GCFI Keeps Tripping - HELP PLEASE

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  #1  
Old 06-11-04, 06:08 PM
rsmf68
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Red face GCFI Keeps Tripping - HELP PLEASE

I'm a beginner - so please bear with me and hopefully help me see the light....

1. I have a switch in my kitchen that controls the power to an outlet in the middle of my backyard (which still works fine- that is not the problem.)

2. I want to move the outlet from the middle of the yard to a new outlet mounted to my house and then run another line to the back end of the yard for a pond.

3. I then shut off the power, dug up all the wire, mounted a new GCFI outlet with the existing 14-2 UF wire (black wire to hot, white wire to neutral in the line holes in the receptacle, and pig tailed the ground - see item #4 below.)

4. Then ran approximately 100ft of 12-2 UF wire (black to hot, white to neutral, pigtailed the grounds to the receptacle in the load line.) The reason I ran 12-2 is becuase a wiring book recommended it becuase it is over 50 feet run of cable.

5. Installed another GCFI outlet near the pond (black wire to hot, white to neutral, and ground to screw in the second receptacle near the pond.)

6. Turned on the power, it worked for about 30 minutes then tripped and keeps tripping no matter what I try. I checked all wiring and everything to mee seems as it should be.)

This is all running from a 15amp breaker.

Anyhelp would be apprecited - I'm going nuts.....
 
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  #2  
Old 06-11-04, 06:25 PM
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Which one is tripping? The one at the house or the one at the pond? Since you used the load side at the house you don't need another GFCI at the pond. The one at the house will protect it.
 
  #3  
Old 06-11-04, 07:14 PM
rsmf68
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To clarify my original post....

The one at the house is tripping. I tried to replace the second GFI with a regular outlet (covered&protected from the elements) but the GFI at the house keeps tripping.

So I unhooked the load lines from the GFI outlet at the house and ran an extension cord to the pond, it seemed to work fine - but I can't have an extension cord as my answer. So when I rewired the 12-2 line back to the original GFI receptacle at the house, it tripped again.

Do you think it is the 12-2 wire? Should I dig it up and run a 14-2 - just like the rest of the line on that breaker?

Lord knows I am not going to replace all the inside wiring to 12-2 just for this pond - that would be insane!!!!
 
  #4  
Old 06-11-04, 09:36 PM
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If the GFI at the house is working properly, as it seems to be since an extension cord works when plugged in, the problem has to be somewhere in the new circuit that you added. The 12-2 is the proper wire, assuming it's type UF for direct burial. Check areas that might not seem so obvious to a beginner; behind the outlets, particularly the one by the pond... when the wires and outlet are pushed back in the box to fasten them, perhaps the ground wire is brushing against the hot lead (I've had this happen). Use a regular (not GFI) weatherproof outlet at the end of the run, two GFI's will not protect any better than one, and you'll have more clearance to stuff the wires in the outlet box.
 
  #5  
Old 06-12-04, 05:55 PM
rsmf68
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Smile I figured it out!!!

Thank you to all the guys for trying to help - so if you are curious, here is the not so obvious answer....

1. I left all else the same - 12-2 UF cable run, GFI outlet at the house, outdoor outlet (no GFI) near the pond.

2. Instead of the 12-2 wire in the load feed in the GFI outlet, I hooked it to the second line feed in the GFI outlet.

Low and behold, it has been running for the past 8 hours and not a single trip of the GFI. I must say, I didn't do so bad considering I'm a *chic*

I hope this may help anyone else who may come across the same problem. Now....going out to get some fish for the pond....

Gotta love the Internet - so much information and helpful people. Thanks again!
Regina
 
  #6  
Old 06-12-04, 06:04 PM
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I may not have understood correctly, but it sounds like you solved your GFCI problem by removing the GFCI protection. If so, you still have a ground fault, and you have created a very hazardous condition. Unless I've misunderstood, please don't let your kids go near the pond.

Does the feed to the pond still come from the load side of some GFCI receptacle somewhere? I can't quite tell because it sounds like you both said that the receptacle near the pond is, and is not, GFCI.
 
