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Thread: Pool Light Tripping GFCI

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    Pool Light Tripping GFCI

    Hi everyone,

    I was hoping to get some help with a frustrating problem with my pool light (and avoid getting electrocuted in the process).

    We have a Pentair pool light and niche, circa 1997 or something like that. The light has not been working for a couple of years. This year, I decided I was going to attempt to fix the thing. I replaced the fixture (and conduit back to the j-box), and the ring around the light niche (the pilot screw hole had disintegrated). Put everything back together, turned the light on, and everything worked fine, for about 10 minutes. Then the GFCI tripped. Turned it on again, and the GFCI tripped in another 10 minutes. Subsequent attempts to turn it on led to immediate GFCI tripping.

    Without removing it, there does not appear to be water leaking into the light, although it is hard to be sure without pulling it out. After leaving it for about a day, I tried the light switch, and the light went on, to my surprise. I turned it off right away because I was shocking the pool at the time, and didn't want to get electrocuted.

    I am wondering what the most likely problem is. Since I found that the ring around the light niche was bad after routing cable through the conduit, I disassembled the light to get the ring over the fixture so I could install it, and then reassembled the light. My thoughts are as follows:

    1) The gasket didn't re-seat after I reassembled the light, and the light leaked some water.

    2) I messed up the wiring in the j-box, and it is heating up and causing a resistance differential, which is tripping the GFCI.

    3) The GFCI has gone bad.

    One thing that makes me think 3 is a possibility is that, when I press the test button and the light is off, the GFCI does not trip. I thought it should (not sure if the light switch needs to be in the on position for this to work though). Any help that you could give me would be great. The light is the one part of the pool that freaks me out a little bit. I'm not a big fan of electricity and water.

    Regards,

    Chris
    20x40 IG 40,000 gallons, 1.5HP Hayward SP, 48sqft Hayward DE filter

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Light Tripping GFCI

    Replacing the GFCI is a good place to start. If that doesn't resolve the problem I would have a professional come look at it if you are not comfortable with electrical work for the pool.
    TFP Moderator
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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Light Tripping GFCI

    Am I right that the light is working now?

    I need to know where in the circuit the gfci is electrically located. Is it before or after the switch?

    If it's after the switch it won't have power, and therefore it won't trip when the test button is pressed with the switch off. If it's before the switch, then it should trip when the test button is pressed and if it doesn't then it's bad.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
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    Re: Pool Light Tripping GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    Am I right that the light is working now?

    I need to know where in the circuit the gfci is electrically located. Is it before or after the switch?

    If it's after the switch it won't have power, and therefore it won't trip when the test button is pressed with the switch off. If it's before the switch, then it should trip when the test button is pressed and if it doesn't then it's bad.
    Also, is this a breaker or a recepticle?
    Unknown make 18' above ground (bought used in 1999) Sparco sand filter. Hayward 100,000 BTu heater. 2 speed pump

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    Re: Pool Light Tripping GFCI

    The light is currently working. I am not 100% sure, but I believe that the GFCI is downstream of the switch. I will give it a shot with the power to the light on. I would think that the GFCI has to be at least working to some degree if it keeps tripping when the light is on, but I will double check.

    The GFCI is a receptacle, not a breaker.
    20x40 IG 40,000 gallons, 1.5HP Hayward SP, 48sqft Hayward DE filter

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    foobert's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Light Tripping GFCI

    If I understand you correctly, you have:

    powered circuit --> switch --> GFCI receptacle --> pool light

    If so, then the GFCI test function will not work correctly when the switch is off. The test function draws a small amount of current off the hot leg of the circuit and dumps it to ground in order to trigger the imbalanced current detection circuit, which then trips the disconnect.

    None-the-less, it's not uncommon for GFCI outlets to go bad and nuisance trip for no good reason.
    ~john
    24.5K G, pebble, SuperFlo VS 1.5, 48sq DE filter, Hayward H250FDN, Autopilot RC-52, Poolvergnuegen & 3 daily swimmers in season.

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    Re: Pool Light Tripping GFCI

    I believe that is correct. I am work, and have to double check. Does the fact that the light goes on and off intermittently suggest that I will not have to disassemble the light to check for water? I would have thought that, if water were leaking, the light would have gone dead completely (would think it would just get worse, not better).
    20x40 IG 40,000 gallons, 1.5HP Hayward SP, 48sqft Hayward DE filter

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    foobert's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Light Tripping GFCI

    I'd think you could pull the light out of the niche and see if there's any water by looking through the lens and shaking+listening for sloshing water.

    Mine floats the moment it is free of the niche, so, I'd instantly know if it were 100% full of water. I'd wager that most will be similarly buoyant when sealed correctly.
    ~john
    24.5K G, pebble, SuperFlo VS 1.5, 48sq DE filter, Hayward H250FDN, Autopilot RC-52, Poolvergnuegen & 3 daily swimmers in season.

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