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Thread: GFCI Distance Too Far?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    GFCI Distance Too Far?

    I have a customer that I ran power for his pool pump over a year ago. If I remember correctly, the run is approx. 100'. The circuit is fed from a 20A GFCI breaker. I ran #12 THWN in 3/4" PVC underground. I ran the power to a switch then to a Duplex receptacle controlled by the switch. (All in weatherproof boxes w/in-use covers)
    Now a year later he calls and says the GFCI keeps tripping. Since this customer is a good distance away I tried to help him over the phone.

    He says the pump motor was getting extremely hot to the touch. I told him the GFCI breaker might be tripping on overload rather than ground fault. I said this thinking the pump motor was bad. Then he tells me the dog was getting caught on the cord and damaged the insulation on the cord to the pump. So now I'm sure the damaged cord is what is tripping the GFCI. I told him to either get another cord or a whole new pump as both could be bad.

    Now he calls back and says he installed a new pump w/new cord and tried to run it. He says it ran for about 10 mins. then tripped.
    I know that certain pool pumps won't run on any GFCI other than Siemens. The breaker that I used was a C-H BR GFCI. I don't think it's an issue with the brand or it wouldn't have ran for a year. I'm thinking the distance is what is causing the GFCI to trip.
    Could that be it or what other things might cause this?
    Just trying to be prepared if I have to go back there and check.
    If it is the distance, (100') would it make a difference if I changed to a regular breaker and changed the duplex to a GFCI?
    If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Bill View Post
    I have a customer that I ran power for his pool pump over a year ago. If I remember correctly, the run is approx. 100'. The circuit is fed from a 20A GFCI breaker. I ran #12 THWN in 3/4" PVC underground. I ran the power to a switch then to a Duplex receptacle controlled by the switch. (All in weatherproof boxes w/in-use covers)
    Now a year later he calls and says the GFCI keeps tripping. Since this customer is a good distance away I tried to help him over the phone.

    He says the pump motor was getting extremely hot to the touch. I told him the GFCI breaker might be tripping on overload rather than ground fault. I said this thinking the pump motor was bad. Then he tells me the dog was getting caught on the cord and damaged the insulation on the cord to the pump. So now I'm sure the damaged cord is what is tripping the GFCI. I told him to either get another cord or a whole new pump as both could be bad.

    Now he calls back and says he installed a new pump w/new cord and tried to run it. He says it ran for about 10 mins. then tripped.
    I know that certain pool pumps won't run on any GFCI other than Siemens. The breaker that I used was a C-H BR GFCI. I don't think it's an issue with the brand or it wouldn't have ran for a year. I'm thinking the distance is what is causing the GFCI to trip.
    Could that be it or what other things might cause this?
    Just trying to be prepared if I have to go back there and check.
    If it is the distance, (100') would it make a difference if I changed to a regular breaker and changed the duplex to a GFCI?
    The damaged cord likely had broken strands of wire, effectively decreasing the AWG and causing the motor to overheat - much like running one on an undersized and/or long extension cord.

    As for the GFCI tripping, I would check the switchbox and receptacle box first to see if there is any corrosion or condensation. I've seen a fair number that get moisture in them particularly where the cable enters (I know you have conduit not UF - still good to check those boxes).

    If the GFCI breaker has held fine for a year, it isnt the distance that's now causing issues.

    eta: if you want to be completely prepared, bring a new switch, receptacle (regular and GFCI), breakers (regular and GFCI) and enough #12 or even #10 to rewire from the panel to the motor, new boxes, new in-use/outdoor covers, conduit fittings, silicone, DB/wet location wirenuts... basically everything but the buried conduit.
    Last edited by JFletcher; 07-16-17 at 06:48 PM.
    Electricians do it until it Hertz!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    San Antonio, Texas
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    633
    The closer that you can locate the GFCI protection (by code) to where it will be used, the better. As previous post said, if it worked for a year, then the distance should not be the problem.

  4. #4
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    NE (9.1 miles @5.07 Degrees from Winged Horses)
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    Distance? No. Could be anything up to an overload if the pump runs for 10 minutes.
    Tom
    TBLO

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    I'm fairly certain the damaged cord was a problem, but now that he has a new motor that should have cured that.
    Now who knows, he could have had the valves closed or something when he changed the pump motor.
    I just want to have everything I can think of with me when I get to go due to how far he is from me. It's over an hours drive from where I'm at or to anywhere that sells supplies.
    If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Somewhere over the rainbow
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    I would install a new GFCI receptacle at the pump location and change the breaker to a regular (non-GFCI). For me this will eliminate two possible things that may be wrong. Bad GFCI breaker and bad wiring in the conduit under ground.

    If the GFCI receptacle at the pump trips then you know it is not over load, it is not the wiring that you have installed (well it could be), and you know it is not a GFCI breaker. So now all the problem points towards the wiring of the pump or the pump itself.
    Edward
    The only thing I know, is the progressive discovery of my ignorance


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    woodbridge, ct. USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDB3 View Post
    The closer that you can locate the GFCI protection (by code) to where it will be used, the better. As previous post said, if it worked for a year, then the distance should not be the problem.
    The code says that?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by GerryB View Post
    The code says that?
    No, the code only requires GFCI protection or not.

    Imo, it's better to protect with a breaker at the source than with a receptacle since the branch circuit conductors are protected in their entirety.
    Electricians do it until it Hertz!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    NE Nebraska
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    32,138
    Quote Originally Posted by JFletcher View Post
    No, the code only requires GFCI protection or not.

    Imo, it's better to protect with a breaker at the source than with a receptacle since the branch circuit conductors are protected in their entirety.
    GFCI is for protecting people, the conductors don't need GFCI protection, just short circuit, ground fault, and overload protection is all the conductors need.

    That said the longer the circuit the more subject it is to capacitive leakage and non intended tripping of a GFCI if it is at the beginning of the circuit.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    US
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    7
    Bring an extension cord , power the pump up if it runs it's the power ran to the pump. Ohm out the underground wires, if that checks out move to the gfci breaker..

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk

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