Outdoor GFI Outlet Scorched and Melted

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  #1  
Old 09-20-06, 05:59 AM
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Exclamation Outdoor GFI Outlet Scorched and Melted

I replaced this outlet (1) after seeing it was badly scorched and melted around the +/- openings (but not the ground wire openings).

After it happened again I had it replaced (2) by a well-qualified electrician. He said wiring was OK.

It has happened again! I have one of those special testers for GFI circuits, and it tested OK, but I replaced outlet again anyway (3).

In the meantime I have had a spa service call, and the repairman said wiring within spa is OK.

There are 3 circuit breakers: a GFI inside the spa, the one on the outlet, and the one in the household circuit breaker box. NONE of these has ever kicked off !!!

The outlet had an outdoor cover, but it couldn't be closed all the way due to heavy gauge appliance cord. I have now put on a better cover.

Question: Outlet is in an area where a careless squirt of a garden hose could hit it. Could this be the problem?
 
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  #2  
Old 09-20-06, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by BurnsOhio
I
"There are 3 circuit breakers: a GFI inside the spa, the one on the outlet, and the one in the household circuit breaker box. NONE of these has ever kicked off !!!"

A GFI is not a circuit breaker, and doesn't trip because of overload on the circuit.
What size wire is coming from the breaker box to the spa?
What size breaker feeds this wire?
What is the amp rating of the receptacle 15 or 20A?
Is the male plug on the cord in good condition?
What size is the cord?
What is the Volt and amp rating of the spa?
How far is the spa receptacle from the breaker panel?
How long is the flexible cord from the spa to the receptacle?

"Question: Outlet is in an area where a careless squirt of a garden hose could hit it. Could this be the problem?"
Probably not.

steve
 
  #3  
Old 09-20-06, 08:24 AM
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What is the brand name of the circuit breaker? What is its amperage rating? Is this a 120V or 240V circuit? What type and size of wiring from the breaker to the receptacle? Is it copper or aluminum? What size spa does this circuit supply?

A spray by the hose would trip the GFCI, but would not cause the problem you're experiencing.
 
  #4  
Old 09-20-06, 08:44 AM
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Outdoor GFI Outlet Scorched and Melted

Answers to questions about wiring particulars:

What size wire is coming from the breaker box to the spa? Not sure, but electrician knew this to be a dedicated circuit when he wired it.
What size breaker feeds this wire? 20A
What is the amp rating of the receptacle 15 or 20A? 20A
Is the male plug on the cord in good condition? It is somewhat burned from the aforementioned problems
What size is the cord? Cannot read the markings. It was installed by the manufacturer and is a very "fat" cord.
What is the Volt and amp rating of the spa? 110V 20A
How far is the spa receptacle from the breaker panel? 15'
How long is the flexible cord from the spa to the receptacle? 3'

Just now I checked the gfi inside the spa. When I depress the TEST button, spa shuts off, but does not stay off. As soon as I release the TEST button, spa resumes operation. I assume this is not a good sign?
 
  #5  
Old 09-21-06, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by BurnsOhio
What size wire is coming from the breaker box to the spa? Not sure, but electrician knew this to be a dedicated circuit when he wired it.

What size breaker feeds this wire? 20A...see note

What is the amp rating of the receptacle 15 or 20A? 20A...See note.

Is the male plug on the cord in good condition? It is somewhat burned from the aforementioned problems.
The burned end of the plug could cause a voltage drop on the connection and cause more amperage to flow through the receptacle. This would cause (localized) overheating.

What size is the cord? Cannot read the markings. It was installed by the manufacturer and is a very "fat" cord....OK

What is the Volt and amp rating of the spa? 110V 20A
If it's rated 110V/20A and it has any resistive heater elements, this could be part of the problem. If your supply voltage is over 110 volts (usually 120-125V) the increased voltage would cause the heater elements to draw more amperage than they would on 110 volts supply.
If it has a 1500 watt heater (rated @ 110V=13.6 amps ) and you feed it with 125 volts it will produce almost 2000 watts of heat. This equates to about 16 amps. That and the motor load could be overloading the circuit, but maybe not enough to trip the breaker.
In my opinion, manufacturers often rate their equipment (with resistive heating) at 110 volts in order to allow them to be rated 20 amps (or less) and installed on a 20A circuit. It's not their problem (so they think) if your supply voltage is higher and causes the equipment to draw over 20 amps. Hair dryers are a good example.
You need to test the amperage with a amp meter.
In my opinion, your spa probably should have been placed on a 25A circuit (minimum). A 25A (or 30A) GFI circuit would cost more to install because you would have to go to a GFI breaker and larger wire, so it's rated at 20 amps at 110 volts.
It's usually up to your electrician to do the math.
Just my opinion.

How far is the spa receptacle from the breaker panel? 15'...OK

How long is the flexible cord from the spa to the receptacle? 3'...OK

Just now I checked the gfi inside the spa. When I depress the TEST button, spa shuts off, but does not stay off. As soon as I release the TEST button, spa resumes operation. I assume this is not a good sign?
No, not a good sign. It may not be providing ground fault protection and needs to be replaced.
steve
 
  #6  
Old 09-21-06, 08:46 AM
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Just my .02

Not knowing what caused the first recepticle to overheat, once that happened the copper on the cord cap (plug) and end of the cord, that was plugged in, has become weakend.

You need to replace the GFI recepticle at the same time that you replace the cord, and examine the wires inside the box. You may have to cut off a few inches of them to get back to good copper as well.
 
  #7  
Old 09-23-06, 10:31 AM
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Outdoor GFI Outlet Scorched and Melted

Had a long talk with spa repairman who will come out this week. At bare minimum he will replace the spa electrical cord, but will do some testing and may want to go to hard wiring.

I don't think he wants a fatality insurance claim any more than I want to get my a-- fried!

Larry
 
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