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Old 02-03-2014, 06:38 PM   #1
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Strange breaker problem

I have a 85 Elandan 31' with a 30 amp system. The breaker problem I am having is the 15amp breaker that supplies power to the water heater "trips" when not in use??? If i plug in the water heater and or any other appliances, it works fine as long as it has a load on it. It trips when everything is unplugged with no load. I made sure there is no load with my multimeter. It does not trip right away but at various times(sometimes 2 minutes and up to 20 minutes after everything is unplugged. That breaker also supplies power to the outside 110 receptacles and If I plug in, say a drill or a light. it will trip the breaker immediately even though the drill or light is turned off and causing no load.
Anyone have any advise on what to do about this?
Thanks in advance, Cappy
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Old 02-03-2014, 06:43 PM   #2
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this is a very weird problem. Not sure what it could be. The tripping when no load applied is pretty much impossible. You have to have current going through the breaker to trip it unless the breaker is bad and that would trip even when something is plugged into it. I would first remove power to the camper. I would then take my multimeter and check for a short to ground from either the neutral line or the hot line. I do not see how that could be the problem you are seeing but the fact that when you plug something else into the outside receptacles it trips immediately whether or not they are turned on makes me think the wiring to them has a short that when you plug something in it makes a complete path to the hot and tripping the breaker.
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Old 02-03-2014, 06:48 PM   #3
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Sounds like you might have a bad plug outlet or GFI outlet gone bad.

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Old 02-03-2014, 06:58 PM   #4
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Thanks. I am going to pull apart the outside receptacle in the morning and replace it and check the wires as well. I am an experienced electrician somewhat but have never experienced a breaker tripping without a load on it. I will update as soon as I replace the outlet.
Thanks again
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:28 PM   #5
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Outside outlets when they get wet and if they have a sponge seal that holds water the wiring will corrode and short and possibly trip a GFI outlet usually feeding it.
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:29 PM   #6
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Try swapping the breaker out for one of the other ones to see if the problem moves with it.

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Old 02-03-2014, 07:54 PM   #7
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Try swapping the breaker out for one of the other ones to see if the problem moves with it. Jeff
Agree. Swap around the breaker or load circuit wire and see if the problem moves or not and go from there.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:12 PM   #8
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I'm guessing the breaker trips with the rig plugged in but no loads (rather than rig unplugged & therefore no electricity), based on description of plugging loads into exterior plug on rig.

I'd suspect an intermittent short between hot & ground or hot & neutral, and that its related to the outside outlet(s). Its acting like the interior load subtends the draw on the circuit so the tweaky action at the potential short isn't contacting to cause the trip, but if you get more directly to the area of the short (which might be in one of the ext. outlets or in that part of the circuit) then you get a solid trip.

If the coach is unplugged & the breaker trips, then either 1) there is a discharging capacitor in the AC circuit (I doubt this), 2) somebody's messing with you, or 3) you have a ghost messing with you.
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:21 AM   #9
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From what you're describing, you must have a GFCI breaker that's popping. If in deed it's a GFCI, they can be finicky OR you have a low amplitude leak (to ground) in the circuit. First, I'd replace the GFCI breaker. If it repeats then you're going to have to find where you have a leak to ground. I would star with the hot water circuit!
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Old 02-04-2014, 11:58 PM   #10
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From what you're describing, you must have a GFCI breaker that's popping. If in deed it's a GFCI, they can be finicky OR you have a low amplitude leak (to ground) in the circuit. First, I'd replace the GFCI breaker. If it repeats then you're going to have to find where you have a leak to ground. I would star with the hot water circuit!
If it is the GFCI tripping, why would the breaker feeding it pop? If anything, it seems it could be a GFCI that has a fault and is not tripping but shorting to ground. If there is a GFCI in the circuit in question, I would trip it with the test button, and then see if that changes the problem. If the test button does not trip it, then remove it and see if all is normal.

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Old 02-05-2014, 01:22 AM   #11
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Breakers can get 'weak' with age. Try swapping it out with a good one and see if that solves the problem. You can also get a feel of the breaker by cycling it, then do the same on another known good one. Do they feel the same, or does one feel 'mushy' A mushy breaker is weak, thus bad and needs replacement.
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:45 AM   #12
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If it is the GFCI tripping, why would the breaker feeding it pop? If anything, it seems it could be a GFCI that has a fault and is not tripping but shorting to ground. If there is a GFCI in the circuit in question, I would trip it with the test button, and then see if that changes the problem. If the test button does not trip it, then remove it and see if all is normal.

Jeff
Jeff,
There are multiple ways to protect a circuit.. one method is a GFCI "outlet" that protects a number of outlets in a daisy chain circuit... OR, you can use a GFCI breaker, where the GFCI protection is built into the breaker. Since the breaker in question is feeding a hot water tank, I'm assuming (yes I know a dangerous thing to do) but I'm assuming the breaker protecting the water tank is a GFCI breaker. My experience with these type breakers is they are VERY FINICKY and have a high failure rate.
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:40 PM   #13
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Jeff, There are multiple ways to protect a circuit.. one method is a GFCI "outlet" that protects a number of outlets in a daisy chain circuit... OR, you can use a GFCI breaker, where the GFCI protection is built into the breaker. Since the breaker in question is feeding a hot water tank, I'm assuming (yes I know a dangerous thing to do) but I'm assuming the breaker protecting the water tank is a GFCI breaker. My experience with these type breakers is they are VERY FINICKY and have a high failure rate.
Aah!! Now that makes a lot more sense. If the breaker is indeed a GFCI then I would put my money on that being the culprit. I was thinking just one of the outlet GFCIs.

Thanks for the explanation.

Jeff
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Old 02-06-2014, 12:51 PM   #14
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How to tell if a breaker is a GFCI or not.

Does it have a TEST button on it? IF so, GFCI.
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