Identifying GFCI Circuit Problems
Problems that Cause GFCI Circuits to Trip, Clearing the GFCI Circuit of Possible Problem Devices. How can I find out what is tripping a GFCI Breaker?
Electrical Question: How can I find out what is tripping a GFCI Breaker?
- We have a green house with an older hot tub. All of the power in this room is connected to a 50 amp GFI circuit breaker.
- There is no power going to that room and the breaker was tripped.
- I cannot reset the breaker because there are two GFCI receptacle plugs that I tried to reset but it looks like there must be an electric load on them before resetting.
- I cannot get a load to them because the breaker needs a current to also reset.
Any help with my vicious circle would be awesome.
This electrical wiring question came from: Mike, a Handyman from Casper, Wyoming.
Additional Comments: A lot of useful info thanks.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Mike.
How to Identify GFCI Circuit Problems
Application: Troubleshooting GFCI Circuit Problem.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best if wired by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and the number of GFI outlets that will be added.
Precaution: Identify the GFCI outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional GFCI Outlet Wiring should be done according to local and national electrical GFCI Codes with a permit and be inspected.
Problems That Cause GFCI Circuits to Trip
Please Note: It is mentioned in this question that GFCI Outlets in the room are connected directly to the hot tub 50 amp GFCI circuit breaker, however the GFCI outlets should be connected to a separate circuit breaker which is sized appropriately to the size of the circuit wiring.
- Tripping GFCI Circuit
If the main GFI circuit breaker is tripping then the wiring and devices connected need to be inspected for a possible short or problem with the wiring or a device.
- Clearing the GFCI Circuit of Possible Problem Devices
Anything connected to the circuit should be removed one at a time to try to identify the source of the problem. Make a note of any devices that are causing the GFCI to trip off. Faulty devices will need to be inspected and evaluated to identify wiring or equipment problems.
- Problems with the GFCI Circuit Wiring
If the problem has not been isolated to a specific device then the room and hot tub circuits should be tested and to discover the fault. Circuit inspections and repairs are best performed by a licensed electrical contractor.
More about GFCI Circuits and Electrical Wiring
- House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers
- Troubleshooting Electrical Wiring
- Using Electrical Testers
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The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
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I’m hoping you can help me. I’m having a problem with my GFI protected pool lights. While troubleshooting, I initially thought my 15 amp GFI outlet (located near the pool pump) was bad because it wouldn’t reset, and my lights would not light. But when I bypass the GFI, the lights work fine. (The breaker is a 20 amp, the GFI, 15 – I’m pretty sure it’s wired correctly, with the LINE connection coming from the circuit breaker (and the white, common from the electrical box as well) and the LOAD going out (and white common) going to the on/off switch for my pool lights and then out to the lights.) I’m confused, because I figured if I had a wiring problem, the breaker would have tripped, but the lights worked fine when connected directly. Can you help me?
The circuit breaker for the pool lights will trip only if there is a direct short to ground or the current load exceeds the amperage rating, which in this case is 20 amps.
How to Troubleshoot a GFCI Problem for a Pool Lighting Circuit:
Because the GFI outlet trips off I would suspect a voltage leak somewhere the lighting circuit somewhere between the GFCI outlet and the light fixtures. This could be caused by moisture entering into a lamp enclosure because of a gasket problem, or a related problem due to a damaged light fixture. I would also locate the junction boxes where the connections are made between the cords leading to the light fixtures and the lighting circuit wiring. Make sure the connections are made properly with water proof connections and that there is not deterioration within the wire splices. If there are any other components or controls within the light fixture circuit such as a time clock, then these device should all be checked as well.
VERY IMPORTANT: Until the problem is found I would keep the pool lighting circuit OFF and do NOT bypass the GFCI Outlet because of the Potential Shock Hazard this condition may present.
I Hope this Helps – Be Safe!
I have two circuits in my kitchen, one for the counter receptacles and one for the dishwasher. They were wired by using 12/3 cable so they are sharing the neutral. The receptacles were not GFCI protected, so I tried to replace the breaker with a GFCI breaker, but it trips. Do I have to have a separate neutral which means running a new cable for one of the circuits or is there perhaps something else that is causing this tripping?
A shared neutral as with a mulit-wire circuit should work fine for the GFCI outlets. However the configuration of the two circuit breakers at the panel should be checked to make sure they are connected to a 2pole circuit breaker that has a tie bar installed across the two switch handles. If the GFCI continues to trip off then the circuit wiring and connections will need to be checked carefully.
I hope this helps,