Very weird GFCI breaker problem....

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  #1  
Old 12-06-07, 12:35 PM
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Very weird GFCI breaker problem....

We have a pool house that has several gfci breakers. No new wiring has been done in several years. The other evening, I went to turn on the lights inside the shed, and I found that the gfci breaker that controls the lights and one outlet was tripped. I assumed it was a bad breaker so I switched it with another one. It tripped again.
I then started disconnecting the hot (black wire) starting at the outlet and then moving to light switch to try to isolate problem. Each time the breaker would trip when I turned it back on.
I then went to the breaker panel and removed the black wire from the breaker in question. So the only thing hooked to the breaker was the neutral. And the breaker tripped again when i turned it on. All other breakers are off except main breaker. What could be wrong? Thanks.
Dave
 

Last edited by Dave4242; 12-06-07 at 12:45 PM. Reason: more information provided
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Old 12-06-07, 01:36 PM
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Disconnect the neutral wire as well and repeat your tests.

It's possible that another circuit runs through thr same box as one for this circuit, and that the hot or neutral wires are touching somewhere.
 
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Old 12-06-07, 02:18 PM
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I'm confused. Where would I disconnect the neutral wire? At the gfci breaker in question?
The thing that is weird to me is that all the other breakers in the subpanel in the pool house are off. The only breaker that is on is the 50 amp main breaker. And with all other breakers off, the GFCI breaker trips when I attempt to reset it.
Also, with the hot lead disconnected from the gfci breaker, why would it continue to trip when there is no current going through it?
 
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Old 12-06-07, 05:13 PM
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Yes, disconnect the neutral at the breaker. But if it still trips, then I'd start looking for ghosts because it's theoretically impossible for it to still trip. So then reconnect it for any remaining experiments.

With the hot wire disconnected from the breaker, the only thing that would trip a breaker would be current returning on the neutral. That could only occur if the neutral was connected to some other circuit.

I can see why you're confused. It's confusing. My guess is that water got into some box, and current is leaking from some other circuit on to this circuit's neutral. You might be able to narrow it down by shutting off the other breakers in the panel, one at a time and then trying to reset the breaker again.

If all the fails, then perhaps the first breaker was broken, and the new breaker was miswired (or is also broken).
 
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Old 12-06-07, 05:31 PM
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I will disconnect the neutral. The thing that confuses me the most is that with all of the other breakers off, this breaker still trips. And with the hot wire removed from the breaker and all the other breakers off, there really should be no current flowing at all. Except in the buss bar (as the main breaker is still on). Is that correct?
 
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Old 12-06-07, 06:04 PM
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Unless i'm mistaken, GFCI's do not require electricity to them in order for them to work.
 
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Old 12-06-07, 06:12 PM
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You're mistaken
 
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Old 12-06-07, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Roger View Post
You're mistaken
bwahahaha that was pretty good.


Pwned.
 
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Old 12-07-07, 11:56 AM
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So today I went outside and removed neutral wire from GFCI, and it did not trip. I then hooked a porcelain light fixture directly to GFCI breaker, and light worked. When I pished test button, breaker tripped appropriately.
So now we know that breaker is OK, and we have a fault in neutral side of wiring somewhere.
But I'm still confused in the fact that every breaker in the box is currently turned off, so even though we have a fault between neutral and ground, where is the electricity coming from to cause breaker to trip? Remember that all other breakers are in off position, and the hot wire is presently removed from the breaker in question.
 
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Old 12-07-07, 01:43 PM
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Are your grounds properly installed at all locations?
 
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Old 12-07-07, 02:03 PM
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Presuming that the switch-controlled "outlet" is a receptacle, it's possible that the receptcle outlet contains a "Feed-Out" pair to another receptacle.

Dis-connect the receptacle, and open all connections at the box so that all the wires are seperated, then try to reset the GFI.

This is "Step 1 " ----
 
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Old 12-08-07, 12:19 PM
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Hey Guys,
I thought I would follow up with what I found....we have a set of floodlights under the soffit. Mice had gotten into the soffit, and the little effers had chewed through about 6" of insulation on both the hot and neutral to the floodlights. I have disconnected the lights temporarily, and everything works. Thanks for all your help.
Dave
 
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