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Jan 23rd, 2013
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GFCI Problems #6475750 08/03/11 10:36 PM
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DanDaBald Offline OP
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I provide network support for apartment complexes. The network equipment is outdoors in metal boxes hung on the walls of the buildings. The network equipment is plugged into (not hard-wired) outlets on the outside of the buildings that have the hinged plastic covers on them. The duplex outlets on the outside of the buildings are all connected to one GFCI per building. So if the GFCI trips the network goes down and I get a service call. Good for me 'cause I get paid by the call.

We have an installation in Grand Prairie that trips 3-5 GFCI's per week - on different buildings at different times of the day - no rhyme, no reason, no particular pattern that we can tell. Yesterday I had to reset the GFCI on building 3, tomorrow I have to go reset the GFCI's on buildings 2 & 9.

Is it the heat? Maybe, but the installations of the same basic system is running fine in Frisco, Fort Worth, Las Vegas and other locations.

The folks I work for would entertain the (paid) assistance of a licensed electrician to investigate this problem - so that we can present the findings to the Apartment Complex and they could fix the problem. I'm sure it will be difficult to trace to the root cause as it takes just a very small amount of leakage current to trip AND it's a very intermittent problem.

a - any licensed electricians here that would know how to fix this problem?
b - could you PM me contact information
c - no, I have NOT tried the obvious answer nor will I . . . .


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Re: GFCI Problems [Re: DanDaBald] #6476434 08/04/11 01:59 AM
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lavonfisher Offline
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I would not imagine that heat has anything to do with power since this is Texas after all. It would have to be something to do with the apartment complexes. A/C units are probably running full load and people probably have an overload of power going through.

Last edited by lavonfisher; 08/04/11 02:03 AM.
Re: GFCI Problems [Re: lavonfisher] #6476797 08/04/11 03:47 AM
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angler management Offline
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i am a lisenced journeyman electrician. gfci's trip ONLY when there is a difference in voltage coming from the source and the voltage returning on the grounded conductor (neutral). most of the time, the problem is with what you have plugged into a gfci protected circuit. one other thing. electricity could care less what the temp. is until you get into the thousands of volts and the heat doesn't have a way to escape.

Last edited by angler management; 08/04/11 03:49 AM.
Re: GFCI Problems [Re: angler management] #6478468 08/04/11 05:46 PM
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you should check into a dedicated power circuit vs. plugging into a GFCI circuit....


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Re: GFCI Problems [Re: CrappieHappy] #6479315 08/04/11 08:51 PM
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lavonfisher Offline
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Agreed. Hospitals install dedicated circuits for such systems as data, a/c so that in case power goes out, patient support etc. does not go out as well.

Re: GFCI Problems [Re: lavonfisher] #6479933 08/04/11 11:04 PM
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DanDaBald Offline OP
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Thanks for all the good replies - but we're adding a grand total of less than 100 watts' usage to an existing circuit that doesn't have much draw to begin with as the outlets are convenience outlets for AC techs and sprinkler controllers - and most of those are unplugged.

I'm starting to think the GFCI outlets belong indoors and the GFCI BREAKERS are for outdoor applications . . . . (?)


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Re: GFCI Problems [Re: DanDaBald] #6480786 08/05/11 02:37 AM
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angler management Offline
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how much of a draw whatever equipment you have plugged into doesn't matter. gfci's belong outside because the national electric code says so. there are exceptions, however. i'm not a good explainer. this might help:

http://ecmweb.com/mag/electric_think_gfci/

Re: GFCI Problems [Re: angler management] #6480906 08/05/11 03:07 AM
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DanDaBald Offline OP
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Thanks for the link and I do agree with the reasoning - however - at this particular complex there is ONE GFCI in series with SEVEN other duplex outlets - the problem could lie in any area within maybe 150' of wire and connections. From your link:
Length of circuit. A GFCI is subjected to tests that simulate long branch circuits. While there are no specific rules concerning the length of the circuit protected or the number of receptacles on the protected circuit, remember that the GFCI will add up all the harmless leakage currents and capacitive leakages. Under extreme circumstances, this could "preload" the GFCI and make it appear overly sensitive or, worst case, result in nuisance tripping. Therefore, you should minimize the length of circuits to the degree possible.

I heard from hopalong123 that at 60' things start go get flaky - these buildings are way over the limit imho.

I can't get them to rewire the building for the equipment I try to keep running.

They had a water break in building 9 on Tuesday afternoon - since, the GFCI for the outside outlets has failed to reset - somewhere it's wet and current is leaking - I can't fix it......

Thanks for all the good info - the TFF OT at its best.


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Re: GFCI Problems [Re: DanDaBald] #6481132 08/05/11 04:23 AM
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Johnny_J_JaMata Offline
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Heat won't have anything to do with it but the humidity can.

Couple things i'd look at would be is the gfi in the middle or beginning of the recpt circuit? Could be that if someone is plugging in any kind of device with a motor (vacumn, any kinda pump, etc) could cause it to trip. Gfi's don't like motors. But if the gfi is at the end of the series, that's prob not it.

If it's a cheap brand of gfi, it could also be the problem.

I would look into getting a recept dedicated for the network hub that is not accesible to the general public. Put it inside the metal box if possible and lock the box. Or make a hardwire connection to the hub, it can be done.

Re: GFCI Problems [Re: Johnny_J_JaMata] #6490692 08/08/11 03:07 AM
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Probably the same brownout stuff that is messing up capacitors on everybody's A/C systems these days.


Re: GFCI Problems [Re: StephenB] #6490794 08/08/11 03:48 AM
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DanDaBald Offline OP
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I think the main problem at this complex is the length of the runs - each GFCI is in series with at least 6 other duplex outlets. For the most part, the other outlets have no load - they are convenience outlets for AC Service.

Long runs, lotsa heat, occasional AC Service Person = tripped GFCIs

I get paid every time I go out there to service them . . . . Good thing.


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Re: GFCI Problems [Re: DanDaBald] #6491314 08/08/11 01:15 PM
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grout-scout Offline
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Not an electrician here but I have seen the gfci's get weak over time and just reset on themselves. If they are over 5 years old I'd just replace them with the heavier duty gfci. $15 bucks for a new plug would be alot cheaper than having to pay you.

Re: GFCI Problems [Re: DanDaBald] #6491332 08/08/11 01:24 PM
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Stickchunker Offline
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This.

"I would look into getting a recept dedicated for the network hub that is not accesible to the general public. Put it inside the metal box if possible and lock the box. Or make a hardwire connection to the hub, it can be done"

A dedicated circut will solve all of your problems.


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