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rockycmt
11-30-2007, 08:33 AM
I have a washing machine on a circuit after a GFCI outlet. I just bought the place and this is what was there. Every once and a while the GFCI outlet trips and the power to the washer is cut.

Is this a grounding issue?
Does it even make sense to have a GFCI between the washer and the breaker box?
Is this actually getting tripped cause of a problem?
What should I look for?

Mort
11-30-2007, 09:42 AM
It could be either a grounding problem or a bad/old switch. Not being an electrician....I'd call one and have it examined. If it's just a bad unit it's a cheap fix. If it's a problem somewhere in the circuit it'd sure be nice to find and correct.

Mort

480sparky
11-30-2007, 11:23 AM
Replacing the GFI would be the easiest thing to try first. Maybe the old one is just bad. GFIs aren't that much money....

Bob NH
11-30-2007, 11:46 AM
Is there anything else on that circuit?

Is it a GFCI breaker in the load center or is it a GFCI receptacle at the washer?

If a receptacle, is there a circuit extension connected to the load terminals of the receptacle?

A GFCI will trip if there is a short to ground on any part of the circuit beyond hte GFCI device. In your case that could be something within the washing machine, or anything in a circuit that goes beyond the GFCI device.

The GFCI will often trip even if the ground fault involves the neutral conductor beyond the device. If there is a defective device downstream, the GFCI will trip when that device is turned on.

Check the items described above and come back if that doesn't solve the problem.

alternety
12-08-2007, 09:37 PM
GFIs detect very low currents passing through things like bodies that really ought not be holding on to the hot wire and leaning on a ground. It compares the current in the hot wire to the neutral wire current. If they are different; it trips. And "different" can be a very small amount.

If there is a frayed wire or a plug laying loose (i.e., extension cord) and it is getting water in it (or real damp) it can trigger the GFI. Something wrong inside the washer or some other attached device can also do it. Leakage in a component from the hot side to ground would do it. Ground and neutral shall only be tied together at the entrance service panel.

You can get a relatively inexpensive outlet tester (or one that does GFI tests as well) find other outlets connected to the GFI. It is not uncommon to find attached outlets physically distant from the GFI outlet. Use the tester to check the outlets in the area. You can tell from the wiring on the GFI if there is an additional load connected. The tester will provide a quick test and help find an outlet if there is a set of wires going off to an unknown location.

hj
12-09-2007, 07:07 AM
GFCI outlets are notorious for "false tripping" when motorized devices are plugged into them. That is one reason a refrigerator/freezer should never be plugged into one. It is also the reason an appliance can be plugged into a single device outlet without a GFCI.

Chris75
12-09-2007, 11:49 AM
GFCI outlets are notorious for "false tripping" when motorized devices are plugged into them. That is one reason a refrigerator/freezer should never be plugged into one. It is also the reason an appliance can be plugged into a single device outlet without a GFCI.

I disagree, if a GFI is tripping it is because of a problem with the appliance... If your statement were true, I doubt the NEC would change the code in the 2008 edition.

alternety
12-09-2007, 02:18 PM
Just a small anecdotal experience, over about 5 years I have had a wide variety of equipment (motorized and other) attached to 5 different GFIs. Some GFIs rather long in the tooth. The only trips were when connections got wet.

I have seen a fair about of comments about AFCI devices being where GFIs were for a few years after introduction. Get funny a lot.

Bob NH
12-09-2007, 08:17 PM
I disagree, if a GFI is tripping it is because of a problem with the appliance... If your statement were true, I doubt the NEC would change the code in the 2008 edition.

The NEC code committees are dominated by manufucturers who have an interest in making code requirements to sell products. We didn't get the 2008 Code requirement for an AFCI on every 120 Volt 15 or 20 Amp circuit because the statistics showed lots of fires would be prevented to the extent of making them the most cost-effective way to reduce hazards to life. We got the AFCI requirement because manufacturers want to sell AFCIs.

Verdeboy
12-09-2007, 09:10 PM
We didn't get the 2008 Code requirement for an AFCI on every 120 Volt 15 or 20 Amp circuit because the statistics showed lots of fires would be prevented to the extent of making them the most cost-effective way to reduce hazards to life. We got the AFCI requirement because manufacturers want to sell AFCIs.