  #7  
Old 06-12-04, 07:48 PM
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Exclamation

I certainly hope you check this posting at least one more time. If this circuit is not properly protected, it could literally be a life or death issue. If nothing else, push the test button on the GFI to make sure the newly installed outlet is disconnected during the test.
 
  #8  
Old 06-13-04, 03:39 AM
doingitmyself
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Originally Posted by rsmf68
1. I left all else the same - 12-2 UF cable run, GFI outlet at the house, outdoor outlet (no GFI) near the pond.
Sounds like she took out the GFCI at the pond, and put a standard receptacle back.

Originally Posted by rsmf68
2. Instead of the 12-2 wire in the load feed in the GFI outlet, I hooked it to the second line feed in the GFI outlet.
Hooked it up to the "second line feed"? Sounds like she's feeding the pond receptacle from the line side. I'm sure this is not what the instructions, which came with the GFCI, recommended.

Originally Posted by rsmf68
Low and behold, it has been running for the past 8 hours and not a single trip of the GFI. I must say, I didn't do so bad considering I'm a *chic*
I guess so, but this isn't protecting the pond receptacle. I think you may have "done bad".

Originally Posted by rsmf68
I hope this may help anyone else who may come across the same problem. Now....going out to get some fish for the pond....

Regina
I hope others don't copy this plan. Wait instead for more advise on this from the pros.

I hope you come back here real soon!
 
  #9  
Old 06-14-04, 08:12 AM
rsmf68
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To clarify my post from Saturday.....

I had 4 wires and 2 grounds coming into the workbox. The black and white wires coming from the breaker panel were attached to the two terminals on the new GFCI outlet that say “LINE”. My second set of wires that continue on to the other receptacle were wired to the two terminals on the GFCI outlet. Then I took two ground wires coming into the box and attach them to the grounding terminal on the GFCI outlet. I wrapped electrical tape around the GFCI outlet so that it covers all of the screw heads on both sides - nothing touching.

I then switched the breaker back on. Tested the new GFCI outlet to make sure the installation was successful by pressing the TEST button on the front of the outlet. I heared a “click” as the breaker inside the outlet trips - so I know it works properly.

Becuase the GFCI outlet is in the middle of a series, I also tested the receptacle near the pond just to make sure that I maintained the integrity of the series.

Just to be extra "safe" I can install another GFI outlet near the pond, but I read that it is not necessary as long as there is the one "main" outlet protected by GFI (which it is.) But I just might - just to be extra extra safe (and I have two extra ones lying around anyway...)

I got enlightened to my problem at another website (sears) where they had pictures and instructions on how to wire - so I followed them and it worked out flawlessly

So guys - just so you can wipe the sweat off your brows, I don't have any kids - so playing in the pond isn't going to happen. All is safe and good - no faulty wiring, tripping, or any kind of hazard. I found my answer from a different website to help troubleshooot.
 
  #10  
Old 06-14-04, 09:03 AM
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The single most important point here is:

When you trip the GFCI outlest by pressing the "test" button, have you verified that there is no power at the pool outlet?

If there is power at the pool outlet with the GFCI trtipped, then the pool outlet is not GFCI protected.
 
  #11  
Old 06-14-04, 11:14 AM
rsmf68
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I'm loosing hope.....

Reading through all the responses, I guess I have to start from step 1.
I need help installing a receptacle (with GFI protection) at the house (using exisiting 14-2 wire) and running a new outlet (12-2 wire) about 90 feet from the house for a pond.

1. When installing as directed hot/black to line and neutral/white to line - everything on the house outlet works fine.

2. When I connect the hot/black to load and neutral/white to load - the outlet keeps tripping.

3. I've tested and installed 3 different GFI outlets - they all work fine (no defect). The UF cable (wire) is fine - new and no damage - so what could cause it to trip????? Should the outlet at the pond be grounded to the box or the receptacle? Do I need to install a second GFI at the pond (to to be double safe?) Should the outlet at the pond be connect to the load or line terminals in the receptacle/outlet? - at the house side, I know it has to be hooked to load - but at the other end, where should the wires be in line or load?

Any and all help is appreciated!!!!
 
