Current Leak

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  #1  
Old 12-12-20, 04:58 AM
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Current Leak

Recently I have had an issue with my bathroom in that when I turn my ceiling fan on, the ALCI plug on a hair dryer trips. The hair dryer is off and is plugged in. This happens intermittently every day. One day I turned on the bathroom exhaust fan, and I heard a screeching noise; this only happened once about 1 week ago.

Since then I have replaced the switch that operates the ceiling fan with a new switch. I replaced the ceiling fan with a new fan. I replaced the standard outlet where the hair dryer is plugged in with a new GFCI outlet.

Iíve test the connection on the GFCI outlet, and it is working properly. It is also a stand alone outlet; there is nothing downstream from it. The GFCI outlet and breaker never trip.

Iím getting a new hair dryer, but Iím still wondering if there is some other problem. There is some sort of current leakage, but I donít know where or how to test for it. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
 
  #2  
Old 12-12-20, 05:47 AM
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I am assuming the outlet where the hair dryer is plugged is only powered when the ceiling fan is on. If the ALCI device is between the plug and switch on your hair dryer, its possible the ALCI is defective and when only the ALCI is powered, (hair dryer switch off) the ALCI trips. You can test the ALCI by plugging the hair dryer (switch off) into any powered outlet. If the ALCI trip, the ALCI is defective. If the ALCI trips when the hair dryer is switched on, the hair dryer is defective.
 
  #3  
Old 12-12-20, 06:16 AM
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Pick up the hair dryer, still switched off and plugged in. Shake it. Tap the handle with your other hand. This could reveal a finicky ALCI test button.

Move the hair dryer somewhere else on the counter or set it on the floor but leave it plugged in. Does it still trip when the fan is turned on? (tests for sensitivity to stray electromagnetic fields)

Plug in the hair dryer through a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter with the ground tab not touching anything. Does it still trip when the fan is turned on?
 
  #4  
Old 12-12-20, 07:35 AM
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Sounds like the immersion circuit is too sensitive to line transients. Which is odd, since the typical shaded pole fan motor is quite clean, electrically. Iíd either try the dryer at a different bath with a fan, or a different dryer at the same location. But my guess now is a defective immersion circuit.
 
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Old 12-12-20, 03:21 PM
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Telecom guy, the OP states the dryer has a ALCI. You are saying it has an immersion circuit. Does an ALCI and an immersion circuit use same detection technique to open the dryer electrical circuit?
 
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Old 12-12-20, 06:26 PM
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The industry has been using several acronyms for the same type circuit.
All the leakage interrupters for personnel protection use from 4 to 6mA thresholds. Some mount in panels, some mount on device plugs, some combine as receptacles.
Even now, not all baths have GFCI protected receptacles; voila, mount the circuit on the device plug and call it a new name.
 
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Old 12-13-20, 07:12 AM
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Thank you everyone for your help!

Beelzebob, the outlet is always powered. So, the hair dryer is always powered as well. The hair dryer is fine in this situation, and is able to remain powered always by the GFCI outlet, switched off at the hair dryer switch, while never tripping. The hair dryer only trips in this situation, and only intermittently, when I switch on a ceiling fan on the same circuit.

Allanj, I tried shaking the hair dryer, but it seems fine. Next, I am using your 3 prong to 2 prong adapter method. Since the problem is intermittent, it is taking a while to fully test it, but it appears to be working. It seems like the hair dryer will not trip anymore! Even though I just bought a new hair dryer, and figured a new ALCI/immersion circuit might fix the problem, I think your adapter method is a good workaround if it is somehow bleeding the excess few milliamps away from the hair dryer (although I donít really know what is going on).

And, since the hair dryer is 2 prong, and the adapter is 2 prong, I donít appear to be making things worse. There was no grounding in the 2 prongs of the hair dryer, still isnít with the adapter, and even if the grounding of the ALCI/immersion circuit is defective, Iím thinking at least I still have a new GFCI outlet grounding and backing up the hair dryer/adapter.
 
