GFCI Trips When Plug Pulled/Inserted

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  #1  
Old 04-26-05, 05:58 AM
Ted Crocker
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GFCI Trips When Plug Pulled/Inserted

We have a new kitchen (studs up) with two 20A GFCI circuits, each with individual GFCI outlets along each circuit. Each of the individual GFCI outlets along one of the circuits will almost always trip whenever a plug is pulled out or inserted. They don't trip after an appliance is plugged in and the GFCI reset whether the appliance is in use or not, or when the outlet is not being used. When reset a tester shows the wiring to be "correct" (two yellow lights). Do you have suggestions as to why this might be happening? All GFCI's are Leviton.
 
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  #2  
Old 04-26-05, 06:10 AM
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It seems as if the pressure of inserting the plug presses on the receptacle, and a ground wire touches a hot wire. But it seems unlikely that every one of them will do this, since it is just a little carelessness in stuffing the wires into the box when the terminations are done.

Leviton is top name gear. I do not suspect that it is thee would be an entire batch of receptacles from Leviton that are defective.

Is it the same appliance that trips your GFCIs? Or have you tried this with various appliances and it still happens every time?

Juice
 
  #3  
Old 04-26-05, 08:01 AM
Ted Crocker
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I have tried various appliances...

I don't suspect Leviton either since the same units were used in the other GFCI circuit without a problem. I mentioned them thinking they are of good quality and unlikely to be the cause. I thought about wires touching in the boxes, but I'm surprised I have the same problem for all the outlets on that same circuit.
 
  #4  
Old 04-26-05, 08:10 AM
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You have more than 1 GFCI recep on ea circuit? Are they all connected on the line side?? 1 GFCI should be fine for the entire circuit, the remaining recept circuit hookied to the load side of the GFCI
 
  #5  
Old 04-26-05, 09:59 AM
Ted Crocker
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Yes, I chose to have the electrician install individual

GFCI's installed along the same circuit so that it would be obvious to anyone down the line what was going on. Most ordinary people don't know you can wire just one GFCI and label the rest as GFCI protected. We all know those stickers (code required) are going to disappear over time. I built this kitchen to last another 66 years like the original, so I don't want to leave any guesswork for future owners.
 
  #6  
Old 04-27-05, 04:16 AM
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Check to make sure all the GFCI's are connected to the line side. In other words, make sure they are not in series.
 
  #7  
Old 04-27-05, 11:57 AM
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are your knuckels hitting the trip button each time you grasp the cord cap?
 
  #8  
Old 04-28-05, 06:25 PM
Ted Crocker
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I'll check to see if the electrician connected all to

the line side. I'm certain my knuckles aren't a factor.
 
  #9  
Old 04-30-05, 11:23 AM
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You say that either of the two GFI receptacles [on one circuit] "will almost always trip" whenever a plug is pulled out out or inserted into either one of them.

Have you tried using more than one load source, i.e. table lamp, hand drill, hair dryer, etc. Or are you using just one load source?

Considering that a GFCI (for humans) is set to trip at 5 ma. (1/200th of one ampere) something is "almost always" causing there to be an unbalance in the circuit of 5 ma. In my opinion, since you are using GFI receptacles [and not a GFI circuit breaker] it's safe to assume that whatever is amiss in this circuit is located downstream from the receptacle itself - i.e. from the cord's plug, out to your load and back to the cord plug again, which constitutes the flow of current that the GFI is sensing. Using a GFI receptacle in lieu of a GFI circuit breaker is good because if you were using a GFI C/B it could bring into account the potential for a problem somewhere between the C/B and the receptacle, which might be quite a number of feet where a problem could exist.

I would try different sources of loads (hair dryer, hand drill, table lamp, coffee pot, etc.) to see if the GFI still "almost always trips". If it still trips, I don't have a clue why it's tripping..."if" you have the GFI receptacle wired correctly, your test load is proven to be good, and the GFI receptacle itself is not defective. I am assuming you have the GFI receptacle wired correctly per the instructions!