  #12  
Old 06-14-04, 11:34 AM
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you should only have(need) one GFCI receptacle. It should be the first one from the breaker box. Every receptacle after that should be a normal receptacle connected to the LOAD side of that one and only GFCI receptacle.

Breaker panel ---> (Line side) GFCI Receptacle (Load side)---> other receptacles

---> should be 14-2 (with ground) cable or 12-2 (with ground) cable

If you connect the other receptacles to the "Line" on the GFCI receptacle, they are not protected by that GFCI.

As far as grounding the box or the receptacle at the pond? If this is a metal box, and you connect the bare ground wire to the receptacle's ground screw, the box will be grounded. You could also pigtail an extra ground wire and ground the box, just to be extra careful (I wouldn't bother).
 
  #13  
Old 06-14-04, 11:39 AM
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The input power to a GFCI receptacle outlet is always connected to the line terminals. Newer style GFCI receptacles will not work if connected improperly.

If you want the GFCI receptacle to privide protection for downstream devices, then connect the downstream cable(s) to the load side of the GFCI. In this manner one GFCI receptacle can protect an entire circuit.

If you do not want the downstream devices to have GFCI protection from this GFCI then connect the outgoing cable to the line side of the receptacle, along with the input cable. This will require the use of wire nuts and pigtails. If the downstream devices need GFCI protection (such as if they are outside, in a garage, or in an unfinished basement) then they will need GFCI receptacles.

If you use additional GFCI receptacles downstream from one GFCI receptacle, and a fault occurs, then one or both GFCIs will trip. It could be the first one or the second one or both. Having to reset both may confuse someone who doesn't realize how you wired the circuit, and it my be inconvenient if the location of the other receptacle is a distance away or is hard to get to, so I recommend against multiple GFCI protecting a circuit.

All ground wires in a junction box are connected together and connected to the ground connection on the GFCI or any other type of device (receptacle or switch) in a junction box. The ground wire should also connect to the junction box, if the box is metal.
 
  #14  
Old 06-14-04, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft
If you do not want the downstream devices to have GFCI protection from this GFCI then connect the outgoing cable to the line side of the receptacle, along with the input cable. This will require the use of wire nuts and pigtails.

I thought this was true until last week when I bought a replacement 15A Leviton GFCI receptacle. The new ones had a screw terminal with room for two wires (unbent). That was on the Line side.
 
  #15  
Old 06-14-04, 12:06 PM
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I do not believe that you are allowed by code to place two wires under a single screw terminal on a receptacle or switch, despite what there is "room for".
 
  #16  
Old 06-14-04, 12:15 PM
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Many new GFCIs are indeed manufactured to allow two sets of connections to the line side, the load side, or both. Quite convenient.
 
  #17  
Old 06-14-04, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
I do not believe that you are allowed by code to place two wires under a single screw terminal on a receptacle or switch, despite what there is "room for".
I didn't mean that you can just "make it work". I meant it was designed for two wires. I would be saying the same thing as you though if I had not just seen it myself. Its made for two wires. If there is a code rule against it, I am not aware of it.
 
  #18  
Old 06-14-04, 01:40 PM
rsmf68
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That is what was wrong in the first place...

The Leviton GFI 20amp outlet I bought at home depot has two sets of input holes for hot and neutral on the line and load ends (8 holes all together.)

But, I guess that does not answered my original dilemna....

If the line from the house is correctly installed to the line connectors in the outlet (black/hot, neutral/white), and the second cable run (12-2) going to the pond is installed in the load holes - black/hot, white/neutral, why would it keep tripping.

When I had the all four wires in line - it worked fine for hours and hours without tripping but apparently not protected by GFI.

A. Any more suggestions as to the cause of tripping?
B. Is the ground wire so sentitive that it may be the cause of the tripping?
C. Does the wiring to the last outlet (near the pond) have to be in the load or line screws. By that I don't mean near the house - I know that has to be in load - I'm questioning where to hook it up at the other end of the cable.

Thanks - if all else fails, I'm calling in the electrician - but they are hard to get a hold of....
 
