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GFCI Trips? Water getting in your light string power receptacles? MY SOLUTION!


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21 replies to this topic

#1 Orville Fugitte

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 07:46 PM

First off I was having a terrible time with my GFCI tripping as well as the circuit breaker being tripped from time to time. When was this happening? Usually during a moderate to heavy and sometimes very windy rainstorm or when my sprinkler system came on.

What was happening? Can you guess? Yes, it was water getting inside the male/female and female receptacles on my light strings, both L.E.D. and Incandescents were driving me crazy. Some folks said try electrical tape, but that leaves a sticky mess as well as sometimes still allowing water or moisture to build up in the receptacles.

So I went on a search and found these at a local Wal-Mart, they are basically Child Outlet Safety Caps, they are inserted in an outlet to keep little fingers out of the socket, however, I opted to try these outlet covers on my light strings to see how well they would work, they worked far better than I could have imagined!

I believe they are sold in bags of 50 and are somewhere around $2.25-$2.95 per bag. They are also white plastic, so I painted all mine black, all 5,000 of them! Wasn't really all that difficult just a little time consuming.

These have been the BEST INVESTMENT I ever made for my display. I used them during Halloween for their initial testing and proceeded to use them in my Christmas Display.

After many very hard and windy rains, a couple of freezes, not a single issue has cropped up with any problems and no more tripped GFCI or Circuit breaker shutting down my display either before a show or prematurely during one.


Here are photo's of what they look like (after I painted them black) and installed in the light string receptacles.

Just hope this may help someone else having "water issues" in their Christmas Light String plugs. I also capped off my LOR unused channel dongles as well.

Orville Fugitte ~ Orlando, Florida

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#2 Orville Fugitte

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 07:50 PM

And here are a few more shots of the receptacles they are used in and how they look.
[ATTACH=CONFIG]41257[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]41256[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]41254[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]41255[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]41253[/ATTACH]

The second photo just show how they are inserted, once inserted, just press down until it seals down on the receptacle snugly. And they fit very snug and do an excellent job!

Hope this may help someone else looking for a nice way to keep water out of their power receptacles. All my extensions cords have built in caps on them, so that is why there are none on the extension cords.

Edited by LOR-CF, 22 December 2010 - 07:53 PM.

Orville Fugitte ~ Orlando, Florida

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#3 addictedtolights

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 07:36 AM

Thats a cool idea! I havent had any problems with water but I think I might do this just as a preventative maintenance type thing so that it wont happen.
Thanks for the tip!

#4 Orville Fugitte

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 05:33 PM

BTW: you can probably get away with only painting the visible side, the back side, not the side with the plastic prongs that inserts in the receptacle, of the outlet covers, I just preferred to paint the entire cover for uniformity and so none of the white plastic may show up *or glow", if used under a black light setting.

Also the two covers you see from two seperate strings that are capped off and tied together were actually sitting in a puddle of water one night, still raining moderately, and the show came on, I thought for sure I'd blow the GFCI or CB, didn't happen, these little outlet covers kept my display operating in a torrential downpour one night.

So I highly recommend these plastic safety outlet covers to anyone that could/may be having "water issues" and their GFCI and/or CB's are tripping because of it. Before I added these, my GFCI would trip, then when sometimes it would also trip the CB in conjunction, so I'd have to reset the CB, then the GFCI to get my display back up and running again! Haven't had to do that once since I installed these little gems!

Unfortunately our bathroom outlets (**DUMB**) are also wired to the outside outlets(2) on the house, and if my wife plugs in her hair dryer duing the show, well, that could cause the CB to trip. But since we don't own the house and are moving, I'm not bothering to re-wire them, I'll let the new owner(s) have that pleasure. (original owners were my wifes' now late parents). So I have my wife trained NOT to use the bathroom outlets until after 11pm Sun-Thu and after midnight Fri & Sat. ROFL

Orville Fugitte ~ Orlando, Florida

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#5 Bill V

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 09:59 PM

Sounds like a great idea only I can't even begin to imagine how many I'd need.

Bill
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#6 Michelle Kraklow

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 10:34 PM

I think I will give this a try next year. When I do tear down it will give me a idea of how many I will need for next year that then I can start buying early. Thanks for the info. Merry Christmas
Michelle

#7 Orville Fugitte

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 11:58 PM

Sounds like a great idea only I can't even begin to imagine how many I'd need.


