Scary Situation with bathroom GFCI

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  #1  
Old 09-13-14, 08:52 AM
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Scary Situation with bathroom GFCI

Hello.
I am new here, hoping someone can help. I'm just looking for some advice.
I live in a (late 80's/early 90's, I think) single-wide mobile home.
There is ONE electrical outlet in the bathroom, protected by GFCI.
I have lived here a number of years.
For a long time, whenever it rained, if I tried to use anything plugged into this particular outlet, the GFCI would constantly trip, over and over again.
A couple of years into our tenancy here, every so often (rain or not) heavy blue sparks would shoot out of whatever electrical device I was using in the bathroom.
A few weeks after shooting blue sparks a few times, my portable heater died.
Prior to that, my iHome (which I kept plugged in at GFCI bathroom outlet) died. It never shot sparks, but I recall it started malfunctioning quickly. If I unplugged it, it wouldn't turn on right away when plugged back in-it would take 6-12 hours before it would power on. I can't figure out a reason for this, but suspect it's somehow connected.
I believe this outlet is also responsible for the death of 2 iPhone chargers.
Now, my hair dryer is starting to blow blue sparks.
I'm worried that something is terribly wrong with the wiring in this house. I'm afraid that a fire could start if something is arcing behind the walls or under the trailer. Even more concerning is that my power bill is running at over twice the normal KWH for a house and family my size. I am renting, but don't want to call my landlord over this if it turns out that I'm just being paranoid.
Any (sound) advice and insight you can give into this matter is appreciated.
Thanks for taking the time.
Also, on a side note, within a month, my microwave, coffee pot and heating element in the oven all died. Obviously, these are in the kitchen, not the bathroom.
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but it seems like an awful lot is going on "behind the scenes" here, with all these things going wrong.
It is getting ENTIRELY too expensive.
I live in a trailer because I can't afford much more. This defies the purpose.
We have two children in the house.
Am I being paranoid?
Or should I have an electrician come out here?
Please give insight before just telling me to contact a professional.
Thanks.
** Please Note**
The GFCI has NOT tripped in a very long time. To be honest, I can't recall the last time it did-only that it used to do so constantly if it was raining.
I have tested it, and the reset button does pop out, and push back in.
I also forgot to mention that in addition to kitchen appliances that died, two desktop computers (also in the kitchen) no longer boot up properly.
 

Last edited by ShockSpark; 09-13-14 at 08:59 AM. Reason: Added note
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  #2  
Old 09-13-14, 08:59 AM
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Given that you are renting and having so many problems I am going to strongly suggest the landloard be contacted and get someone in there ASAP. This should have be taken care of when the problems started, not long after the fact.
 
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Old 09-13-14, 09:01 AM
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If you are renting the landlord is responsible to have an electrician fix the problem. It sounds like you waited way to long to even mention it to him.
 
  #4  
Old 09-13-14, 09:17 AM
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I moved here over four years ago-a tripping GFCI box is hardly a reason to call in a landlord.
So, if I was a homeOWNER and not renter, would you advise in the same fashion?
Originally, when the iHome and heater died, I thought it was faulty equipment. The hair dryer shooting sparks this morning is what put me over the edge.
Let's not make assumptions that I neglected something serious. This was a series of little things going wrong, that are now appearing to form a bigger picture.
I take offense to your comment, sir (or madam).
As though I would ignore a major problem? What an ASSumption!
Mind you, my landlords also both work full-time. They were supposed to replace a front door that doesn't fit properly, and a back door that is literally rotting at the bottom (if it was opened, the door would snap). These problems were evident when we moved in, as well as problems with the floor. As of today, the same two doors are present. We weather-stripped the working one as best we could, and sealed plastic wrap over the broken door.
These landlords are not the easiest to deal with. They say they'll take care of something, but they don't.
I was looking for an inkling as to what the problem may be, before trying to get them over here-since I may have to do something more serious to get them to fix the problem, judging by past history.
If it's not a big deal, why would I go through that hassle?
Why do you jump to judgement like that? What a shame.
You don't have a clue who I am, yet you assume that I've been careless. Why? Because I live in a trailer?
You are not the sum of your surroundings and possessions-your value is calculated by what's inside.
Is there anybody here who can give their thoughts on what this COULD BE rather than just telling me to get ahold of my impossible landlords?
 
  #5  
Old 09-13-14, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Pulpo View Post
If you are renting the landlord is responsible to have an electrician fix the problem. It sounds like you waited way to long to even mention it to him.
Do you think THIS is the kind of advice people look for when posting? I could've called my MOTHER for that suggestion!
Do you think I didn't THINK to call my landlords?
I need to know how big of a problem this may be.
This was a SLOOOOOOOWWWW process-more or less like dominoes, spaced over a few years' worth of incidents, maybe once or twice every couple of months. Until this past month, when stuff started dying left and right.
I guess I shouldn't have mentioned that I rent-nor that I live in a trailer.
Perhaps then I'd actually get a useful bit of advice instead of spiteful venom.
How rude and cold, compassionless.
I guess I came to the wrong place.
 
