GFCI Breaker Keeps Tripping

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  #1  
Old 06-20-06, 06:41 AM
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GFCI Breaker Keeps Tripping

I'm hoping you guys can help me resolve a problem I'm having with a GFCI breaker that keeps tripping.

The breaker that is causing the problem is a a 20 amp GFCI breaker that controls a bathroom receptacle, bathroom exhaust fan, garage receptacle (fridge using the outlet), and an outdoor radon exhaust fan.

I was noticing that the breaker would trip around heavy periods of rain. We had a T-Storm last night but the breaker never tripped. I got up this morning (sunny) and used the exhaust fan during my shower and then left for work. When I left, the garage fridge & radon fan were running fine. My wife just called and said the breaker was tripped. It had to happen between when I left and when she woke up (2 hours).

Any thoughts? It doesn't happen often, maybe 3 or 4 times in the past 10 months. But when it does happen, it spoils the food in the fridge and the radon fan stops working.

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 06-20-06, 07:02 AM
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First and foremost, the fridge and radon fan both need to be moved to their own non GFCI circuits, especially the radon fan which is a critical safety device that should never have been put on that circuit to begin with. I believe code in most areas allows a single non-GFCI plug (not a duplex) to be wired in the garage for a refrigerator or freezer. All GFCI's occasionally trip.

Beyond that there is either moisture getting into something it shouldn't (since it happened after your shower, suspect moisture in the bathroom receptacle or fan) or the GFCI is wearing out. Start by checking the bathroom outlet and fan switch/junction box.

Doug M.
 
  #3  
Old 06-20-06, 07:36 AM
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It's also possible that the motor of the refrigerator or the fan motor are getting older and causing the breaker to trip. A new GFCI breaker might solve the problem.

However, if you don;t want to install new circuits, I would put in a regular breaker and then install a new GFCI receptacle in the bathroom.

As for the refrigerator NOT being on a GFCI and that being code, you are okay with a simplex receptacle for the refrigerator, or you can probably use a duplex if the refrigerator is in front of the receptacle, effectively blocking off the unused half of the duplex receptacle.
 
  #4  
Old 06-20-06, 09:06 AM
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Thanks for the replies.

My first question is in response to moving the radon fan to a non-GFCI circuit. I thought code dictated that outdoor circuits required them (GFCI)? Are Radon fans an exception to the rule? This thing sits on the side of my house and is exposed to water, snow, and everything else.

My second question involves actually fixing the problem. Can I set this up so that the exhaust fan and bathroom receptacle are GFCI protected but the garage receptacle & radon fan are not?

I have no problem installing a simplex receptacle in the garage. I don't use that for anything but the fridge anyway. How can I determine if this is allowable in my area? I want to keep everything legal in case I want to sell in the next couple of years.

Thanks
 
  #5  
Old 06-20-06, 09:57 AM
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Your understanding of outdoor circuits is wrong. A fan or light or something on the side of a house is not necessarily an outdoor circuit. It would depend on where the wires ran. Further, it is not correct that all outdoor circuits have to be GFCI protected. Outdoor receptacles must be GFCI protected, as do wires that run underground less than a certain depth, but to say that outdoor circuits just be GFCI protected is an incorrect statement.

Unless your bathroom fan specifically calls for GFCI protection, it too does not need to be GFCI protected.

Replace the GFCI breaker with a regular breaker. Install a GFCI receptacle in the bathroom, with no downstream protection.

As for what someone might say when you sell the place, don’t worry about that. If necessary you can always install a GFCI receptacle in the garage when you sell the place.

If the refrigerator blocks the duplex receptacle then leave it alone. If the refrigerator does not block the duplex receptacle and the unused half is easily used, then replace it with a simplex receptacle.
 
  #6  
Old 06-20-06, 10:57 AM
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Racraft, Thanks for explaining outdoor circuits to me.

I installed the bathroom fan around 7 months ago; it was a replacement for an old, noisy fan. The instructions read:

"Acceptable for use over a bathtub or shower when installed in a
GFCI protected branch circuit."

The fan is not over the tub/shower, but it's over the toilet and I know it sucks up quite a bit of water vapor & steam from the shower.

Any thoughts on this? Thanks.
 
  #7  
Old 06-20-06, 11:14 AM
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No GFCI protection required.
 
  #8  
Old 06-20-06, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
No GFCI protection required.
OK then.....I thank both of you.

I will remove the GFCI breaker and replace with a non-GFCI breaker.

I will replace the bathroom outlet with a GFCI receptacle and make sure to wire it properly so that the downstream fans and fridge are not GFCI protected.

Thanks much.
 
  #9  
Old 06-21-06, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by XS6DFG0
OK then.....I thank both of you.

I will remove the GFCI breaker and replace with a non-GFCI breaker.

I will replace the bathroom outlet with a GFCI receptacle and make sure to wire it properly so that the downstream fans and fridge are not GFCI protected.

Thanks much.


I must add... If this ckt also feeds an outside rec, or if you have another one in the garage, INSTALL GFCI outlets in those affected recepticals.
The best way to determine this, shut off the ckt, then check whats out, all recepticals that are out change to GFI, the 1 behind the fridge use a regular rec. This stuff will KILL!
 
  #10  
Old 06-21-06, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by lectriclee
I must add... If this ckt also feeds an outside rec, or if you have another one in the garage, INSTALL GFCI outlets in those affected recepticals.
The best way to determine this, shut off the ckt, then check whats out, all recepticals that are out change to GFI, the 1 behind the fridge use a regular rec. This stuff will KILL!
Thanks for the advice.

I have another receptacle in the garage ceiling, but it's on a dedicated circuit for the garage doors.

I do have an outdoor receptacle in the back of the house........I'll have to check which line that one is on.
 
  #11  
Old 06-25-06, 09:12 AM
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Sounds like my house. The bathrooms(2.5) and outside outlets were on 1 GFCI protected circuit and the breaker tripped all the time and I found there was more than one cause.

Moisture getting in hte outside outlets and wife and daughter both using their blowdryers at the same time and a ground fault in something else they use, think it was a curling iron.

The fix was to split out the circuits placing the one bathroom on one circuit and a bath and the half on another. Outside outlets also got their own circuit and each GFCI outlet has better weather protection than before. Now when one trips I will know where to look for the problem.

Also replaced the exhaust fans with light, heater, exhaust fan combos so these got their own circuit too.

While doing this rewiring I knocked out the drwall above my braker panel and covered it with a cabinet door . When I recently had my HVAC replaced the electrician loved this, inspector thought it was neat too.
 
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