I wasn't sure myself, so I started out with 5,000 of them, I think I'm still quite a few short. LOL. But some of my strings because of where they are located aren't as prone to water/rain getting into them as the lower ones, like in the bushes and yard (on the ground). So if they were "under the eve" of the roof, I usually didn't cap those unless they were very close to an edge (corner) of the house where water/rain may become an issue. I'm going to purchase around 2,000-3,000 more just so I have them as my display grows over time.

I'm sure some of the folks dislays I've seen probably need quadruple what I have thus far. But I plan on buying more and more through the year to always have a lot of spares, you just never know when you'll need a few more if you add anything else in, even after the initial decorating. Just know I added several more strings to some of my bushes because it looked like they just didn't have enough on them. And then about 4 more caps to those strings.

Orville Fugitte ~ Orlando, Florida

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#8 jlp1

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 07:33 PM

If you don't mind my asking where are you buying them in such large numbers? I found them at my local Walmart but they were in a pack of 8 only and they were 97 cents a pack.

Thanks.....
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#9 Clyde Lindsey

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 10:51 PM

You know, I have wondered if that would help. I've not had any breakers/GFCI trip till this year. Only at the very beginning of December, when we were getting the rain. I'd come home to the breakers tripped on one side of the house then the GFCI's tripped on the other. Great work! Good field test (pun intended)

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#10 Paul D

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 03:13 AM

Thats great! I'm in Orlando as well, and have always had GFI issues when it rains. I've been actually pondering this idea for a few months now, but have just been too lazy to go out and buy them to try them out. The idea came when my wife told me that we need to start childproofing the house as our 7 month old is getting ready to crawl.

#11 Orville Fugitte

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 03:29 AM

You know, I have wondered if that would help. I've not had any breakers/GFCI trip till this year. Only at the very beginning of December, when we were getting the rain. I'd come home to the breakers tripped on one side of the house then the GFCI's tripped on the other. Great work! Good field test (pun intended)


Of course Christmas Night and the last night of my show we got one heckuva rain storm, show was already in operation and it ran just fine and several of my "connections" with these caps were literally "underwater!", started the tear-down today and basically froze my b***s off doing what I could get done. The connections that were underwater? Completely BONE DRY!, not a bit of moisture got into them, if it had, I'm pretty positive the GFCI would have tripped and probably the Circuit Breaker as well on that circuit. This was my first year using these, started testing them with the Halloween display and then on into Christmas.

I "definitely" recommend these to anyone having any water issues! They have saved my display from shutting down numerous times! Previous years and before LOR, I was using a Mr. Christmas and "open" or "electrically taped" plugs and I had issues constantly with my display shutting down because of water/moisture in the receptacles. And these little outlet caps are so easy to install and seat so firmly they are sometimes difficult to pull back out. So they are extremely water tight from my experience with them this year in 2010. I will never put out another outdoor string without them, that's for sure. And a lot easier than tape and a lot less messy(sticky) too when tear down comes.

Well tomorrow gonna be another cold one here I hear and I've still got quite a few more lights and decorations to get down. If it hadn't been so windy with the cold/chill factor, would have completed my tear down in one day. Then there's the fun job of packing it after shoving it all in the garage. LOL Lets see about 1-2 weeks and additional time throughout the season to get it up, which seems like forever, then tear down in less than 8-10 hours (if the weather is just cool and sunny in Florida!)

Anyway. glad to share this tip with others, these outlet caps have been far superior in performance than what I actually expected of them!

Orville Fugitte ~ Orlando, Florida

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#12 Orville Fugitte

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 03:41 AM

If you don't mind my asking where are you buying them in such large numbers? I found them at my local Walmart but they were in a pack of 8 only and they were 97 cents a pack.

Thanks.....


My local Wal-Mart stocks them in the 8 pack too for the same price. But they also stock a larger bag of 50 which I think was between $2.25-$2.79. Just know I always paid a little over $2 for them. They should be in the same area as the 8 packs.

