GFCI outlet keeps tripping

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Old 11-09-09, 07:39 PM
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GFCI outlet keeps tripping

Hi,

I'm hoping for some advice on a GFCI outdoor outlet that keeps tripping. My sump pump trips the GFCI outlet every time I plug it in. The pump works just fine when I it into an extension cord that is plugged into a non-GFCI indoor outlet. In addition, when I plug a hair dryer into the GFCI outdoor outlet, it works with no problem. I don't know a lot about electricity and I'm hoping for some guidance on where the problem might be (pump? outlet? other?).

Thank you!
 
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Old 11-09-09, 09:13 PM
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The pump probably has a small short in it or in the cord. This is a symptom that indicates the pump is on its way out and should be replaced.
 
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Old 11-10-09, 03:07 PM
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This is very helpful, thank you!

I've got two hopefully easy follow-up questions: (1) Is there any way to test the theory that the pump is dying without purchasing a new sump pump? (I ask only because I'd hate to go to the trouble of buying a new pump only to find out that is not the problem after all.); and (2) For purposes of my own education, does the pump continue to work on the non-GFCI outlet because that outlet is not capable of detecting the current imbalance caused by the slow failure of the pump?
 
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Old 11-10-09, 03:46 PM
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does the pump continue to work on the non-GFCI outlet because that outlet is not capable of detecting the current imbalance caused by the slow failure of the pump?
Yes. You might want to change the GFCI receptacle first or try it on a different GFCI.
 
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Old 11-10-09, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by tcupp View Post
(2) For purposes of my own education, does the pump continue to work on the non-GFCI outlet because that outlet is not capable of detecting the current imbalance caused by the slow failure of the pump?
Yes. The GFCI will detect as little as 4-6 miliamps.
 
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Old 11-10-09, 04:00 PM
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All motors begin to leak small amounts of current as they age. The code used to allow exceptions on the GFCI protection in many of these cases, however as of 2008 there are no more exceptions. The only option if a new GFCI receptacle doesn't fix the problem is to replace the sump pump.

If you're feeling adventurous, you could open the sump pump up and see if a small leak has developed around the cord or another seal. Even a small amount of water in the electrical compartment could trip the GFCI. However it's probably a factory sealed unit so opening it will result in never getting it back together again. Unfortunately these things usually do not have serviceable parts as the manufacturer prefers you to just pitch it and buy a new one.
 
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Old 11-10-09, 04:50 PM
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Thank you for the advice. It's much appreciated!
 
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Old 11-13-09, 12:56 AM
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tcupp,

The only way to check the motor for insulation failure is by doing a megger test. Not all electrical shops have them if they do not do much of that sort of work, but you can call around. Another suggestion which may not cost anything and offer a little bit of educational benefit for students, would be to take it to a trade school that offers an electrical maintenance/construction course. They will often have a megger for use in their training course and might be very willing to have a look at it with their students at an appropriate time.
 
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