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Thread: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

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    While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    I know whoever installed it made some odd decisions, but it has worked for us the last 3 years just fine. The pool has been open about a month now. About a week ago it started tripping the gfci. It tripped about 3 times over a couple days then refused to reset. So I swapped out the gfci with a new one, and everything worked fine. Until I got home from work that is, the breaker was now tripped. Now every time I restart the pump it starts to spin up then trips the breaker.

    After visually trouble shooting everything electrical from the pump to the breaker box I decided to open up the pump to see if anything stood out…. And wow was I surprised. Connections are highly corroded, and plastic is melted. After talking to my dad (a retired electrician) he seems to think a mix of corrosion and too thin of wires (something I know the previous owners messed up) caused the melted plastic and very well could be tripping the breaker. However he admits he knows nothing about pool pumps so basically advised me to clean up the terminals and wires, reconnect correctly, and apply some Vaseline on the terminals to prevent future corrosion. If it fixes it great, otherwise take it to a pool pro.

    This makes sense to me with my limited hand me down electrical education.

    After researching on here there seems to be more causes of the tripping breaker (capacitor, stuck shaft, etc..). So I figured I would share some pictures and see what you guys think.


    Thanks

    photo 1.jpg

    photo 2.jpg

    photo 3.jpg

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    GFIs will trip whenever they sense an imbalance in the wiring. That corrosion and the resistance it creates is probably enough to do it.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    Welcome to TFP!

    I'd certainly give your Dad's advice a try. Eliminate the corrosion, replace the heavily corroded screw and goo it up with a little vaseline after it's reconnected and try it out.

    Be safe!
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    I suggest silicone grease, not vaseline....

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    well i cleaned up the contacts, cut back the wires, hooked it all back up, and applied some silicone grease. Turned it back on and

    No gfci trip
    No breaker trip
    No turning on
    Just humming
    So i begrudgingly shut it off and opened it back up. Everything looks fine still with what i did, nothing out of place or melted (well more so anyway). I checked the motor shaft and it spins freely.

    So as i understand it my next steps are clean the centrifugal/speed contacts, and then if that fails... it is the capacitor?

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    Quote Originally Posted by cobol View Post
    well i cleaned up the contacts, cut back the wires, hooked it all back up, and applied some silicone grease. Turned it back on and

    No gfci trip
    No breaker trip
    No turning on
    Just humming
    So i begrudgingly shut it off and opened it back up. Everything looks fine still with what i did, nothing out of place or melted (well more so anyway). I checked the motor shaft and it spins freely.

    So as i understand it my next steps are clean the centrifugal/speed contacts, and then if that fails... it is the capacitor?
    You've just passed my level of knowledge.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    Hit it with a hammer!

    No seriously give it a few smacks and see if it unlocks.

    Never heard of Vaseline or silicone on electrical btw, but we put a lot of DeOx, NoLox or whatever you want to call the anti-oxidants on electrical stuff.
    Michigan - 24'x54" AG, approx 15,000g, 2 center drains, Cartridge filter, Aqua Pro 2hp, 2 speed pump 3.5a@1725w / 10.5a@3450w, AquaCal TropiCal T90 heat pump, Hayward Salt & Swim SWG, Poolskim, Aquabot Rover Jr.

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    It looks like you have 2 black wires for power, which usually means 230 volts coming in. However, the switch is set for 115 volts. That could be related.

    One of the wires looks like it might have been white, but is charred, making it turn black. So, it might be 115 volts coming in. Check the incoming voltage and set the switch accordingly.

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    it is 115, that brownish wire was white at one time i trimmed back to fresh wire and it is white once more.

    I need to rewire it, i think this wire is like 14 awg and apears to be more of a cut up extension cord then real wiring. It basically disintegrated while i was undoing it. But first i just need the pool to start moving water, i can rewire correctly later (especially since a new motor might be in order)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Trick View Post
    Hit it with a hammer!

    No seriously give it a few smacks and see if it unlocks.

