GFCI Outlets Question

Hello,
Have the typical Leviton GFCI dual outlets (as sold by ACE Hardware) around our house.
One has the electric garage door opener plugged into it. It has recently tripped, but on pushing back in the red button, it seems to work again.
Another, the outlet on our Deck, has tripped, but the red button will not stay pushed in (nothing plugged into the outlet).
Both are about 3 years old, and worked until now.
Neither one has the small green indicator light, which I see the new units in the store now have on them.
Questions:
a. For consumer grade Leviton GFCI outlets like these, how reliable are they generally ? Should they have to be replaced in 3 years, e.g., normally ? Are they both likely defective ?
The Deck one is in a more-or-less weatherproof box, but of course does see the cold. The one in our garage also gets pretty cold down there.
b. I understand the basic principle of how these function, but was wondering if they also would trip (as a normal house circuit breaker would) for a short circuit or an excess current draw over 15 amps ?
Or, do they just solely protect against stray current going through an individual ?
c. Are there better brands or models available ?
Thanks, Bob
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Almost all of the ones I've had from a variety of manufacturers over decades are working. I've replaced maybe one.

They should not have to be replaced. With a motor load like the garage door sometimes they can falsely trip. That's why they are not recommended for refrigerators. So, the garage one may be OK.
The other one it could either be a bad GFCI or there could actually be a ground fault on the circuit. Does that GFCI also protect other outlets downstream? One of them get wet, etc? Easy way to find out is to put in a new one and see what happens.

No
They protect against ground faults, ie current from the hot winding up not coming back on the neutral because it's gone off to ground somewhere. If they could detect an individual versus a wet outlet, now that would be something.....

Don't know. I've uses whatever was availabe for 30 years with no problems.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

The cheaper way (to test the integrity of the GFCI outlet) is to disconnect the wires leading to the downstream outlets and re-connect them to the unproteced terminals.
As for the garage door opener compared to the refrigerator, I'd imagine that the garage door opener has an even larger motor than the fridge. Therefore, if the GFCI manufacturer discourages connecting a fridge, I'd think the same considerations would apply for a garage door opener.
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That might be cheap but it tests nothing, doesn't prove anything about the GFCI and if you believe the results it could get someone killed. For example, downstream the hot is shorted to some metal, which in turn has some limited high resistance path to ground. The GFCI detected it. You connect it direct, eliminating the GFCI and now all the circuit works. Until someone grabs the metal and gets electrocuted.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

You may be right, but death, dismemberment, or serious bodily injury was not part of the question. No, your concern, while admirable, is superfluous.
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On Sun, 20 May 2012 06:57:33 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

If a refrigerator trips a GFCI, it is bad. Usually it is caused by internal shorts in the compressor. That is why the freon coming out of old A/Cs fridges and freezers smells burnt. If nothing else, you are spending more money on electricity.
Investigate anything that chronically trips a GFCI. Once is a fluke, twice is a concern and 3 times is a fault.
I have every conceivable type of motor and running other loads on GFCIs without any problem (PCs, frigdes, power tools of various types, pressure cleaners up to 5HP and a boat lift).
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In article

The reason you do not use a GFCI with a refrigerator, is that they do occasionally falsely trip. Your food will spoil if you do not notice it right away.
I have a generator with a standard GFCI outlet. Vibration sometimes causes it to trip, even with nothing plugged into it. I replaced the outlet thinking it might be defective, but the replacement also trips! Fortunately there is a 30 Amp twist-lock outlet that does not go through the GFCI, so I can use it with my refrigerator during a lengthy power outage.
Fred
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If I had a generator that had a GFCI that tripped due to vibration, I would isolate the GFCI from the vibration.
If mounting the GFCI itself in such a manner as to isolate it was not feasible, I'd replace it with a standard outlet and build a short extension cord with a GFCI receptacle attached.
To be safe, I'd secure the GFCI extension cord to the generator in a manner that prevented easy removal.
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when you use the garage door and the stars are aligned wrong.

I'd swap that one out.

Pretty. I've got 25yr old ones that only trip when I test them. I've also had one or 2 fail in a couple years.

If there is an easy way to see if you have good power upstream from the one that won't reset- then check it. By the time you pull it, you might as well put a new one in.
The one that ripped and reset apparently just did its job.

cold won't bother them. 'more or less weatherproof' bothers *me*. Get one of these- (Amazon.com product link shortened)
Jim
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On 05/20/2012 08:12 AM, Robert11 wrote:

Is the breaker tripped? some of them will not reset if they trip and then power is removed.
nate
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On Sunday, May 20, 2012 5:12:27 AM UTC-7, Robert11 wrote:

I thought I had a bad Leviton (made in Singapore) because it would trip every few weeks for apparently no reason, but when I swapped it with one from another circuit, the replacement tripped about as often, while the suspect one worked fine. Tripping went away after I tightened all the connections on the circuit.
OTOH I did have a couple of defective plug-in GFCIs. One was recalled by the manufacturer, but its replacement, which looked very different inside, failed in a week by not turning off the current when a ground fault occurred. The replacement for that one has been OK for a decade.
GFCIs are allowed to delay disconnecting the AC according to the level of leakage current, anywhere from 0.03 second for 200mA leakage, up to 6 seconds for 5mA leakage (safety standard UL943). GFCIs work by comparing the current going in one wire and out the other, by passing the hot and neutral lines through a transformer. When the currents are equal they cancel out, but if there's leakage to ground, the transformer will sense the difference in currents. Because GFCIs work this way, they won't protect from all shocks, such as when somebody stands on an insulated floor and sticks his or her fingers into the narrow slots of a GFCI-protected outlet. This does not mean you should stand on a conductive surface!
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@Bob:
"More-or-Less weatherproof" could mean that there is some water infiltration into the box causing it to trip...
As others have said the culprit could also be loose connections somewhere in the circuit or a tripped breaker preventing GFCI reset...
Also look for signs of insects, sometimes they can crawl into the boxes and cause issues with outdoor receptacles....
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