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Thread: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

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    Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    He guys, I will be taking on a new project this summer... One I have had since I bought this house. I have a GFCI breaker that trips when I turn on the switch...

    Best I know the circuit goes as follows...

    20 amp breaker at the box (inside my house) goes to a light switch inside my house, then out to my equipment pad. On this line I have 5 lights in my retaining wall and my pool light on that switch. Also on the same circuit I have my pool cleaner and heater as well, but they have there own switches at the pad.. (I think that's all).

    When I turn on the heater, or pool cleaner, I have no problems at all... when I flip the switch to turn on my lights, it will trip the breaker (every time). I can leave the light switch in the on position and go to the breaker and turn it on and everything stays on for as long as I want... I can turn it off at the light switch as well... but agn it will trip if I turn it on.

    I have pulled the light out of the pool (last year) and it was dry... some corrosion inside though but I did try to clean it. I have checked each light in the retaining wall and see no sign of moisture as well... to take that a step further I removed each and coated the wire at the connections with liquid electrical tape, and then used marine grade silicone to seal the inside where the wire exited the box. This was my attempt last year...

    This year, here I am with he same goofball setup... looking for help from you folks that may have seen something like this before...

    I should also note:
    I have replaced the GFCI.
    I did replace all the bulbs in the lights (pool included)
    I did open up the junction box and check all connections, the pool light is stranded and does tie into hard copper... I cleaned or cut back all of them. I am unsure if there is another junction box to look at.
    I did remove each item in the circuit to try to isolate the light or path... and I don't remember that showing me anything (last year).

    I want to mess with this a bit this weekend, just looking for ideas.
    Pool 16 x 33.5 Foxx Pool with rounded corners 3.5 at each end and 5+ in the middle (16000 GAL)

    Equipment - 300 LB Hayward filter with a Pentair SuperFlo pump (3/4 HP). Also Hayward H series Heater and a dedicated jet for a Polaris 280 with a booster pump (3/4HP). Hayward Chlorinator CL200.

    Pool has Main Drain, 2 return Jets with 1 inch eyeballs, a skimmer with floating weir, and the dedicated Polaris jet. Also has a valve for the Waterslide.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    You've done everything I'd have tried.

    What kind of lights are in the wall? Bulb size? Have you tried it with all of the wall light bulbs removed?
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    they are the reassessed kind and I think 40 watt bulbs... I have not tried it with all the bulbs out... I can give that a shot in a few... I thought I had tested it with the circuit removed last year though... but it may have been the pool light only. been a while. I can go out in a few and try the bulb removal, should be quick and easy.

    Light looks like this one:
    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/...L._SL1500_.jpg
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000SQHQV2/...2&linkCode=asn

    And if I remember right they were all ran in series which makes sense...
    Pool 16 x 33.5 Foxx Pool with rounded corners 3.5 at each end and 5+ in the middle (16000 GAL)

    Equipment - 300 LB Hayward filter with a Pentair SuperFlo pump (3/4 HP). Also Hayward H series Heater and a dedicated jet for a Polaris 280 with a booster pump (3/4HP). Hayward Chlorinator CL200.

    Pool has Main Drain, 2 return Jets with 1 inch eyeballs, a skimmer with floating weir, and the dedicated Polaris jet. Also has a valve for the Waterslide.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    Shouldn't be in series. Should have a hot and neutral on each one and a ground on the housing.
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    These things can be hard to track down, hopefully it is not something obscure like a nicked wire in the conduit being exposed to moisture. The next step may be to call in an electrician that has an insulation test meter to test the circuit. This is a speciality meter that cost $500+ so not all electricians are going to have one.
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    thnx for that idea... noted... I will walk back over all the steps, and look for any changes that I didn't notice before... I did ask an electrician last year, he told me to just replace the GFCI with a Non GFCI... I am not willing to do that though due to the light being in my pool...

    I will follow up later today with the results with the bulbs being out... Wondering if I remove them all and the breaker does not trip, should I suspect over load or should I suspect bad bulb, or bad fixture... don't know... will see.
    Pool 16 x 33.5 Foxx Pool with rounded corners 3.5 at each end and 5+ in the middle (16000 GAL)

    Equipment - 300 LB Hayward filter with a Pentair SuperFlo pump (3/4 HP). Also Hayward H series Heater and a dedicated jet for a Polaris 280 with a booster pump (3/4HP). Hayward Chlorinator CL200.

