Sewage Ejector Pump - Float Switch Tripping GFCI

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oneskinnydave

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Hi All!

My googling has led me to a bit of an empty spot for answers, so I thought I would check here!

I have a sewage ejector pump for a basement bathroom (toilet, sink, tub/shower) - a fairly standard model from home depot (Everbilt 3/4 HP Cast Iron Sewage Ejector Pump ESE60W-HD). We rarely use the bathroom - but in the last few months, it gets used a little more than usual (maybe once/twice a day). I noticed the GFCI was tripping occasionally (it's on it's own 20a circuit) - I can remove the piggyback float switch, run the pump, and plug it all back in and it's fine. But sometimes when the float switch is engaged (tank gets filled) gfci will trip...it is getting more often now that it is seeing use. I haven't narrowed down if it's when solids are in the basin (yikes!) or not - but didn't know if it's a matter of just replacing the float switch or replacing the entire pump.

I'm more afraid of the 7 levels of hell I'd open up once that basin top comes off, to be honest, replacing the pump seems simple enough, just didn't know what might cause just the float switch to trip the gfci outlet!

My initial thoughts are just something wrong with the float (solids/debris stuck on it) but didn't know how that would really affect a float switch to begin with!

Thanks for any insight you all might be able to offer!
 

Valveman

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GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. It looks for a ground fault or short, and should not trip when there is no short. But I find gfci's to be a nuisance on most pump applications. They just get jicky and trip for no reason in my experience. I do away with them where I can, and just get used to resetting the others often. I also replace them often, as they seem to get worse after they have tripped a few times. Try a new gfci first thing.
 

Reach4

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For troubleshooting, unplug the pump and the piggyback switch.

With a multimeter, measure the resistance to ground on each power pin of the piggyback switch and the pump. Also measure from each power pin to the ground pin on its connector. With these tests, you can probably identify the leaker.

Measuring the resistance from the ground pins to ground would be interesting, but would not help identify the problem.

It takes about 25000 Ohms (25 kOhm) or less to trip the GFCI. You would want the ohmmeter/multimeter measurements to be over 1,000,000 Ohms (1 MOhm.).

Your test did not prove that the leakage is in the switch, since your tripping was only occasional.
 

oneskinnydave

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Ah - didn't even think to test the resistance....this is why I come on here - good to know!

I want to say the tripping happens when the switch is triggered (levels rise to turn on the pump) but then immediately trips the gfci - but even with the levels high enough turn on the float switch - I can just plug it in and it does not trip. I'll see what I can do with the multimeter - but also good to know that GFCI outlets can go "bad" sometimes - I didn't even think of that!
 

Valveman

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I doubt your multi meter will do a meg ohm. That is also not much of a short, which is why it is not hard to achieve with any submersible motor and under water wiring. I have seen motors run for years with a real short, but they wouldn't on a gfci.
 

Valveman

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Reach told me there are multi-meters now that will do that. But I have to get out the old Simpson to get RX100K or the megger if I want to check for a short.
 

oneskinnydave

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Just wanted to report back - sure enough, that extra fancy harbor freight multi-meter doesn't do meg ohms - so I dummy tested it - got a new float switch, and just plugged it in and manually engaged it - no tripping, etc. Not the worst/worst case scenario where I needed to replace the entire ejector pump - but not the best scenario where I needed just to replace the gfci.

I opened the pit of doom and saw things....I can't unsee. Mostly, corn.

The strangest part is the lid was not bolted down at all - just caulked shut - it's an older Jackel model - which I thought had 4x 1/4-20 bolts but when I got it off, nothing really seemed to fit in the smaller/shallow bolt holes (and they weren't lining up of course)- I'm assuming they got rusted out over time and the last person to replace didn't really account for pipe/bolt placement lining up - just put a half tube of caulk on there and walked away.

I did the same thing - but of course, gave it a good test with tub fill/empty and I think I need to adjust the float a little more (looks like it's filling th basin at just above the inlet side) - but is there any harm in just the old smash caulk (I used 100% silicone) and be done with it?

Thanks all for the help - I appreciate it!
 
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