Tripping GFCI outlet

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  #1  
Old 10-10-06, 02:04 PM
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Tripping GFCI outlet

First time posting........ please be patient with me.

I have a 15 amp, GFCI protected circuit that includes the GFCI outlet in basement, with the garage outlet and an outlet on the back patio on the same circuit downstream. I recently added a weather rated extender box to the back patio outlet (keeping the original outlet in place with weatherproof cover), then about 50 feet of conduit with 12 gauge wire and two additional outlets (with weather proof covers) on the patio (to power an outdoor light - only used occasionally - and an electric sunshade, also used occasionally and intermitently). All of the wiring checked out okay, everything is buttoned up and working fine except....

Ever since I completed the project, the GFCI outlet in the basement will trip occasionally for no "apparent" reason. I unplugged everything, so there are no devices on the circuit. The GFCI will trip regardless of the weather (damp or dry), day or night, and there is no apparent pattern. I can push the reset, walk away and several hours later it is still fine. But a few hours later it might trip. Sometimes it trips after only a few minutes, I reset it, and it will continue to trip every few minutes before it will stay "on" for hours, or even a day or two. There is no discernable pattern.

Is there a way to trouble shoot this? Is it possible that something in the extender box or extended circuit is rubbing or grounding out and tripping the GFCI? Is it possible that simply adding 40 or 50 feet of additional length to the circuit causes a draw on it that looks like a grounding problem? What are your recommendations for trouble shooting, and what are the likely culprits? I have not replaced the GFCI outlet because my gut tells me it's probably something downstream that I added.
 
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Old 10-10-06, 02:56 PM
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Try replacing the GFCI recepacle first.

I would never have one GFCI protecting so many receptacles, especially in so many locations.

I suggest that you rewire and/or replace receptacles with GFCI ones so that you can better isolate the issue.
 
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Old 10-10-06, 07:24 PM
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I see lots of previous work that has wires in a box where the insulation has been damaged during installation. If this happens where a neutral wire is barely touching a grounded box, it can intermittantly trip a GFCI. Try pulling the new receptacles out of their boxes, but leave them wired up, just make sure you can see all the wires and that they are undamaged and not touching each other or the box. Leave it that way and see if it trips again. But Bob's idea is also a sound one, just more expensive, but certainly a handier and more convenient one.
 
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Old 10-10-06, 07:57 PM
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Your added outlets, Is it stranded wire or solid?
How old is the existing GFCI?
More than 2 yrs, change it out.

"UF" cable or some other?

Appears you have a very small leakage some where. Check ALL terminations and insulation at each point.

One bad spot with a slite temp variation could do this.
(expansion,contraction etc.)
 
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Old 10-10-06, 09:49 PM
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Thanks for input

All solid copper. Pretty straight forward. One of the listers opined I have too many outlets on GFCI circuit. I may change out the outlet based GFCI and install a circuit breaker mounted GFCI, as I did this on another circuit I added in the back yard some time ago - no problems.

But simple solution seems to be change out GFCI first, and see if that solves it. Will pull outlets and check connnections too.

As to multiple GFCIs on one circuit, I was under impression that's not a good idea (and personal experience I had suggests same, as one or more kept tripping until I just used a circuit breaker mounted GFCI and solved problem).

Anyway, all good tips and all are appreciated.
 
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Old 10-11-06, 04:50 AM
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Since this goes to your back yard, I have an experience that may or may not shed light on the problem. I had a customer whose GFCI kept tripping. They had someone come and change out switches and receptacles, but it still tripped. I diagnosed the problem and found all the line voltage pagoda lights were wired with UF, and only connected with bcaps and buried. No waterproof connections (and this involved 14 lights) Had to dig all of them up and properly connect them with waterproof connectors before things would work properly. Be sure to check any underground connections or splices to make sure they are properly installed.
 
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Old 10-11-06, 05:30 AM
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You are confused.

There is no such thing as too many receptacles on a GFCI circuit.

My concern is NOT with the number of receptacles, but rather with the number of LOCATIONS of those receptacles.

You have stated that you have the basemant, garage, back patio, and then two receptacles 50 feet away.

Do you really want to walk all the way to the basement to reset a tripped GFCI? Then, when you do reset it and it trips again, do you want to have to possibly unplug everything on that circuit to find the problem?

I would, at the very least, place GFCI receptacles in the basement, the garage, the back patio and the firt of the two new ones, using LINE terminals for all connections except for the final non-GFCI receptacle being fed from the LOAD terminals of the GFCI it is fed from.

Having more GFCIs will make it easier to identify where your problem is.
 
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Old 10-11-06, 10:49 AM
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Racraft wrote:
I would, at the very least, place GFCI receptacles in the basement, the garage, the back patio and the firt of the two new ones, using LINE terminals for all connections except for the final non-GFCI receptacle being fed from the LOAD terminals of the GFCI it is fed from.
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Ahhh, now I understand what you mean. Yes, that is good advice. So, instead of having everything "downstream" following the first GFCI in basement, connect through pigtail wires to each outlet's load terminals, and replace each outlet with GFCI so I can localize problems and solve them more easily - right? Good grief, why didn't I think of that? Thank you.
 
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