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Eric walls

GFCI won't reset

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I searched this forum and found a little information but I still have a question regarding a GFCI receptacle I have.  2 controllers are plugged into it running my 16 channel mega tree and my arches. My arches are made out of pvc and the the pugs go through the middle of the pvc pipe and then to the controller. All plugs are off the ground.

 

On my mega tree my stands come down from the top of the tree to a tent stake and then back up a few feet. Again all the plugs are off the ground on this one.

The totally amps for both controllers and the lights and less than 1, so I don't think the plug is being overloaded.

 

During the show it will run for a few minutes and then pop. I reset the plug but then it pops again after a few seconds.  Oe of the suggestions in another thread suggested the plug doesn't like the fast action of the controllers and sees this as a problem, and pops the receptacle.  A friend of mine said he tries to find non GFCI plugs for his equipment for that very reason.

 

Should I replace the plug?

 

It's an outside plug and code requires it to be a GFCI plug but I was considering changing it to a regular plug. Would this be dangerous?

 

I really can't find why it would pop, and it's frustrating to see only part of my show.

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GFCIs do go bad.  Replace it with a new one. A regular outlet is cheaper, but offers no protection.  Be sure you replace with a quality GFCI outlet.

 

I should add that after a similar experience I discovered 2 GFCI outlets on the same circuit.  Once I removed one, the circuit and GFCI worked normally.

Edited by Liberty-Laser

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I had one go bad as well.   Would trip very easily.  New one working much better.

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A couple years ago, I replaced most of my display GCFIs with a model that had a green lamp when working properly.  Great for quickly identifying a popped outlet, or just peace of mind that at a quick glance, you know all GFCIs are up and running.

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Thanks guys. I think today after work I'll go down to our hardware store and get a very good one.  Shouldn't take too long to replace.  I'm tempted to replace it with a regular plug but I don't think that would really be safe or within code. During the rest of the year I use that plug for my string trimmer and other landscape appliances.

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Replace it with another GFCI!  If the GFCI is bad, the new one you install won't trip.  If the new one trips it is telling you that you have an electrical problem.  Ignoring that by putting in a regular plug could cause someone to get zapped!

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Ya, exactly what I was thinking.  Someone suggested putting a regular outlet on there but I don't think that's a good idea.  I'd rather have it trip a bunch of times than to get zapped, just not worth it.  If it still trips all the time then I'll just have to figure out another place to plug the controllers in to, and/or troubleshoot the electrical problem.

 

My house was built just 15 years ago and some of the outside plugs are GFCI and some are not. Wonder why they did it that way?

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I'd try plugging a corded power tool into the GFI and try to run that through a bunch of on & off cycles before replacing the receptacle.  Something like a circular saw with a high inrush current that puts a lot of noise on the line.  If the GFI holds, your problem is probably elsewhere.   

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Ya, exactly what I was thinking.  Someone suggested putting a regular outlet on there but I don't think that's a good idea.  I'd rather have it trip a bunch of times than to get zapped, just not worth it.  If it still trips all the time then I'll just have to figure out another place to plug the controllers in to, and/or troubleshoot the electrical problem.

 

My house was built just 15 years ago and some of the outside plugs are GFCI and some are not. Wonder why they did it that way?

Those outside non-GFCI receps are probably fed in a line-load configuration from another GFCI upstream in the circuit.  It's pretty common to see outdoor receps fed off a bath GFCI in a lot of new construction residential projects.  It seems like an awful nuisance to me to have to go inside to reset a tripped GFI just to save a few bucks on the job, but that's just my 2 cents.

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Those outside non-GFCI receps are probably fed in a line-load configuration from another GFCI upstream in the circuit.  It's pretty common to see outdoor receps fed off a bath GFCI in a lot of new construction residential projects.  It seems like an awful nuisance to me to have to go inside to reset a tripped GFI just to save a few bucks on the job, but that's just my 2 cents.

 

My parents house is the opposite and the bathroom is fed form the outside GFCI.

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So would it be possible then that the non GFCI plug could be causing the GFCI plug to trip?  The non GFCI plug goes to my mini trees which are wire frame. Would it help to zip ties the cord off the ground or do I still need something under the wire frame?

 

Why do they wire houses like that?

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So would it be possible then that the non GFCI plug could be causing the GFCI plug to trip?  The non GFCI plug goes to my mini trees which are wire frame. Would it help to zip ties the cord off the ground or do I still need something under the wire frame?

 

Why do they wire houses like that?

 

If you are using wire-frames & incandescent, they are a pain.  After switching to LED, I have had no issues with mine.  I did limit the issue while using incandescents by coating the metal prongs (that go into the ground) with either a rubber dip or spraying with that stuff they sell to seal gutters.  May be the same stuff in a different form.

 

The other part of your question, Yes, if the non GFCI outlet is in parallel - further down the wire from a GFCI outlet.  The one GFCI protects both.

Edited by Liberty-Laser

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If you can confirm that the non-GFI receptacle is downline in the same circuit fed through the GFI, then yes, it is entirely possible that something plugged into a non-GFI recep would cause an upline GFI to trip.  As for why this sort of wiring is done, it's beyond me.  I've done residential electrical work for 15+ years and I wire all my GFI's as stand-alone for convenience and ease of troubleshooting.  I wind up using a lot more $10 GFI receps instead of 50 cent regular recepts, but it's my own preference.  The #1 place I use downline receps fed from an indoor GFI is in my display circuits.  I have a row of GFI receps wired in right next to my panel feeding regular receps outside.  If I have to change out or reset a GFI, I'm doing it in the comfort of my warm, well-lighted basement instead of kneeling down in the snow and cold outside.

