GFCI Trip on cloths Washer

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by rockycmt, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. rockycmt

    rockycmt New Member

    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    New York
    I have a washing machine on a circuit after a GFCI outlet. I just bought the place and this is what was there. Every once and a while the GFCI outlet trips and the power to the washer is cut.

    Is this a grounding issue?
    Does it even make sense to have a GFCI between the washer and the breaker box?
    Is this actually getting tripped cause of a problem?
    What should I look for?
  2. Mort

    Mort New Member

    Messages:
    83
    Location:
    CA
    It could be either a grounding problem or a bad/old switch. Not being an electrician....I'd call one and have it examined. If it's just a bad unit it's a cheap fix. If it's a problem somewhere in the circuit it'd sure be nice to find and correct.

    Mort
  3. 480sparky

    480sparky In the Trades

    Messages:
    149
    Replacing the GFI would be the easiest thing to try first. Maybe the old one is just bad. GFIs aren't that much money....
  4. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Is there anything else on that circuit?

    Is it a GFCI breaker in the load center or is it a GFCI receptacle at the washer?

    If a receptacle, is there a circuit extension connected to the load terminals of the receptacle?

    A GFCI will trip if there is a short to ground on any part of the circuit beyond hte GFCI device. In your case that could be something within the washing machine, or anything in a circuit that goes beyond the GFCI device.

    The GFCI will often trip even if the ground fault involves the neutral conductor beyond the device. If there is a defective device downstream, the GFCI will trip when that device is turned on.

    Check the items described above and come back if that doesn't solve the problem.
  5. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

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    671
    Location:
    Washington
    GFIs detect very low currents passing through things like bodies that really ought not be holding on to the hot wire and leaning on a ground. It compares the current in the hot wire to the neutral wire current. If they are different; it trips. And "different" can be a very small amount.

    If there is a frayed wire or a plug laying loose (i.e., extension cord) and it is getting water in it (or real damp) it can trigger the GFI. Something wrong inside the washer or some other attached device can also do it. Leakage in a component from the hot side to ground would do it. Ground and neutral shall only be tied together at the entrance service panel.

    You can get a relatively inexpensive outlet tester (or one that does GFI tests as well) find other outlets connected to the GFI. It is not uncommon to find attached outlets physically distant from the GFI outlet. Use the tester to check the outlets in the area. You can tell from the wiring on the GFI if there is an additional load connected. The tester will provide a quick test and help find an outlet if there is a set of wires going off to an unknown location.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    Gfci

    GFCI outlets are notorious for "false tripping" when motorized devices are plugged into them. That is one reason a refrigerator/freezer should never be plugged into one. It is also the reason an appliance can be plugged into a single device outlet without a GFCI.
  7. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    I disagree, if a GFI is tripping it is because of a problem with the appliance... If your statement were true, I doubt the NEC would change the code in the 2008 edition.
  8. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    Washington
    Just a small anecdotal experience, over about 5 years I have had a wide variety of equipment (motorized and other) attached to 5 different GFIs. Some GFIs rather long in the tooth. The only trips were when connections got wet.

    I have seen a fair about of comments about AFCI devices being where GFIs were for a few years after introduction. Get funny a lot.
  9. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    The NEC code committees are dominated by manufucturers who have an interest in making code requirements to sell products. We didn't get the 2008 Code requirement for an AFCI on every 120 Volt 15 or 20 Amp circuit because the statistics showed lots of fires would be prevented to the extent of making them the most cost-effective way to reduce hazards to life. We got the AFCI requirement because manufacturers want to sell AFCIs.
  10. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
    I see I'm not the only cynic on the forum. :)
  11. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

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    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT

    I can't argue with that statement...
  12. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Time to stock up on conventional breakers?

    I'm a little concerned that the 2008 Code requirement for AFCIs everywhere might be a "nose under the tent" thing. Since replacing a breaker isn't a very big deal, usually, it's possible that future Codes might require that all conventional breakers be replaced with AFCIs over time, and, eventually, prohibit the sale of conventional breakers altogether. Whether the sale is actually prohibited, demand for conventional breakers might fall off to the point they might not be available at today's prices.

    In defense of NFPA processes, it ain't cheap to participate in a standards-making body, so it's only natural that large corporations are the major contributors. They expect something in return...
  13. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots Sprinkler Guy

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    Location:
    Metro NYC
    I expect if the AFCI was patented by an individual, there might be years of committee wrangling and folderol before it would get adopted for required usage. I recall a 60 Minutes report on the efforts of the inventor of the motorized flue damper to get his invention approved by the regulating agencies. Seems the agencies had better things to do. Typical grind-the-little-guy-into-the-ground-until-he-sells-out (or the big boys find a way to side-step around the patent) tactics.
  14. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

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    Location:
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    That's not being a cynic. That's being a realist.
  15. kd

    kd New Member

    Messages:
    207
    The Code allows you to put in a standard single receptacle for the Washer or a standard duplex for the washer and gas dryer because they can nuisance trip. This means the GFCI trips -but there is no hazard. My neighbor's one year old washer tripped the GFCI-I replaced it with a standard receptacle per NEC requirements. In new houses, I do not put refrigeration or washers on GFCIs. I think the motors get just damp enough to cause enough current leakage to trip the GFCI.
  16. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    There is no such thing as nuisance tripping, they are actually doing their job, and with the new code changes coming up, there will be very few GFI exceptions...
  17. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051

    Those car alarms that used to go off all the time were just doing their job, too. But they were still a nuisance!
  18. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

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    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    Yes well, except you didn't die if it didn't go off did you...
  19. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
    No. But I would've liked to have killed a few of those car-owners because it went off. :D
  20. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    Washington
    I would define a nuisance trip to be one caused by an internal operational flaw in the GFI/AFI. No one will die of this. The early proclivity of GFIs to create false trips is apparently being supplanted by the AFI.

    Once the bugs are out they are probably good things.
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