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Old 12-13-20, 02:31 PM
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The ALCI circuit in your hair dryer must be installed between the dryer plug and dryer on/off switch. Therefore it is always powered when plugged into the GFCI and the GFCI is powered. The GFCI and the bathroom fan are connected electrically in parallel. When you turn bathroom fan on (dryer off but ALCI is powered) the bathroom fan motor coil has momentary high currents with phase shifts. The ALCI can't resolve this momentary condition and trips because it operates faster than the GFCI. The solution is to plug the hair dryer into a circuit outlet not powering any motor.
 
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Old 12-16-20, 10:22 AM
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The hair dryer has begun tripping again. This is a new hair dryer, so both hair dryers trip. This is with or without the 3 prong adapter.
It is now caused by turning on a light switch. It is intermittent, sometimes after 1 switch on or off, or a handful of times switching the light on and off. As was before, the breaker and GFCI outlet never trip.

So, this is no longer caused by a fan motor. Iíve tried this test on other circuits with fans and lights, and the hair dryers never trip.

The light switch which is causing the hair dryer to trip is on a shared wall with hair dryerís GFCI outlet in an adjacent room.

My solution will be to no longer leave the hair dryer plugged in all the time. Only when it is being used.

However I am concerned about how things got this way. Does anyone know what may be going on with the circuit? Can I fix this, or is it not worth it? Are these nuisance line transients just a nuisance or should I get this repaired?

Thank you for your help.
 
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Old 12-18-20, 06:09 AM
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ALCIs are new technology and new to the appliance industry. My guess is the ALCI manufacturers didn't do an extensive job of testing their ALCI operation with different load configuration as one would encounter in a home. Neither did the appliance manufacturer. Therefore the consumer is left to fend for him/her self. The same thing is happening with LED lamps as a replacement for incandescents. They are only compatible with some dimmers, might flicker in different circuit load configurations, etc.. While the lamp manufacturer brags the LEDs in the lamp lasts 10 years, they omit the power supply in the lamp base required to drive the LEDs only lasts 1-5 years (not repairable).
 
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Old 12-18-20, 06:24 AM
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Does anyone know what may be going on with the circuit? Can I fix this, or is it not worth it? Are these nuisance line transients just a nuisance or should I get this repaired?
Is this trip happening exactly when the switch is thrown? If so, I would suspect it is an EFT event, or possibly ESD. Both of these can be tested against, using specialized test equipment. https://www.teseq.com/products/NSG-3040A.php Are the two dryer plugs from the same vendor?
 
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Old 12-18-20, 01:43 PM
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Thank you Beelzebob and Telecom Guy.

Telecom Guy, this happens exactly when the switch is thrown. It does not happen all the time. The 2 dryer plugs are from the same vendor. The hair dryers are identical. Thank you for letting me know about the specialized test equipment. Is it your opinion that the EFT or ESD events warrant repairing of the circuit, or not really a safety issue and can be safely left as is? Iím not sure what electrician would have this equipment to use, and if they did find any sort of electrostatic discharge or transient event, how would the line be repaired?
 
  #13  
Old 12-18-20, 02:04 PM
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I suspect this designer/vendor/manufacturer did not have the knowledge or resources to test this circuit to the level required. Note that the US, unlike the EU does not have this requirement as a law.

ps: you will not find an electrician, or a el contractor that has that test box. My company has one, and Iíve used several others. But our products are speced to deal with this and other line mayhem. Definitely not DIY type work, and I rarely say that. I suspect the shield in the cord is picking up a radiated transient, and the sense circuit has poor filtering. Wrap the cord into a figure eight, and see if itís still responding.
 
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Old 12-18-20, 02:23 PM
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Thank you Beelzebob and Telecom Guy for your help! Iím really glad that I have a better understanding of the situation, now. You both have been a great help.
 
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Old 12-18-20, 02:35 PM
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I wrapped the cord in a figure 8, and while it still is tripping, it is much slower to trip. It takes more times to flip the switch before it trips.
 
 

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