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Old 01-27-2010, 05:32 PM   #41
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The test button doesn't depress much, just a tiny amount. They feel cheesy, basically. They won't do anything with the breaker off, or with shore power unplugged. But with the breaker on and powered up, the test button should cause a trip.

Usually, when a GFCI breaker won't stay reset, it's because there's enough leakage in the branch circuit it protects to make it trip. One way to find out is to remove both branch circuit wires, put it in the panel, close everything up safely, and see whether it keeps tripping then and whether the test button works. If it still trips, or if the test button doesn't do anything, then the breaker is toast and you need a new one.

Otherwise, there's leakage, and it can be hard to find. Start by unplugging everything. If it still trips, you have to go one outlet at a time. Usually there's a short between neutral and ground somewhere. It can also be caused by moisture or salt residue on an outlet.

If it trips only when a certain appliance is plugged in, then you have to look at that appliance. In addition to a short between neutral and ground, a bad MOV can cause nuisance trips. They are commonly used as a surge protectors in electronics, and sometimes fail after a lightning strike. Sometimes there are shorted components. I had a shorted engine block heater once that I had to replace because it kept tripping the gfci.
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:33 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guy99 View Post
If your can't reset the breaker (causing current to flow) the breaker needs to be replaced.
Not necessarily if there is a persistent ground fault in the branch circuit wiring.
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:53 PM   #43
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I will throw this out.

If you have had rainy, damp weather the outside outlet can get moisture in it and cause the GFCI to trip and difficult resetting until dried out.

Other than that follow Jammers post he has covered the troubleshooting side very well.
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:57 PM   #44
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Not necessarily if there is a persistent ground fault in the branch circuit wiring.
Agreed.

But on more the one occasion I have had GFCI breakers which wouldn't reset and proved to be defective. If you replace the breaker and it still won't reset, your problem is elsewhere, AND you now have a spare breaker .
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:22 PM   #45
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I honestly can't say how much I appreciate everything you all have offered today. It's been heaps of help!

So, here's where I'm at right now.

I replaced the main power cord, so that side of the troubleshooting is taken care of, and from what I can tell it's going strong(so far so good).

I fiddled with the breaker in the pics; i.e. took it out of the panel to take the pics, tried working with the test button and flipping it from the on to off position several times. Put it back in the panel. Fiddled with it some more; ie flipping it from off to on and pressing the test button,the test button finally worked as it should and tripped the breaker. When I tried to reset the breaker it still took a couple of tries before it stuck in the on position. But, right now everything is working as it should. All of the outlets are back and the breaker is in the "on" position. So, I'm going to leave it for tonight and keep an eye on it for a while and see if anything else happens.

If everyone else is in agreement, I'm going to let this dog lay for a bit and chalk the experience up to a bad power cord. Although, I don't want to just stick my head in the sand and remain ignorant to a possible much larger problem. So, if you think further investigation is necessary I'll follow your lead and trust in experience over my ignorance any day.
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:37 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guy99 View Post
Agreed.

But on more the one occasion I have had GFCI breakers which wouldn't reset and proved to be defective. If you replace the breaker and it still won't reset, your problem is elsewhere, AND you now have a spare breaker .
And it's better to have and not need than need and not have. Spares ARE a good idea.

Glad things worked out....good luck.
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:45 PM   #47
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right on space pod

Okay, you have experienced a double, possibly triple whammy. GFCI's when first introduced failed miserably. But, in the past 20 years they have been very reliable. What I suspect happened is: 1) bad cord or poor connection 2) #1 caused GFCI to begin tripping, and you may have reset it. 3) once it tripped, heater, and whatever, cooled off or began a new 'On" cycle, which allowed the GFCI to pass current again 4) scenario repeated, until the tripping mechanism inside the GFCI began to fail 5) "monkeying" with said GFCI finally got it to where you are now.

Okay, permanent cure: 1) replace cord and treat it like you want to keep it a long while. 2) replace the GFCI circuit breaker that is in the AC distribution box. 3) You MAY have to replace the GFCI receptacle (outlet) if not now, perhaps in the future-once a GFCI operates it begins a death spiral...the mechanism can only survive so many operations. 4) fix the orig cord and keep it relatively handy. An extra circuit breaker to match those in your AC service box ain't a bad plan, either.

All the advice about unplugging, being sure female receptacles, etc are dry, watching the polarity of shore power source, learning to use safely a VOM (volt ohm meter) is all wonderful and accurate-you can take it to the bank. IMHO, don't use the 15 (or20) amp adapter unless it is the only solution. be sure to twist tightly the marinco plug when first hooking up. just practice safety and gentleness when using the AC cords, adapters, etc.

Look forward to meeting you when you get back to Oregon/Washington/somewhere closer than Florida.
ol Bill-retired old power guy....
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:18 PM   #48
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If you look in this photo, the two screws that hold the wires in place are visible on the left side, facing the camera.
thanks for solving my mystery! is there a specially tipped driver for that or is a flat bladed screwdriver ok? it seems to have a slot and a square hole in the center of the screw. i don't want to see the replacement get mangled.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:08 PM   #49
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A flat bladed screwdriver works fine as long as it's the right size. You can use a square drive, instead, if you have one, but I never do.
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Old 01-29-2010, 06:44 AM   #50
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thanks jammer!
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