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Old 05-16-2010, 07:08 PM   #1
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Another GFCI Issue


I have a gfci installed on a "christmas candle package" basically outlets under each window for window candles. The gfci was installed, I guess, because one of the outlets was in my bathroom near the soaking tub. It was not put by the tub though it was put near the switch in my hall closet. Took a while to find that!

My problem is that many times, but not always I turn on my under cabinet lights in my kitchen (low voltage) the candle gfci trips. Further it only trips if the candles are on. Meaning if I turn on my under cabinet lights during the day it will not trip the gfci. What confuses me is that the candles are on their own circuit and the under cabinet lights are on a different circuit. Also - I have no idea if or why it should matter but the candle switch is an X10 controlled switch. It works fine though.

Anyone able to help or explain this?

Last edited by jimd60; 05-16-2010 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:27 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimd60 View Post
I have a gfci installed on a "christmas candle package" basically outlets under each window for window candles. The gfci was installed, I guess, because one of the outlets was in my bathroom near the soaking tub. It was not put by the tub though it was put near the switch in my hall closet. Took a while to find that!

My problem is that many times, but not always I turn on my under cabinet lights in my kitchen (low voltage) the candle gfci trips. Further it only trips if the candles are on. Meaning if I turn on my under cabinet lights during the day it will not trip the gfci. What confuses me is that the candles are on their own circuit and the under cabinet lights are on a different circuit. Also - I have no idea if or why it should matter but the candle switch is an X10 controlled switch. It works fine though.

Anyone able to help or explain this?
Is it possible that they use a common Neutral? Second possibility; Is any load (not necessarily the entire circuit) on the GFCI receptacle controlled by an X-10 switch (and the UNIT Codes of both controllers are close)?

Last edited by spark plug; 05-16-2010 at 07:29 PM. Reason: used wrong term (switch/a/o Controller)
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:34 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by spark plug View Post
Is it possible that they use a common Neutral? Second possibility; Is any load (not necessarily the entire circuit) on the GFCI receptacle controlled by an X-10 switch (and the UNIT Codes of both switches are close)?
I don't think they use a common neutral. The house in only 5 years old and the electricians seemed to know what they were doing. Wiring was done pretty well.

The whole load for the candle package is controlled by an X10 switch. It is the only switch on the circuit.

Last edited by jimd60; 05-16-2010 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:36 PM   #4
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Where are you located ?



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Old 05-16-2010, 07:38 PM   #5
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I am located in New Jersey.
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Old 05-16-2010, 08:19 PM   #6
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Possible the neutrals are under the same screw on the panel ?

Are you sure they are not on the same circuit or a MWBC ?



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Old 05-16-2010, 08:20 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by jimd60 View Post
I turn on my under cabinet lights in my kitchen (low voltage) the candle gfci trips. Further it only trips if the candles are on. Meaning if I turn on my under cabinet lights during the day it will not trip the gfci.
If the candles are on first and then the cab lights go on does the GFCI trip?
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Old 05-16-2010, 09:12 PM   #8
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No they are not under the same screw in the panel.

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If the candles are on first and then the cab lights go on does the GFCI trip?
Yes - this seem to be the only way it trips - the candles have to be on first. I does not always trip but 90% of the time it will.
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:04 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jimd60 View Post
No they are not under the same screw in the panel.



Yes - this seem to be the only way it trips - the candles have to be on first. I does not always trip but 90% of the time it will.
Does it also happen that if the cab lights are on first and then the candles go on, the GFCI trips?
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:21 AM   #10
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Does it also happen that if the cab lights are on first and then the candles go on, the GFCI trips?

No - only if candles are on first and then turn on kitchen under cabinet lights.
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by jimd60 View Post
No - only if candles are on first and then turn on kitchen under cabinet lights.
I'd say the GFCI is oversensitive or it is working normally and the leakage current is near the GFCI's threshold.
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:23 PM   #12
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I'd say the GFCI is oversensitive or it is working normally and the leakage current is near the GFCI's threshold.
Thanks for your reply. So I guess just replace the GFCI with another one and most likely it should resolve the issue?? Any chance the low voltage transformer for the under cabinet lights could be generating "noise" that would trip it?
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Old 05-18-2010, 01:33 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by jimd60 View Post
Thanks for your reply. So I guess just replace the GFCI with another one and most likely it should resolve the issue?? Any chance the low voltage transformer for the under cabinet lights could be generating "noise" that would trip it?
There is always a potential for a transformer to cause a GFCI to trip. The reason is that a transformer is an inductor, and inductors don't change current instantaniously. So when you turn power off feeding the transformer, it will continue to try to force the current to continue to flow for just a brief moment. Normally, this current flow would result in a temp voltage spike (or that arc you see when you sometimes unplug something while it's still powered). If there's something wrong with the GFCI circuitry, that voltage spike might be enough to cause some current to flow in the GFCI when it shouldn't and trip the GFCI.

But the potential solution is still replace the GFCI.
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Old 05-18-2010, 07:46 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by jimd60 View Post
replace the GFCI with another one and most likely it should resolve the issue??
Yes, try it. Maybe 80% [WAG] of the time this fixes it.
If replacement doesn't solve it then you need a voltmeter and small incand. bulb to measure leakage current in the ground lead, but if it's a transient problem that won't find it either.
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:41 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
Possible the neutrals are under the same screw on the panel ?

Are you sure they are not on the same circuit or a MWBC ?
this is what the OP (probably fails to note. That the wiring can be in perfect condition for the circuits to share a Neutral. As you pointed out that it could (and most probably is) a MWBC. (Multi-wire branch circuit.)!
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