooooooooooooo untrue.


Last edited by chris75; 07-08-2008 at 10:33 PM.
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