I see I'm not the only cynic on the forum. :)

Chris75
12-10-2007, 04:09 AM
The NEC code committees are dominated by manufucturers who have an interest in making code requirements to sell products. We didn't get the 2008 Code requirement for an AFCI on every 120 Volt 15 or 20 Amp circuit because the statistics showed lots of fires would be prevented to the extent of making them the most cost-effective way to reduce hazards to life. We got the AFCI requirement because manufacturers want to sell AFCIs.


I can't argue with that statement...

Mikey
12-10-2007, 05:43 AM
I'm a little concerned that the 2008 Code requirement for AFCIs everywhere might be a "nose under the tent" thing. Since replacing a breaker isn't a very big deal, usually, it's possible that future Codes might require that all conventional breakers be replaced with AFCIs over time, and, eventually, prohibit the sale of conventional breakers altogether. Whether the sale is actually prohibited, demand for conventional breakers might fall off to the point they might not be available at today's prices.

In defense of NFPA processes, it ain't cheap to participate in a standards-making body, so it's only natural that large corporations are the major contributors. They expect something in return...

Wet_Boots
12-10-2007, 09:34 AM
I expect if the AFCI was patented by an individual, there might be years of committee wrangling and folderol before it would get adopted for required usage. I recall a 60 Minutes report on the efforts of the inventor of the motorized flue damper to get his invention approved by the regulating agencies. Seems the agencies had better things to do. Typical grind-the-little-guy-into-the-ground-until-he-sells-out (or the big boys find a way to side-step around the patent) tactics.

Speedy Petey
12-10-2007, 04:05 PM
I see I'm not the only cynic on the forum. :)
That's not being a cynic. That's being a realist.

ked
12-10-2007, 10:30 PM
The Code allows you to put in a standard single receptacle for the Washer or a standard duplex for the washer and gas dryer because they can nuisance trip. This means the GFCI trips -but there is no hazard. My neighbor's one year old washer tripped the GFCI-I replaced it with a standard receptacle per NEC requirements. In new houses, I do not put refrigeration or washers on GFCIs. I think the motors get just damp enough to cause enough current leakage to trip the GFCI.

Chris75
12-11-2007, 03:20 PM
The Code allows you to put in a standard single receptacle for the Washer or a standard duplex for the washer and gas dryer because they can nuisance trip. This means the GFCI trips -but there is no hazard. My neighbor's one year old washer tripped the GFCI-I replaced it with a standard receptacle per NEC requirements. In new houses, I do not put refrigeration or washers on GFCIs. I think the motors get just damp enough to cause enough current leakage to trip the GFCI.

There is no such thing as nuisance tripping, they are actually doing their job, and with the new code changes coming up, there will be very few GFI exceptions...

Verdeboy
12-11-2007, 06:48 PM
There is no such thing as nuisance tripping, they are actually doing their job, and with the new code changes coming up, there will be very few GFI exceptions...


Those car alarms that used to go off all the time were just doing their job, too. But they were still a nuisance!

Chris75
12-12-2007, 03:53 PM
Those car alarms that used to go off all the time were just doing their job, too. But they were still a nuisance!

Yes well, except you didn't die if it didn't go off did you...

Verdeboy
12-12-2007, 06:06 PM
Yes well, except you didn't die if it didn't go off did you...

No. But I would've liked to have killed a few of those car-owners because it went off. :D

alternety
12-13-2007, 11:46 AM
I would define a nuisance trip to be one caused by an internal operational flaw in the GFI/AFI. No one will die of this. The early proclivity of GFIs to create false trips is apparently being supplanted by the AFI.

Once the bugs are out they are probably good things.

Chris75
12-13-2007, 06:06 PM
I would define a nuisance trip to be one caused by an internal operational flaw in the GFI/AFI. No one will die of this. The early proclivity of GFIs to create false trips is apparently being supplanted by the AFI.

Once the bugs are out they are probably good things.

Any proof of this?

ked
12-16-2007, 11:16 AM
I do not think that the 2008 NEC will require Refrig and washing machines to be GFCI protected.

Chris75
12-16-2007, 11:40 AM
I do not think that the 2008 NEC will require Refrig and washing machines to be GFCI protected.