In trying to figure out what the problem is consider how the GFI senses current leakage. In the recepatcle (or C/B for that matter) a sensor, or pair of sensors, detects if an equal amount of current is flowing on both the hot wire (BLK) and neutral wire (WHT) in the circuit. If you were to plug-in a 60 watt light bulb on a 120-volt circuit there will be a 1/2 ampere (500 ma.) draw of current. This .5 amp current draw will be on the BLK wire as well as on the WHT neutral wire when this 60 watt light bulb is burning in our perfect and efficient circuit. However, if the GFI's sensors detects that there is 500 ma. on the BLK wire but only 495 ma. (or less) on the WHT wire it is designed to trip...because there is a leakage of 5 ma. or more in the circuit, which should not be happening.

If you consider, once again, that since you are using a GFI receptacle and the current sensors (that trip the circuit) are actually located in the receptacle itself (right at the point where you are plugging-in and unplugging your test load) the trouble has to be in: 1) your test load, 2) a defective GFI receptacle, or 3) you have incorrectly wired GFI.

Kooter
 
  #10  
Old 04-30-05, 08:04 PM
Ted Crocker
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At this point, I suspect the third is the problem.

I have tried different loads already and it's not likely all the individual GFCI's (they all suffer the same problem) used just on that one circuit are bad when the GFCI's used on the other circuit came from the same box and work just fine. I'm hoping it is not the result of something like a sheetrock screw that nicked a wire within the wall. I'll check the electrician's wiring of each GFCI outlet on the problem circuit and hope I find the wires switched or grounding on the box.
 
  #11  
Old 05-01-05, 03:36 AM
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Ted, re-check the wiring of both the GFI receptacles and pay close attention to the integrity of your wire connections on the receptacles. A poor (loose) wiring connection could create a high resistance, which in turn could create a problem. It sounds as though you are doing everything possible to troubleshoot your problem.

_____________________________

As an aside, I had a similar problem that I will tell you about, which may help you.

I had a GFI receptacle in a pool equipment room that also protected some underwater (niche) pool lights. At times the GFI would immediately trip when I turned on the pools lights and other times it would only trip after 15 to 30 seconds of burning the lights, which [to me] indicated a true current leakage somewhere...and most likely in the underwater pool lights. I could plug in a test load on the GFI receptacle without it tripping but when the pools lights were turned-on the GFI tripped.

In checking the actual pool lights I found them to be dry and not a problem. I then briefly energized the pool lights (out of their underwater niche on the pool's deck) but still had the GFI tripping problem. I then disconnected this circuit from the GFI receptacle and temporarily re-wired it to another (non-GFI protected) receptacle using an extension cord with a built-in GFI...and the extension cord's GFI never tripped. At this point in my troubleshooting I had now checked my questionable load's entire path [underwater cable wiring and pool lights] from the problematic GFI receptacle (but not including the problematic GFI receptacle) and determined that the wiring and pool lights were both sound and not the problem. The only thing remaining was the problematic GFI receptacle itself!

I then proceeded to replace the problematic GFI receptacle with a new one...and guess what? Problem fixed! I should have replaced the GFI first but if you recall it did not trip under my test load, but would trip only when I turned on the pool lights, which the GFI receptacle also protected. In hindsight, changing the GFI first would have saved me a lot of time and trouble.

I my case I suspect the problem was either loose wiring connections on the GFI receptacle, which I probably only randomly checked early-on in my troubleshooting or...corroded connections internally in the GFI receptacle, both of which could cause a high resistance point somewhere. (Remember, the GFI receptacle was in a damp pool equipment room with a corrosive chlorine atmosphere.) I suspect the corroded or loose connection (either on or internally inside the GFI) caused a high [enough] resistive point that when the pools lights were turned-on the heat build-up at that poor connection finally created enough current unbalance (5 ma.) that the GFI saw it as a current leakage and therefore tripped the circuit. However my low wattage test load failed to heat up the high resistive connection point enough for it to trip. If you recall in my case, the GFI sometimes did not trip for 15 to 30 seconds after the pool lights were turned-on, which [should have] indicated to me that there was a poor connection somewhere.

I tell you this story so you can get an idea of how to think when troubleshooting your problem...and maybe it might help save some time. If we could think as if we were a human GFI we could find your problem quicker. Good luck with your troubleshooting!

Kooter
 
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