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Old 12-09-2011, 10:19 PM   #1
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Breakers keeps tripping

My 25' Excella has an odd electrical problem.
my 20amp GFI breaker keeps tripping.
! have removed the batteries, I have unplugged the converter and flipped the switch that disconnects the DC.
I have check with a volt meter for continuity on the circuit and found no connection between POS and NEG.
I have replaced the 20amp GFI breaker.
I can't find what else may be on that circuit.
The odd thing is it may stay working for a day or so and then trip (once it tripps it will trip immediately for some time??? then out of the blue you can reset it and it will work again for a while)

Any Ideas?
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Old 12-09-2011, 10:41 PM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

As to your problem, GFCI breakers are notorious for malfunctions and ghost trippings. I noticed that you have already tried replacing the breaker. I would try replacing the breaker again. You may have gotten a bad one new out of the box.

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Old 12-09-2011, 10:47 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forums!

I'm afraid your GFI breaker tripping doesn't qualify as an "odd" problem--seems all too common in Airstreams!

The purpose of the GFI is to protect you from electric shock. Very few people get electrocuted by connecting themselves between the hot side of the line (black wire) and the neutral side (white wire). It is much more common to get shocked by touching a hot wire while simultaneously touching a grounded object--which includes the shell of your Airstream trailer.

So the way GFI breakers work is to continuously compare the current flowing in the hot wire with the current flowing in the neutral and trip out if they detect even a slight difference.

The trouble is that a slight difference in current between hot and neutral can be caused by any number of things. If a fixture--light fixture, outlet, or switch--gets a little wet on account of condensation, etc. there can be enough current leakage to trip the GFI. Insulation being worn thin--or worn through!--could do it. Worst case, capacitance between a run of hot wire and ground (like the aluminum shell) could cause enough leakage current to trip the GFI, even though the insulation is fine.

The only real solution is to find the source of the leakage. Visually look for wet fixtures, worn insulation, etc. Does the problem occur under certain conditions or when something is turned on? Could be insulation leakage in a particular device, like the 12 volt converter/charger. Old Univolts are a likely suspect.

This kind of problem can be tough to find--good luck.
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Old 12-09-2011, 11:06 PM   #4
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Thanks,
I'll try replacing the GFI again.
The capacitance theory seems likely since i can reset the breaker and it may work fine for a day or so then when it trips it will continue to trip for a long time hours to days.
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Old 12-09-2011, 11:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greyzeth
?..
I can't find what else may be on that circuit.
...
With the GFCI tripped, plug something like a lamp or fan into each outlet one at a time to determine which outlets are protected by that GFCI. Remember the outlet for the fridge and an exterior outlet if you have one. That should narrow down what is and what is not on that circuit. Was anything changed or installed before you noticed the failures?

I had some bad weatherstripping around the exterior outlet cover that sometimes allowed moisture into the outlet and caused the GFCI to trip intermittently.
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Old 12-10-2011, 06:19 AM   #6
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two common places for moisture issues are the exterior outlet and the fridge outlet. the cover on the exterior outlet can hold in the moisture.

is it happening when the humidity is high?
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Old 12-10-2011, 08:03 AM   #7
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Another are to consider. Have you recently plugged in anything different to the GFI protected circuit. Many electrical items, like radios, and other electronics have capacitors across the AC line just before their internal transformer. when those items are turned on those Caps have a charging rate that draws current across the line. That will trip a GFI. While this is not a common a problem as when GFIs first came out, because manufactures have redesigned to overcome this problem I still have to ask the question.
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Old 12-10-2011, 10:17 AM   #8
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The difference current from hot to neutral only needs to be .005 amps which is a very small amount. Even a wet cobweb inside an outlet can cause the issue. But the one additional thing I would check is if you have an electric element in your water heater, either original or added. If the HWH is on the GFI circuit, and the element is leaking internally, which is common, the problem might be there. Unplug the electric system for the HWH to find out.
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Old 12-10-2011, 12:14 PM   #9
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A loose ground wire, often causes the issue your experiencing.

Andy
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Old 12-11-2011, 11:38 AM   #10
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Problem solved

89 Excella 25
My 20amp GFI circuit breaker keeps tipping. (this is intermittent, it may trip immediately or it may take a few hours)
Here is what I have done to troubleshoot this:
1. Check changes or additions I have made recently. Breaker keeps tipping
2. I disconnected the DC circuitry and removed my batteries. Breaker keeps tipping
3. unplugged the converter. Breaker keeps tipping. Breaker keeps tipping
4. verify nothing is plugged into the circuit. Breaker keeps tipping
5. replace the 20amp GFI circuit breaker. Breaker keeps tipping
6. talk to anybody that may be of help incl. Airforums. Breaker keeps tipping
7. Plug my shore power into a different circuit at home. Works great.
8. I Have a dedicated 30amp shore power connection at home, checked all connections pos, neg, and neutral. Breaker keeps tipping
9. verified that ground and neutral have .3 ohms. Breaker keeps tipping
10. At my home breaker box I moved my 30amp positive to a different breaker (had a 20 amp not being used) Works great.
11. 30 amp shore power breaker will be replaced.
I want to thank all of you for your help. This has been a challenge figuring this one out
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Old 12-11-2011, 12:42 PM   #11
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Determine which receptacles are on the GFI. Now one by one remove each receptacle starting with the one furthest from the panel. I say this because the receptacles will be wired in parallel as the wiring goes out from the panel. If none of the receptacles stop the breaker from tripping you problem is in the wiring itself from the panel to the first receptacle.

If the tripping stops when you have removed an individual receptacle replace that receptacle using only the feed wires to it. If the problem returns the problem is in that receptacle. If it does not return it is in the secondary wiring that feed beyond that receptacle.

If you locate a wire that is causing the problem it is most likely nicked within the framing of the trailer. A real hard problem to fix.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:41 PM   #12
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Confused

I verified that ground and neutral have .3 ohms. Breaker keeps tipping
At my home breaker box I moved my 30amp positive to a different breaker (had a 20 amp not being used) Breaker keeps tipping.
Replaced 30 amp receptacle. Breaker keeps tipping
issues must be in the dedicated 30 amp line
OK I am confused when I connect my shore power to a 20amp non-dedicated circuit in my house I have no problem.
When I connect my shore power to my dedicated 30amp in my house the 20amp EFI trips
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:46 PM   #13
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Now you have me confused.

The breaker that is tripping. Is it in the house or in the trailer? The assumption I was going on was that it was in the trailer.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:50 PM   #14
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Yes it is the 20amp GFI breaker in the trailer that keeps triping.
I supply the Service to the Airstream from my home: it is a dedicated 30 amp breaker, line, and receptical (shore power)
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