Circuit Breaker Problem

We had a bad electrical storm yesterday and when I got home several breakers were tripped. My 6 month ol hot tub which is on the back porch and was not on. The breaker next to it is off and if I try to switch it on it wont stay on. It won't power the tub. The breaker out by the meter box is on and when I switch it off I can then switch the one by the hot tub on and it will stay on untill I switch the one on the meter box back on then it trips the one by the tub. Does this sound like a bad breaker or a short somewhere in my hot tub? Everything is 6 months old.
Thanks
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snipped-for-privacy@cox.net wrote:

Could be either.
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HeyBub wrote:

How can I tell? I need to know to call an electrician or the hot tub people. I was leaning to it being the tub.
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wrote:

(1) put in a new breaker for the hot tub (cheap and easy). If the new one also trips, then something has shorted out
(2) don't change the breaker, just measure the current the instant you turn the breaker back on (requires a clamp meter and possibly rewiring something so you have a wire to clamp). If the current is higher than the breaker's rating and the hot tub is off, then something is wrong.
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GFCI breakers, particularly duals (240V) aren't cheap. Is this a dual or a single?
Assuming that you feel confident in replacing a breaker, you should be able to do this:
1) Kill the main power, and turn off the tub breaker.
2) Open the panel, and pull the "output hot" wires off the GFCI. If it's a single breaker, it'll just be the black wire. If it's a dual breaker, pull the black wire off one side, and the matching wire off the other side (it'll either be white or red).
3) Wrap the loose ends of the wire with a bit of tape (safety paranoia).
4) Turn on the tub breaker (main is still off). If it tub breaker won't stay armed, the tub breaker is busted (mechanically. You've already ruled this out I think).
5) Turn on the main breaker. If the tub breaker stays on, the problem is with the feed wire or the tub. If the tub breaker goes off, the breaker is busted.
If the tub breaker stayed on in (5), turn off all the power again, reconnect the breaker, and then repeat this after disconnecting the feed wire _at the tub_. This will in turn isolate whether the tub or the feed wire is at fault.
If the tub is outside, there's a distinct possibility that the wire (especially in a box) got flooded during your rainstorm, and _that_'s the problem.
[I have a garage GFCI that appears to trip occasionally. Outdoor box.]
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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I don't know if it is dual or single. I will check. I'm confused, if I remove the hot wires why would the breaker trip?
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If your tub has a 240V heater and/or pump, it'll be a dual.
The hot wires are the _output_ of the breaker. If the breaker refuses to stay armed after power is supplied to it (the main breaker via the panel backplane) and the breaker output is disconnected, it means the breaker is at fault. Probably the GFCI circuitry.
After a thunderstorm, the above is the most likely.
It is possible that the breaker is tripping at too low a current (not a GFCI). You can rule that out by making sure that the tub is 100% turned off (heater, pump off) and trying to power it up. [Do this before disconnecting the breaker from the tub].
The "worst case" (from your perspective) is when the breaker will stay armed with the tub completely switched off and then trips when you turn on the pump or heater. You won't be able to tell whether it's a weak breaker or a short in the tub. That needs test equipment and/or experience.
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Chris Lewis wrote:

I had an electrician come out today. The one that installed the circuit in the first place. He said it was the breaker and he is replacing it. $150.00 bucks!
Thanks for the help!
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For a dual? At least $60 or more.
Heck, a _single_ 15A FPE GFCI is about $100.
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snipped-for-privacy@cox.net wrote:

hi, The tub gfci. I agree with you.
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It could be the breaker or the wiring. Or even both. It's perhaps more likely to be the breaker - especially if it's a GFCI.
If you're unable to come up with your own method for isolating which one is the problem, you're probably best off getting an electrician in to look at it.
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I feel I could replace the breaker myself by killing the main. It is a GFCI. I was thinking it it was a bad breaker it would not stay on with the main power cut off to it, which it does. When the power is put to it it won't stay in the on position at all, thats why i'm afraid that there is a short in the tub.
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Jamessa wrote:

nah breakers are cheap, try replacing breaker first and let us know the outcome.
the storm likely fried the gfci sensor part of breaker
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I will do that tonight! Thanks for your help and I will let you know the outcome.
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Uh, no. A bad breaker may or may not "stay on" with the power to it cut off. Depends on what the problem with it is.
It could be overly sensitive. It could have a fried GFCI circuit. The latching could have broken.
It could also be an electrical leak in the tub, whether it be high enough to trip a regular breaker, or only enough to trip the GFCI portion of the breaker.

GFCI breakers aren't cheap. If you swap in a regular non-GFCI breaker instead, you could kill yourself if there's something wrong with the tub.
This is one time where blindly replacing components (particularly with ones that don't meet code requirements) is a very bad idea.
If it were me, I'd not replace anything until I could prove exactly what was broken, and what isn't.
For that, you need some electrical knowledge and some test equipment. Bare minimum, a trustworthy volt/ohmmeter and preferably some sort of dummy load (if only a lamp).
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I wasnt recommending a non GFCI breaker,
a electrician will likely charge at least a hundred bucks just to check it out, way more than a GFCI breaker costs
With the electrical storm its probably a over sensitive GFCI...
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Many dual GFCI's cost well over $100.
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Short in tub. Call a repairman.
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Christopher A. Young
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