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Old 10-08-2012, 05:53 PM   #1
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


Hello friends,
So I replaced 5 outdoor receptacles around my house with new metal boxes and outlets. I'm glad I did because the Metal J-box and foam gaskets were corroded and dried out, rotted etc. Upon inspection some of the outlets were starting to break, crack and fall apart since they were most likely installed in 83' when the house was built. Some of the terminal posts were rusted out and completely oxidized.
So I tested all the outlets after replacing, however just using a two prong device like my phone charger. Later, I plugged my 3 prong dewalt radio in while I was doing some work on the house and that was fine, when I plugged my shop vac in the same receptacle and turned on, then circuit tripped. Trips immediately when a load is applied on any of the receptacles on that circuit. I put a GB GFCI outlet tester on each and they all check out okay (wired correctly) and the circuit trips when I use the gfci test button on the tester.
I'm stumped.
1. Could it be the breaker? It is 30 years old and I might add. It's a Sylvania type QP GFI which thanks to someone on Mike Holt said a replacement is Cutler Hammer/Eaton type BR. And it is cracked.
2. If not the breaker, why would my radio work fine and then when another load such as the surge from the shopvac trip the breaker and now not hold a load at all?
Thank You,
~S

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Old 10-08-2012, 06:08 PM   #2
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


GFCIs are designed to trip if a difference of 4-6 mA (milliAmperes) exists between the hot and neutral conductors. Low power devices, such as a radio or cell phone charger, may not be drawing enough current thru the device for the leakage current to exceed 4-6 mA.

The shop vac, a table saw, etc., draw more current, and thus may be leaking enough current to trip the breaker.

In other words, the GFCI trips based on the actual amount of leakage current, not the percentage.

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Old 10-08-2012, 06:13 PM   #3
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


Could be that the shop vac is bad. Do you have another GFI in the house you can plug the shop vac into?
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Old 10-09-2012, 08:18 AM   #4
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


Thanks K_buz and Dave. I will try this tonight when I get home and post back.
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Old 10-09-2012, 07:27 PM   #5
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


Okay, so I did a little more troubleshooting. I can turn the breaker on but as soon as I plug anything in, it trips instantly. I even tried my two prong toothbrush charger since both my bathrooms on same circuit as outdoor receptacles. Its the only GFI breaker in the whole house.

I'm thinking faulty breaker at this point because of two reasons.

1. Its 30 years old and has a big crack down the center of the top housing.
2. Everything was working fine with my radio plugged in. I added the shop vac, it tripped. Now when I reset the breaker and plug in ANY device, it trips.

Same thoughts?
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Old 10-09-2012, 07:44 PM   #6
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


Did you have this problem before you changed the outlets?
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Old 10-09-2012, 07:56 PM   #7
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


MB, no I did not have this problem prior to changing the outlets. What bothers me is that it worked fine for a while with my 3-prong radio. Then added my 2prong shop vac, it tripped and now trips with whatever I plug in regardless of wattage/amperage.
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Old 10-09-2012, 07:58 PM   #8
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


Look for a ground and neutral touching some on the circuit. Disconnect the ground in the panel as a test and see if it still trips the breaker when something is plugged in.
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Old 10-09-2012, 07:59 PM   #9
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Skelleyman View Post
MB, no I did not have this problem prior to changing the outlets. What bothers me is that it worked fine for a while with my 3-prong radio. Then added my 2prong shop vac, it tripped and now trips with whatever I plug in regardless of wattage/amperage.

Welll there is one thing you could do...and you probably won't like it. Remove all the outlets and start over, installing one at a time and testing them as you go, with the shop vac or any other device that is tripping it now. Are these 5 the only thing on the circuit?
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Old 10-09-2012, 08:03 PM   #10
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


Odds are you will find a receptacle or a wire touching one of the metal boxes.
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Old 10-09-2012, 08:24 PM   #11
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


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Odds are you will find a receptacle or a wire touching one of the metal boxes.
That is my thought.....

But....try this....move one of your other ckts that is working fine over to the GFI breaker....see if that trips the breaker...

If you can plug in your shop vac on the other ckt and it does not trip...then you know it's an issue with your wiring.
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:26 PM   #12
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Stumped....breaker or wiring?


Thanks All. That was it. Ground touching neutral in that last receptacle - the one that tripped when I turned on the shop vac. All is well now. Tested with dewalt radio and shop vac together and both are fine. I'll still swap out that cracked GFI breaker in a couple weeks when I install my generator's manual transfer switch. Thanks again.

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