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Discuss GFI in boat dock not working in the American Professional Electrical Advice Forum area at ElectriciansForums.net

Had an electrician install electrical in our boat dock, but none of the three square d gfi breakers are now working. I unplugged the overhead door motors. Still the breakers will not reset. Tested hot at all three breakers, and everything in the box looks clean and new, so I doubt lightning strike. Ideas? Could the incoming power line which is direct burial cable which comes in just above the water level, be the cause of tripping? On my way back from the lake, I realized that I had not reset the power. These breakers are post 2003 models, so do they have to be reset by turning off power to them?

I am just a diyer, so any suggesting will be appreciated. Called my electrician but he is, as usual, too swamped to respond...
 
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Megawatt

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Had an electrician install electrical in our boat dock, but none of the three square d gfi breakers are now working. I unplugged the overhead door motors. Still the breakers will not reset. Tested hot at all three breakers, and everything in the box looks clean and new, so I doubt lightning strike. Ideas? Could the incoming power line which is direct burial cable which comes in just above the water level, be the cause of tripping? On my way back from the lake, I realized that I had not reset the power. These breakers are post 2003 models, so do they have to be reset by turning off power to them?

I am just a diyer, so any suggesting will be appreciated. Called my electrician but he is, as usual, too swamped to respond...
From what I understand the breakers are not the problem, go look at the GFCI Outlets, there probably fed from the same breaker. How long ago did your electrician install these GFCI outlets and from experience the problem is probably in maybe the first GFCI outlet. Try and push the reset on the outlets, if that don’t work I would get the original electrician to come and fix the problem. GFCI outlets have transformers in them that detect leaking voltage which causes them to trip. You shouldn’t even be in your breaker panel. Call a real electrician. As far as the breakers being tripped I doubt on all 3 if that’s the case. I can’t say how they are wired but usually 1 breaker controls them.
 

Megawatt

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How long ago has it been since they was installed ?
I can’t advise you to since you are a DIY but an electrician could take the wires loose and see if the breakers reset, that would put him on the right course it’s unlikely that all 3 breakers go bad at the same time so your problem is probably at the outlets or the wires feeding them. Please don’t go in you panel!!!
 
B

Bobster

I can’t advise you to since you are a DIY but an electrician could take the wires loose and see if the breakers reset, that would put him on the right course it’s unlikely that all 3 breakers go bad at the same time so your problem is probably at the outlets or the wires feeding them. Please don’t go in you panel!!!
Is there no other way of testing a GFI? Like with a tester?
 

Lucien Nunes

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I'm not quite clear on the sequence of events.

a) When was the installation done?
b) When did the breakers stop working?
C) Did all three stop working at the same time?
d) What does 'not working' mean anyway... the outlets & connected equipment are dead even when the breaker is reset, or the breakers won't reset, or they reset and immediately trip, or what? Do they all behave the same way?

Are there any circuits from that panel still working normally? Do they have GFCIs?
 

Megawatt

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Is there no other way of testing a GFI? Like with a tester?
I can’t advise you to since you are a DIY but an electrician could take the wires loose and see if the breakers reset, that would put him on the right course it’s unlikely that all 3 breakers go bad at the same time so your problem is probably at the outlets or the wires feeding them. Please don’t go in you panel!!!
Not that I’m aware of
Where are you from in the US ?
 
B

Bobster

Not that I’m aware of
Where are you from in the US ?
Born an raised in the UK.

Have a place in NYC for when I'm over. Split my time between there and Germany. However jobs in the US jump from state to state.

Did quite a lot of work at a chemical plant, a couple of hours from Asheville NC, quite liked that city! Visited a few times in my spare time.

Also did some work in Mt.Airy NC for a company making parts for space shuttles.
 
B

Bobster

I have a plug in tester for regular receptacles which test open neutrals, equipment ground, and polarity but I’ve never tried it on GFCI
I should add, UK RCDs are tested in the UK with an MFT.

Not only do we test the mechanical push to test button on the unit they also test by introducing an earth leakage current at 1/2 times the rated trip current, 1 times the rated trip current and 5 times the trip current. The test current is injected at 0 degs and 180deg.

There is also a ramp test function, that checks at what level the RCD operates at, to find an overly sensitive module.

There are specific times the RCD has to operate, or not operate in for each test.
 

Lucien Nunes

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In the UK we test all RCDs / GFCIs using calibrated testers during routine inspection and testing, and whenever an RCD or its protected circuit is replaced or altered. Tests include trip time in milliseconds at 0.5x 1x & 5x rated trip current with injected current pulses of both polarities. Most testers also offer a ramp test to find the threshold current at which the device trips, although this is not required by the regulations if the tripping times are OK.

On receptacle circuit these tests would be in addition to the normal loop impedance tests that verify that the normal breaker will respond correctly to faults other than to ground. So at every outlet, the behaviour of the circuit with both ground faults and regular short-circuits are separately verified at every inspection.

Hmm, post crossed with Rob, they say great minds think alike.
 

DPG

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From what I've seen on here, the US seem very lax on testing. I'm thinking earth loop testing and RCD testing particularly.
 

Megawatt

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From what I've seen on here, the US seem very lax on testing. I'm thinking earth loop testing and RCD testing particularly.
I’m not saying we don’t have a tester, what I’m saying is that I’m not aware of one
 

Lucien Nunes

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I think the point here is that in the UK such testing is 100% routine, all electricians do it all the time, no-one thinks anything of testing an RCD, you just connect up the tester, press a few buttons, reset the RCD a few times and save or write down the results.

