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GFI Breaker Trips With No Load

Posted by tprisher (My Page) on
Fri, Dec 6, 13 at 1:09

I'm having problems with a GFI circuit that was installed five years ago. The GFI breaker is installed in the panel box and controls seven outlets. The circuit worked fine until a few days ago when it started tripping off. I thought I had a bad lamp or other appliance plugged into the circuit. So I started unplugging each appliance one at a time. I unplugged everything and the GFI tripped with no load on the circuit. With no load I can turn the GFI on and in 30min to one hour it will trip off. It doesn't trip immediately. This continued for a day and a half. Then today for no apparent reason the breaker stayed on and has been on for 10 hours. Do I have a bad GFI breaker, bad outlet or bad wire? Any help would be appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: GFI Breaker Trips With No Load

It could be any of those. Usually when it trips no load, then most likely the problem (barring a bad GFCI) is that there is a GROUND-to-NEUTRAL fault somewhere.

If a cursory inspection of the devices on this circuit don't show anything, the only real way is a divide and conquer. Take the wires out of the GFCI and see if it trips with nothing connected to it (that would surely be the sign of a bad breaker). Reconnect it and try opening the circuit at progressive (or if you're mathematically inclined you can do a binary search) points until you can find when the problem does occur and when it doesn't which should point you to the problem.

However, the time delay with no apparent load isn't the usual sign of a ground fault. That usually indicates a marginal over current or a bad device. Usually I don't recommend people start by replacing the GFCI, but in this case I might.

One more thing... before we get started ... are you sure this is GFCI and not an AFCI? Whole different slew of things in that case.


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RE: GFI Breaker Trips With No Load

Had that problem with an outdoor receptacle that would trip in rainy or damp conditions.


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RE: GFI Breaker Trips With No Load

Thanks for the replies. As I said in my original post, the circuit mysteriously started working and continues to work. I plugged the original load back into the receptacles and the circuit continues to work properly. I have no idea what could have happened to cause the circuit and the GFI to start working. The only change is the weather which has turned cold and wet. ????

Any thoughts?


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RE: GFI Breaker Trips With No Load

Wet could definitely do it. Check the covers on outside receptacles. If you regularly have things plugged into them (or you wish to comply with the current codes), make sure they are equipped with in-use style covers. Make sure any gasketing on the box and cover is in good shape so water is not infiltrating.


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