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Old 09-02-2010, 05:26 PM   #1
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


I'm running into a problem with my swamp cooler. For some reason it has been working fine up until this summer. For some reason it is popping the GFCI as soon as you turn it on high, though it wasn't before. I've verfied that none of the connections have gotten wet, became loose or corroded from the moisture. I put my 3 prong tester on the circuit and it says everything is correct, no open grounds etc. Only does it on high cool or high vent, everything else seems fine. Only thing that has changed since last year is the new smart meter, and I put a new cooler motor on (same brand and hp as I pulled off of it). It was doing this with the old motor, so I had assumed the motor was failing, but same problem with the new one Again has been working fine for the last 4-5 years and just recently started flaking out. I've tested the rest of the circuit and nothing of high amperage or anything else that's running on that circuit other than the cooler. There's more receptacles, but nothing plugged into them. The motor states it pulls 10.8/4.6 amps (10.8 at startup). It's on a 20 amp breaker, and I think a 15 amp gfci. Any thoughts on what to do next I am at a loss?

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Old 09-02-2010, 05:56 PM   #2
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


It is telling you that the Swamp Cooler motor has a problem. Usually Swamp Coolers do not get plugged into GCFI protected circuits.

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Old 09-02-2010, 06:04 PM   #3
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


Have you tried a new breaker?
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Old 09-02-2010, 07:08 PM   #4
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


Cooler motor is new though? Been on less than 3 months. Kinda hard to wire those up wrong imo but I suppose I could have got a faulty one even though it is new. I assumed since it was doing what the old one was doing its not motor related. I haven't tried a new breaker, but I have tried a different gfci. I was told that anything that is hooked up around water needs a gfci. I know kitchens and bathrooms, but was told swamp coolers too. Should I eliminate the gfci? Like I said it has been working fine for the last 4-5 years like this, just started since they hooked up the smart meter. I've read where the smart meter can put out high frequencies that can trip older gfci's which didn't have shielding that the new ones have, which is why I traded out the gfci thinking that might be it. Maybe I'll try trading breakers and see what that does. Any other thoughts, throw my way please. I've went over everything I know to do. I consider myself to be a decent diyer when it comes to home improvement, but this one has me stumped.
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Old 09-02-2010, 07:14 PM   #5
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
It is telling you that the Swamp Cooler motor has a problem. Usually Swamp Coolers do not get plugged into GCFI protected circuits.
How can you draw this conclusion? A tripping GFCI is only indicating that there is a difference in current between hot and grounded (neutral) conductor.
OP, you mentioned that there are other outlets on this circuit. Were in the string is the GFCI outlet or is it a GFCI breaker?
As mentioned, a tripping GFCI is telling you there is a difference in current between the hot and grounded. I'm assuming this is a GFCI outlet so the easiest thing to try is to remove the wires connected to the load terminal of the GFCI if possible unless the cooler is one of these. Let us know how this circuit is set up.
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Old 09-02-2010, 07:36 PM   #6
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


The power is running from a gfci outlet to a rotary style cooler switch to cooler. Best I remember it's last on the chain, though it's been a while. The outlet itself was popping it's built in breaker. I was told to do it this way so that if motor or water pump on cooler happened to seize up (water pump especially) the difference in voltage or load would pop the gfci and not sit there getting hot and cause a fire. I just changed out the breaker for another. Will keep everyone posted if this fixed the problem or not, but so far so good. Weird that it was only popping on high though.

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Old 09-02-2010, 07:48 PM   #7
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


Ok as stated, I changed out the breaker. Now it runs on high for about 5 mins before popping the gfci, before switching the breaker it was instantly as soon as it was on high cool or high vent. I also pulled the switch cover to make sure connections were tight at the switch. Runs day and night on low vent or low cool with no problems.

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Old 09-02-2010, 07:48 PM   #8
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


Only way that it would cause a fire, is if the pump seized, the motor seized, or an electrical short happened. Since you only have three parts, two being motors, that leaves the rheostat, which may not be the culprit, but only way is to have a good electrician that can do a leak test on the Swamp Cooler to find out.
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Old 09-02-2010, 08:03 PM   #9
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


I haven't been around swam coolers since I live in Calif. in the '70s but I know they are not very complex. What is a smart meter and who hooked it up?
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Old 09-02-2010, 08:13 PM   #10
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


I'd be willing to bet that the motor has a bad winding.

What happens if you leave it on high until it trips the breaker and you don't reset until the motor cools off?
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Old 09-02-2010, 08:14 PM   #11
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


PG&E upgraded all their old meters to a new digital meter i.e "the smart meter". It replaced the old mechanical style meters with a new digital display meter that was "supposed" to save us money. My guess was to make them tamper proof from people running a magnet on each side of meter to slow down the wheel. Many people have noticed now their bills have almost doubled since the it's introduction. Ironically I'm in California lol. PG&E did the install back in the winter time so I didn't notice the difference until this summer when it was time for the cooler. I suppose it could be a faulty switch throwing a slightly different load signal, but the switch was replaced when I did the gfci setup originally about 4-5 years ago. As stated has worked all this time with no problems until this summer. It has me banging my head againist the wall. Not saying the smart meter is the culprit, but has been the only changed in the formula from 4-5 years ago that and a new motor this year, but again same brand motor, same hp, amps etc as the old one.
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Old 09-02-2010, 08:19 PM   #12
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


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I'd be willing to bet that the motor has a bad winding.

What happens if you leave it on high until it trips the breaker and you don't reset until the motor cools off?
I can reset the outlet right after it pops and it will run about 5 mins each time.
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Old 09-02-2010, 08:28 PM   #13
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


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don't reset until the motor cools off
Did the motor cool before you reset?
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Old 09-02-2010, 08:33 PM   #14
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


I've not tried that yet, I might try it this evening when the weather cools off a bit, but right now it's too hot not to have something. Low cool better than no cool
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Old 09-02-2010, 08:40 PM   #15
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Swamp cooler pops GFCI


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Originally Posted by fabrk8r View Post
I'd be willing to bet that the motor has a bad winding.

What happens if you leave it on high until it trips the breaker and you don't reset until the motor cools off?
If I've been reading this correctly it is the GFIC that is tripping, not a breaker. A GFIC trips if the current flow detected in the grounded conductor (white or neutral) is different than the current flow detected hot conductor (black). A breaker trips when the circuit current exceeds the breaker rating.
The GFIC would not be affected by a meter change.
OP, you said this is last in the string. This doesn't matter where in the sting the GFIC is placed but what would matter is if there is a pair of wires connected to the Load side of the GFIC. And BTW, the power to the GFIC must be connected to the Line terminals. Are there any other wires in the receptacle box where the GFIC is mounted? Is there anything connected to the Load terminals?

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