    Pool has Main Drain, 2 return Jets with 1 inch eyeballs, a skimmer with floating weir, and the dedicated Polaris jet. Also has a valve for the Waterslide.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    Reversed line and neutral on an incandescent lighting circuit or a neutral/ground connection at a point other than the panel can cause some strange behavior in a GFCI. Bond wire of the pool could also be doing something if there is another problem with the light wiring such as a loose neutral.
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    well, I walked out and removed all the bulbs... I flipped the switch.. it did not trip the breaker... so I thought it must just be giving me grief... sometimes it would work for a short while... then go back to not working... so I took one of the bulbs and tested it in each light , flipping the switch on each to see if it would trigger... I then placed that bulb in light #1, and started with the next one... well I did this up to light #4 and that one tripped the breaker... this bulb looks like it was not replaced last year when I did them (I swear I thought I replaced them all) so it could be a bad bulb I guess, or it could be that the 4th light is enough wattage to trip the GFCI breaker for some reason... I am going to go pick up 3 more bulbs to test with... I could have just tried that bulb in the first light to see if it trips all by its self... but if you saw the bulb I think you would agree it needs to be replaced...

    will follow up later on with the results... I hope this is it... to think two summers of doing a bunch of work to track down a problem and it may have just been a bulb the whole time...

    I hope !!!
    Pool 16 x 33.5 Foxx Pool with rounded corners 3.5 at each end and 5+ in the middle (16000 GAL)

    Equipment - 300 LB Hayward filter with a Pentair SuperFlo pump (3/4 HP). Also Hayward H series Heater and a dedicated jet for a Polaris 280 with a booster pump (3/4HP). Hayward Chlorinator CL200.

    Pool has Main Drain, 2 return Jets with 1 inch eyeballs, a skimmer with floating weir, and the dedicated Polaris jet. Also has a valve for the Waterslide.

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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    An overload on a circuit will not trip a GFCI. There has to be, somewhere, a current leak. A GFCI monitors the incoming power to a device (hot) and the outgoing power from the device( neutral) and compares them. If the amperage coming in and going out do not match ( there is a variance threshold) then the device will trip.

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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    It's not unheard of for a surge to cause a GFCI to trip, especially on a heavily inductive circuit, but 4 bulbs shouldn't be a problem.
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    well.. it was wishful thinking... OK so I replaced the bulbs, and it still tripped, I took it back down to one bulb (as with my testing) and it still tripped... I took all bulbs out... and it didn't trip at first, then after turning the switch off and on several times for a test it tripped as well... Sometimes it works better than other times... I reset the breaker and tried it agn, but didn't flip the switch off and on so fast and its working... but I dont know if its just like before, it may work for another 30 flips and then back off who knows.

    so what can I do? I can get back into the junction box and disconnect one or the other? I can pull the lights out of the wall... I don't know what to try at this point... so far the only thing that seems most common is the light switch... but I replaced it last year too... so I am at a loss....

    Can I put a meter on something?
    Pool 16 x 33.5 Foxx Pool with rounded corners 3.5 at each end and 5+ in the middle (16000 GAL)

    Equipment - 300 LB Hayward filter with a Pentair SuperFlo pump (3/4 HP). Also Hayward H series Heater and a dedicated jet for a Polaris 280 with a booster pump (3/4HP). Hayward Chlorinator CL200.

    Pool has Main Drain, 2 return Jets with 1 inch eyeballs, a skimmer with floating weir, and the dedicated Polaris jet. Also has a valve for the Waterslide.

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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    Let's see what we think we know: Current flowing in the wall lighting circuit or the physical presence of bulbs in the sockets (at least one )makes the problem worse.

    Are the circuits going to the wall lights and the pool light separate after the switch?

    I think I'd try (with the power off) disconnecting the neutral for the wall circuit at the box, taking all the bulbs out and measuring resistance between the end of the neutral wire and the ground wire. It should be open unless there is something else connected.
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    I went back down to the box in my basement to get a good idea as to how they hooked it up. Keep in mind that when I turn on the light with the wall switch it trips, but I can turn the breaker back on and it's fine, in fact as far as I know if I left the light switch on I could turn the lights off and on at the breaker with no problem (worth a test).

