Tripping breaker

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  #1  
Old 05-31-11, 09:34 PM
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Tripping breaker

I opened my swimming pool today and when I went to turn on the heat pump there was no power to the unit. The pool pump works fine so I know I have power out to the pool sub-panel. I took apart the control panel on the heat pump and discovered that mice had built a nest. After cleaning the nest out I discovered one of the wires to the terminal block was off. I reconnected the wire but still had nothing happening at the heat pump. I then checked the power at the screws on the breaker in the pool panel with a meter and showed 240. Now the confusing part. I disconnected the wires from the terminals on the heat pump and checked them. As soon as I put the tester on each wire the breaker inside the house for the pool panel trips.
I have two questions: Why is the breaker tripping and shouldn't the 40 amp breaker at the pool panel for the heater have tripped before the 60 amp gfci breaker in the house did?
 
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Old 06-01-11, 04:01 AM
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Is the breaker a GFCI? You say you only have a 60 amp main? Or is the 60 amp a gfci?
 
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Old 06-01-11, 01:30 PM
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The breaker at my main panel inside the house that feeds the pool subpanel is a 60 GFCI. The breaker for the heat pump is a regular 40 amp breaker outside at the pool subpanel.
 
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Old 06-01-11, 02:39 PM
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The reason the GFCI breaker is tripping and not the 40 is because you are having a ground fault. The 40 amp is not a GFCI so therefore it will not trip because you are not having an overcurrent problem. The GFCI will trip with as little as 4-6 milliamps of unbalanced current.

If you have the wires completely disconnected from the heater panel will the GFCI breaker stay on? (I think you already mentioned this but I just want to make sure.)

If you take your meter an read hot to hot does it stay on? You should get 240 volts.

If you take a reading from hot to ground the GFCI will trip. This is the same as a ground fault.

Does this circuit have a neutral?
 
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Old 06-01-11, 05:53 PM
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With the wires disconnected from the heater when I touch the leads from the tester to both hot wires the gfci breaker trips. There is no neutral just the two wires from the 40 amp breaker and a green ground wire. I am guessing from this that I need to replace the wires in the conduit that run from the heater to the 40 amp breaker in the pool panel?
 
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Old 06-01-11, 09:13 PM
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If the breaker holds when all the wires are not connected to anything, that would lead me to think you may have a bad GFCI. The wires in the conduit would leak current no matter if you had your tester on them or not. So the fact that the breaker holds when there is nothing on them makes me think that the wires are just fine.

You could also test this theory by checking with your tester, hot to hot, at the GFCI breaker, where the 60 amp feeders come into the pool sub panel, and at the 40 amp breaker.
 
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Old 06-02-11, 06:12 AM
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When I test hot to hot at the breaker for the heat pump at the pool panel I get a 240 reading. Then if I test at the heat pump, with the wires disconnected from the heat pump, the gfci that feeds the pool panel trips as soon as I touch the tester to the two hots.
 
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Old 06-02-11, 05:14 PM
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<running out of ideas> Do you still have the ground connected to the heat pump?
 
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