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Thread: GFCI won't trip

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    GFCI won't trip

    Hi, I'm not an electrician, so I hope I don't sound too dumb.

    I just started rebuilding an old hot tub. (gasp)

    The thing has a GFCI plug that only fits into the special outlet that came with it. My house was wired with a 20amp dedicated outlet for a hot tub, so I installed the special recepticle in place of the standard receptacle.

    So then, I plug it in, and push the 'test' button on the GFCI plug and it DOES trip. Hooray.

    So then I start fixing the hot tub. The heater is leaking. So I shut it down, take the heater off, repair all the PVC, and in the process, put a big nick into the heating element. I knew this was bad, but I hooked it up anyway to see if it would work.

    I turn it on, and everything starts up. I press the GFCI test button, and it trips. I press reset. Then I walk over to the tub, and start putting my probe on different things, and guess what....everything is energiezed. The groung coppers for every peice of equipment, even the water itself. I actually got buzzed when I touched the ground housing in the equipment box of the hot tub. So, why isn't the GFCI tripping?

    Next, I pulled the scews from the outlet, and pulled it out of the housing, and probed the ground wire. No current.

    So apparently, I am not really grounded. It looks like a fault in the GFCI plug.

    What I don't understand is, how can the GFCI test okay with the little button if it doesn't trip when not truely grounded?

    One of my frineds said that just because the water is energized, the GFCI won't trip unless it grounds out. Then why didn't it trip when I got zapped?

    Is this making any sense?

    There is one last bit of data...the GFCI plug looks a little warped from overheating at the previous owners house. the prongs may not be making a good connection to the recepticle. I put it all together one more time, clicked the test button, it tripped, and then with it still tripped, I checked the Ohms between the recepticle ground and the copper ground wires in the hot tub. Infinate Ohms=no connection.

    Is that what keeps the GFCI from tripping? It is a Watkins 110volt 20 amp GFCI plug. Oh yeah, the 20amp breaker is also a doesn't trip either.

    So, I am keeping that faulty heater installed (unwired when I'm not working on the project) as a test of my GFCI. I won't be replacing that heater and putting my family in the water until I can get the faulty heater to trip the GFCI.

    My question is, is this just a grounding problem? Does it seem right that the GFCI would react to the test button, but not an actual buzzzzz.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I am closing this thread, in accordance with the Forum’s rules. This Forum is for professional electricians, inspectors, engineers, and other members of the electrical industry. We are not permitted to provide “how-to” assistance to a person who is not employed in this industry.
    Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
    Comments based on 2017 NEC unless otherwise noted.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003


    There is no way I can covey strongly enough to hire a qualified person to make the repairs on a hot tub.

    That said, I am closing this thread, in accordance with the Forum Rules.

    This site is designed for:

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    * This NEC® Forum is for those in the electrical and related industries. Questions of a "How-To" nature by persons not involved in the electrical industry will be removed without notice.

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