Can GFCI Outlet "blow up" on its own?

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  #1  
Old 01-05-11, 05:26 PM
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Can GFCI Outlet "blow up" on its own?

I have a 20A GFCI outlet in a bathroom. Load side is connected to a switch that controls a light fixture and fan. GFCI and switch are in the same junction box. Outlet has been installed and working fine for at least 5 years.

The other night the switch was off and nothing plugged into the GFCI outlets. All of a sudden a loud bang and a bright flash. Looked at the GFCI and the Reset button was out. Pushed the Reset button in but it would not hold. Looked at the breaker on main electrical panel. Breaker was tripped. Reset breaker and GFCI made loud electrical arc buzzing noise for about 10 seconds (followed by the distinctive electrical arcing smell).

Removed GFCI outlet. Screws on outlet were all tight. Screws on switch were tight. No electrical arcing burns in the junction box external to the GFCI. Replaced the GFCI outlet with another 20A GFCI outlet...Everything works fine again.

Has anyone seen a GFCI "spontaneously destruct" like this?
 
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  #2  
Old 01-05-11, 05:40 PM
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Removed GFCI outlet. Screws on outlet were all tight. Screws on switch were tight. No electrical arcing burns in the junction box external to the GFCI. Replaced the GFCI outlet with another 20A GFCI outlet...Everything works fine again.

Has anyone seen a GFCI "spontaneously destruct" like this?
Nope, I haven't, but there is always something new to see out there no matter how old you are.
 
  #3  
Old 01-05-11, 06:28 PM
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My boss had one in his kitchen do something similar a few years ago
 
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Old 01-06-11, 09:29 AM
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Yes, a friend of mine had one in his bathroom above his toilet. His cell phone rang and the GFCI began arcing side (nothing connected). He moved the phone away and the arcing stopped. He placed the phone closer to the GFCI and the arcing got worse and smoke poured out of the GFCI. I am guessing the cell phone radio signal induced some voltage into the GFCI electronics
 
  #5  
Old 01-06-11, 11:38 AM
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I've never experienced that phenomenon, but since it's a fairly new receptacle the manufacturer may be interested in knowing about it. You might want to try to contact them if you feel like it's worth your time.
 
  #6  
Old 01-06-11, 12:29 PM
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tHERE COULD HAVE BEEN A surge somewhere in the lines feding the gfi.
 
  #7  
Old 01-06-11, 11:14 PM
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There are few doucmented case with GFCI actally blow up but not very widespread but on the otherhand with Nextals or two ways radios it may affect them as the last time I did use the two way radio it knock off quite few GFCI's out have to reset quite few of them.

The newer GFCI's are pretty much immued from RFI or other source but surge they are little better than old GFCI style were.

Merci.
Marc
 
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