It is not unusual to find problems either with the RCD or more often with the related circuits, so the idea of not routinely testing seems to suggest those problems are not going to get discovered and corrected promptly.
 

Megawatt

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I think the point here is that in the UK such testing is 100% routine, all electricians do it all the time, no-one thinks anything of testing an RCD, you just connect up the tester, press a few buttons, reset the RCD a few times and save or write down the results.

It is not unusual to find problems either with the RCD or more often with the related circuits, so the idea of not routinely testing seems to suggest those problems are not going to get discovered and corrected promptly.
Could you send a pitcher of the tester your referring to. Where I worked we had a division in our company that built panels. Done programming and they are the ones that had all the instruments to test various problems
 

DPG

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Have a Google for RCD Tester or MFT. Typically made by Fluke, Megger, etc. The MFTs combine several testers in one convenient unit, eh. Earth loop tester, RCD tester, etc.
 
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I'm not quite clear on the sequence of events.

a) When was the installation done?
b) When did the breakers stop working?
C) Did all three stop working at the same time?
d) What does 'not working' mean anyway... the outlets & connected equipment are dead even when the breaker is reset, or the breakers won't reset, or they reset and immediately trip, or what? Do they all behave the same way?

Are there any circuits from that panel still working normally? Do they have GFCIs?
Install was around 8 years ago. The breakers failed sometime over the past year or two. All three have stopped working, but not at the same time. One stopped working soon after it was installed, most likely because that feeds the boat lift motor, and the wire runs beneath the decking where it can get wet. None of the three will reset, even momentarily. None of the lights or outlets work. All are on one or the other of the three protected circuits, fed by the gfi breakers. I have two thoughts about what might be happening: first, could the power main, which is wet, cause the issue with the downstream breakers? second, I disconnected the garage door lift motors, and everything else that was plugged in, but that did not fix it. Do modern gfi breakers which have no test button, have to be powered down to allow them to reset after having been tripped? (I thought of this on my way home from the lake...)
 

Lucien Nunes

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could the power main, which is wet, cause the issue with the downstream breakers
Not normally. A GFCI is only 'aware' of leakage on the circuit it protects, not the source of power. Provided there is power at the panel, the GFCI should work.

Do modern gfi breakers which have no test button,
Hold it right there... Is there such a thing? If there's no test button, are you sure they are GFCI's? Can you post pics or model number?

To be honest, if on a GFCI you push the lever first to off, then to on, and it does not energise the circuit, even with everything unplugged that can be, pretty much your only option is to call an electrician. Testing the cause of that, or replacing the device if it turns out to be faulty, is beyond the scope of DIY.
 

Megawatt

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How do you test that they are safe/fit for purpose/functioning properly when you install them?
How do you test that they are safe/fit for purpose/functioning properly when you install them?
How do you test that they are safe/fit for purpose/functioning properly when you install them?
Not normally. A GFCI is only 'aware' of leakage on the circuit it protects, not the source of power. Provided there is power at the panel, the GFCI should work.
CALL AN ELECTRICIAN Lucien please


Hold it right there... Is there such a thing? If there's no test button, are you sure they are GFCI's? Can you post pics or model number?

To be honest, if on a GFCI you push the lever first to off, then to on, and it does not energise the circuit, even with everything unplugged that can be, pretty much your only option is to call an electrician. Testing the cause of that, or replacing the device if it turns out to be faulty, is beyond the scope of DIY.
Not normally. A GFCI is only 'aware' of leakage on the circuit it protects, not the source of power. Provided there is power at the panel, the GFCI should work.



Hold it right there... Is there such a thing? If there's no test button, are you sure they are GFCI's? Can you post pics or model number?

To be honest, if on a GFCI you push the lever first to off, then to on, and it does not energise the circuit, even with everything unplugged that can be, pretty much your only option is to call an electrician. Testing the cause of that, or replacing the device if it turns out to be faulty, is beyond the scope of DIY.
Not normally. A GFCI is only 'aware' of leakage on the circuit it protects, not the source of power. Provided there is power at the panel, the GFCI should work.



Hold it right there... Is there such a thing? If there's no test button, are you sure they are GFCI's? Can you post pics or model number?

To be honest, if on a GFCI you push the lever first to off, then to on, and it does not energise the circuit, even with everything unplugged that can be, pretty much your only option is to call an electrician. Testing the cause of that, or replacing the device if it turns out to be faulty, is beyond the scope of DIY.
Could you send a pitcher of the tester your referring to. Where I worked we had a division in our company that built panels. Done programming and they are the ones that had all the instruments to test various problems

Matt the question is how would YOU test them if you installed them
How do you test that they are safe/fit for purpose/functioning properly when you install them?
Matt29 the big question is how would you test them?
 

Lucien Nunes

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Then I am not sure what you meant by GFCIs with no test button!

Still, I think you will need the circuits tested for low insulation resistance or other problems. If the panel is subject to condensation, the GFCIs may be faulty as well. There are too many variables to advise effectively from a distance.
 

DPG

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Matt29 the big question is how would you test them?
As stated previously we have RCD testers which run through a series of tests at different currents. Google RCD testers and you will see.
 

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