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honker 10-27-2007 07:00 PM

Need basic breaker info please
Hello, out there. I'm new to the site, and need to get myself educated on some basics. (I think all girls should :-} ) Here's my problem... I just bought a house and am not completely familiar with the wiring of everything yet. The former owner was kind enough (?) to leave the hot tub on the back porch for us, said it has its own power source going to the panel, which we can see and follow along the outside of the house and then into the wall where the breaker box is. We were told we only had to flip the breaker on to get power to the hot tub and outside outlet. The breaker itself is a double one (don't know the right terms yet, but I'll learn) with '40' on each side, and one side has a red 'test' button. I've tried to just flip it on, but it won't stay. I know it's the right one, and everything is grounded and there are no apparent problems with the wiring. Could some kind, patient poster out there please offer me up some advice? I'd greatly appreciate any help I can get. Thanks!

Andy in ATL 10-27-2007 09:07 PM

We don't help girls on this site....:laughing:

Just kidding. What you have is a double pole 40A GFCI breaker. Try pressing the reset button. If that doesn't work the breaker may well be doing it's job. But we don't know that, yet.

The breaker is similiar to the GFCI receptacles you may have in your kitchen and bath. They have a little test and reset button on them. Hopefully resetting your breaker will solve the problem.

Keep us posted and let me know if that works.. If not, we are going to have to get more info.

Speedy Petey 10-27-2007 09:25 PM


Originally Posted by honker (Post 70235)
I've tried to just flip it on, but it won't stay.

I have a suspicion that the breaker is tripped, and you are not going to the off position first.
A tripped breaker will typically rest in the "middle" position.
Try turning the breaker to the "off" position, then back to on. You may have to push it to off quite firmly.

honker 10-27-2007 10:18 PM

Thanks for the quick replies, here's a little more info. There is no reset button on this breaker, just the red 'test' button (same thing?) which doesn't seem to do anything when it's pushed. (It can only be pushed in slightly.) And I did make sure that the breaker is completely in the off position before trying to flip it back on, even checked it by trying to push it more 'off' than it appeared, but it was definitely off to begin with. It doesn't lock at all into the on position before sliding back off. Please keep the help coming! There are some of us girls out here trying to keep up. (Note to self... Andy's the funny guy and Speedy is, well, speedy...)

Stubbie 10-27-2007 10:35 PM

Hi Honker

Is there another disconnect/breaker close to the hot tub? In other words another place to turn it off and on?

It is beginning to look like you may have a fault in the hot tub or wiring causing the gfci at the main panel to trip out.

Andy in ATL 10-28-2007 06:01 AM

My wit and charm is known the world over.:yes:

The pesky thing about electricity is that you can't see it. This is why electricians are smarter than plumbers. All they have to know is **** runs down hill, and wash hands before lunch.:laughing:

There is a (small) possibility that you have a bad GFCI breaker and the wiring is fine.

I suspect, however, the breaker is OK and you have a fault somewhere. The question is where. Stubbie is MUCH smarter than me, and as he suggests, look for another disconnect. If there is another disconnect, take all the wires loose ( after making a diagram so you can put it all back EXACTLY how it came apart) and reset the breaker. If there is no second disconnect, then take the wires loose ( making diagram as you go) and reset breaker. If the breaker does not reset after the hot tub is COMPLETELY TAKEN OFF THE WIRES then

1: You have a bad breaker (Small possibility)
2: You have a fault in the wire between the the hot tub and the panel. If the breaker does reset, then the fault lies in the hot tub itself.

Always wear safety glasses!! I know they are nerdy but do it for your pal Andy!!

jwhite 10-28-2007 07:03 AM

Yes by george "divide and conquer"
Take the circuit apart at some point and try to see if the breaker will reset. This way you can tell if the problem is before or after that point.

Carefull not to touch the ends of the wires that you have left disconnected at some point. Wire nuts or electrical tape comes in handy. And never do this arround the little family members. (THEY MAY TOUCH IT WHEN YOU ARE NOT LOOKING)

scrapiron 10-28-2007 09:08 AM

Plumbers wash their hands?

honker 10-28-2007 11:13 AM

Okay... by light of day I've found a reset button on the hot tub power box, (says "push to reset" and "high limit" which I thought would be tripped from excessive heat, yes?) but it seems permanently pushed in already. I am able to pull it out a small distance and try to push it again but it's just wigglin' loose, obviously not in working order. The power box is wired continuously into the breaker box (no other reset buttons, etc.) and the outlet next to the hot tub does have a reset button which I pushed but I've got a sneakin' suspicion that the outlet isn't giving me grief here. Would the power source not being able to be reset be preventing the breaker from being turned on? Should I start at the power box and work my way back? It says 'EM 100 Power Source'. Hey, thanks a bunch for the help so far, and the laughs. While I'd rather be in the hot tub, you're sure making it fun to figure out why I'm not.