    Wiring goes as follows:

    Three wires that run outside to the equipment pad:
    Red (goes to a yellow wire nut that has a black wire that goes into the wall to the switch I think).

    Black (goes to a yellow wire nut that has another black wire going to the gfci and also a white wire that goes into the wall (to switch I think).

    White (goes to the gfci)

    The wire that feeds the switch has a copper wire that goes to the neutral bar

    I can't see a ground for the red/black/white wire that runs outside. But it might be there (will look better in the morning)







    The pool light is in the same circuit so to meter the retaining wall lights I think I need to do it at the junction box at the pool pad... But I guess I can pull the swimming pool light and remove that bulb too? Might be good to meter the whole circuit first at the breaker box, then if it shows other than infinite (it will beep in my case) I can then go do the same at the junction box on the equipment pad...

    Thoughts?
    Pool 16 x 33.5 Foxx Pool with rounded corners 3.5 at each end and 5+ in the middle (16000 GAL)

    Equipment - 300 LB Hayward filter with a Pentair SuperFlo pump (3/4 HP). Also Hayward H series Heater and a dedicated jet for a Polaris 280 with a booster pump (3/4HP). Hayward Chlorinator CL200.

    Pool has Main Drain, 2 return Jets with 1 inch eyeballs, a skimmer with floating weir, and the dedicated Polaris jet. Also has a valve for the Waterslide.

  14. Back To Top    #14
    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    I think I'd be very skeptical of any of the wiring.
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    I'm barely a DIY electricition, but I'm not sure it's Kosher to have white wires connected to a breaker. Be careful when you're working with that stuff.
    33' round, 23,000 gal AG vinyl , 1HP 2spd PowerFlo Matrix downsized with 3/4HP impeller (X2), Hayward S180T 150# sand filter (X2), Hayward H250 NG heater Pool Store year 1 - $850 for 2 months; Pool Store year 2 - $440 for 2 months, TFPC year 1 - $170 for 4 months; TFPC year 2 - $95 for 4.5 months
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    White wire does get connected to GFCI breakers.

    I'm thinking water in the conduit. Unfortunately, this is difficult to check for.
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    If water were in the conduit would I see that with a meter. Guessing it will beep (non infinite ). I will pull the pool light out tomorrow and remove the bulb. Then I will pull the neutral wire from the breaker and check it with my meter... I know my pool cleaner booster pump and heater are also tied to the same line I think (since when I trip the breaker they are without power). With that said I'm not sure how it will read. If that fails I should be able to isolate the pool light and the wall light at the junction box... If so I can test the lights there individually I am guessing.

    So if I test the pool light with no bulb, it should not beep...
    Also if I test the retaining wall lights with no bulbs, the meter should not beep...
    If they do then I can isolate from there, if they don't then I need to figure out what's next. I don't think it's a problem with the heater or booster pump since they turn off and on at the pool pad without tripping the breaker... That being said since they are also fed by that same run from my home breaker box I don't think it's that run as we'll...

    That leaves the conduit run for the pool light or the conduit for the retaining wall lights. Which I can isolate at the equipment pad junction box.

    More to follow

    Let me know if I am going about this wrong...
    Pool 16 x 33.5 Foxx Pool with rounded corners 3.5 at each end and 5+ in the middle (16000 GAL)

    Equipment - 300 LB Hayward filter with a Pentair SuperFlo pump (3/4 HP). Also Hayward H series Heater and a dedicated jet for a Polaris 280 with a booster pump (3/4HP). Hayward Chlorinator CL200.

    Pool has Main Drain, 2 return Jets with 1 inch eyeballs, a skimmer with floating weir, and the dedicated Polaris jet. Also has a valve for the Waterslide.

  18. Back To Top    #18
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    That might work. You want to measure resistance between ground and each of the power conductors.
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    Have you considered a bad light switch? Seems you looked at everything but that from what I have read.
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    Re: Another GFCI circuit breaker question

    I replaced the light switch last year while trying to find out what was going on, I could try to swap it over to a spare switch for a test... I am going to try and pull the pool light bulb today and cut the power so I can get into the junction box and split the circuit and try to get an ohm reading. More to follow...

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