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Old 03-26-2010, 11:07 AM   #1
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GFCI Problem


I have a home that I only use from time to time. At Christmas one of the GFCI outlets kept tripping. This outlet has a TV/reciever/cable box/xbox/lights, etc. on the load side. When I reset it, everything would be OK for 20 minutes or so, then it would trip. I did not have time to investigate the problem so I just left it. When I returned a week or so ago, the outlet was tripped and would not reset. As soon as I pushed the reset button in, it would pop back out. I replace the GFCI outlet but that did not help. I removed all load outlets and inspected them. Everything looked OK. Anyone have an idea. The strange thing to me is that the problem seemed to get worse over time. (I.e. it stayed reset for 30 minutes at Christmas and now it will not reset at all). Ideas? Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:18 AM   #2
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Is this a dead end recep or is the load taken to other receps? If the load goes to other receps check those receps to assure the grounding wire is not touching the neutral.
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:25 AM   #3
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GFCI problem


Thanks Brric. The load goes to 4 or 5 outlets in the room and 1 outlet on the patio. I've removed all the outlets that are out and everything seems fine. I even tried resetting the GFCI while all the outlets were pulled out and everything load-side unplugged so I could make sure that no wires were touching. I've done all my electrical work for years, but this has me stumped!
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:29 AM   #4
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trial and error is probably your only solutions here. work backwords till you find your problem. Unplug everything from the GFI and every load plug behind it. if you know what order the plugs are installed in then take them out of the circuit one at a time, dead ending the rest of the circuit and isolating it. You can at least this way find out if you problem is at a device or you've had a wire break down inside the wall. Troubleshooting is always a pain but it can be informative. I always tell my apprentices to "systematically search and destroy" This way it may take longer but you can be sure you didn't miss anything.
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Old 03-26-2010, 12:08 PM   #5
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GFCI Problem


Thanks Andrew. I was afraid that was going to be the solution. I guess I'll get started. hopefully, it is something in one of the outlet boxes and not in the wall! What are the chances that the GFCI isn't receiving 120v? What could cause that situation?
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Old 03-26-2010, 12:17 PM   #6
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i wouldn't think so. To the best of my knowledge the gfci should only trip with overcurrent and from what you've said before it did finally give up on you everything was working fine that was plugged into it. The fact the you had some electronic equipment plugged in tells me that it was getting the full 120V. Undervoltage will burn out electronics just as fast as a surge will. I would think it's a simple matter of mechanical failure from the way it slowly failed then stopped. My first guess is always the outside plug...moisture is most definately not your friend when dealing with a GFCI. On a side note for anyone out there that's familiar with the NEC what's the code on GFCI's there. I'm pretty sure in Canada you can only have one plug hooked up to the load side but from what i've been reading it seems that you can have more in the states.
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Old 03-26-2010, 12:21 PM   #7
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GFCI's can go bad over time
I'd try another GFCI outlet if you have one

Anything new on the circuit ?
Any outside outlets on the circuit ?



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Old 03-26-2010, 12:32 PM   #8
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start by disconnecting the load wires of the GFCI to see if holds when they are disconnected. If not it's probably the GFCI.
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Old 03-26-2010, 12:36 PM   #9
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GFIs trip due to an imbalance of current flowing on the hot and neutral. They do not trip on overcurrent. That is the purpose of the breaker.

Are you sure you have power to the GFI?
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Old 03-26-2010, 12:38 PM   #10
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if you read up there is an outlet on the patio and he's already changed out the gfci for a new one.

with there being a new GFCI installed and in theory theres 120v at the GFCI then there's got to be a current leak to ground somewhere along the way. It's the only scenario that fits really that i can think of. the first thing i learned when i wrote my ticket is that just because i had it didn't mean i was done learning. I thank you for the refresher course on the GFCI. As soon as i seen that i had flashbacks to a teacher in tradeschool telling us it's in essence an "undercurrent device" not an overcurrent
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:51 AM   #11
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Andrew, I understand your comment of "in essence an 'undercurrent device' not an overcurrent", but in fact neither is correct. It could be stated that "in essence, it's a 'current imbalance' device". It 'looks' to see that if "X number of amps is leaving the load side 'hot', then the same X number of amps should be coming back in the load side 'neutral'. It trips when an imbalance occurs. i.e., If 5 amps go out the 'hot' side but only 4 amps come back, the 'missing' 1 amp must be going somewhere unintentionally, so it trips, opening the load side of the circuit (including itself).
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