GFCI Breaker question

Discussion in 'General RVing' started by ToddLary, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. ToddLary

    ToddLary New Member

    My 2000 Newmar Dutch Star motor home has two GFCI breakers, one in the Kitchen and a second in the Bath. Each will periodically pop for no apparent reason, often with no load plugged in. I am thinking that this may be indicative of some type of electrical problem as sometimes the circuit will become cold for a short period of time (with the GFCI breaker set) and just as suddenly become hot again. I have the Heart 2000 Watt inverter.
     
  2. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    A GFI can be protecting more than just the receptacle on the front of it. Another circuit wired to it could be having a ground fault.

    Heat is not a good thing in this case. Also an indication of an electrical problem.
     
  3. rlmurraysr59

    rlmurraysr59 New Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    The GFI's in my Southwind protect the outside plugs in the storage compartments, one on the right side of the coach by the door and one in the rear compartment containing the water and sewer hook-ups. The inverter wouldn't have anything to do with the GFI because it converts AC to DC for the twelve volt system. The GFI is for 110. I would track it down using a volt meter or a plug in lamp and find out if you have a loose wire someplace that is kicking it out. Do not work on it with the land line plugged in or the generator running. Track it down by plugging the volt meter or lamp into different outlets and then hit the test (red) button on the GFI. That will pop the reset button and shut the current off to the outlets that are attached in series to the GFI. You can then shut off the land line connection and take the outlets out to check the wires. Of course it could be a faulty GFI. But you said you have two of them so that isn't likely.

    Good Luck. You can find books explaining GFI functions at places like Lowe's or Home Depot. Most codes now require that either GFI plugs in series or GFI circuit breakers (which are very expensive) be hooked into all kitchen and bathroom outlets. Usually on outside outlets too. They should be marked with a GFI sticker.
     
  4. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    rlmurraysr59 said: "The inverter wouldn't have anything to do with the GFI because it converts AC to DC for the twelve volt system."

    This is not correct. An inverter converts the 12Vdc (on an RV) into 110Vac. The CONVERTER (or DC power supply/battery charger) rectifies/filters the AC available into DC similar to the battery. That way you use the same 12Vdc lamps whether you are plugged into power or not.

    I guess the point is that the INVERTER could have some small part in the problem. Not real likely, but don't dismiss it.

    As with all troubleshooting problems, try to ISOLATE the cause by ELIMINATING the working circuits first.
     
  5. rlmurraysr59

    rlmurraysr59 New Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    I miss spoke. TClodhopper is right when he talked about the inverter and the 12V to 110 AC. I don't have an inverter in mine just a converter that changes 110 AC to 12 VDC. I kinda got the impression that maybe you didn't realize the GFI's were hooked up in series with other outlets and the load from them could be causing the GFI to kick out.

    Thanks for the correction, Tex. Just didn't want anyone to get lit up. Been there done that!

    Ron
     
  6. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    Glad you didn't take offense. When I'm replying, I like to think that some folks will come along (like I did) and read through the older posts for information. We might just as well make it right as wrong. "A little kerection never did hurt nobidy!"
     
  7. ToddLary

    ToddLary New Member

    RE: GFCI Breaker question

    I only mentioned the inverter so that responders would be aware that the coach has one and what it is rated at. All of your solutions might help to solve the problem if it were a bad circuit or apparatus plugged in, but I have tried unplugging everything and have heard the GFCI pop in the middle of the night with nothing plugged in. I have a "GOOD GOVERNOR" plugged into one of the circuits and it is fairly consistent at reading 60 HZ and 124 volts. Of course when the breaker pops it goes blank and I have never seen it just before or at the time that it pops.
    This might also have something to do with the circuit going out entirely from time to time. That is that it just goes dead, no GFCI pop, no breakers tripped, no fuses, nothing, just a dead circuit. It will be out for about 15 minutes and then come back just as suddenly as it disappeared. This is also why I mentioned the INVERTER. Since it is wired into the system it may be causing this problem. Perhaps I should be contacting the inverter manufacturer.
    This is quite a perplexing problem. :question:
     
  8. rlmurraysr59

    rlmurraysr59 New Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    You could unplug the inverter and plug it into another circuit with out the GFI and see if the GFI still pops. The GFI might have gone bad. I have had that happen in my home. I was just wondering if there were other outlets on the same circuit as the GFI. It will be the first plug on the circuit and then there will be other non-GFI plugs on the circuit after it. If something is plugged into one of those outlets it could pop the GFI. You could also have a loose wire with some corrosion on it. That would explain why it just goes "dead" for a while then comes back on. If something moves it there will be contact until it moves again and breaks it. It is perplexing but it can be solved.

