GFCI keeps tripping...

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Old 12-02-19, 07:00 AM
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GFCI keeps tripping...

Hello,

I put up outside lights a few days ago and all worked fine. Everything is plugged into a timer with 6 ports, which is plugged into the GFCI outlet via extension cord. Last night I saw the GFCI was tripped on the outlet (nothing was tripped in the Circuit breaker box) I know I don't have any strands where too many lights are connected, but we did add lights this year. Initially when I pushed Reset, it wouldn't stay in at all. I unplugged one strand. When I push reset it stayed in/on for about 30 seconds to a couple of minutes and would trip again. That recurred while I was trying to troubleshoot last night.

It did rain a lot yesterday, and the weatherproof cover on the outlet was open...so I closed that last night in hopes that it dried out overnight. I'm hoping that does the trick but I won't know until I get home. If it's not, does anyone have any other suggestions to troubleshoot? I really don't think I have anything overloading it. Is there another potential common issue that I could troubleshoot, or is moisture from the rain the most likely reason?
 
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Old 12-02-19, 07:08 AM
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Unplug all the strings and see if it resets. If it does then plug in the strings one at a time and see which ones are the problem. Most likely it is moisture getting into the connections or into bad wires or bulb sockets.
 
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Old 12-02-19, 12:00 PM
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Re:

Thanks, I will make those checks?

As this was moisture from rain, how long does it take for GFCI to typically 'dry out'?
 
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Old 12-02-19, 12:14 PM
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A GFI does not trip from an over load, that's what the breakers are for.
https://azinspect.com/gfci-outlets-video/
 
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Old 12-02-19, 12:54 PM
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The GFCI likely is not the thing that got wet. It's something downstream that you have plugged into it. It's easy to check. Unplug everything from the GFCI and reset it. If it doesn't trip then the problem is the stuff you have plugged into it. How long it will take to dry depends on what you have and your weather.
 
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Old 12-03-19, 04:49 AM
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To follow up, when I got home everything was on and stayed on until about 9 PM when it tripped again. So I unplugged all and figured out that it was the line of icicle lights hanging from the shingles in front.

I think there could be two potential issues. 1 of the 2 strands has an out bulb, which has knocked out half of that 1 strand. The other potential issue is that I have an interior (green without the same insulation) cord connecting the end of the lights to an extension cord that goes into the timer. So lights into that cord into an outdoor extension cord into the timer.

I've had out bulbs before but I've never seen it trip the whole circuit. On the flip side I've used similar cords in the past outside and never had an issue. That is the only cord like that in my display this year. I couldn't replace anything last night since it was dark and raining out, but everything has worked since I unplugged that whole line. I'm going to replace the strand and the cord tonight, but for my own education what do you think is the reason behind the issue?
 
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Old 12-03-19, 06:24 AM
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for my own education what do you think is the reason behind the issue?
Water conduction due to unsealed 120V circuits, causing 5mA or more of leakage current into a nearby grounded object (gutter, etc).
 
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Old 12-03-19, 06:41 AM
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Thanks...not really sure if that means at the light strand or at the cord as I'm far from an expert. I will just replace both the strand and the cord and hope it works.

There are no gutters near these lights or any other metal objects
 
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Old 12-03-19, 08:20 AM
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The current leak could be almost anywhere. I seriously doubt it's because of a burned out bulb. More likely it's a wet/dirty connection that is allowing a slight leakage of current. GFCI are very sensitive so it doesn't take much and could be as simple as the plug connection with an extension cord being wet.
 
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Old 12-05-19, 09:11 AM
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Thanks for the help. I replaced the strand and the one cord. Everything worked until more rain came last night and that same strand tripped again. Everything seemed tight, but I'm going to get some electrical tape and put that around the connections.

What I'm wondering is that the one extension cord has three ports (one slot to icicle lights, one slot to deck, and one empty). I'm wondering if the empty slot is the reason for things getting too wet. I'm going to tape off that slot too to see if it helps.
 
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Old 12-05-19, 10:36 AM
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Start by unplugging everything. Turn off the breaker for that circuit. Then plug in your first extension cord and nothing else. Spray the cord so it gets wet like it rained. Then turn the breaker on. If the GFCI does not trip plug in the next item in line, turn off breaker, spray with water and turn breaker on. Keep repeating this process adding on the item in your string until you find the culprit.
 
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