  #19  
Old 06-14-04, 01:55 PM
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At the end near the pond there shouldn't be a line or load terminal. You should have a normal outdoor receptacle:

Black to copper screw, White to silver screw and bare-brass wire to green screw. DO NOT do a bootleg-ground jumper on the grounding screw.

If you are sure you have it hooked up that way, and it is still tripping with nothing plugged into it, there is a problem with the wire.

For testing purposes you could try not connecting ANY receptacle and just wire-nutting the wires (seperately) at that end. If the GFCI still trips, you have a problem with the wire. If it does not trip with anything plugged into it, you need to figure out what device does trip it.
 
  #20  
Old 06-14-04, 02:40 PM
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You probably have to get out the shovel again. There's a good chance you damaged the cable while burying it. When backfilling the next time, screen the fill dirt to make sure no rocks are against the cable, or just get a load of sand to cover the cable.
 
  #21  
Old 06-14-04, 04:51 PM
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Do you, or someone you know, have a basic multimeter? Disconnect the 12/2 from the house and do a simple continuity test to see if you have a short somewhere. I'd do that before I started digging.
 
  #22  
Old 06-14-04, 05:51 PM
doingitmyself
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Let me give this a try:

Originally Posted by rsmf68
C. Does the wiring to the last outlet (near the pond) have to be in the load or line screws. By that I don't mean near the house - I know that has to be in load - I'm questioning where to hook it up at the other end of the cable.
As kuhurdler said, there shouldn't be (doesn't need to be) a GFCI receptacle at the pond, and therefore there should not be "load" and "line" sides at that recepatacle.

Therefore,

From load side of GFCI (at the house) to (non GFCI) recepatcle at the pond: black wire to Brass terminal, white wire to Silver terminal, bare wire to grounding screw.

However,

If you have a GFCI at the pond, and you insist on using it, connect to the line side of the GFCI at the pond. There's no need, however for this second GFCI, as others have pointed out. Take the pond GFCI out, replace it with a regular duplex receptacle, and follow instructions above.

I believe that kuhurdler has answered your quoted question well.

Guys, am I correct, or am I off here?

-Terry
 
  #23  
Old 06-14-04, 06:32 PM
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Unfortunately a continuity check may be inconclusive. If the insulation on the black or white wire was nicked during installation, the continuity check won't show a problem but a ground fault exists nevertheless.

Also, unless you keep the cable connected to the load side of the house GFCI, it won't be legal unless the cable is buried 24 inches deep. And I wouldn't want to be using a cable with a ground fault anyway.
 
  #24  
Old 06-15-04, 05:48 AM
rsmf68
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Is Wire Damage possible?

Being that I dug a trench and laid the wire down, it is possible for it to get damaged? That 12-2 wire is so thick I can't possibly see it getting damaged when back filling it with dirt (no rocks.)

Also, if I got continuous power when the wire is hooked up to the line side (I know it is wrong and I'll fix it) BUT, if the wire were damaged, wouldn't I NOT get power? Or is is because the GFI is SO SENSITIVE that it may still flow current through the wire but unprotected and sporatic.....

Is a multimeter expensive? Can I get one at the Home Depot? Or should I just go out and spend another $35 on the wire and hook it up from scratch and test it all out before going through all this pain of re-digging, and reburying.....

Learning the hard way - but I THANK YOU ALL for enlightening me.
 
  #25  
Old 06-15-04, 07:23 AM
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The problem with the multimeter is that it won't show if the cable insulation is nicked. It will just show that there is a continuous path of cable as long as the copper itself did not get nicked. The GFCI is detecting that more current is flowing out of the Black Cable than there is flowing back through the white one.

For instance, there could be a nick in the cable's insulation so that electricity is draining into the earth's ground. Then there would be more current going out than coming in (Thus a "Ground Fault"). You would be able to check for this if you tried my suggestion to wirenut the cables seperately at the pond.

If you DO have a nick in the insulation (draining power to the ground), and it is connected to the Line side: As long as it was not draining LARGE amounts of current, it would not trip the circuit breaker at your panel. But you'll basically be paying to heat the ground whereever that fault is though. It could be dangerous if its a large fault. I wouldn't just ignore it.

