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vskerche

08:20PM | 03/08/03
Member Since: 03/08/03
8 lifetime posts
Bvelectrical
Just looking for some advice on where to start. My GFCI Breaker is tripping and I don't know why. It is not tripping when the outlets that are on the circuit are in use. I'll reset the breaker and anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days the breaker will trip. I just replaced the breaker because the old one wouldn't stay closed. I read somewhere that the outlets where the wires plug into the back are not recommended. If I change the outlets to GFCI's can I change the breaker to a NON-GFCI breaker, or would it matter.

joed

05:16AM | 03/10/03
Member Since: 09/17/02
524 lifetime posts
If you change the outlets to gfci you can change the breaker to a normal breaker. You don;t need to change all the outlets. One outlet can protect other down stream like the breaker did. Where are the outlets located that this gfci protects?

vskerche

06:38AM | 03/10/03
Member Since: 03/08/03
8 lifetime posts
Thanks for the reply. The outlets that are on the GFCI breaker are located (2)Garage, and 1 in each bathroom (2 total). I read somewhere that the outlets where the wires are directly inserted into the back are no longer deemed acceptable by code. If I change all the outlets, and the breaker still trips where do I go from there?.

rpxlpx

08:25AM | 03/10/03
Member Since: 03/13/00
1675 lifetime posts
You usually don't need to replace the outlets. Most of them have the option to move the wire from the push-in on the back to screw terminals on the side. (White wire to silver, black wire to gold.) Just do that. It might resolve the problem with the breaker tripping.
When you move the wires, make sure dust, dirt, cobwebs and any moisture are cleaned out of the box.

spokanekevin

10:41AM | 02/03/06
Member Since: 02/02/06
2 lifetime posts
The GFCI breaker compares the current from the hot wire (usually the black wire) with that returning to the panel via the neutral wire (usually the white wire). Occasionally when someone later adds an outlet or other wiring device to a circuit, they will tap into the neutral of a separate circuit downstream from the point of GFCI protection. This effectively completes the circuit and gives you power. The main risk in wiring this way is overloading the neutral wire. With a regular breaker you wouldn't notice a problem (unless you overloaded the wire to the point of burning it out) because it does not compare hot and neutral current. With the GFCI protection at the outlet itself (not at the breaker), you won't notice the problem if the neutral tap is upstream of the GFCI, but you will notice it if the neutral tap is downstream (after) the GFCI. The reason is because now when there is activity on the other circuit (remember, both circuits are sharing this neutral somewhere), it creates an unexpected difference in current along the neutral. The best fix is to find the shared neutral and correct that issue. When that is not possible, avoid using a GFCI breaker, and use a GFCI outlet instead. You may have to use multiple GFCI outlets, each protecting only itself, wired so as not to protect anything downstream in the circuit. If you don't know where the shared neutral is and it happens to be downstream of one of your GFCI outlets, then you'll still get tripping at that outlet if it is wired to protect downstream. As far as safety goes, even with a shared neutral you're probably alright (officially, it's a potential hazard) if it's just on convenience outlets that don't have large loads, but as you've found the GFCI tripping can get annoying. It could also be a problem with how the GFCI breaker is installed in your panel. The load (black) originates at the breaker. The neutral for this circuit must be connecte to the neutral screw on the breaker, not the panel. The pigtail on the breaker goes to the neutral bus in the panel. If any other neutral comes between the neutral for the circuit and the neutral screw on the breaker, you'll likely have tripping problems. Good luck.
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