How to troubleshoot ground faults?


Old 12-20-15, 11:37 AM
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How to troubleshoot ground faults?

Hi all,

I could use advice on how to troubleshoot an electrical ground fault in a pellet stove. The stove is a quadra fire, age unknown, but probably 5+ years.

When I plug the stove in I make sure the thermostat is not calling for heat and the stove goes through its bootstrap sequence without issue (fan running, etc.). But the moment the thermostat calls for heat, the breaker built into the outlet (with test & reset buttons) jumps. Actually, it happens 9 out of 10 times. Between attempts, I jiggle the many stove wires and every now and again I seem to tickle the right thing and the thermostat call for heat won't cause the breaker to jump.

The reason why this is not an acceptable situation is that it can take me anywhere from 10 min to until I run out of patience to make it work.

I have my multi-meter in hand. How do I troubleshoot this situation?

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Old 12-20-15, 11:58 AM
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Without a wiring diagram I can't tell you exactly what to check for but what EXACTLY happens when you put the system in heat ?

It starts a conveyor up ?
Ad additional draft inducer starts ?

You are going to connect your test meter from the black wire on the power cord to ground. Set the meter to the highest ohms setting.
Old 12-20-15, 07:16 PM
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This is a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)?

It may be that the pellet stove is not designed to be used with one. Some older equipment has radio frequency interference prevention circuitry that trips a GFCI.

If there is any soot in the stove, it might be providing a path from either hot or neutral to the ground.

Get a multimeter ($20 at a hardware store). Unplug the three-prong plug from the outlet and connect one test lead to the ground pin. Select the highest resistance scale on the meter. While the one lead is on the ground pin, touch the other lead to the hot pin, and then the neutral pin. Also, trade the test leads and try this again. ANY reading other than the infinite indication (see the manual) indicates a leakage path between the power wires and the ground pin.
Old 12-21-15, 07:26 AM
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But the moment the thermostat calls for heat, the breaker built into the outlet (with test & reset buttons) jumps.
The GFCI device isn't a circuit breaker.
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