    Never heard of Vaseline or silicone on electrical btw, but we put a lot of DeOx, NoLox or whatever you want to call the anti-oxidants on electrical stuff.
    I kicked it a few times but then my toe started to hurt, so i stopped to contemplate and finish my beer

    petroleum jelly is just the cheap route, older people do it also. I didn't even think of silicone grease, but i had some in the garage for when i change spark plugs. I have seen deox before but never used it.



    i haven't posted on a forum in a long time, it wont let you post back to back?

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    it looks like your electrical connections overheated at one time. In the pictures where you have the wires disconnected, it looks like the edge of the spade crimp terminal for the black wire is burnt black. The screw that the brown wire was under is completely rusted, probably because that connection got red hot and vaporized the protective plating on the screw head. That side also has a spade terminal that has black melted plastic around it, but it doesn't look like anything was connected to that spade. Strange. I'd look real closely at the whole "terminal block" area and trace the path that the electricity goes into the motor windings. I suspect you'll find more heat damage, but it may be just a matter of cleaning it up with sandpaper and getting a few new screws. Good luck.

    Edit: My guess is both electrical connections were quick connect spade connections at one time. When the brown one went bad, someone cut the quick connect off and just connected the wire directly under the screw head - note all the un-captured wire strands under the screw head. From the lack of apparent crimping of the remaining quick connect terminal for the black wire, I suspect someone didn't use the correct terminal or correct crimping tool. Size wise, it almost looks like a 10-12 wire gauge crimp barrel for your 14 GA wire. Crimping using the right size terminal and a proper crimp pliers is important for current paths like these.
    21K gal 16' x 40' in-ground pool built 1959, old school with Jacuzzi bronze pump, American Products 24" Sand Filter & Americana Multiport valve, Jandy Lite2 millivolt heater, Coverstar cover, and classic Kreepy Krauly.

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    You could try replacing the run capicitor first because that would cause the motor to fail to start or run. If it's causing the breaker to trip and the breaker isn't undersized for the load of the motor it would tend to point to a shorted stator or a stator that has shorted to ground which could also be the cause of the GFCI tripping due to the current leakage to ground. I'd suggest looking in your area for someone who rebuilds electric motors, they could tell you easily what's wrong with it and it could be an inexpensive repair.
    24,000 gal 18 x 38 vinyl, 1.5 HP pump, 24" diameter sand filter, Hayward ProLogic w/T-15

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    I'm thinking new pump time
    Inground 22k gallon gunite 15x31 main pool, 15x7 wading pool/sunning deck, hot tub/with overflow (9' octagon with limestone top) & slide NSWG, Aqua Blue Pebble Sheen
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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    Try replacing the capacitor and cleaning the centrifugal switch contacts. The capacitor is the black cylinder in the top picture. The centrifugal switch contacts are the two copper colored strips in the top picture. The contact points are in the very center where the two strips overlap. Slip a piece of folded over fine grain sandpaper between the two points and move it back and forth.

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    Quote Originally Posted by gtemkin View Post
    it looks like your electrical connections overheated at one time. In the pictures where you have the wires disconnected, it looks like the edge of the spade crimp terminal for the black wire is burnt black. The screw that the brown wire was under is completely rusted, probably because that connection got red hot and vaporized the protective plating on the screw head. That side also has a spade terminal that has black melted plastic around it, but it doesn't look like anything was connected to that spade. Strange. I'd look real closely at the whole "terminal block" area and trace the path that the electricity goes into the motor windings. I suspect you'll find more heat damage, but it may be just a matter of cleaning it up with sandpaper and getting a few new screws. Good luck.

    Edit: My guess is both electrical connections were quick connect spade connections at one time. When the brown one went bad, someone cut the quick connect off and just connected the wire directly under the screw head - note all the un-captured wire strands under the screw head. From the lack of apparent crimping of the remaining quick connect terminal for the black wire, I suspect someone didn't use the correct terminal or correct crimping tool. Size wise, it almost looks like a 10-12 wire gauge crimp barrel for your 14 GA wire. Crimping using the right size terminal and a proper crimp pliers is important for current paths like these.
    i didn't even think of that. the melting might be from a previous issue with the neutral spade connector and they moved it to the screw.

