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Old 07-06-2009, 07:57 PM   #1
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Lifespan of GFI breaker?

My trailer is a 1979 and I have a GFI circuit breaker that has on it the exterior and bathroom outlets, the bedroom outlets, and one outlet that the battery charger is plugged into. Amazingly enough, the outlet by the galley sink is on a normal circuit.

Anyway, the GFI breaker seems to trip at random. It may go for months, rain, shine, whatever with no problem, and then go off either when the trailer is stored (shore power pluggen in) or at some random time on a camping trip.

Last weekend the GFI circuit tripped right when I switched on a fan in the bedroom. It reset with no problem and no amount of fooling around with the cord or switch would trip the breaker.

This evening I pulled all receptacles on the GFI crircuit, and the cover off the breaker panel, looking for any loose connections or anything suspicious. Found nothing.

The GFI breaker in question is made by General Electric. A single pole 15 amp model, and is still available at any home improvement store for just under $40. I would just replace it, but that may not be the solution to a potentially serious problem. Then a again, I would think that a short hidden somewhere in the wall would trip with more frequency and not allow the breaker to be reset.

Anyone been through a similar situation or know if those breakers need to be replaced after 30 years? After all they can be subjected to some high temperatures when the trailer is in storage and all closed up.

Christopher
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Old 07-06-2009, 11:03 PM   #2
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Yes, they can become sensitive with age.
The ambient temperatures that you would have, even during storage are not likely to have a significant effect on it's life.
I would change it out - it's not expensive and will give you more peace of mind.
If you have any concerns about your ability to correctly perform electrical work, have an electrician take care of it for you.
Dave
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Old 07-07-2009, 12:16 AM   #3
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I had mine go out that the battery charger/inverter is plugged into.

Mine is a '68 luckily I had a regular plug to put in it's place (don't ask why I did it was just in the box of junk in the trailer) and replaced it with a new one when I got back from that trip..
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Old 07-07-2009, 12:59 AM   #4
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Life span of an electrical item?

Hi, working as an automotive electrician since 1968, I came up with a few electrical conclusions.

(1.) New, doesn't mean good.

(2.) Fuses and circuit breakers are there for a reason.

(3.) Electrical items can pop the second they are connected /turned on. Or they can last a thousand years.

(4.) When you have an electrical problem, in most cases, it is the last thing you did to the vehicle that caused it.


These are from many of my actual experiences working as a mechanic for Chevrolet, Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Oldsmobile, and GMC new car dealerships. [now retired]
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Old 07-07-2009, 06:27 AM   #5
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Thanks all. I will replace the breaker and see how things go. That is a job I can easily do. BTW Robert, this has been an on going problem for about five years since I have owned the trialer. I have just gotten fed up with it and need to fix it.

Christopher
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Old 07-07-2009, 07:14 AM   #6
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GFI Breaker

I'v been an Electronics Tech for the DOD and the FAA for a total of 35 years. Part of that was working with Power Electornics (440 three phase 50 amps and up). Its the luck of the draw.
As stated before just because its new out of the packing (box) does not mean it will function properly (work).
I asked a couple of Commercial electricians and they both said approximately 5 years for a GFI receptacle and 10 to 15 for a Circuit Breaker GFI.
the jury still out on the Ark Faults.
Beginner
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Old 07-07-2009, 08:59 AM   #7
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I know when we built our last house and had the electrical inspector come, we had to replace 2 GFI plugs because they weren't working right. They were brand new...
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Old 07-07-2009, 12:23 PM   #8
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I also had a similar problem. The GFI started tripping intermittently after I upgraded the power supply to a new 3 stage one. I bit the bullet, replaced the GFI, no problems now. Good luck.
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