Weird GFCI Tripping Problem

   #1  

Travelover

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I have a strange problem with my GFCI outlet tripping in my garage. The GFCI is on a side wall of the garage and sometimes when I flip the light switch over the garage sink (located on another wall) to the off position, the wall GFCI trips off. The sink light is a florescent with LED conversion bulbs, if that makes any difference. The light is not wired thorough the GFCI as a load - the only circuit the GFCI monitors are the outlet plugs on the outlet.

It is odd that it doesn't do it every time and I don't see how a switch would create a current flow imbalance on a remote junction box, which is what the GFCI senses.

Anyone had a similar problem? Note this is not an arc fault device, just a plain oie GFCI outlet.
 
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   #2  

jaxs

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It's possible the light circuit was extended to install the GFI. Trip breaker for light then see if GFI is still working.
 
   #3  

kcflhrc

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The GFCI outlets will go bad and I'm guessing that is what has happened. I had the same issue with a light switch in the bathroom on one circuit and it would trip the GFCI on the outlet circuit in the bathroom. I think you will find if your fingers happen to touch the screws on the light switch as you turn it off is when it will trip the GFCI. This is what I found in my case.
 
   #4  

Roadworthy

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If it's the wall plate screws you can get nylon screws for that. It's possible though with your lighting conversion you are sending a pulse of RF energy back through the wiring and that's what's tripping your GFCI. A different GFCI may solve the problem. Or it may not.
 
  
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Travelover

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.......... I think you will find if your fingers happen to touch the screws on the light switch as you turn it off is when it will trip the GFCI................
I wondered about that, so I tried it carefully just touching the switch toggle. It still tripped the GFCI. Next step is to try a new GFCI outlet, I guess.
 
   #6  

BrokenTrack

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I would replace the GFCI just in case...

I bought a package of bulk GFCI's from Home Depot made by Levitron in 2008, and they had some internal defects. I had (3) outlets just start to smoke and they were not even being used. I was just sitting there, like I am now, on the computer, and the outlet beside me (not in use) started to smoke and pop.

On both I assumed that I did not get the terminal tight, but that was not the problem at all. It was a defect in the actual GFCI internally, so I contacted Levitron and got the engineering department to look into the issue, but they never got back to me. I went ahead and replaced all the GFCI's because next time...who knows...maybe my wife and I will not be home to see the fire.

I probably sound stupid for having 3 go bad, but you cannot help but wonder at first, is it an isolated incident, or maybe another wiring issue, but in the end it was a bad batch of GFCI's. I assumed Levitron just cheapened them up to sell at a lower price to Home Depot, but I am not sure. But I have always wondered how many bad GFCI's there were floating out there in the world.

That is why I say, I would just replace it. What is a $3 outlet compared to a fire?
 
   #7  

JerryK

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I've had GFI's go bad, but usually there is a problem that the GFI is sensing and she is doing her job. Not knowing who wired the circuits, or their present condition, I would spend some time checking how both circuits are wired. Some people will hook into ' any white wire ' thinking that since it is going back to the same place, it's just fine, while it really is not.... Open up junction boxes and seeing rats nests of wires, check any connections, and tracing out each circuit back to the main panel is a must. To include making sure everything is is tight and in good order all the way back to the screw on the breaker box with the black, white, and ground wires. Some of the older fluorescent light ballasts will create a small voltage spike on the circuit it is attached to as the field collapses within the ballast itself. But that usually will not effect anything on another separate circuit.
 
   #9  

Hay Dude

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GFCIs are the devils work.

Very much so!
Sounds good on paper, but in real life applications, they can be frustrating and worse. I have a kitchen island supposedly “protected” by GFCI outlets. Both are dead, nothing plugged into them works, but the green light is on indicating proper function.
 
   #10  

RickB

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The cure for that is a standard outlet and cover plate. Done.
 
 
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