I have a series of 5 or 6 120V AC patio lights, controlled by a ground fault
which has been working fine for years. Now, this season, after 1-2 hours,
the ground fault trips, and I cannot reset it for hours. If there was a
short, it would trip immediately, right? What would be the condition that
would cause it to trip a few hours later, and then not reset? Thanks
It would appear that something is causing a ground fault (not a short)
based on heat. Something may be expanding as it heats up and causing the
ground fault. Try removing some of the lamps from the circuit and see it it
still happens. You may be able to do it by just removing the bulbs or you
may need to disconnect the wires.
It is also possible the GF unit is defective and needs to be replaced.
I am not suggesting that heat is causing the ground fault to trip,
although I guess that might be possible, but rater I suspect that heat is
causing a ground fault that trips the GFI. Metal expands and if there is a
close fault, the metal expanding could bridge the gap.
Since we in NY have been having torrential rains lately, I'd guess your
wiring is getting wet and tripping the gfci. Possibly when the ground water
lowers, the unit can be reset. I'd pick a mid point in the string and remove
the fixture and separate the wires and cap them. This will tell you where in
the string the problem exists. You can keep narrowing it down like this
until you find the location of the fault. Also there are special gel filled
wire nuts that can be used which prevent water entry.
I expect he is correct. You should understand that nothing has to actually
get wet to trip a GFCI; it is not the same as a short. I had an outlet that
would trip my GFCI every time it rained, eventhough it never actually got
wet. Replacing the outlet solved my problem.
So, you have to identify where the problem is; and then repair or replace.
Right. But then the circuit breaker would trip, not the GFCI.
A ground fault, which is what a Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor is
detecting (not a short circuit). Ground faults are typically caused by
moisture, and mean that current is leaking to some source (usually the
earth) besides the neutral conductor/wide slot of the GFCI outlet. This is
a shock hazard, so the outlet is protecting you.
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