Depends on where they are located. If a washer is in a bathroom or a basement then it shall be GFI protected, If a fridge is in a basement, garage or anywhere else 210.8 dictates GFI protection.

RRW
12-16-2007, 12:37 PM
"in a basement, garage or anywhere else" Why mention locations at all if it has to have GFI no matter where located?

Chris75
12-16-2007, 01:56 PM
"in a basement, garage or anywhere else" Why mention locations at all if it has to have GFI no matter where located?

I said anywhere 210.8 requires... not ANYWHERE. My examples were a few found under this code section, I did not feel like typing it verbatim...

jwelectric
12-17-2007, 05:40 AM
I do not think that the 2008 NEC will require Refrig and washing machines to be GFCI protected.


Why not?

Is there something wrong with protecting any appliance with GFCI?

RRW
12-17-2007, 07:28 AM
Sorry, I was reading a comma into the sentence that is not there.

Verdeboy
12-17-2007, 10:13 AM
Why not?

Is there something wrong with protecting any appliance with GFCI?

Only if you find yorself unexpectedly away for a long period of time and the GFI that is on your frig circuit tripped and you come home to a freezer full of rotting beef full of maggots and other vermin.

jwelectric
12-17-2007, 12:52 PM
Only if you find yorself unexpectedly away for a long period of time and the GFI that is on your frig circuit tripped and you come home to a freezer full of rotting beef full of maggots and other vermin.

What caused the GFCI to trip? Could it have been something that would also trip a breaker or even worse start a fire?

I would think that should something caused a fault to ground in a circuit while I was away from home it would be best to come home to a freezer full of spoiled meat than to come home to the other choices that I might be faced with.

alternety
12-17-2007, 02:16 PM
If there is a "fault" to ground - that is what the breaker is for and it will stop that.

The GFI looks for small currents that bypass neutral; like when you grab a hot wire while standing in a puddle of grounded water. Not all that much current flows and a breaker will not trip. But you will want it to stop very quickly if you are the one in the puddle. On a GFI protected circuit, if you had yourself well insulated from ground and held the hot wire in one hand and the neutral in the other hand, you would satisfy any latent suicidal tendencies and the GFI wouldn't care.

The electronics in GFIs and AFIs are more sensitive to strange noise/transients on the line and may become confused - in other words, trip for no useful purpose.

Chris75
12-17-2007, 03:46 PM
The electronics in GFIs and AFIs are more sensitive to strange noise/transients on the line and may become confused - in other words, trip for no useful purpose.


Where did you find this information? I tend to disagree BTW.

alternety
12-17-2007, 04:23 PM
Where did you find this information? I tend to disagree BTW.

OK. First point - if there is really an unbalanced current from something breaking; there is a real high probability it will trigger the GFI/AFI as soon as it is reset. We are not talking about that case. This is a "nuisance trip" that is OK when you reset the device. Sort of by definition a transient phenomenon.

I did not need to find an explanation of this anywhere. It is kind of like saying that you heat a joint until the solder melts on the joint. Responding to this with "where did you find this information" is sorta a non-question. Answerable; but you won't likely do it. Temperature vs alloy is different issue.

Line connected differential current sensors tied to a device that triggers/latches a relay (mechanical or solid state) state change are susceptible to transients that are completely ignored by simple mechanical circuit breakers. That is just the way electronic things work. They are probably using an SCR or TRIAC to latch. If a spike exceeds the required trigger voltage (on either the switched AC source or the control gate); it triggers and latches. This can come from the power circuit driving the electronics from the power line, from noise coupling to the neutral bus on that circuit, or simply a spike exceeding breakover/avalanche voltage on the switching device. A designer clearly tries to make the electronics impervious to this phenomenon, but it does not always work. Early units seemed to be a bunch worse than later THOROUGHLY debugged units.

It is sorta like dogs bark and water flows downhill. Many hours of engineering time is spent to make circuits ignore things like this.

jwelectric
12-17-2007, 04:48 PM
OK. First point -.

Help me understand this "First Point" that you are trying so hard to make.

It will help me to understand this "First Point" if you would tell me how many times a
Day ____
Week ____
Month_____
or
Year ______
that you have to reset your GFCI devices.

With all this noise and spikes going on all around is it any wonder that the devices just won't hold?