    I popped the block off to see the back side and everything looked surprisingly good. i am not seeing any other corrosion or heat damage. Obviously i didn't remove everything so there may be more buried in there somewhere. There wires were even damaged where they came into the housing and could have been touching each other or the housing but i moved them before i noticed the wire damage.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by wjr75 View Post
    I'm thinking new pump time
    I think i am just going try and track down a capacitor tomorrow to hopefully get it going and then order a new motor and rewire the hole thing correctly.

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    Lacking the necessary tools to diagnose the capacitor and possibly the centrifugal switch..... rather than parts-swap until exasperation or, possibly, repair..... I'd just change out the motor and know where I was. There is so much heat damage and corrosion damage to that motor, I'd always be suspicious of the integrity of the windings.

    Noalox is made for aluminum connections and De-ox is an electrically CONDUCTIVE grease, not, I think, what we want. The best grease, I have found, for electrical connections is DC-4. See here.

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    Quote Originally Posted by ewkearns View Post
    Noalox is made for aluminum connections and De-ox is an electrically CONDUCTIVE grease, not, I think, what we want. The best grease, I have found, for electrical connections is DC-4. See here.
    De-Ox is what you want to use if you have a corrosion problem. Yes, it is electrically conductive. The opposite is electrically NON-conductive and you don't want that.

    Check the incoming power to the motor with a Volt/OHM meter to see if you have power. As screwed up as that wiring looks, you may have a break somewhere else in the line. My suspicion though is the wire that was placed under the terminal nut may point to the source of the problem. I will bet that when you unhooked that the connection on the other side of the screw came loose or corroded away and broke.

    BTW guys, Corrosion, unless it grows to connect two wires will not cause a GFCI to trip.
    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: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    Don't want to be too nit-pickey here but all the De-ox and Noalox products are non-conductive, even the one's that contain Zinc or Copper particles. Those metal particles improve contact resistance of bolted connections by breaking through the surface oxides on conductors and thereby improving conductivity at metal to metal interfaces, but the particles sitting in the bulk grease are isolated from each other and there is no bulk conductivity in those materials. You can check it out using an ohmmeter, and that's also the reason all the versions have 600V UL dielectric ratings.

    The pictures of the open motor show it's in pristine condition except the components that overheated and burned off their protective plating. As danpik stated, I really don't think you need to be concerned about corrosion and yes, there probably is an unidentified disconnect in the circuit associated with that overheated terminal block.
    21K gal 16' x 40' in-ground pool built 1959, old school with Jacuzzi bronze pump, American Products 24" Sand Filter & Americana Multiport valve, Jandy Lite2 millivolt heater, Coverstar cover, and classic Kreepy Krauly.

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    You say when you give it power, you get a hum...that's a good sign. Can you separate the pump housing from the motor easily with your model? If it's a start cap, a good test I've used for this is to try to manually start the motor after you've applied power...be very careful (wouldn't want to spin with your hand and have it get caught on the shaft) and maybe use a pair of pliers to spin the shaft while power is applied...if it starts moving on its own, you probably need a capacitor.
    17.4k gallon IG pool with attached spa (spa itself is 730gal), Super Blue Diamondbrite plaster, Circupool SI-45+ SWG, BH/Hayward Cartridge Filter, 2hp 2speed Hayward Super II pump, , Jandy Valves, Waterway Skimmers, Rheem 400k Heater, Polaris 360 cleaner, built 2000+-, replastered June 2015, TF-100 kit---Here's my pool test reading history

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    Re: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…

    Just read back thru this again. If it is humming and the shaft turns free it is most likely the start Cap (about a $10-$15 repair). If the wiring to the motor is as bad as you say it is that will need to be addressed. The wiring if outdoors, needs to be either THWN wires with an insulated ground wire or UF romex. The jury is still deliberating on the UF as being legal as the ground technically is not insulated. Some jurisdictions have allowed it but most do not as the sheathing on the UF is only weather resistant, not electrically insulative.
    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: While investigating a breaker trip issue, I found an electrical mess…


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