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jwhibb

01:58AM | 12/01/06
Member Since: 11/30/06
7 lifetime posts
Bvelectrical
I have hung Christmas lights outside my home like I have been doing for quite a few years. We are in a different home this year and I am having major challenges. The lights have worked beautifully for the 1st 4 or 5 days they were up. However, it then began to rain and they keep kicking out the GFI switches in my house. They will NOT burn at all when it rains the slightest amount. The problem originally occurred on only 1 side of the house. (Each side is on a different GFI) So the side that I had trouble with, I covered all the extentsion cord connections with plastic to make them water proof. It did NOT work and now the other side is not working either. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!!

Billhart

05:24AM | 12/01/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1918 lifetime posts
If the receptacle or GFCI receptacle is exposed to the weather install an INUSE receptacle cover. They are a buble and will close around a plugged in receptacle.

Also if the GFCI is in the receptacle replace it with a new one.

While the electronics are coated after time that can get a break in it and start picking up moisture.


jwhibb

06:03AM | 12/01/06
Member Since: 11/30/06
7 lifetime posts
Thanks for the quick reply!! I will pick up some of those bubble covers and install them. However, the outdoor recepticles that I am using are not GFI. The GFI's they are kicking out are on the inside of the house. I assume your answser is still relevent though. In other words I will put on the bubble covers and replace the GFI outlets that are tripping, (which are on the inside of the house) with new ones. Is that what you still would suggest? Thanks again!!

fugazi48

06:26AM | 12/01/06
Member Since: 03/08/06
192 lifetime posts
sounds like your outside outlets are wired as a load on your inside gfci circuit. I don't know if that is a good idea.

I know current code in my area requires outside outlets to be gfci. I haven't replaced mine yet.

househelper

06:34AM | 12/01/06
Member Since: 03/31/05
265 lifetime posts
Code requires the outside receptacles to be GFCI PROTECTED, not necessarily be GFCI receptacles, so the setup is OK.

If the GFCIs are only tripping when it rains, you have a problem with your lights, There is probably a break in the insulation that is allowing moisture in and causing the trip. Try some new lights and see if the problem goes away.

jwhibb

07:16AM | 12/01/06
Member Since: 11/30/06
7 lifetime posts
Thanks for all the help! For the most part these are all new lights. There might be 4 or 5 strands that we used last year, but the rest are brand new. In our old house we would have as many as 35,000 lights some years and other than an occassional problem they were pretty much trouble free. However, this year we probably have around 8 to 10 thousand and are having the issue that NONE work when it rains. There is simply no way of checking all the individual strands etc., without redoing the entire process. I am hoping the GFI and the bubbles take care of it. Should I put GFI's on the outside and replace the ones inside? Would that meet code? Any other ideas? Thanks!

Billhart

09:17AM | 12/01/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1918 lifetime posts
All that needs is for the receptacle to be GFCI protected. And that can be done using the load terminals on a GFCI receptacle (or a dead face GFCI) or with a GFCI breaker.

Now it is possible that the GFCI's have deteriated and are tripping at a lower leve. Can't really tell from here.

It the GFCI's serve multiple outside receptacles then replace the indoor one with a standard recpetacle and installing a GFCI at EACH outside location will reduce the amount of leakage currents that are on anyone GFCI. But having them exposed makes them more likely to failure over the years.

GFCI's have a sensor whose output is the difference between the line and load currents. And if the difference is more than 0.005 amps it will trip.

So for a GFCI to trip it requires some alternat path for the current from the hot lead to flow. You can dunk Christmas lights in a buck of salt water and the GFCI will not trip. There is no place outside of the hot and neutral for the current to flow, as the lights don't have a ground.

Repeat it put put the end of an extension cord, with a ground, in the bucket and some current can flow from the hot can flow back to through the ground and the GFCI will trip.

Now knowing what the construction of your house is like or exaclty where the lights are I can say for sure, but the ways that leakage from a string of lights can get back to ground is limited.

That is why I am thinking that the problem is water getting in the receptacles.


jwhibb

09:50AM | 12/01/06
Member Since: 11/30/06
7 lifetime posts
Thanks a lot for your help! As I understand it, here are the steps I am going to take.

1. I will place the bubbles over the outside outlets.

2. I will replace the GFCI's inside the house.

If that doesn't work:

3. Then I will replace the exterior outlets with GFCI outlets.

4. Then put regular outlets inside the house in place of the GVCI.

Is that the steps you would take? Thanks again!

Billhart

10:16AM | 12/01/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1918 lifetime posts
If you don't have multiple OUTSIDE receptacles on the GFCI I would keep the GFCI's inside. But it would not hurt to open up the outside box and see if water is getting in and how much "dirt" that there is.

And if you have several outside outside receptacles on one GFCI I think that i would skip #2 and go directly to 3&4.

But it is all quess work from a distance.


jwhibb

10:55AM | 12/01/06
Member Since: 11/30/06
7 lifetime posts
I have 3 outside outlets. 2 of them go to 1 GFCI and the other 1 goes to another. I realize it is guess work for you. I am obviously very ignorant on this stuff. My Dad always helped me before if I had a challenge but he passed away last Christmas so your help is much needed and much appreciated.

I think I will just put GFI's on the outside outlets, cover them with the bubble stuff and then put regular outlets on the inside. If I understand, I could not or should not have a GFCI on the outside and another one inside on the same circuit. Is that correct?

Thanks!
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