Bottom line; If the GFCI device trips with no one at home the appliance that did the tripping has a problem that needs addressing before it is retruned to use.

alternety
12-17-2007, 06:09 PM
We seem to have a bit of communications difficulty. Current GFIs seem fairly reliable. I have seen multiple references in the applicable time frame that they did not achieve this state when they were first mandated in code. Rumor has it that AFIs have not reached this stable state at this time. Note: rumor.

If a GFI/AFI trips and then does not trip when reset under the same load/equipment configuration, it is probably a GFI transient failure. AFIs would be a trickier analysis as they are actually looking at a transient phenomenon. I would certainly not replace a refrigerator based on a single instance of these results (assuming there is only one thing on the GFI so you know what "tripped it"). Even if a device trips a GFI it does not necessarily indicate a human hazard. A little leakage to ground probably won't hurt anything unless you lift the ground and insert yourself in the path. You are of course, free to do what you choose. But I would like to be your appliance dealer.

Not trying to start an argument here. Electronics, particularly at the consumer level, tend to have a few iteration to work the bugs out. Take apart something (including probably a GFI) and look around the circuit board for a version and revision level. If it is not a newly introduced product, there tends to be changes. Even brand new products may not be at version 1 revision 0. Add firmware revisions and the odds get even worse.

I have spent significant time designing things that worked under all known and anticipated conditions and then had to fix what went wrong. A bunch of them were other peoples designs. It is sort of the way things work. People are fallible. Some times the strangest damn things happen.

To assume anything electronic (actually it is probably a wider issue than this) is infallible and act only on a single instance, without determining the actual cause, is a bad thing.

S**t happens.

jwelectric
12-17-2007, 08:26 PM
We seem to have a bit of communications difficulty. Current GFIs seem fairly reliable. I have seen multiple references in the applicable time frame that they did not achieve this state when they were first mandated in code. Rumor has it that AFIs have not reached this stable state at this time. Note: rumor.

If a GFI/AFI trips and then does not trip when reset under the same load/equipment configuration, it is probably a GFI transient failure. AFIs would be a trickier analysis as they are actually looking at a transient phenomenon. I would certainly not replace a refrigerator based on a single instance of these results (assuming there is only one thing on the GFI so you know what "tripped it"). Even if a device trips a GFI it does not necessarily indicate a human hazard. A little leakage to ground probably won't hurt anything unless you lift the ground and insert yourself in the path. You are of course, free to do what you choose. But I would like to be your appliance dealer.

Not trying to start an argument here. Electronics, particularly at the consumer level, tend to have a few iteration to work the bugs out. Take apart something (including probably a GFI) and look around the circuit board for a version and revision level. If it is not a newly introduced product, there tends to be changes. Even brand new products may not be at version 1 revision 0. Add firmware revisions and the odds get even worse.

I have spent significant time designing things that worked under all known and anticipated conditions and then had to fix what went wrong. A bunch of them were other peoples designs. It is sort of the way things work. People are fallible. Some times the strangest damn things happen.

To assume anything electronic (actually it is probably a wider issue than this) is infallible and act only on a single instance, without determining the actual cause, is a bad thing.

S**t happens.


Does all this mean that you aren't going to help and give the answers above???

Does this mean that we should not install a freezer on GFCI protected circuits?

How are commercial kitchens getting by with this?

210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Personnel.
(B) Other Than Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in (1) through (5) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel:
(1) Bathrooms
(2) Commercial and institutional kitchens for the purposes of this section, a kitchen is an area with a sink and permanent facilities for food preparation and cooking

Don't these commercial appliances get the same noise and spikes as we do at home?

I understand what you are saying but I also know that what you are saying is unfounded and does not hold merit.

alternety
12-18-2007, 09:35 AM
jwelectric - I guess I am just missing you point. Does anything below clear anything up?

All electronic devices can fail. The failures can be intermittent. GFIs are better now than when introduced. Basis for this is hearing or reading about the problems. I am not trying to give the impression that these things trip every few minutes and are unusable. I have heard random comments concerning initial reliability. Probably a way to determine the situation if you really want to know would be for you to ask your distributers how many, if any, get returned for replacement.