  #6  
Old 09-13-14, 09:30 AM
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I'm worried that something is terribly wrong with the wiring in this house
There is something terribly wrong. You will get more advice here, but in the mean time I would at least try something:

Assuming you live in a park, I would contact them and see who's responsible for the meter/main panel connections. Maybe it's the utility company. I'm not the electrical expert, but I have seen problems to where the main power cables at panel or meter were loose and cause all sorts of problems. These loose connections can also arc, causing the situation to gradually get worse.
If this isn't the problem, at least you eliminated one thing and can start looking at inside wiring.
 
  #7  
Old 09-13-14, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Pulpo View Post
If you are renting the landlord is responsible to have an electrician fix the problem. It sounds like you waited way to long to even mention it to him.
Do you think THIS is the kind of advice people look for when posting? I could've called my MOTHER for that suggestion!
Do you think I didn't THINK to call my landlords?
I need to know how big of a problem this may be.
This was a SLOOOOOOOWWWW process-more or less like dominoes, spaced over a few years' worth of incidents, maybe once or twice every couple of months. Until this past month, when stuff started dying left and right.
I guess I shouldn't have mentioned that I rent-nor that I live in a trailer.
Perhaps then I'd actually get a useful bit of advice instead of spiteful venom.
How rude and cold, compassionless.
I guess I came to the wrong place.
I was looking for help and educated ideas of what could be the problem.
Instead, I find myself in some sort of joke, where people point accusatory fingers instead of actually listening/reading.
Unbelievable.
 
  #8  
Old 09-13-14, 09:33 AM
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None of these comments were based on where you live or any of the other things we would have no idea about. Sparking devices are a serious issue and needed to be addressed when the issue started. This could have easily lead to a fire with the potential loss of life. The fact that you have lost numerous devices should have also been a clue that something was wrong and needed attention.

Your landlord needs to be involved since they own the property and are responsible for maintenance. Does your state have a board that handle landlord complaints and livability issues?
 
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Old 09-13-14, 09:35 AM
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Please see my post above shockspark.
 
  #10  
Old 09-13-14, 09:35 AM
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One step at a time. First we have an obligation to safety not only to people but to structures that you may be liable for should you make a mistake. Just because your landlords work full time does not preclude their responsibility for the well being and safety of their tenants. If they don't take care of things as they should, they are classified as Slum Lords. We are not judging you nor them, but it would not be difficult, since they are not taking care of safety items. You explained why that judgment was justified, and we have no shame in stating so.
True, you just joined the forum, and we wish you the best. We have not assumed you have been careless, only reluctant in reporting obvious flaws in your residence that could cause you harm. Living in a mobile home has no bearing on our advice, nor does it reflect anything on you. Far be it for us to do anything except give the best advice to you, whether you live in a mobile home or a city highrise, or a country estate. The advice is the same.
 
  #11  
Old 09-13-14, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Handyone View Post

Assuming you live in a park, I would contact them and see who's responsible for the meter/main panel connections. Maybe it's the utility company.
I do not live in a park. I just rent a privately-owned trailer on privately owned land. Thank you so much for actually ADVISING, though. I will call the power company on Monday and have them come out.
I was starting to lose hope that I'd have ANY idea what to do.
Again, thank you.
 
  #12  
Old 09-13-14, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
One step at a time. First we have an obligation to safety not only to people but to structures that you may be liable for should you make a mistake.

**Thank you. Very much appreciated. However, I wouldn't dare attempt to actually fix anything here myself. Simply looking for what it COULD be so I know what to worry about and whether or not it warrants getting the landlords "involved"-using that term loosely.**

We have not assumed you have been careless, only reluctant in reporting obvious flaws in your residence that could cause you harm.

**I honestly didn't think that a tripping GFCI is an "obvious flaw" in need of reporting. Like I said, these were things that happened on separate occasions, and since my hair dryer blew sparks this morning, I'm starting to wonder if there's a problem with the outlet. I don't understand what you think I could/should have reported.**

Living in a mobile home has no bearing on our advice, nor does it reflect anything on you.
**I certainly hope not. It wouldn't be the first time the assumption has been made. Plenty of upstanding citizens live in trailers.**
 
  #13  
Old 09-13-14, 09:55 AM
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The power company can confirm connections and power to the house. They won't, in particular, check out your trailer wiring. That would be the job of an electrician.

The first thing you'd need to check is the voltage at the receptacles in your trailer.
 
  #14  
Old 09-13-14, 09:59 AM
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Spiteful venom? I've never been accused of that. You're right, I made a mistake. I said "to long" instead of "too long". Sorry.
 
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Old 09-13-14, 10:00 AM
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I think you understand my idea may not be the answer, it's a good place to start.

I don't know about Maine, if I called utility company here and stated my panel may be arcing, they would be out today.

