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Old 05-09-2008, 02:31 PM   #1
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Problems with GFCI!


Hello. Recently the sump pump under our house failed when a hose sprung loose and the GFCI (into which the pump was plugged) tripped. The indicator light was still on, but the reset button would not stay in.

When I replaced the GFCI with a new Cooper unit, the indicator light was on, the reset worked, but the unit tripped when I plugged in the sump pump (and did so on repeated attempts).

After reading your direction sheet, I saw that line and load wires were hooked up wrong. Later, from the website

http://www.thecircuitdetective.com/gfis.htm

I noticed that the wiring I thought was wrong was, in fact, an OK alternative if you choose to NOT protect outlets that are downstream. See picture on right under caption "GFCI Outlets."

Meanwhile I had rewired the unit in the manner of the left hand picture, but now the outlet is dead (no indicator light). I checked the upstream GFCI's, and they all seemed OK.

When I checked the GFCI in the garage, it wouldn't reset when I test-tripped it. Furthermore, tripping this GFCI caused a loss of power to lights in the garage and some in the house. I checked the fuse box, but no circuit breakers had tripped.

My attempts to fix the sump pump have failed, and have led to further loss of power around the house! What should I do??

Thanks,

Edward Trevelyan
St Michaels, MD

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Old 05-09-2008, 03:37 PM   #2
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Problems with GFCI!


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Originally Posted by trevelyan View Post
Hello. Recently the sump pump under our house failed when a hose sprung loose and the GFCI (into which the pump was plugged) tripped. The indicator light was still on, but the reset button would not stay in.

When I replaced the GFCI with a new Cooper unit, the indicator light was on, the reset worked, but the unit tripped when I plugged in the sump pump (and did so on repeated attempts).

After reading your direction sheet, I saw that line and load wires were hooked up wrong. Later, from the website

http://www.thecircuitdetective.com/gfis.htm

I noticed that the wiring I thought was wrong was, in fact, an OK alternative if you choose to NOT protect outlets that are downstream. See picture on right under caption "GFCI Outlets."

Meanwhile I had rewired the unit in the manner of the left hand picture, but now the outlet is dead (no indicator light). I checked the upstream GFCI's, and they all seemed OK.

When I checked the GFCI in the garage, it wouldn't reset when I test-tripped it. Furthermore, tripping this GFCI caused a loss of power to lights in the garage and some in the house. I checked the fuse box, but no circuit breakers had tripped.

My attempts to fix the sump pump have failed, and have led to further loss of power around the house! What should I do??

Thanks,

Edward Trevelyan
St Michaels, MD


What should I do??




Call an electrician, pay him 60 bucks, make sure its done right. Your story has me utterly confused or i would offer something worthwhile.

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Old 05-09-2008, 03:47 PM   #3
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Problems with GFCI!


You have a problem with your sump pump, that's why the GFCI tripped initially. Go back and rewire the GFCI like you had it the first time (when it worked). See how that affects everything else.
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Old 05-09-2008, 07:01 PM   #4
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Problems with GFCI!


Thanks, HouseHelper. I'll try that, but afraid it will just trip again. You say the problem is with the sump pump...but why does it work fine when I plug it into another outlet?
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:06 PM   #5
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Problems with GFCI!


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Originally Posted by trevelyan View Post
Thanks, HouseHelper. I'll try that, but afraid it will just trip again. You say the problem is with the sump pump...but why does it work fine when I plug it into another outlet?
Is the other outlet GFCI protected?
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:35 PM   #6
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Problems with GFCI!


No, the other outlet is not protected. So, are you suggesting that the pump might be tripping the GFCI-protected outlets because the pump is flawed? That the pump is somehow damaged and unsafe to use? I suppose this is possible. The whole episode began when I discovered the tripped GFCI above a flooded crawl space...and a pump that had sprung a hose (at the hose clamp connection). Why this would damage the pump I'm not sure...unless the pump motor overheated while endlessly pumping water back into the sump. To my knowledge, the water level never rose high enough to threaten the wiring in the crawl space.
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:38 PM   #7
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Problems with GFCI!


There can be a fault in the pump that will not trip a breaker, but will trip a GFCI as the GFCI circuitry is sensitive to any leakage, hot or neutral, to ground.
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:51 PM   #8
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I'll have to test the pump again....to see if it trips all GCFIs. If so, I may need a new pump....unless I just use unprotected outlets. Do you think that's risky, unsafe in some way?
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by trevelyan View Post
I'll have to test the pump again....to see if it trips all GCFIs. If so, I may need a new pump....unless I just use unprotected outlets. Do you think that's risky, unsafe in some way?
No, in fact, having the sump not on a GFCI is better, as you have discovered.
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Old 05-09-2008, 11:49 PM   #10
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Problems with GFCI!


Just a personal opinion, but I don't usually use GFI's on sump pumps. Too many nuisance trips. I use single receptacles, not duplex, and always check that the ground is good.

It sounds like in your situation that the sump pump GFI is being fed from the garage GFI. If so, there's no need to have two GFI's in the circuit. It's rare, but I have seen problems like the one you describe due to a GFI feeding another GFI.

If this were my house, I would install a single receptacle (non-GFI) at the pump. If it trips the garage GFI, and you have a 'piggy-back' plug that goes to a float, then I'd plug the pump directly into the receptacle. If it still trips, the problem is with the pump. If it doesn't, then the float is suspect. This can be confirmed by plugging the float cord in, but not the motor cord.

Once you find the culprit, examine the cord carefully, especially the part that's normally not submerged. You might find a nick in it that is usually dry, but got wet in the flood. If so, drying it out might solve the problem.

Did the inside of the receptacle box get wet? If so, NM cable is notorious for 'wicking' water up the paper fillers. Usually not a problem, but alot of times the insulation gets nicked where the outer covering is stripped of. Moisture in this area will certainly trip a GFI.

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Old 05-10-2008, 12:33 PM   #11
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Problems with GFCI!


Thanks Rob. I'm going to start by rewiring the pump GFI back to its original configuration (as Househelper suggested). This is the simplified config that sends current downstream without enabling the downstream GFI. Because I'm going back to "square one," it seems that the power should be restored to the garage area (ie., the garage GFI will reset). If, as expected, the pump GFI trips again, I'll have to replace it with a conventional box without GFI.

To answer your question about moisture, I don't think water got into the box, which was nailed to the crawl space ceiling. Wires feeding this box seem to travel along the ceiling, so I don't see why they'd be wet either.
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Old 05-10-2008, 02:05 PM   #12
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All receptacles installed in crawl spaces MUST be GFCI protected, NO EXCEPTIONS, and I do not like some of the opinions i'm reading, but none the less, if your appliance is tripping a GFCI dont you think you have a problem with your appliance?

Replace the GFCI, if you still have problems, replace your sump pump, these are you ONLY two options. And for your information, in 2008 NEC you will no longer be able to install a single receptacle without GFCI protection.
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Old 05-10-2008, 02:30 PM   #13
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Problems with GFCI!


code references please i thought that if it is a single receptical you dont need it to be gfci in a crawl space regarding the 2008 code probable true they have changed a lot
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Old 05-10-2008, 07:25 PM   #14
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code references please i thought that if it is a single receptical you dont need it to be gfci in a crawl space regarding the 2008 code probable true they have changed a lot

210.8 (4) 2002 NEC requires all receptacles in a crawl space to be GFCI protected.

The exception for single round receptacles is only for unfinished basements and garages. I dont have any 2008 sections handy, but i'm pretty sure they eliminated the single round exception.

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