By the way, wire damage is ALWAYS possible. They could have damaged it at the store before you even bought it.
 
  #26  
Old 06-15-04, 03:55 PM
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I was not thinking it through when I suggested a continuity test, although it wouldn't hurt to do it. I think kuhurdler has put it the best. put wire nuts on the end of the line and turn it all back on to see if you have a damaged wire or not. I'd also say to keep at it. This really is a pretty simple install. Follow the advice above and let us know the results.
 
  #27  
Old 06-15-04, 07:35 PM
Rlfrazee
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If I may can I ask, do you have your pond pump plugged in when you restore power? You say it worked for thirty minutes originally before it tripped. Did you mean the pond pump worked or the circuit with nothing plugged into it before it tripped? It appears you arent plugging anything into the circuit from the previous replies and it trips the gfci at the house when the pond receptacle is connected to it. You have replaced the pond receptacle with known good gfci and normal receptacles and no wires are touching and it trips the gfci at the house. When you run an extension cord plugged into the gfci at the house to the pond bypassing the buried wire and pond receptacle it works (the pump I'm assuming) and doesnt trip the gfci at the house. Only thing you havent eliminated is the buried wire. In this case I would have to agree with John Nelson, there is some unseen damage to the buried uf cable. Gfci's detect very small current "leakages" to ground say 4 to 6 milliamps either from the ungrounded conductor (black wire) or grounded conductor (white wire--aka neutral) it doesnt take much. A small nick exposing the bare wire can do it, too tight of a clamp at the receptacle box causing damage to the cable, little things like these is all it takes. Just my thoughts....RL
 
  #28  
Old 06-16-04, 06:08 AM
rsmf68
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Smile I'll work on it this weekend...

Thank you all for your input (all very enlightening.) I know this is a fairly easy job (2 hammer - LOL). I just never would have guessed that the wire could have a defect or that somehow during burial, it may have been damaged.

So I am off to the Home Depot for another box of wire. I will do as some of you suggested:

1. Power off the breaker and unhook the existing 12-2 UF wire.
2. Connect the new wire in the load terminals (in the GFI at the house.)
3. Run the cable (not burying it yet) and connect wire nuts on the other ends to see if the GFI trips.
4. If all works, remove the nuts and hook up an outdoor receptacle/outlet at the pond and test again.
5. If all is OK. Bury the wire one last time (hopefully.)

Thankfully this weekend is supposed to be only in the low 70's. I'll be running up and down the yard and in and out of the house for a couple of hours - not to mention digging and burying....

I will let you guys know how it came out. Can we post pictures here? With all your input, I want to show you the final product when it is done - and I KNOW it will get done this weekend!

Regina
 
  #29  
Old 06-16-04, 07:33 AM
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I would still conduct kuhurdler's test before I did any of that. Did you understand what he suggested?
 
  #30  
Old 06-17-04, 07:54 AM
rsmf68
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Yes, I do understand what needs to be done. I will test the existing set-up before digging it all up. I will wire nut the one end near the pond, and test for tripping. With my luck, it probably is the wire.....

I'll keep you posted....
 
  #31  
Old 06-21-04, 08:48 AM
rsmf68
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Smile Totally Electrifying!!!

Well it took about 5 hours but we got juice! All GFI protected and wired properly! The 14-2 wire (from the breaker is in the line and the 12-2 in the load -- one GFI outlet at the house and an outdoor outlet near the pond.)

We did all the tests as suggested before digging up the wire but it kept on tripping or was not protected by the GFI outlet.

So we took a whole new spool of wire connected it the proper way at the house before even undigging and reburying. The new cable worked without tripping. We even had it running for 2 hours - just to make sure - pump, radio, and even a shop vac to clean up some mess...... all worked, nothing tripped.)

I went out and 3 Koi fish as well as 20 goldfish have a new home!! They are happy and their owner is VERY HAPPY!!!!

Thank you all for your suggestions and even though I really wanted the easiest solution, it didn't work out that way - I kind of knew the wire must have been bad somewhere...... at least I got a little color this weekend.

Thanks again!
 
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