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Old 07-13-2013, 10:49 AM   #1
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Diagnosis Needed: Ground Fault Trips

I plug into 15 amp shore power to get ready for our trip and now my ground fault breaker trips. What next? I'm not good at diagnosing electrical problems. Maybe one of you have had this problem before.

We returned from a trip to Denver two weeks ago. We ran the AC almost non stop in that 90 degree sunshine. I parked the trailer at home, plugged in, and unloaded the next day. The trailer has been unplugged since then.

I have unplugged everything downstream of the main breaker; frige, microwave, lamps, heater, coffee maker, phone charger, etc. I have turned off the 12v circuit. I have switched off the AC breakers. The ground fault still trips after about 2 minutes with the main breaker on. I have good power coming to the trailer. My unit has one of those goofy cord reels, meaning the power must go through the rotary brushes to get to the main breaker.

We had 2" of rain last night. Wet conditions have not been a problem before. But it might now be a factor.

Should I try replacing the ground fault breaker? Where else should I look?

David
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Old 07-13-2013, 11:01 AM   #2
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It trips for a reason. Is this breaker on house or on the AS?

My guess is water got into hose reel. So swapping breaker is not the solution.

These breakers "sense" that the power "leg"
Is allowing current to go to ground. This can happen if you accidentally touch the power while grounded. So is a key safety feature!
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Old 07-13-2013, 11:15 AM   #3
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Edit.. Delete post.
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Old 07-13-2013, 11:17 AM   #4
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GFI breakers can trip because of a small amperage differential, the ground fault feature, or because of an overload based on the amp rating of the breaker. Since the breaker is on for a couple of minutes before it trips, it sounds like it may be because of some overload condition. Ground faults generally trip quicker than this.
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Old 07-13-2013, 11:18 AM   #5
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David, GFI cicuits trip when they detect dampness. The one in the bathroom, the outside outlet under the awning, and many times the outlet the TV plugs into are usually all on the same GFI circuit. The 2'' of rain may be the problem. Give it some time to dry out and then try to reset it.

Good luck.

John
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Old 07-13-2013, 11:21 AM   #6
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Replace the GFCI breaker in the panel with a new GFCI breaker. That will solve the problem. The GFCI is false-tripping because it's worn out. Circuit breakers and GFCIs do eventually wear out if they often have close to their rated current running through them.

It takes only 5 mA (0.005 A) of current leakage from the hot wire to the ground to cause a GFCI to trip. A small amount of leakage current may be difficult to avoid in some normal circuits.
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Old 07-13-2013, 11:29 AM   #7
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The breakers are not that expensive, we've replaced ours a couple of times, that would take a bad GFI out of the equation.
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Old 07-13-2013, 12:53 PM   #8
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The GFIC that trips is the one in the trailer. The shore power feed outlet in the garage does not trip. I have unplugged everything from the 115v outlets in the trailer, including the fridge and converter. The 12v circuits are switched off. After the GFI trips (within a minute), I still have power to the galley and couch outlets, but not bath, bedroom, or converter outlet.

I do not have any known water leaks in the trailer at the moment. I did detect a slight bit of moisture in the outdoor outlets on the curb side. I wiped any moisture off the face of the outlets to no avail.

I will try replacing the GFI with a new one while the trailer "dries".

I appreciate all your tips that have been offered to date. Airstream Community folks are very good at helping each other. Thanks
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Old 07-13-2013, 01:39 PM   #9
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Disco all power. Pull wire from GFCI then power back up. If breaker trips without connection it's bad
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Old 07-13-2013, 02:32 PM   #10
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Before replacing anything take a hair dryer and dry out the outside outlet but don't over do it.
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Old 07-13-2013, 03:39 PM   #11
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what gary said x's 2. also warm the fridge outlet too. prop the outside outlet open to let air circulate.
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Old 07-13-2013, 04:48 PM   #12
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I thank all of you for your help.

I reset the GFI and waited 5 minutes. It did not trip! ?? I took the fearless Beagle for a walk and bark, and it was tripped when we got back.

I reset it, and went to the hardware store looking for a replacement. They did not have one in stock. The circuits were still active when I got back, the GFI had not tripped. ??? It was tripping within a minute or less.

While at the hardware store, I got a GFI tester. I gather it works somewhat like the "test" button on the breaker itself. All the 115 outlets tested good with this "cheapo" tester.

I have plugged my stuff back in, and the GFI is holding.

So maybe something got wet. 5ma ain't much. Now that it is drier, things are back to normal.

Thanks again to all for helping. I will find a new GFI breaker and see if that helps. Electrical problems are not my speciality.

David
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Old 07-14-2013, 10:35 AM   #13
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At this point, make sure that all possible places where water could get into an electrical outlet is corrected. It may even be the foam on the covers of the exterior electrical sockets.
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:00 PM   #14
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Which Breakers Control Which Outlets

I systematically actuated my breakers one by one top to bottom and tested each outlet for AC power. Here is what I learned:

Top "main" breaker: Powers the other three breakers, controls no outlets

"AC" breaker: Powers the AC and the Microwave outlet; toggled with the switch above the stove.

"3" breaker to the left of the AC breaker: Powers the kitchen, living room curb side outlet, living room TV outlet, dinnet lower, and frig outlet behind the frig.

GFI breaker: Powers bedroom lamp, bedroom TV outlet, outside weather tight outlet on the curb side, converter outlet under couch, living room street side outlet, and bathroom outlet. My GFI breaker is the lowest one in the stack in the breaker box.

So I have six (6) outlets controlled by the infamous GFI breaker. I assume one of these six outlets or the wiring to them is the culprit when wet.

I tested all my outlets with one of these $11 "GFI circuit testers". They all tested good. This tells me almost nothing.

I will insure the gaskets on the lids on my outside outlet are good. And I plan on replacing my GFI breaker as maybe it doesn't like hot, humid conditions. (Neither do I.)

David
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