GFCI's

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On Thu, 03 Dec 2015 18:17:46 -0700, Don Y

That's where you have to do your homework. I made sure the panel I purchased would fit. A few applications of the greenley punch - I didn't have to move a single wire - and all the wires were long enough to reach, after sorting out what went where.
If I had let the electrician supply the panel he usually uses there would have been a few junction boxes involved - and that I did NOT want!!!!

Or install a "stretcher box" - a surface mounted junction box to splice the wires. Nasty - but it works, passes code, and is not difficult.

This is where I differ. I say fix it while it is fixable - and on your schedule. Letting the panel decide when it has to be replaced never works out in your favour.
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On 12/3/2015 8:10 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Of course it's do-able. The question is one of where that sits on the list of things that *must* get done and *should* get done.
The decorative lintels over the garage and all windows will need to be replaced. Cracks in the stucco need to be patched. Both of these before I can paint the house.
We'll need to give some serious consideration to replacing the roof in the next year or two.
SWMBO wants to replace some more windows in the front of the house.
I want to install a french drain along the back side of the house to harvest rainwater -- and a large cistern to store it.
We've yet to select the water softener.
And, I still have a lot of automation to design and install.
Replacing an electric panel that isn't causing any problems sure seems like ASKING for work!

We've seen one panel "fail" in the neighborhood -- due to corrosion on the feed. Every other panel-related activity has been "elective" or mandated by tariff changes from the utility. All the homes were built within a year or two of each other so all "suffer" the same sort of wear. If there was a pending problem, it;s likely we'd be seeing some signs of it *somewhere* in the neighborhood.
[I walk the entire neighborhood -- 3.8 mile loop -- daily. So, interact with folks in enough different areas to have a pretty good feel for what sorts of problems people are having. I can tell you who's had plumbing problems, who's had their furnaces replaced, who's had problem with their PV arrays, who's water meters have failed, who's had pipes freeze, etc. While some folks are interested in the salacious trivia, I'm more concerned with things that are likely to cause me problems down the road; things I can anticipate before they force me to act! :> ]
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wrote:

On a square D QO panel you'd have to be pretty stupid to shock yourself changing a breaker with the panel "live". Like you'd almost have to TRY.
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On 12/3/2015 2:40 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

"Stupid" may be a bit harsh. But, if you're not doing this sort of thing on a daily basis, it's easy to get focused on WHAT you are trying to do and forget HOW you should be doing it!!
When I was in school, I had to make some wiring changes to a friend's vehicle. Had soldering station sitting out on his vehicle (hood or trunk, I can't recall).
Realized the tip I was using was too small to convey enough heat to the work. Not keen on waiting for it to cool off...
Didn't have a rag handy to grasp it...
So, lifted my leg to use the fabric of my jeans (down by my ankle) to grab the tip and unscrew it. Then, holding the tip in my pant leg, lifted my ankle even higher to drop the (hot!) tip on the bumper. Set my leg back down -- tickled that I'd managed to do this without falling over -- and promptly picked up the tip with my right hand to place it in my *pocket*!
Of course, it never made it *to* my pocket. The sound of searing flesh was unmistakeable.
My buddy just looked at me and said, "I can't believe -- after that elaborate *dance* that you just did (to avoid touching the hot tip) -- that you just grabbed that!"
<shrug> Too preoccupied with trying NOT to fall over that I'd forgotten WHY this had been necessary! :<
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On Thu, 03 Dec 2015 18:25:34 -0700, Don Y

The QO panel has a "sheilded" bus - you need to stick your finger in to touch it - I'll stick with "stupid" - or "extremely careless" - which when working around electricity IS "stupid"

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On Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 3:31:45 PM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

breakers are designed to get more sensitive as they age. to prevent fires..
I spent at least 15 years repairing machines in the westinghouse vanport in beaver pa breaker plant. aa truly fascinatining place
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On Wed, 02 Dec 2015 11:08:06 -0700, Don Y

You may just have a bad breaker.
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On 12/2/2015 1:15 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Did you miss the point where I said I replaced the breaker? TWO bad breakers? But the other three located within inches in the panel are all OK? Swap one of those in for the bad circuit (wanna bet that would be a wasted effort??)
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On Wed, 02 Dec 2015 13:45:31 -0700, Don Y

How much cord do you have out there and is it still on that spool?
I would keep eliminating the various components in this circuit until you get to what the problem is.
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On 12/2/2015 6:36 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

The same amount that has been out there and on the spool for the last ~decade. I can swap to another spool. I can unwind it all. But, none of those seem like reliable alternatives (do I then start considering trimming the length of the cord, etc.?)

