My ground fault breaker keeps tripping.

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Forum topic by bondogaposis posted 08-17-2019 06:59 PM 659 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5517 posts in 2830 days

08-17-2019 06:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have GFIC circuits wired in my shop and one of the circuits keeps tripping even though nothing is plugged in or running on any of the outlets that is on that circuit. Could this be a faulty GFIC outlet. Do they fail? or should I look for something deeper? When I shut off the main breaker and reset the GFIC outlet, it will immediately trip as soon as I switch on the main breaker.

-- Bondo Gaposis

25 replies so far

View Rich's profile


4807 posts in 1068 days

#1 posted 08-17-2019 07:11 PM

You have a short to ground somewhere. It could be the GFI itself, but I’ve never had one go bad.

-- There's no such thing as a careless electrician

View ibewjon's profile


902 posts in 3272 days

#2 posted 08-17-2019 07:30 PM

Glad to see you have gfi receptacles in your shop. Yes, they DO fail. That is why the new ones have a lock molded into the face. The new ones self test and lock out if they are bad. Breakers also fail. Disconnect wire from breaker, and read hot and neutral to ground if you have a meter. Try breaker with no wire attached. Then reconnect wire and remove gfi and try breaker again. Remove gfi from circut and tie load and line wires together without gfi. See if it holds. If so, replace with new gfi. One step at a time.

View Sark's profile


174 posts in 839 days

#3 posted 08-17-2019 07:33 PM

A GFI can fail (has happened to me). And so can a circuit breaker (also happened to me). Also wires can come loose inside a box and cause GFI problems on that branch circuit anywhere in the line. I’ve also had problems where a wire on the circuit breaker came loose.

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Fred Hargis

5683 posts in 2972 days

#4 posted 08-17-2019 07:58 PM

Yep. they can go bad and since they are relatively cheap to replace I’d switch it out.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View controlfreak's profile


138 posts in 80 days

#5 posted 08-17-2019 09:54 PM

I would possibly look into using a GFI breaker(s) in the main panel and skipping the outlet style ones. The outlet style gets whacked by lightning all the time and I think the breaker style is a bit more robust. Even though the new ones with arc flash are out I would pass on those. The brushes in motors tend to false trip those often. I had one on my microwave after a kitchen remodel and had to swap it out as soon as the job was finished, it triped almost daily after break in.

View Knockonit's profile


603 posts in 681 days

#6 posted 08-17-2019 10:27 PM

yep, they do go bad , the failure rate of the 15 amp seems to be greater per a study i read awhile back, i changed all mine out to 20amp, since we do a lot of commercial work it seemed fitting, and yep, they go bad more than one would consider
rj in az

View ibewjon's profile


902 posts in 3272 days

#7 posted 08-17-2019 10:34 PM

Stick with gfi receptacles and put the money into a panel mount surge arrestor by square D. Protects the whole shop. And that would be arc fault, not arc flash. Arc flash is an electrical explosion. A very bad thing.

View controlfreak's profile


138 posts in 80 days

#8 posted 08-18-2019 03:09 AM

You are right ibewjon. Sorry, I ment arc fault. Arc flash is well beyond anything a breaker is going to help with.

View Fresch's profile


450 posts in 2400 days

#9 posted 08-18-2019 11:30 AM

Any moisture?

View BuckeyeDennis's profile


38 posts in 177 days

#10 posted 08-18-2019 12:23 PM

GFCI outlets often have some standard-type outlets connected downstream. In my house for example, the GFCI outlets next to the bathroom vanities each supply a few outdoor outlets. So outdoor Christmas lights plus wet weather will occasionally trip them.

-- Dennis 'We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.' Charles Swindoll

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2825 posts in 1701 days

#11 posted 08-18-2019 01:59 PM

I’ve probably replaced every GFCI in my house over the years due to over sensitivity except for the outside garage door outlet. That thing powers chop saws, grinders, electric fence, etc. and hasn’t ever false tripped.

Now I only buy the highest quality units I can find and have switched to GFCI breakers where I could.
It seems to me the cheaper units work, but have limited cycles before they fail (fail-safe at least).

View EarlS's profile


3030 posts in 2827 days

#12 posted 08-18-2019 02:54 PM

It sounds like the overwhelming consensus is to replace all of the GFCI’s in the shop. While you are at it, you might want to take a good look at the wires as well and make sure they aren’t a tangled mess in the outlet box just in case a couple of exposed wires are touching.

I had an electric heater that kept tripping the 220V circuit. When I opened up the control box I found that the black wire on the thermostat had burned through the wire insulation in both the black and white wires. The wires were twisted together just a bit close to the terminations.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Lazyman's profile


3873 posts in 1866 days

#13 posted 08-18-2019 09:16 PM

I too have also had a couple GFCI outlets go bad but I think that they would not reset when they did go bad. Except that last year, I had one almost start a fire. I started smelling burning rubber and when I reached unplug stuff, I realized that the GFCI was really hot but never tripped. When I pulled it out of the wall, it was badly burned and melted. Dodged a bullet.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View therealSteveN's profile (online now)


3606 posts in 1053 days

#14 posted 08-19-2019 02:24 AM

I have them fail all the time. I hate the dumb things, but fully understand what they do, and the reason for them. I started buying 20Amps by the box.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Redoak49's profile


4140 posts in 2468 days

#15 posted 08-19-2019 11:11 AM

I have them fail all the time. I hate the dumb things, but fully understand what they do, and the reason for them. I started buying 20Amps by the box.

- therealSteveN

This is interesting…I have them in shop and no failures in 10 years. Are there some other factors which could cause them to keep failing?

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