    Tex, as you know I don't ever get upset when someone differs with me and I have been married long enough to know I am not always right. LOL
     
  9. rlmurraysr59

    rlmurraysr59 New Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    Re-read your last post. You did say you have checked it with the other plugs on the circuit. Sorry, must be getting old. My coach doesnt' have an inverter only a converter. If I don't have a land line plugged in I have to start the generator to get 110 volts.

    Good luck
     
  10. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    Based on your last post, ToddLary, I would say you have a loose connection. Temperature changes make wires move. Going from day to night is a temperature change. It also explains the "dead" circuit. I don't think your inverter would be in those circuits all the time (if at all), but I don't know that.

    Get a qualified RV tech to look at your AC wiring around your breakers for a loose connection.
     
  11. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    RE: GFCI Breaker question

    Try installing two new GFCI's. They get old and cranky sometimes. :clown:
     
  12. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    ToddLary

    I am wondering are you on shore power when this happens, or are you supplying 120V-ac from the inverter? I wouldn't think that the inverter would play a part in the GFI opening. It is possible that the GFI is failing, but with two doing it that doesn't seem very likely. The combination of the power failing and returning, along with the GFI opening sounds to me like a potentially serious problem. It is entirely possible that the suggested bad connection may will be the problem because it could cause all of those symptoms. The fact that it comes and goes is going to make it difficult to pin down. I would start by removing all power and then open the distribution panel and tighten and check all connections. I would then open each outlet box and check and tighten all connections in all of them. While doing this, check the outside outlet also to be sure that it has a good, water tight seal and cover. Moisture in an outlside outlet could cause the GFI problem, but it would not explain the other problem. You may have to narrow this down over time since it doesn't happen all of the time. Good luck! You may very well need some.
     
  13. Poppa

    Poppa Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    Hey. Question. Is it a GFI breaker or receptecale. If a receptecale just replace the darn thing. If it it a breaker in the breaker box you need to hunt down the problem like everyone has said moisture in the air will trip then at times.
     
  14. hertig

    hertig Senior Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    It can be either. Often it is built into a receptical, and protects that receptical and all recepticals 'down stream'. They also have GFI breakers, which protect everything on that circuit.
     
  15. ToddLary

    ToddLary New Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    Both of the GFCI breakers are receptacles, one is a single outlet and the other has additional outlets down-stream. I switched the INVERT function off on my INVERTER REMOTE CONTROL and the problem with the line loosing power has gone away. The GFCI trip problem has not. I have a question into the manufacturer and will update this post when and if they reply.
    My next task is to unplug and disconnect the batteries and check all connections for loose wires. I also have a surge supression inline on my shorepower connection. I may try removing that and see if it might be contributing to the problem.
    Will keep you updated.
     
  16. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    The 12V should not have any impact on your 120V power if you are connected to shore power. Even the inverter should not be supplying any power with shore power on, if wired properly.

    What make and model of surge supresser are you using? Is it just a surge surpresser or is it one that is also a line monitor?
     
  17. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    RE: GFCI Breaker question

    Hey ToddLary, I'll bet your surge suppessor on the shore power is your problem. I had problems awhile back with the my surge suppessor. It seems that some of them are so sensitive that if they detect any line leakage they kick off. Yours may be kicking your onboad GFCi circut off. I solved my problem with a different brand of surge protector. Good luck.
     
  18. ToddLary

    ToddLary New Member

    RE: GFCI Breaker question

    The surge protector is a "Surge Guard HW-RV50". I will try taking it out of the circuit for a while and see what happens.
     
  19. s.harrington

    s.harrington Senior Member

    RE: GFCI Breaker question

    There are a few things you can check on.

    1. Do you have an electric element in your water heater? Some times as these go bad (slowly) they cause this kind of problem.

    2. Your refer can do the same thing.

    3. Check the grounding on the post that you are plugged into and also your grounding in your coach. Bad grounds can cause backfeed down the neutral wire and kick your GFCI. Get one of those cheap plug testers with the 3 LEDs to test for ground.


    After that take it to the shop where they have all
    the test equipment.

    Steve
     
  20. ToddLary

    ToddLary New Member

    Re: GFCI Breaker question

    For all those who offered their advice and assistance on this issue, thank you very much.
    As it turns out the problem all along with with my automatic power switch. This is the device that detects shore/generator power and is supposed to automatically switch between the two. My unit had a problem and would periodicaly drop out one side or sometimes try to connect both sides. Since the two sides of the breakers are wired together for a 50 AMP circuit this would cause a crossover feed and cause the GFCI breakers to trip. At other times both sides would drop out and cause the disruption of power to one circuit.
    Motorhomes are extremely complex in the way that they are wired considering the generators, power swithes, inverter/chargers etc. I also posed this problem to Xantrex (the inverter charger manufacturer) which resulted in their recomendation to have an RV Tech check out the entire system, which I did when I had the POWER SWITCH replaced, but Xantrex had no idea that the power switch might be causing this problem.
    Short answer is: when in doubt get it checked out by an expert.....
     

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