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Sorry if this topic has been brought up before…..I looked earlier and couldn't figure out and answer but I know it's probably been talked about a few times here.

So it sounds like I could possibly have 2 issues. #1 could be the bad plug in which cade I'm join got replace it away with a better one. #2 could be the non GFCI elements causing the GFCI to trip if it's down from that circuit.  In either case I will work on both and see if that helps.

 

Seems like when they construct a subdivision the builders go the cheapest way they can.  Even my main breaker box in the garage is very tiny, no from to add any circuits.  I'd like to add a few dedicated circuits to run my lights and put the plugs in a more convent place, so I don't have to run extension cords across the lawn. Guess I'll either have to have a bigger box put in or a sub panel.

Funny thing is when I lived in another older home it had a basement with a very large breaker box. I added a circuit for a freezer to hold fish/bait, and several other circuits for a window air conditioner. It was easy to crawl under the house and come up through the wall.

These newer homes are much harder to do that and I don't know enough about electrical work to do that.  I just want my lights to work!

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You can now purchase weather resistant outdoor grade GFCI receptacles, like Leviton WT899-W. They are only a few bucks more than the previous styles. I've had zero nuisance trips in 2 years after installing them. This model is also tamper resistant, so you don't get bugs in the hot or neutrals during the off-season. Ran the show last week in fog, mist & rain. No trips. Use quality receptacles and keep your plugs off the ground and the show will go on.

Edited by Mega Arch

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Just an FYI - the only features that differentiate weather resistant GFI receptacles are a UV stabilized, high cold impact resistant thermoplastic face and a stainless steel mounting face.  internally, they are the same and are required to trip at the same 5 mA threshold as any other GFCI.  Are they better?  Maybe, but definitely not in the way most of us would think.  A 5 mA fault isn't going to care about better plastic and a non-corrosive strap.  Mega Arch's success is likely more attributable to the tamper-resistant closure feature and overall quality that Leviton brings to their products (yes, I'm a big fan of them vs other brands).  Add in the fact that they are new and have not been through any trip cycles and/or suffered from any internal corrosion on the contacts as yet and it's a whole bunch of positives in your favor to help keep the lights on.

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Been selling electrical supplies for 33+ years. Just saying for $1.75 more, they're the best I've ever sold.

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Eric, if you dont want to be the laughing stock at the hardware store. Call it what it is. It is a SOCKET. A PLUG is what you have in your hand and put it in the socket. Calling a socket a plug is like calling yourself a female. Are you a plug or a socket Eric?

Edited by Max-Paul

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That's funny........I went to the hardware store and on the electrical isle they had receptables, so I asked for a 15 amp GFI tamper and weather resistant receptable.

I would never put my plug into a bad socket!

So here is the issue now........

I plugged the 2 controllers a different circuit, the one that is non GFCI. It ran for a while and then stopped. It tripod the GFCI in the garage. So this tells me that the non GFCI socket is down the line from the GFCI in the garage.

So the problem is I need to figure what is tripping this. I think I'll get the same result if I replace the receptable.

One controller goes to the mega tree. It's made of PVC and the lights come down to the ground and back up about half way- no plug is touching the ground.

The other controller goes to my arches, also made of PVC. Same thing here. They're plugged into the controller with every plug off the ground.

Even thing worked for a few days and now it trips. Someone please help, this is my first year and my neighbors want to see the show!

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Eric,

I think you ran a Halloween show without posting GFCI problems, so we need to break it down and see what's different now. And as for your asking about the fast action tripping them - no. I have some of Brian's Superstar auto-sequences running. Real busy flashy blinky and zero trips.

Are you 100% LED? You said only 1amp, so must be. Unplug everything and then start plugging one prop at a time back in. Save your wire-frame trees for last. Then you will most likely have answered your question as to should you insulate them by putting something under them.

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The only thing I can think of is that it's been much wetter and rainy this time of the year. My controller with the wire mini trees runs fine, never trips the outlet and some of the plugs are actually on the ground.

It's a problem with my mega tree and my arches. Why is it continuing to trip? All the plugs are off the ground. I'm running everything LED so the total load on one controller is about half an amp.

I wish I could just get it fixed, I'm really at a loss.

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Eric,

 

If it were me, I would eliminate one controller at a time.  It seems you have a controller for the arches and a controller for the mega tree.

 

Test it one controller at a time.  I would unplug the mega tree controller and test the arches from the hardware utility, or even run a show with the mega tree controller unplugged.  If it runs fine, it is likely a problem with the mega tree controller.  

 

Now do the same thing with the arch controller unplugged.  If you don't find a problem, perhaps you are drawing too much current with both of them on, and you could try a separate circuit for each controller.

 

If you proceed in that manner, you should be able to identify your problem.  Once you isolate the controller, than you can begin to isolate what channel on the controller is causing the problem.

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I'm with cytruden - need to run one controller at a time. Then one channel at a time. Then one light strand at a time.

You also stated the cords to your mega tree run down to tent stakes. If they are metal tent stakes, could be a leakage point there. Try one cord at a time and play a song. It's about the only way you're gonna find the culprit.

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