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  1. #1
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    Default GFCI Outlet Problems

    I have a GFCI outlet that will intermittently trip when nothing is plugged into it or wired to the load side.(Note this is a replacement gfi as the original was doing the same thing when I moved in the house). There is a second GFCI wired from the line of the one I am having issues with that does not trip when the first trips. Any advice on this one would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: GFCI Outlet Problems

    I can’t quite tell what you mean regarding the wiring between the two gfci’s but here’s a thought:

    Your gfci’s are probably the feed-through type and if you look at the back are marked “Line” and “Load”

    Make sure that the second gfci is not fed from the “Load” side of the first gfci. Both gfci’s need to be fed from non-gfci protected voltage.

    It’s fine if you feed other standard type duplex receptacles from the load side of either gfci. Just not other gfci type receptacles.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: GFCI Outlet Problems

    Some GFCI outlets have to be reset after a power outage even a short outage.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
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    Default Re: GFCI Outlet Problems

    Try to install a new GFCI. Maybe the mechanism in the one you have, is bad. If the problem continues, then it must be the wrong connection between the circuit breaker and the GFCI. The reason GFCI trip is because there is an overload .

  5. #5
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    Default Re: GFCI Outlet Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    Try to install a new GFCI. Maybe the mechanism in the one you have, is bad. If the problem continues, then it must be the wrong connection between the circuit breaker and the GFCI. The reason GFCI trip is because there is an overload .
    GFCI do not trip because of an overload, they trip because of difference in current flow between the hot and common. This can be because of a ground fault (current leaking to ground), or because of high capacitive or inductive loads that cause a time delay in current flow between hot and common.
    Jack
    Last edited by JLMCDANIEL; 10-13-2008 at 10:06 AM.
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
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    Default Re: GFCI Outlet Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    Try to install a new GFCI. Maybe the mechanism in the one you have, is bad. If the problem continues, then it must be the wrong connection between the circuit breaker and the GFCI. The reason GFCI trip is because there is an overload .
    Double ditto JLM's post.

    Overloads are the job for the breaker or fuses .
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  7. #7
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    Default Re: GFCI Outlet Problems

    My apologies to JLMCDaniel and Canuk. You are right. Overloads are corrected by circuit breaker. But, let me explain. Sometimes ladies use a
    dryer for their hair and the heavy amperes the dryer has does not kick the circuit breaker off. Then, I install a GFCI and it kicks out. In theory you are right. But sometimes the circuit breaker is old and does not kick off.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2008
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    Lakeland ,MN
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    Default Re: GFCI Outlet Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by MJ SPO View Post
    I have a GFCI outlet that will intermittently trip when nothing is plugged into it or wired to the load side.(Note this is a replacement gfi as the original was doing the same thing when I moved in the house). There is a second GFCI wired from the line of the one I am having issues with that does not trip when the first trips. Any advice on this one would be appreciated.
    The incoming power to the GFI must be on the line side of the outlet Hot on the brass screw and Neutral on the white screw. The wires going to the other outlet must be on the load side if you need to have it GFI protected. Above if I read it correctly you have it backwards.
    Harry

  9. #9
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    Jan 2008
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    731

    Default Re: GFCI Outlet Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by MJ SPO View Post
    I have a GFCI outlet that will intermittently trip when nothing is plugged into it or wired to the load side.(Note this is a replacement gfi as the original was doing the same thing when I moved in the house). There is a second GFCI wired from the line of the one I am having issues with that does not trip when the first trips. Any advice on this one would be appreciated.
    Some of the newer GFCI outlets are designed to lockout if they are installed with the wiring reversed (power in on the wrong set of terminals).

    Do you know what pigtailing is? if you want more than one gfci type outlet on the same circuit you would need to use that wiring technique. Power in on the line set of terminals. To continue GFCI protected power beyond the gfci outlet you feed through the device and attach the continuing on wiring to the load side and install no additional GFCI devices. To protect only the GFCI outlet face you connect the incoming hot the ongoing hot and a "pig tail" piece of wire together with a wire nut, then attach the other end of the "pig tail" wire to the ingoing terminals on the gfci device (line side) you wire both the hot and the grounded conductor the same way (with pigtails) and attach nothing to the load terminals. Done this way is also called wiring in parallel, and then only the device itself and what is plugged in to it is gfci protected, the on going power is not gfci protected and allows you to wire another gfci device elsewhere. To do this correctly you have to be absolutely correct in which side of the circuit is power from the panel.

    Some of the newer gfci devices with lockout once wired incorrectly will not reset, even when later properly wired, some will only when properly wired.

    Do you have a equipment grounding conductor or not in this circuit? Are you taping over your terminal connections (over top the screws all around the device) if you have a metal box?

    If you have a multiwire branch circuit (shares a netural between two hots at the panel) post back because you will need additional information.
    Last edited by Blue RidgeParkway; 10-14-2008 at 09:41 AM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: GFCI Outlet Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    My apologies to JLMCDaniel and Canuk. You are right. Overloads are corrected by circuit breaker. But, let me explain. Sometimes ladies use a
    dryer for their hair and the heavy amperes the dryer has does not kick the circuit breaker off. Then, I install a GFCI and it kicks out. In theory you are right. But sometimes the circuit breaker is old and does not kick off.
    No need to apologize to me .... rather we're simply pointing out the comment you made about the GFCI tripping because of an overload can be misleading.

    For people that aren't aware GFCI receptacles are not designed for protection of overloads .... that's the job of the breaker or fuses. Your comment might give someone the wrong impression they would be protected from an overload.

    This is not a theory .... it's reality.

    In your case …..the cause is either a problem hair dryer or a worn-out GFCI outlet. I would suspect if you have a high powered hair dryer being used regularly you probably have stressed and worn out the GFCI making it too sensitive.

    Also .... if you know you have a worn out breaker that isn’t tripping this is a dangerous condition and should be replaced.

    The GFCI is designed for "personal" protection, not to protect equipment or the conductors of a circuit.

    The GFCI senses an imbalance of current between the "hot" and "neutral conductor" ...... regardless what level of current is passing through.

    As JLM mentioned ........ it is monitoring the current difference in milliamps between the hot and neutral. If this difference is at 5 milliamps, plus or minus 1 milliamp, the device trips and breaking the circuit.

    A GFCI receptacle does not care about the current draw (amps) passing through the device ….. as long as they are balanced


    A handheld hair dryer that is rated at 1,800 watts, 120 volts, will have a current draw of approximately 15 amps. …… one that is rated at 1500 watts 120 volts will be drawing 12.5 amps while running.

    However …. when they are first turned on they draw a higher amount initially because of the blower motor.

    This is one reason the hair dryer causes a circuit breaker to trip. If this occurs ..... the dryer (along with the other lights, fans and outlets using power on that breaker) exceeds the breaker’s rating. This happens more in older homes with bathrooms on 15-amp circuit breakers because a modern hair dryer ….. by itself …..can use more power than a 15-amp circuit can supply.

    From my understanding ……. in the US ….. bathroom outlets in homes built after the mid-’90s are required to have dedicated 20-amp circuits for this very reason.
    To solve this dilemma, have an electrician run a new, 20-amp circuit. Or, get a blow dryer that draws less than 1500 watts.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

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