Well, that's sort of obvious! :> The trick is figuring it out before trying the last possible option!
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On Wed, 02 Dec 2015 10:56:19 -0700, Don Y

They seem to just be a regular breaker with a GFCI manual trip mechanism built in.
http://gfretwell.com/electrical/gfci.jpg
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On Wed, 02 Dec 2015 10:56:19 -0700, Don Y

What brand panel and breaker?
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On 12/2/2015 7:35 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Old CH.
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On Wed, 02 Dec 2015 19:56:58 -0700, Don Y

Bolt on or snap on? I've seen a lot of issues lately on the old CH panels - (I'm talking from the '70s) - failing breakers and no direct replacements - so guys put in the new ones and butcher the panel cover to make them fit.
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On 12/3/2015 2:36 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Meter center has KWHr meter and mains input on left side (power feeds from below grade). Right side is just a "load center".
Two bus bars run the length (height) of the panel, interleaving the two "hot legs" (i.e., a double wide breaker ends up straddling both legs).
Bus bars have large "tongues" that protrude at right angles above the bars. Underside of breakers have a tight slot that grabs onto this tongue. (other "end" of breaker has a lip that clips over a metal/grounded mechanical support).
So, lift side of breaker that adheres to the tongue, pivoting on the other side that is clipped behind that metal lip. Breaker is then free to be removed -- save for any conductors that are tied to it (e.g., neutral pigtail, neutral load and hot load for GFCI; hot load for regular breaker)
Panel is at least 35 years old (so, I've been chasing down NOS spares before they become unobtanium). But, everything is still intact.
The GFCI's were purchased "new" many years ago. Note that there are 5 in the panel; three of which see everyday use (kitchen countertops plus bathrooms) and have never complained (despite large loads -- toaster oven, electric frying pan, hair dryers, etc.).
Fourth GFCI has just been "stored" in the panel. It was the candidate that I exploited to replace the GFCI for this outlet branch circuit.
I.e., too many coincidences wouold have to occur for me to conclude it was a GFCI (*breaker*) problem.
<shrug> I'll look at it this weekend. I've got some candy that I've got to make, today (while SWMBO is "away")
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On 12/1/2015 7:46 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Appears not to. OTOH, it won't trip with smaller loads.

The problem is, I can't tell if it is tripping from a momentary "over current" condition *or* a "leak". The fact that the circuit *holds* on the second attempt suggests it is related to the turn on transient (all those ice cold filaments now having had a chance to warm up -- even only momentarily -- to higher operating resistances).
Note that the other GFCI breakers have operated flawlessly for exactly the same length of time -- with more frequent usage (the outdoor circuit is rarely used) located in the same (outdoor) electrical panel. That, coupled with swapping breakers suggests the problem isn't in the breaker (or panel).
I'll try moving the load to a different receptacle and isolating this portion of the branch circuit. That will require a "longer" extension cord (actually, the current cord is long enough; I'll just have to unwind it from its "storage spool") so I will first verify the "bad" outlet fails with that lengthened cord before trying the lengthened cord in an upstream outlet.
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On Tue, 01 Dec 2015 20:25:06 -0700, Don Y

Try just unwinding it from the spool and trying it again. You may just be coupling current into the grounding conductor.
Because of that, they do have specs for different wiring methods and the total length of the circuit.
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On 12/1/2015 8:55 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Again, nothing changes on the spool between the first breaker closure (that trips) and the second (that holds).
Same extension cord used in previous years. Tree is in the same location that it was -- as is the electrical outlet (i.e., so, no more or less cord on the reel than in past years). Same strings of lights (though far FEWER of them). Same ambient temperatures. etc.
I'll have to play with it some more to get a better characterization of how it behaves (different size loads, different TYPES of loads, how long the circuit needs to "rest" before the problem will reproduce, etc.)
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On Tue, 01 Dec 2015 19:19:01 -0700, Don Y

Since you are swapping stuff around, try it on a non-GFI circuit. That will tell you if it is a ground fault. Usually this tracks back to water/bugs in a box.
I have one nightmare GFI circuit here that is longer than the design spec for GFIs but it works when everything is dry. When it fails, I end up splitting the circuit up to isolate the failure. Bear in mind, it can be a ground fault on the neutral. On outside boxes, make sure all of the wirenuts are pointed up, near the top of the box and that they are not too close to the box. It mitigates the water they all collect eventually.
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On 12/1/2015 7:57 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Moving the strins of lights to another circuit would take the existing wiring *and* GFCI out of the calculus.
OTOH, I could see if there's a breaker nearby that I can "borrow" onto which to move the existing wiring. I.e., I've tried changing JUST the GFCI breaker with another GFCI breaker (keeping everything else constant); this would allow me to try nonGFCI vs. GFCI (again, keeping everything else constant).
Trick will be to see how far I can reach in the electric panel to pick up a different breaker.

Boxes are recessed into block/cement walls. Faces sealed with foam gaskets. Outdoor "in use" covers keep out direct rain/water.
Bugs, OTOH, can always crawl in through the hole in the cover intended for the cords to exit.
But, bug would lead to suspected GFCI issue. And, would persist (not "clear" itself after the first breaker trip/reset)

Again, see above. IMO, it has something to do with the initial transient. I need to find a load that is more PURELY resistive to see what it's like when the load is X from the moment the breaker is FIRST closed.

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