GFCI Breaker question

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Old 08-12-16, 10:49 AM
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GFCI Breaker question

I have a separate breaker panel that comes from my main breaker for my spa. I turned off the power at this breaker so I could drain and clean the spa and left if off a couple of days.

After I clean it, I fill it back up, flip on the breaker...nothing. No power whatsoever, nothing on the display, no motors running, etc. I do hear a "click" on the spa control panel when I flip the breaker on and the display screen shows kinda like a flash of the LED for a split second.

I get up under the deck and take off the control panel to the spa itself looking to see if maybe there is another breaker there that could've tripped but there isn't one that I could see. So I'm not an electrician but I have a voltage tester and take off the panel to the breaker. I'm not sure of the correct terms, but the two wires coming in from the main breaker, I test and get "220" to light up. So that tells me it's getting power to the panel. The wires coming out of the breaker going to the spa get nothing. They should, light up 220 as well right? There's another one in there that is not GFCI for the deck lights and they light up as "110".

Also, the "test" button on the breaker is supposed to make it flip to the middle "off" position, right? It doesn't do that. This is beginning to sound like a dumb question after re-reading this, but is my breaker bad? This whole setup is less than 3 years old so it seems odd that this would happen after i left the panel off for several days (when there's been no other problem).

Also, if the recommendation is to replace it, I should be able to switch off the main breaker and work on this safely? Should I just take it out and take it with me to the store and get another and replace it the same way? Could this be just a symptom of a problem and the real issue is with the spa?
 
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Old 08-12-16, 11:07 AM
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Nominal voltages are 240 and 120 not 220 and 110. Is this a test light you are using?
So that tells me it's getting power to the panel. The wires coming out of the breaker going to the spa get nothing.
Turn the breaker all the way off then on and test from each side of the breaker to the neutral bar. Do you get 120 to neutral from both sides?
 
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Old 08-12-16, 11:23 AM
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Remove the wires from the GFCI and see if it will reset.
 
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Old 08-12-16, 12:04 PM
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Yes, it's just a basic little tester tool. One end says 220 and one end says 110 and each will one light up respectively. It's not like a digital screen or needle gauge kind of tool.
 
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Old 08-12-16, 12:53 PM
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One end says 220 and one end says 110
Typical overseas ignorance. They don't know what voltages we have in the U.S. but they make and sell products in the U.S. Your readings are fine. If the GFCI will reset with wires disconnected as suggested by Geo try the measurement from each pole to neutral.
 
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Old 08-12-16, 04:21 PM
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I'm not getting any test light to show when I touch between the breaker and the neutral bar for the spa breaker. I am seeing a light when I touch the deck lights breaker and the neutral bar so it's just the spa that doesn't work.

I took out the breaker and have attached pics. There are three black wires and one white one. I'm pretty sure I'm calling an electrician soon. I was able to take out the three black wires by just unscrewing them. Note, the test button did not work with the wires removed.

I was unable to get the white wire out and in my haste to figure it out, I tore up the breaker. Looks like the white wire is melded to a wire within the breaker itself. Not sure how if this is normal or what.

What should I do next?
 
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Old 08-12-16, 05:31 PM
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The white wire is the pigtail of the breaker that connects to the panel neutral bar. It is not removable from the breaker. You will likely need a new breaker. Only the field wires are removable)
 
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Old 08-12-16, 08:43 PM
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But wasn't it a problem with the breaker where it didn't trip any longer, even with now wires attached?
 
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Old 08-12-16, 09:54 PM
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Yes.... with the load side wires disconnected and the breaker turned on..... the trip button should work and shut the breaker off. The white wire would have had to been connected to the neutral bar though.
 
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Old 08-13-16, 06:41 AM
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OK, went and got a new breaker and installed it. Turned the main power back on. The new breaker will not stay in the on position...I'll flip it all the way to OFF, then I'll flip it ON and flips back to the middle position.

Is there something downstream from this wrong with the wiring of my hot tub? Something that could've been caused by leaving it off for a few days?

