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Old 05-28-2010, 04:19 AM   #1
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GFCI trips when adding a load


I have a Leisure Bay spa about 1995 vintage and it has a controller with air switches and pretty much mechanical as in Potter-Brumfield relays. Recently the L1 terminal on the incoming power terminal block got very hot and fried the wires. Since all of the damage was right at the terminal I believe a loose connection caused the heat.

Actually, the spa was working except for the heater, which is configured for 220V. Troubleshooting the heater is how I found the burned terminal. What I also discovered was that a relay coil hot wire had been wired directly to the L1 terminal instead of going through the high limit breaker. This meant that the relay was always energized, not noticed because it is always picked, but should have circuit protection.

When I first got the spa I had the controller repaired by Rec Warehouse, aka Leisure Bay. I wired the relay coil correctly and the instant power was applied the GFCI tripped. I don't know if it was wired wrong before I sent it in but I think they should have corrected it.

BTW, my testing involved connecting power only to L1 and Neutral as I have it on the bench and no 220V available there. From what I've read, the GFCI will trip if a load imbalance occurs. How can I determine if I have an imbalance and how can I correct it. TIA

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Old 05-28-2010, 05:57 AM   #2
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GFCI trips when adding a load


Disconnect the power. Use an ohmmeter to test for continuity between neutral and ground, that is, a ground fault. I think that 50,000 ohms is the threshold below which a ground fault is considered to exist. An indicator light continuity tester will likely not prove such a ground fault as it takes only a few milliamperes to be hazardous.

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Old 05-28-2010, 06:06 AM   #3
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GFCI trips when adding a load


I forgot to mention that the relay that is causing the GFCI to trip seems to be working fine. The coil draws only minimal current, as it should. I even removed all of the load wires from the relay so that only the coil was in the circuit. When connected the proper way through the limit switch the trip is immediate.

One other thing I should mention is that when I bought the spa it had a 20 amp plain GFCI (no receptacles). It was faulty and I replaced it with a 20 amp bathroom type. Does this sound like a problem? As I said in my original post, it's possible that the subject relay was wired directly to L1 when I bought the spa. I want it to be wired correctly.

jtogle

AllanJ, how would wiring the coil hot wire correctly or directly to L1 change the continuity between neutral and ground? I'm not disturbing the neutral wire.

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Old 05-28-2010, 09:06 AM   #4
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GFCI trips when adding a load


A ground-fault is a fault from hot to ground or from neutral to ground. Check the replaced GFCI to make sure the load wire are correctly connected to the corresonding load hot and load neutral screws. What does the limit switch limit?

Photos or a wiring diagram would help along with Model # and series of spa.

Last edited by brric; 05-28-2010 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 05-28-2010, 09:45 PM   #5
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GFCI trips when adding a load


If you find continuity between neutral and ground or between hot and ground, then you need to find the fault.

It might be a wire with the insulation scuffed and a with bare spot touching the chassis.

It might be a defective subcomponent such as a relay coil or a temperature sensor.

The equipment or appliance may have worked fine for years and suddenly the ground fault happens, for example vibration all those years finally resulted in an insulation failure and then wires or other parts made an unwanted electrical contact.
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Old 05-31-2010, 12:07 AM   #6
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GFCI trips when adding a load


brric, I'm sure the load and neutral wires are correctly connected to the GFCI but I'll check again. The limit switch monitors water temp via a bulb that is in contact with the heater container. When the switch opens, it interrupts 110V going to the control relays and other things, such as the jet pump. What I'm seeing is that one of the relays is bypassing the limit switch, contrary to the schematic. When connected this way everything was working until the L1 terminal got fried. When I connect that relay coil according to the schematic the GFCI trips.

I have the following info about the spa:
  • A-83309 engraved into the acrylic shell. I think that's either the model or serial number, not sure which.
  • A schematic with 4072102351 and LEISURE BAY PARTS printed at the top, also the date and time of the printout (01/22/2006 22:07). Also (printed) LBM-110 G-2SPD 115/230 CONVERTIBLE 5-15-95 and (handwritten) Model # G1010CLSS0-CA.
I don't know if the 5-15-95 is when the spa was built or when the controller was built.

I'll have to work on providing pictures. Many thanks for your interest.

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Old 06-01-2010, 11:39 AM   #7
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GFCI trips when adding a load


A ground fault means there is an imbalance between the current in the hot leg and current in the neutral leg. The relay you are connecting has to be wired so the return side goes to the neutral of the same ground fault circuit that is providing the power.
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Old 06-03-2010, 06:16 AM   #8
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GFCI trips when adding a load


a7ecorsair, all of the neutral wires seem to be tied together. How can I isolate the neutral for that relay to accomplish what you said?

allanj, I used a DVM on the R x 20,000 scale and found no continuity between power and ground or neutral and ground. I'm stumped. I've about decided to wire that relay to L1, as it has been for several years. It apparently caused no problem being picked all the time. Indeed it is always picked even when wired correctly as long as the limit switch hasn't tripped. I just hate to leave it wired wrong.

