GFI Trigger Issue

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  #1  
Old 06-17-13, 08:23 AM
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GFI Trigger Issue

I'm hoping you can help me with a frustrating problem. I have an outdoor receptacle that a fountain plugs into. It connects to a box next to the house that has an on/off switch and another receptacle. That then connects to a GFI in the garage. It has been working great for 12 years, then the GFI started triggering the other day. When the receptacle next to the foutain has nothing connected to it the GFI is fine. I've replaced the garage GFI nd the receptacle by the fountain. I get no power to the new receptacle at the fountain. If I even plug a tester into this receptacle it triggers the GFI. The wiring for the new receptacle by the fountain is correct. The receptacle next to the house works just fine. Do you think it could be a short in the on/off switch by the house that controls the fountain receptacle? The wiring looks OK but I have not replaced it yet. Thanks for any direction you can provide.
 
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Old 06-17-13, 09:08 AM
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Do you think it could be a short in the on/off switch by the house that controls the fountain receptacle?
A short trips a breaker not a GFCI. By its very nature a single pole switch can not short. If the two wires to a switch were to connect to each other the power would simply be on all the time.

First guess is the cable or conduit to the fountain. If cable is it UF cable or did someone use Romex.
 
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Old 06-17-13, 09:23 AM
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When the receptacle next to the fountain has nothing connected to it the GFI is fine.
Whatever you are connecting at that point is causing your problem.
 
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Old 06-17-13, 08:01 PM
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Thanks for the responses. The cable is UF in PVC conduit running under a patio (~ 15' in length). I was hoping to not pull new cable but it sounds like the culprit as it is the only thing between the fountain receptical and the working receptical by the house that I have not replaced, other than the on/off switch. PJmax, I can connect something that works properly in other receptacles and it trips the GFI when used with the receptical by the fountain.
 
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Old 06-17-13, 08:13 PM
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See if I have this correct. Power goes to a the line side of a GFI receptacle in the garage. The load side of the GFI receptacle goes thru a switch and then to a receptacle for the fountain.

You can turn the switch on for the fountain and all is ok.

When you plug something, and even the plug tester, into the fountain receptacle.....the GFI trips.

It sounds like you have the neutrals on the GFI backwards. You just replaced the GFI..... check the wiring at it again....especially the neutrals.
 
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Old 06-17-13, 10:14 PM
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PJmax, you have summarized my problem correctly. However, the fountain also connects to the receptacle and triggers the GFI when it is plugged in (the switch controls the entire receptacle). The interesting part is there is a receptacle in the same box as the switch, but not controlled by the switch, that works just fine. it is on the load side of the same GFI so that means the GFI should be wired properly. I have tested the GFI with a GFI tester and it shows it was wired properly. Thanks for the suggeston. I am off of work tomorow and plan on checking all of the wiring prior to taking any further steps, like pulling new cabling through the conduit. I'm thinking ray2047 nailed the issue as one with the cable between the switch and the fountain receptacle.
 
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Old 06-18-13, 05:47 AM
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Best practice is to not use cable in conduit if it is continious. It will make it a lot easier to pull if you use individual THWN conductors (White, black, green).
 
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Old 06-18-13, 05:43 PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions, especially ray2047. I now have power to the fountain receptical. Ray 2047, you were correct in the issue being the cable. When I would just pull on the black wire prior to replacing it it would trigger the GFI (it was THWN, but sheath appears to have been compromised). Replaced all wires with new THWN. It was challenging as the conduit is pretty small.

Unfortunately, the fountain is still not working. It came on briefly after I rewired. Once I filled the fountain it would trigger the GFI. I think I may also have an issue with the fountain pump. Anything else I plug into the receptical works fine. I am at least happy to have the receptical problem fixed. On my day off Thursday I now have to remove the pump and see what is going on with it. Thanks again!
 
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Old 06-18-13, 06:49 PM
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If it had a sheath it was cable not THWN. If you had trouble pulling it it was cable not THWN. But onward and upward. Yes, most likely it is the pump.

P.S. I wrote:
It will make it a lot easier to pull if you use individual THWN conductors (White, black, green)
but what's done is done.
 
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Old 06-18-13, 09:51 PM
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It was not a sheath, but individual wires (I probably should have stated the exterior insulation was compromised). The conduit is 3/4". It's approximately 16' long with a 90 degree elbow at each end and a 2' rise. I don't know that I could have gotten a sheath through it. Your advise to use the individual THWN was really a lifesaver. Thanks again!
 
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