Now I find mine long before Halloween, I purchased them back around July or August and found them up through Mid October. Now they may have sold out of them if others are using them as I am and stocking up on them. Just know when I first started prepping for my Halloween display and wanted to try some type of capping system on my receptacles I bought every bag in every Wal-Mart near me, including their "cheap" 6' extrension cords. Always got asked why I needed so many extension cords and bags of outlet caps since no home would have that many outlets needing covering. LOL I just smile and try to explain my animated computerized light show, some got it, most didn't quite understand it at all. But all wanted to know where I was located so they could come by and see what I was talking about. ;)

But if you can't find the larger bags, I think they may also have a bag of 100 as well, i think I recall seeing a tag for them, but they never had any when I was looking and buyinbg what I could find, anyway, if you can't find them or locate them in the store, find someone that works the hardware department and ask them. Sometimes Wal-Mart in their inifinite wisdom will have the same item, only in a larger quantity in another part of the store, no idea why, but I've come across that a few times when hunting items down in their stores. So if I don't see it and know I bought it there in the past or if I found it on-line and said it was vailable in store and can't seem to locate the item(s), I just ask where they are and if they have any in stock.

Good Luck on finding them. Now that I've let the "cat out of the bag" as the old saying goes, they'll probably disappear a lot more than usual. ROFL

p.s. I haven't looked, but you may want to try Target or K-mart and see if they carry them as well, but they'll probably be a bit higher in price than what Wal-Mart sells them for.

Orville Fugitte ~ Orlando, Florida

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#13 Orville Fugitte

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 03:45 AM

Thats great! I'm in Orlando as well, and have always had GFI issues when it rains. I've been actually pondering this idea for a few months now, but have just been too lazy to go out and buy them to try them out. The idea came when my wife told me that we need to start childproofing the house as our 7 month old is getting ready to crawl.


These things are as watertight as you can get! After last nights (Christmas Nights) rain storm and several of my receptacles literally being underwater and even getting "buried" partially in mud, pulled them out this morning (12/26) when taking down the display and every receptacle was BONE DRY, no water, no moisture got inside any of my receptacles!

I would never put up a display ever again without these little gems!

Guess they are the only one really excellent thing that was made in China that actually worked better than I actually really expected, far superior actually than I ever thought they'd work, but work they did!

Orville Fugitte ~ Orlando, Florida

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#14 BaldEagleChristmas

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 05:49 AM

I use child safety caps on un-used female plugs, both on the back of male plugs and at the end of a series. They help but I still have GFCI issues sometimes. But they do make me feel better. Where they are really great is when I decorate crab/maple trees and number the plugs so that I can take them down in reverse order.

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#15 Entropy

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 08:21 PM

As a part of my multi-phase attack on GFI trips, I took a little silicone grease and squeezed it into each unused female connector body. That, and other solutions like elevating my mini-trees and keeping the leaves off have helped make this a trip-free year.
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#16 porkchop

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 03:49 AM

One more point of information useful for folks with constantly tripping GFCIs and breakers: The more often a GFCI or circuit breaker is operated, the more prone it is to trip inappropriately. Those with constant trips may consider trying to swap out their GFCI if you haven't for the past (say) three years.
A commonly used instance is in warehouses, where operators often operate the lights by flipping breakers. After a few months to a year, a 20a breaker may open at 15a, and they have to replace the breaker. There is a special type of industrial breaker designed as a primary disconnect, which is of course more expensive...

#17 BaldEagleChristmas

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 05:27 AM

One more point of information useful for folks with constantly tripping GFCIs and breakers: The more often a GFCI or circuit breaker is operated, the more prone it is to trip inappropriately. Those with constant trips may consider trying to swap out their GFCI if you haven't for the past (say) three years.
A commonly used instance is in warehouses, where operators often operate the lights by flipping breakers. After a few months to a year, a 20a breaker may open at 15a, and they have to replace the breaker. There is a special type of industrial breaker designed as a primary disconnect, which is of course more expensive...


Welcome to PC! I too have experienced this. I have had to replace 2-3 GFCIs because of constant tripping. My electrician describes them as getting "soft".

Mike
Twin Cities, Minnesota


#18 jstorms

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 01:11 AM

Great tip. I have a bunch of these from when our kids were little.

People that mfg these caps are going to be scratching their heads when they start selling like hotcakes.

#19 londob5

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 08:28 PM

I just used green duct tape that I bought at Home Depot. It seemed to work well and was cheaper than receptacle covers.
The other bonus to duct tape is that you can use it at places where you have to chain 2 extension cords together...just wrap with the green duct tape.


However, with the success that you've had with receptacle covers, I may use both at the same time this year as an extra insurance policy against GFCI trips / shorts.

That's a great tip, thanks!

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Edited by londob5, 16 January 2011 - 08:36 PM.


#20 morelights

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 09:39 PM

I have also seen people use hot glue and it worked




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