Be prepared, if the utility company does find a problem with connections, and it's beyond their connections, they may cut power immediately until fixed. So you should contact owner and at least inform them that there's a possibility you will be without power.
I wouldn't let the possibility of losing power be a deterrent to calling the utilities.
 
  #16  
Old 09-13-14, 10:05 AM
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[QUOTE=pcboss;2323185]None of these comments were based on where you live or any of the other things we would have no idea about.

**In that case, I'm sorry. That is the way your message came across, though. Had you added the little tidbit about sparking that you did just now, I would have no complaints. And just for the record, you did "have an idea" about living situation-I stated that I live in a trailer, thinking that might be helpful info to give.
So, I should've contacted my landlord from the first spark?? Because, from what I understand, it's normal for outlets to SOMETIMES spark, especially when you initially plug something in.
As far as things dying, who's to say the equipment wasn't faulty? That's what *I*assumed at first. The iHome went a good 6 or 7 months before the heater did, and the rest went just recently (over a year since the heater died)
So instead of arguing that I should have reported something so silly (at the time), perhaps next time you can skip the assumption that I'm ignorant and JUST advise as to what the PROBLEM could be.
That's all. I'm sure if I didn't mention a landlord, you would only have offered ideas as to what the problem could be, sans my (in your humble opinion) ignorance.
Thank you for your time.
 
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Old 09-13-14, 10:14 AM
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Yes, spiteful venom. I will not elaborate except to say that people come to these forums LOOKING for advice or TO GIVE advice.
Without paying attention to details, you assumed I was ignorant and just ignored the problem. In reality, the "problem" came and went-more often than not, it's been a non-problem. Where sparks are coming up again, I thought-I'd better get some advice this time-just in case.
Your "advice" was that I should have contacted my landlords long ago. Over a tripping GFCI, I guess I was supposed to freak out right away?
I don't know what has made you spiteful, but I assume this isn't the only time you've been bitter.
Re-read your original answer-you didn't even offer a THEORY.
All you offered was a judgement call.
All I'm trying to say to you, is be a little nicer, a little less assuming.
If you're here to offer help, then do just that.
 
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Old 09-13-14, 10:19 AM
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Ok....... let's move forward from here !!!!!

At this point in time you need to be proactive. You may have a problem with the wiring. You may have a problem with that particular GFI receptacle.

We do agree...... you do have a problem and it needs to be addressed now.
The property owner should call an electrician or you should call an electrician.
 
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Old 09-13-14, 10:19 AM
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Pulpo, spiteful?? He couldn't offer a theory based on all the information you posted. It is rental. Cut and dried. No tenant can legally take on such repairs without the written permission of the landlord, and absolution from liability. It is common sense. He didn't vary in his answer to you any more than he would another person in the same situation. Please lighten up on your criticism of the people to whom you came in order to resolve the issue.
 
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Old 09-13-14, 10:26 AM
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If you had been the owner, my advice would have been to remove the outlet, to check the connections. From there I would have told you to do other tests with other equipment. Off the top of my head, the entire trailer may not be grounded properly or there is a sub panel not wired correctly. Those are just guesses without being there.
 
  #21  
Old 09-13-14, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
Pulpo, spiteful?? He couldn't offer a theory based on all the information you posted. It is rental. Cut and dried. No tenant can legally take on such repairs without the written permission of the landlord, and absolution from liability. It is common sense. He didn't vary in his answer to you any more than he would another person in the same situation. Please lighten up on your criticism of the people to whom you came in order to resolve the issue.
AS I ALREADY STATED
I am NOT attempting to fix the issue.
For crying out loud, I JUST wanted to know if ANYONE knew what it COULD be stemming from.
Sheesh.
Tell me to lighten up, but YOU are afraid of "liability issues"-I'm not asking for advice in how to fix!!! All I want to know is what could POSSIBLY be happening!!
Now I know that next time I shouldn't mention that I rent.
That is all I learned from you.
Satisfied?
How's THAT for liability? Then your butt is covered, right? THAT is what it takes to get an honest answer?
Omission?
This is backwards.
I would understand where you're coming from if I was asking how to fix it-that simply isn't the case.
 
  #22  
Old 09-13-14, 10:30 AM
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Another possibility is the existence of an outside receptacle wired to the LINE side of the GFCI (improper installation), since you mention rain and the sparking in the same sentence. It gets deeper than this, and so does the liability, but if you notice any of these things, you may direct your landlord's electrician to certain problem areas.

Edit: Ray, time to close the thread, IMO
 
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Old 09-13-14, 10:36 AM
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Unfortunately this has turned into a spitting match. I believe we have answered your questions to the best of our knowledge and offered you the correct information.
 
  #24  
Old 09-13-14, 10:59 AM
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Please have the owner hire an electrician. If he won't either hire one or move. Really those are the only viable options. Your safety is to important to ignore the problems.

If you need more or different help please start a new thread.
 
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