The cause of the terminal board burning up was apparently a loose connection at the incoming #6 L1 wire, as all the damage was confined to that location. Many thanks for your comments.
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Old 06-03-2010, 08:01 AM   #9
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GFCI trips when adding a load


Quote:
Originally Posted by jtogle View Post
Recently the L1 terminal on the incoming power terminal block got very hot and fried the wires.
Loose connection as you mentioned but maybe something else too.
Quote:
Actually, the spa was working except for the heater, which is configured for 220V. Troubleshooting the heater is how I found the burned terminal. What I also discovered was that a relay coil hot wire had been wired directly to the L1 terminal instead of going through the high limit breaker. This meant that the relay was always energized, not noticed because it is always picked, but should have circuit protection.
You are calling this a high limit breaker. In normal operation is the heater on all the time or is there a thermostat control. Does this high limit "breaker" open when the water reaches a certain temperature?
Quote:
When I first got the spa I had the controller repaired by Rec Warehouse, aka Leisure Bay. I wired the relay coil correctly and the instant power was applied the GFCI tripped. I don't know if it was wired wrong before I sent it in but I think they should have corrected it.
BTW, my testing involved connecting power only to L1 and Neutral as I have it on the bench and no 220V available there.
Is it the GFCI on your workbench that trips?

This relay, is it a two pole relay that interrupts both legs of the 220V power to the heater?

Is the spa connected with a plug and cord to a 220V outlet? If so, is it a 4 wire connection - two hots, a neutral, and a ground?
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:02 AM   #10
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GFCI trips when adding a load


Can you post the schematic. We're working in the dark here. My guess is your connection to a limit switch is a direct short circuit. If the unit worked before connected directly to the relay why have you deemed it necessary to connect it elsewhere?
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Old 06-06-2010, 08:25 PM   #11
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GFCI trips when adding a load


brric, I'm attaching the schematic and I made the wire in question very bold. I added some text but it may be too small to read so I'll repeat it below. Hope you can read the drawing. To answer your question about why I want to change the wiring, I just don't like to leave it so that the 30 Amp Limit Contactor relay is still energized even when the high limit breaker has shut down the rest of the system. I've about decided to do just that since the relay has been on for several years except when incoming power was shut off.

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Old 06-06-2010, 08:48 PM   #12
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GFCI trips when adding a load


OOPS! I forgot to repeat the text in the drawing, which is too small to read, at least with my eyes. Here it is:

The bold wire is connected directly from the realy coil to L1 on the incoming power terminal block, instead of going through the High Limit breaker (self-resetting). When connected according to the schematic, the GFCI trips immediately. It may have been this way when I bought the spa. This relay is normall energized unless the water gets too hot and trips the high limit. I never noticed the mis-wiring until L1 burned up, probably from a loose connection since the damage was limited to the terminal block. All neutrals return to the GFCI and there is just one #14 wire connected to the N terminal. I'm just trying to get it wired according to the drawing.
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Old 06-06-2010, 09:12 PM   #13
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GFCI trips when adding a load


Quote:
Originally Posted by a7ecorsair View Post
Loose connection as you mentioned but maybe something else too.
You are calling this a high limit breaker. In normal operation is the heater on all the time or is there a thermostat control. Does this high limit "breaker" open when the water reaches a certain temperature?
Is it the GFCI on your workbench that trips?

This relay, is it a two pole relay that interrupts both legs of the 220V power to the heater?

Is the spa connected with a plug and cord to a 220V outlet? If so, is it a 4 wire connection - two hots, a neutral, and a ground?
a7ecorsair, to answer your questions:

1. It is a normally closed self-resetting breaker with a bulb that monitors water temperature in the heater can, tripping the breaker and cutting off power when the water temp. exceeds the breaker setting.
2. The heater is thermostatically controlled
3. The GFCI is a part of the controller (see the schematic I attached).
4. The relay is 2-pole and interrupts both legs of 220V.
5. The spa is hard-wired with #6 copper to a 50 amp breaker in the main panel, with a 50 amp GFCI about 7 feet from the water and in plain sight, as required by code. It is 4-wire, 2 hot, neutral, and ground.
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Old 06-09-2010, 08:43 AM   #14
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GFCI trips when adding a load


I haven't had internet for a couple of days but I see there hasn't been much posted. I've looked through the schematic - it's hard to see good detail but this is what I've come up with.
The spa heater will work either 120 or 240 if it is wired per the schematic.
There are two switches Amp conversion and Voltage conversion. Are they ganged together?
The heater contactor controls the heater in 120V operation
In 240 operation, the heater contactor is always picked and heater temperature is then controlled by the 50 Amp Contactor.
If the 50 amp contactor coil was hard wired to L1 then the heater would work at 240V anytime the spa was on. If the switches are set to run on 120V power then temperature control would be the Heater Contactor. If set to 240V there would be no temperature control.
Maybe there is a problem with the heater that is being detected by the GFCI.
On the voltage conversion switch, is there a wire connection to the bottom connection that doesn't show it the diagram? In 240V operation the voltage conversion relay needs to be picked all the time.
Try this:
Leave the coil wire (dark line) for the 50 amp contactor disconnected so the contactor never picks. Set it for 240 volt operation and see if the rest of the spa will run.
Post the results...

Last edited by a7ecorsair; 06-09-2010 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 06-09-2010, 12:17 PM   #15
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GFCI trips when adding a load


a7ecorsair, I am away for about 2 wks. I'll respond to your post when I return. Many thanks for your continued interest.

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