The only GFI failures I can personally recollect is one bad out of the box a long time ago, and frequent trips while using extension cords in the rain. Those trips were GFIs doing what they were supposed to. Drying, binding them so they stayed together, and sealing the joints fixed the tripping and made it safer for people playing with the wires. And an AFI that tripped because inside a light fixture the manufacturer had pinched a wire and connected neutral to ground. Again, it was the correct thing for it to do. In all cases I traced down the problem and repaired it.

GFIs are primarily used to protect people, not equipment. Breakers protect equipment/wiring from gross failure. AFIs detect arc events that could cause fires. I have not looked into AFI electronics and don't know how they do their detection.

If you get a repeated GFI trip, you should find out why. The GFI or some attached device. If it is a device, find the cause and fix it. Tripped breaker needs an explanation also - maybe just too much stuff running/maybe not. AFI probably hardest to find the fault if it is not a solid failure.

If code says they are required they have to be used. Don't have to agree; just do it. I am not arguing about that either.

Verdeboy
12-18-2007, 03:58 PM
What caused the GFCI to trip? Could it have been something that would also trip a breaker or even worse start a fire?

I would think that should something caused a fault to ground in a circuit while I was away from home it would be best to come home to a freezer full of spoiled meat than to come home to the other choices that I might be faced with.


I like the code the way it is now: GFI protection for outlets near sinks, tubs, and outdoors.

Why you would need to protect an outlet that a frig/freezer is plugged into in a kitchen makes no sense to me. Is someone gonna move that frig out of the way, plug a hair curler into that outlet, drop it into a sink full of water and then try to retrieve it? I guess it's possible. But if we continue to try to idiot-proof the whole world, we won't be able to breathe without violating some rule or code.

alternety
12-18-2007, 09:10 PM
Electrified ice cubes?

ked
12-19-2007, 08:52 AM
I stand corrected. There is a certain level of hazard in using refrig or washers that trip a GFCI, but the Code allows you to live with it. You probably have non-GFCI outlets for these appliances-so you do not know if they would trip a GFCI or not. Same as the old 3 prong electric ranges, dryers...the frame carried the neutral current...but it was Code legal until about 2005 or thereabout, depending if you are in a MBH or stick house. But all the existing 3 prong dryers and ranges are still grandfathered in..how about that hazard?

jwelectric
12-19-2007, 12:11 PM
I stand corrected. There is a certain level of hazard in using refrig or washers that trip a GFCI, but the Code allows you to live with it. You probably have non-GFCI outlets for these appliances-so you do not know if they would trip a GFCI or not. Same as the old 3 prong electric ranges, dryers...the frame carried the neutral current...but it was Code legal until about 2005 or thereabout, depending if you are in a MBH or stick house. But all the existing 3 prong dryers and ranges are still grandfathered in..how about that hazard?

250.140 Frames of Ranges and Clothes Dryers.
Frames of electric ranges, wall-mounted ovens, counter-mounted cooking units, clothes dryers, and outlet or junction boxes that are part of the circuit for these appliances shall be grounded in the manner specified by 250.134 or 250.138.
Exception: For existing branch circuit installations only where an equipment grounding conductor is not present in the outlet or junction box, the frames of electric ranges, wall-mounted ovens, counter-mounted cooking units, clothes dryers, and outlet or junction boxes that are part of the circuit for these appliances shall be permitted to be grounded to the grounded circuit conductor if all the following conditions are met.
(1) The supply circuit is 120/240-volt, single-phase, 3-wire; or 208Y/120-volt derived from a 3-phase, 4-wire, wye-connected system.
(2) The grounded conductor is not smaller than 10 AWG copper or 8 AWG aluminum.
(3) The grounded conductor is insulated, or the grounded conductor is uninsulated and part of a Type SE service-entrance cable and the branch circuit originates at the service equipment.
(4) Grounding contacts of receptacles furnished as part of the equipment are bonded to the equipment.

It ain't just as simple as being a three wire as outlined above.

ked
12-30-2007, 08:44 AM
The reason refrigeration equipment should not be on GFCI, is due to food spoilage in case of a nuisance or real trip. If you are getting shocked when you touch the frame of your non-GFCI protected refrig..check the grounding connection. The washing machine exception allows a person to continue to use a washer that will trip a GFCI..but if you are getting shocked when you open the lid..check the grounding and if that does not fix it--get a new machine. The exceptions are there for a reason... hopefully the Code committee realizes this.