Ground fault breaker


Old 05-16-05, 06:30 AM
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Ground fault breaker

DH tried to install a Square D ground fault breaker this weekend. The first one was bad and we exchanged it. The second one would trip as soon as he flipped it on. We are installing this for our office which has a load of computer equipment. We turned everything off on this breaker and still it trips.
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Old 05-16-05, 07:11 AM
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How do you know the first one was bad? If it still trips with nothing plugged in you need to check to see if the neutral wire is touching another wire. do you have the correct neutral wire hooked to the breaker?

Why are you installing a GFI to protect computers?
Old 05-16-05, 07:38 AM
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You need to divide and conquer to solve this problem.

First, make sure you understand how to install the GFCI breaker correctly in the panel. If it came with directions, read them carefully. The neutral from the circuit must attach to the neutral screw on the breaker, the white pigtail from the breaker to the neutral bar, and the hot from the circuit to the hot screw on the breaker. You cannot use this with a multiwire circuit (unless it is a double-pole GFCI breaker).

If all that checks out, then first try disconnecting the hot wire from the breaker. If the breaker still trips after that, then try disconnecting the neutral wire from the breaker. If it trips with the hot wire disconnected, but not with both wires disconnected, then you attached the wrong neutral to the breaker. If it trips with both disconnected, then the breaker is bad (again).

If that doesn't find it, then you need to start removing one thing at a time from the circuit. First, unplug everything and make sure all switches are turned off. If that doesn't do it, then you'll need to start physically removing receptacles one at a time. Someone may have either accidentally on on purpose interconnected the neutral and ground in one of these boxes.

And I agree with PC boss. Trying to use GFCI to protect computers is worse than useless--it may even make things worse. GFCI is good for protection of people only, not equipment. The one possible reason you might need a GFCI on a computer circuit is if the circuit is ungrounded and you're doing it so that you can legally install the 3-hole receptacles that your equipment needs. If so, then that's a valid reason, but don't go thinking that this makes your computers protected from anything.
Old 05-16-05, 11:54 AM
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Thanks a bunch. Will let DH know. I took the breaker back today for a refund and will now look into really really good surge protectors. We have three computers in our home office (I do medical transcription from home) and had a problem with one of the computers. Thanks again.
Old 05-16-05, 02:04 PM
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You should consider a good brand-name UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply). A UPS is a surge-protector, power cleaner and battery backup all in one. It will protect a computer from voltage spikes, sags, and power outages. I recommend the APC brand. A good single computer UPS can be found for about $150 at BestBuy, CompUSA, Circuit City, etc.

Don't waste your money on the "battery backup" surge protectors either, they don't provide nearly the protection of a UPS. If your work depends on keeping your computer in good shape, get a UPS!
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