Andy in ATL 10-28-2007 11:25 AM

We'd rather see you in the hot tub as well.:laughing: :whistling2: :wink:

As Jwhite said, divide and conquer is the key, here.

There has to be a way to access the electrical connection to the tub. We have got to fugure out where the fault is.

jwhite 10-28-2007 11:34 AM

There is a likely hood that the two things you have found are related.

If this hot tub was installed legally there should be a disconnect of some kind within site of the tub. It may be built into the power source that you mentioned. I tryed to google the part number but did not have easy resuts. Does that thing have a manufactures name?

To trouble shoot this further, you are going to have to open up a box somewhere, where you can unhook the wires that go from the breaker to the hot tub. At the hot tub would be a prefered location. You will need a relyable tester. Not the touchless kind. And some basic hand tools.

If there is a disconnect of some kind at or near the tub. Turn it off, or pull the "pull out" out, then try to reset the breaker at the panel.

Let us know how you make out so we can guild you further.

honker 10-28-2007 12:58 PM

I traced the wires back again just to be sure, and there is definitely no break between the power source and the breaker box. Inside the power box is a mind-boggling maze of those caps you screw onto splices wires. The tools I have, but the tester I don't, so I'll have to pick one up. I learned my lesson there when I was in Germany in high school and tried to plug in a curling iron without a converter. (Hey, it was a long time ago and I was having a girl moment. We have those, you know, but we don't always want to admit it.) Anyway, back on subject... Girl question - do I have to shut off the main or do I go ahead and test for power knowing that just that breaker is off? Geez, I'll get better... Oh, yeah - the brand name on the power box is Brett Aqualine. Thanks, again.

(Note to Andy - the "wit" part is sure working, the "charm" part, still undecided... :-} )

Andy in ATL 10-28-2007 01:22 PM

OK Honker ,

You say you can see the raceway that brings the wire from the breaker box to the hot tub. When you pull the cover off of the "power box" at the hot tub, this race way has to enter that power box somehow.

There are some unknown factors here. Does the breaker you think controls the tub actually control the tub?? I've been surprised too many times over the years thinking I knew which breaker it was and then getting the SURPRISE.

If it was my daughter or girlfriend i would say to

1: Go to the Lowes or Home Depot and pick up a meter. Nothing fancy.

2: Go ahead and kill the main, pull cover off tub power box.

3: Disconnect ALL wires coming from the raceway between the house and tub ( making diagram, remember?).

4: Turn power back on and attempt to reset breaker.

The reason I'm advising to go ahead and turn off the main is because even though I know you think you know which breaker it is and I'm confident what you think is correct the fact is dozens of exceedingly qualified electricians will unwittingly die this year because they thought they were sure also:furious: . If the breaker doesn't reset post back, because we ain't done yet...In fact we've barely started.

(note to Honker... Is it Honker because guys honk when you walk down the street, or do you have a honking big nose???:laughing:

Edit to add: While at the big box store, go ahead and pick up a new breaker(you need to copy all name and model number info on breakerbox) in case you do indeed have a bad breaker...We will cross that bridge when we come to it.)

Stubbie 10-28-2007 01:57 PM


Only thing I would advise is that learning how to test and isolate is probably not the greatest place for a beginner. Especially on 240 volts and 40 amps. If you fool with this make real sure you know how to check for voltage on any wires where you are working and that you have that breaker in the main panel off. It does not appear that the hot tub is quite up to code as far as the installation is concerned though I wouldn't say that it is necessarily unsafe as far as the wiring.... given that you find the reason the gfci will not hold. It also sounds like the spa pack is in need of a little bit of attention. Maybe you could post some pictures of the control panel and let us sum up what we think? Can you also tell us if the spa wiring is in metal conduit or is it in a cable while the wiring is outside the house or show some pictures?
It may be that you are going to have to get a knowledgeable person that has experience with hot tubs to evaluate your tub and wiring.


duke2043 10-28-2007 02:21 PM


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