Is the hot tub tripping the GFCI?

Keep in mind all of this was working fine for years and the only that happened was that I turned the power off to it for a couple days.
 
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Old 08-13-16, 05:53 PM
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OK, went and got a new breaker and installed it. Turned the main power back on. The new breaker will not stay in the on position...I'll flip it all the way to OFF, then I'll flip it ON and flips back to the middle position.
Use the same test procedure again, disconnect the load wires from the breaker and try resetting it. If it resets, like it should, you have a problem downstream from the breaker either in the wiring or tub equipment. If it won't reset, you have a bad breaker.
 
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Old 08-18-16, 10:37 AM
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With the hot tub completely disconnected, the breaker still trips. I just spent $100 on this breaker, how can it be bad? Is something wired wrong that is blowing up my breakers? If so, how in the heck did the hot tub operate before?

Keep in mind, it worked fine until I turned it off at the breaker to drain and clean it!
 
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Old 08-18-16, 11:58 AM
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With the hot tub completely disconnected, the breaker still trips
But will it trip with no wires except the neutral connected.
 
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Old 08-18-16, 01:05 PM
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Yes, it does. So that means the breaker is functioning properly?

Everything that draws power from the hot tub circuit board has been disconnected.

Could this be maybe something is not grounded properly?
 
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Old 08-18-16, 01:59 PM
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Had an electrician come by this afternoon. He said the breaker is fine and the bottom black power lead coming out of the breaker is reading as "ground" and the most common cause for this is coming in contact with water. Which makes as much sense as anything up this point because there was a lot of water being thrown around when I was draining and cleaning...not to mention we've had a ton of rain recently.
 
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Old 08-18-16, 02:14 PM
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Glad you got some help. It seems from your last comment you were misunderstanding how to check the breaker before my last post. Good luck and post back if you need more help.
 
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Old 09-03-16, 05:57 AM
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I'm kind of back to square one with this problem. I was misunderstanding what was being asked before. Now I have disconnected all three black wires from the breaker, leaving the white still attached to the neutral bar, and the breaker still trips. Does this mean the breaker is bad? Keep in mind, I just replace this thing. Is there something I could check with relation to the neutral bar.Attachment 70403Name:  IMG_3318.jpg
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Old 09-03-16, 06:22 AM
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If you disconnect the neutral wire coming from the breaker does it still trip? I can't tell from the picture but are you 100% sure the neutral bar is isolated from the steel enclosure?
 
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Old 09-03-16, 06:59 AM
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Yes, when I remove the neutral wire from the bar it still trips. Not sure what you mean by the neutral bar being isolated. I'll post another pic.
 
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Old 09-03-16, 07:06 AM
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Name:  IMG_3323.jpg
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Size:  38.4 KB Here is a closer pic of the neutral bar
 
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Old 09-03-16, 07:10 AM
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One thought I had: The main panel has a GFCI breaker labeled hot tub. When you flip it off, you cut power to the panel I am showing pictures of. Essentially the hot tub has two GFCI breakers on it. Could I safely bypass the breaker I am showing by connecting the two blacks and white from the main panel and hooking them up directly to the hot tub? Just as a troubleshooting measure?
 
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Old 09-03-16, 10:58 AM
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The circuit neutral goes to the breaker, not the bar. The pigtail neutral goes to the bar.
 
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Old 09-03-16, 11:52 AM
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Yes, when I remove the neutral wire from the bar it still trips.
IF you have no wires connected to the breaker and the breaker still trips, you have a faulty breaker.

You are turning it all the way off, then back on correct? IS the "Test" button stuck?

BTW - your neutral bar looks correct to me.
 
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Old 09-03-16, 05:01 PM
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So I guess the breaker was bad. I replaced it and everything is working perfectly. Don't really understand what keeps causing these breakers to go bad. I did trip it a bunch trying to troubleshoot the problem with my hot tub.

Could there be something wired wrong somewhere?
 
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