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Why do my GFCI outlets keep tripping


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8 replies to this topic

#1 rlw162

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 11:38 PM

There has been a lot of rain here recently and the ground is pretty wet. My neighbor is also draining their sump pump into my yard. My GFCI outlets keep tripping. I am using grounded extension cords because that is what I have. My display is static this year. I put in connectors that remove the ground, but these does not seem to fix thew problem. The GFCI outlets trip about a second after I reset them. I have three different GFCI outlets all on one breaker, and they all are tripping. So I am running around the house resetting them, but with no luck getting the lights up. Any advice on what I am missing?

#2 cozzi

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 11:49 PM

First of all, let me see if I understand what you said.You say you have3 gfci on 1 circuit? Do you mean that they are all wired together? If so, you only need to have one of the recepticles gfci. Second, it doesn't matter if you have grounded cords. The gfci trips when there is a leakage of current going to ground. That's what they are for, so in dampness you are not a grounding rod so to speak. try getting all the plugs off the ground. And I think having 3 gfci on 1 circuit would make everything ultra sensitive

#3 rlw162

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 12:01 AM

Yeah, all three GFCI's are on one circuit. I traced all of my circuit breakers over the summer, and I just found out that I have one GFCI in each of my bathrooms that are connected to the outside outlets. I didn't think there was a GFCI on the outside outlets, so I installed one this summer. I didn't think it was on the same circuit, until I found the two other GFCI's under each of the bathroom sinks. I will try to get all of the outlets off of the ground tomorrow morning. Is there something you use to elevate the outlets off of the ground?

#4 David Balch

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 12:08 AM

Actually you can have 3 GFCI's on one circuit
If the power goes directly to each outlet then they can each be GFCI
The advantage to this setup is that each GFCI can trip without the others tripping

Do you know how each outlet is wired?
If power is direct to each bathroom then they are wired OK
If one GFCI kicks out & causes the other outlet(s) to kick out then the other outlets are wired off the "load" of the 1st GFCI instead of the "Line"
Usually easy enough to move the wires to the "LINE" side that feed the next outlet, as you can insert (2) sets of wires
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#5 rlw162

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 12:17 AM

I think the other two GFCI's are connected into the load of the first GFCI, because all three are tripping at once. I have to go back and reset them in the order of where they come off the main breaker. Next year, I am going to run dedicated outlets for Christmas lights. I didn't realize I had these two other outlets connected to these breaker until tonight. I was hoping to have my lights on tonight for the FIRST TIME this year, but I guess that is not going to happen tonight. Any advice on getting connections off of the ground?

#6 iresq

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 12:31 AM

There are a variety of ways to help prevent the trips. Do you have any plugs laying on the ground? Any bulbs laying on the ground? Wireframes? Do a search for more than enough info.
Dave N

#7 cozzi

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 03:37 AM

Actually you can have 3 GFCI's on one circuit
If the power goes directly to each outlet then they can each be GFCI
The advantage to this setup is that each GFCI can trip without the others tripping

Do you know how each outlet is wired?
If power is direct to each bathroom then they are wired OK
If one GFCI kicks out & causes the other outlet(s) to kick out then the other outlets are wired off the "load" of the 1st GFCI instead of the "Line"
Usually easy enough to move the wires to the "LINE" side that feed the next outlet, as you can insert (2) sets of wires

Absolutely correct. Most builders though, to save a few bucks wire the outside outlets directly to the gfci protected bathroom outlets. That is why every time a customer uses their hairdryer a breaker trips when my compressor kicks on.:( if you have to reset in order, get the other gfci s off the line, you only need the first one. But better yet, get an electrician to run dedicated circuits to your outside plugs

#8 dfr2923

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 07:26 PM

I think the other two GFCI's are connected into the load of the first GFCI, because all three are tripping at once. I have to go back and reset them in the order of where they come off the main breaker. Next year, I am going to run dedicated outlets for Christmas lights. I didn't realize I had these two other outlets connected to these breaker until tonight. I was hoping to have my lights on tonight for the FIRST TIME this year, but I guess that is not going to happen tonight. Any advice on getting connections off of the ground?


Like David said, GFCI's off of the the load side of other gfci's will trip all the time usually for no reason at all. Just pigtail the wires in the first gfci to get your down line gfci's off of the first one. If you are uncomfortable call an electrician they should be able to take care of it rather quickly just tell them what you have going on.

#9 jeffostroff

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 07:46 PM

GFIs will trip no matter what, we will never win the battle.

BUT, you can try to set things up so you don't give them a reason to go off. I cover all my extension cord and lighting plug junctions with a plastic container.

I have no lights laying directly on the ground. Here’s why: Water conducts, and acts like a resistor to ground. So imagine the electricity flowing to each light bulb, then through the "resistor" of water that connects the lights to the ground.

Now I do have some lights on the ground, but I lay down window screen first, non-metallic, fiberglass only. Then lay lights on top, and they all stay visible, they don't sink into the grass and get lost, and all rain water filters through the screen to the grass below, and does not collect up on you.

This is what sets off GFIs.

Now, you can try to slowly isolate the problem culprit set of lights or fixture, by unplugging suspected items, and re-trying the lights until the problem goes away. Then you can deal with the culprit by removing it, covering it up, or better waterproofing it.

Keep in mind, sometimes it's the cumulative effects of the entire system, not just one or 2 items causing the problem. This can make it more difficult to root cause.

These days I don't bother. I know we will get 3 days of rain in December. On those nights, I just run out my electrical cord from the garage from a non-gfi outlet. Of course, with LEDs, I can run my whole 61,000 LED show from one outlet with no problem.




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