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Old 05-15-2011, 06:21 PM   #1
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Electrical gremlins

I have a GFCI 15 amp breaker that keeps tripping every 3-5 minutes after resetting by turning off and then back on. This breaker is for the 4 door Norcold, the A/V equipment, and something called DNT lights.

I have replaced the breaker with the same brand except 20 amp but it still happens, although it takes longer to repeat. BTW I have a Square D panel, QO style.

Refrigerator runs fine on LP so assume ice maker plug is on separate circuit. Unplugged both plugs though and still have the problem. Made sure the A/V equipment was off even to the extent of turning off the standby modes, same problem. However, everything is plugged into a cheap powerstrip and I'm wondering about that. Not sure if it's surge protected or not. Do those things fail and somehow draw current?

It's the slow tripping that's got me scratching my head. Anybody got any ideas?
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Old 05-15-2011, 06:42 PM   #2
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If you replaced the ground fault breaker and it still is tripping, then you have a leaky neutral or ground. That's what they are designed to do. So it's doing it's job.

This means you have a slight short somewhere in your electrical system. Get it checked out.
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Old 05-15-2011, 06:59 PM   #3
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Bob, It's a bad idea to replace a breaker with a larger one. The breaker is sized for the gauge of wire which is related to the safe current carrying capacity of the wire. If you had a 15 amp breaker on the circuit you probably have 14 gauge wire. A 20 amp breaker should only be used on 12 gauge wire. Since the 20 amp GFI is popping the problem is not with the GFI but elsewhere. If you have an owners manual it should tell you what is on that circuit. I had a problem with my fridge 110 volt outlet. Where it was mounted in the outside access for the fridge it got wet and actually filled up with water. DNT lights???? Not sure what that would be. I would unplug everything on that circuit including the power strip. A call to Monaco will tell you what DNT is. Check for a wet 110 volt outlet. Any outside or in a bay that could of gotten wet?
Do you have an engine block heater outlet in the engine compartment?
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Old 05-15-2011, 07:05 PM   #4
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Hi Bob,
As you probably know, a GFI works by measuring the current on the hot wire and neutral and when they are not equal the GFI will trip. I suspect that you might have either a loose/intermittent neutral or an intermittent short/leakage some where. The leakage can be the result of a leaking capacitor or a motor. It could also mean whatever is plugged into the downstream receptacles may be defective. The best way to start is to unplug anything plugged into the downstream receptacles and check the wiring at each one. Then plug the appliances into the receptacles one by one. I wish I could be of more help but it's a process of elimination and a lot of looking. Keep us posted.
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:41 PM   #5
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A leaky move in the cheap plug strip way cause this
Unplug everything and test
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:53 PM   #6
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I have had this happen in both my house and 5er. Both times it turned out to be a cheap Chinese made 110 electrical duplex outlet. In the house, the lawn sprinkler timer was plugged into an electrical outlet inside another waterproof box attached to the side of the house. No way water got into there but after some testing I found it. I replaced the cheesy outlet with a UL approved Leviton outlet and problem solved. That was 8 years ago. In the 5er it was another cheesy outlet under a cover in the outdoor entertainment center. I replaced it and again problem solved.
Chinese made crap... what cheesy junk!
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:54 PM   #7
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Five minutes suggests an overload rather than a ground fault.

Replacing a 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp suggests you love doing business with one of the local firms that still makes house calls... The fire department.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:11 PM   #8
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Hey guys, thanks for the responses. Greg mentioned the refrigerator outside access getting wet and causing him trouble. Just so happens that when I was sanitizing the fresh water tank I had the ice maker line disconnected and I did get water in that compartment. Enough so that there was a puddle inside the coach that I had to sop up. I didn't get to see where the water sprayed but it could have easily hit the outlets. On top of that it was a cold, wet, crappy sort of day so not much drying going on.

So today I checked the compartment and it was dry, and then I blew out the outlets with compressed air. I didn't see any water anywhere so I started the genny, turned on the juice, started the fridge, and for 30 minutes everything ran fine and no tripped breaker. Did that solve it? Damned if I know but if it didn't then I've got you guys suggestions to follow up on.

BTW thanks for the warning on the breaker size. The reason I did that was because the wire was the same size as used on the 20 amp circuits and I was told that the four door Norcolds have two heaters in them, each drawing 7 amps. I don't know why they only put a 15 in there to begin with. Anyway, I can see it's hard to slip anything by you guys.

If that didn't solve my problems we're going to Sevierville, TN anyway come Friday. I can always run the fridge on LP if I have to and we can watch movies on the iPad if need be. Redundancy is the name of the game isn't it?

Again, thanks for all your help!
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:22 PM   #9
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Bob,
That trip to TN might be enough to dry the reminder of water, if any is left, and put this problem behind you. This is the type of problem that GFI's are susceptible to. Good Luck.
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Old 05-16-2011, 10:50 PM   #10
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Bob one of your heating elements maybe going bad and will trip a GFI or a surge protector if you have one.
If your electric element was plugged into a non-GFI outlet it would work.
The defective element ground SHORT is feeding back to GFI.
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Old 05-19-2011, 11:19 PM   #11
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I would like to second what wa8yxm said earlier, except I'll change the order.

Put the 15 amp circuit breaker back in IMMEDIATELY. If it were me, I would pull the plug on the RV until I got that circuit breaker changed back. WA8YXM is correct that you can burn down your RV by increasing the amperage of that circuit breaker.

More to the point, there are some facts that point to an overload rather than a ground fault. First, the GFCI is not tripping immediately. There is some delay before it trips.

Second, the delay seems to be about the same every time you turn the fridge on. This does not indicate a random short, it indicates that something is taking some time to heat up the circuit breaker and cause it to trip.

Third, the delay got longer when you installed the higher-rated circuit breaker. This indicates that the overload is still present and the higher-rated circuit breaker just requires more time before it heats sufficiently to trip.

I think your problem is bigger than an intermittent ground fault. I would suggest you find a qualified electrician to fix it. The electrician does not have to be an RV tech. Any electrician who works on house wiring should be able to help you.

Good luck,
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Old 05-20-2011, 08:20 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radams View Post
Hey guys, thanks for the responses. Greg mentioned the refrigerator outside access getting wet and causing him trouble. Just so happens that when I was sanitizing the fresh water tank I had the ice maker line disconnected and I did get water in that compartment.

What brand of Refrigerator do you have?

Answers and comments:

1: Dometic,

There is a ribbed tube, looks like the split loom used on wires but it's not split (or not supposed to be) with kind of a cap in the end.. Just hangs there.. It is supposed to exit the cover via a vent hole.. When I got my rig it was INSIDE and when they did the Dometic Recall, and told me they ALWAYS put it out through the hole,, It was again inside (I checked before I unlocked the entrance door)

This is a drip tube, it is how condensate (Condensed water) exits the fridge.


Norcold:

The same tube goes into a "tub" or "cup" from which the water is supposed to evaporate.. I don't know what happens if the your cup runneth over.
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Old 05-22-2011, 08:46 AM   #13
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Just an update guys. Made it to Sevierville (beautiful place BTW) without further ado. Breaker issue has not reoccured. After you guys scared the crap out of me I went back and verified that the wire size on that breaker is the same as the other 20 amp breakers, threw a meter on it and no unexpected readings. I follow Loren's logic on why it sounds more like a current issue than ground fault but no evidence of it.

Bugs me that I can't think of a logical explanation but everything is functioning AOK. Still puzzled why only a 15 amp breaker on that circuit to begin with. Cost savings couldn't have amounted to much.
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