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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 2934
Experience:  29 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
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Installed a Siemens 60amp GFI breaker for a spa. Ran 6 -3

Customer Question

Installed a Siemens 60amp GFI breaker for a spa. Ran 6 -3 with a ground and a disconnect box at the spa. With no load the breaker trips, when the neutral is disconnected it doesnt. Existing panel is grounded and functioning. Tried hooking the ground to a new grounding rod outside, still trips.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Mike G. replied 2 months ago.

Hi, I'm Mike G and I'll be assisting you. Ell me how you wired the breaker.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Red and black to load, white to the neutral on breaker, white tail on the breaker to the neutral bus and ground to the bus. Tried new GFI breaker and regular breaker. Regular breaker doesn't trip.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 2 months ago.

Disconnect the neutral at the tub and see if the GFCI holds.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I will try that later today or tomorrow. I got called away.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 2 months ago.

No, problem, come back when you can.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I disconnected the neutral at the tub and it's not tripping. Where do I go from here?
Expert:  Mike G. replied 2 months ago.

There obviously is a problem with the tub. Is there any connection with both the neutral and the ground attached in the same place?

Reattach the neutral and disconnect all ground wire connections.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I dont think it's the tub. It's tripping when it's disconnected from the tub also.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 2 months ago.

Your previous reply said it didn't trip the breaker and now you said it is. Which is it?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Disconnected tub neutral and reconnected line back to the disconnect in the box and it tripped
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
It has always tripped when the neutral is attached.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 2 months ago.

You need to read my entire message. I said to disconnect the grounds

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Everything has been done with no load on it.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 2 months ago.

You need to have the breaker in after each step to test.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The breaker is in the panel and there's a disconnect box at the tub. We have the tub disconnected.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 2 months ago.

We're working on a 60A GFCI tripping, that is what needs to be on at each step. That is tripping for a fault on either the neutral or ground.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
It's still tripping with the grounds disconnected and the neutral reattached
Expert:  Mike G. replied 2 months ago.

You have a fault on the neutral. You would be best to have the tub serviced to locate it. Sorry there isn't more I can do with you. I'll opt out.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I hooked up a regular breaker and it doesn't trip. Only the GFI breaker trips.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

Hello there and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** another expert here and I will be assisting you today. I am an engineer with over 30 years of electrical and electronic training, repair and installation experience. I will try and answer your question accurately and precisely so that we can get you on your way.

GFI breakers are much more sensitive than regular thermal/magnetic breakers which is why they are used in bathrooms and for protecting spas, hot tubs, pools and any other electrical items that are outside.

Just so I understand. If you disconnect all wires AT THE TUB, but leave them connected at the GFI breaker, the breaker still trips.

Also, can you get your hands on an insulation tester commonly known in the trade as a "Megger"?

Is that correct? I apologize if you have already gone over this with the previous expert.

Please let me know so that we can continue.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
You are correct. It doesn't trip when the neutral is disconnected. We tried a new GFI breaker, same problem. When a regular breaker is used it's fine. I cannot get a Megger.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

Ok. Roughly how long is the run from the breaker to the tub and what kind of wiring/conduit did you use?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
44' of 6-3 with a ground.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

Ok. Do you have a multimeter? If so, set it to "Ohms" and measure the resistance between:

N-L1
N-L2
L1-L2

L1-G

L2-G

N-G

Do this to the disconnected conductors at the far end. Let me know what you find.

Thanks.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I won't be able to test it till monday
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
With the meter set at 200k it was as follows
N - L1. 25
N - L2. 57
L1 - L2. 82
L1 - G. 25
L2 - G. 55
N - G 0When tested at 200 N - G was the only one that registered, it was 1.0
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

Ok. I'm not quite sure of those measurements. Are they ohms or kilo-ohms?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The attached picture shows how we had it set.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

Ok. I'm still not sure about those readings though. Can you do the N-L1 and N to L2 again with the meter set to 200 ohms?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
It doesn't register anything.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

Ok. I'm not sure what is going on then. Without an insulation tester, I can only assume that the neutral conductor is at fault somewhere.

Is the 6-3 that you purchased installed in a conduit or a trench or some other method? And I assume that you are using a sheathed three conductor cable like NM-B or SER?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
It's is sheathed. We have it run in grey PVC pipe down the side of the house and through the attic to the panel.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
It is NM-B
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
We disconnected the 6-3 and connected a 12-3 to the breaker and the ran the same set of ohm tests and the result was almost identical.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

When you connect the 12/3, does the breaker trip?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
it does
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

Then something has to be wrong with the breaker - at the neutral terminal.

I would have it replaced. There is no other explanation for what we are experiencing.

Steve

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
That was the first thing we tried
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

Then I'm not sure what is going on.

Simply connecting "a wire" to the neutral connection pops the breaker - that doesn't make sense. I am sorry.

Plug the breaker in with no wires attached and turn it on. Then try and connect the neutral. Be careful b/c the other two terminals are hot.

Does it trip?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The breaker works when the neutral is not connected at the box. Or with the neutral connected at the breaker but not the disconnect box.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

Ok, let me try and understand.

The breaker is in your main house panel - inside, not adjacent to the tub.

At the tub you have a disconnect box? Does the box have separate neutral and ground bars, or are they tied together with a metal tie?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
That is correct. They neutral and ground bars are connected.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

That's your problem. There should be a small link between the two. Remove it.

Let me know the outcome.

Steve

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
In the main panel there is only one bus. Is that going to change anything?
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
They are disconnected and it's still tripping.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

Check for shorts in that disconnect. Between the hots and ground, the neutral and ground and the hots and the neutral.

Disconnect the wires first - at the disconnect.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
We tried bypassing the disconnect and hooking it directly to the spa and it still trips.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

The panel that the GFI is installed, is that your main house panel or a sub panel that was maybe added later?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Main house panel
Expert:  Steve G. replied 2 months ago.

I'm sorry but I just can't make sense of this. I completely understand how GFI devices work and what you are experiencing is very odd indeed. I am going to opt out of this question which will allow other experts to chime in.

I'm sorry I was unable to help.

Steve

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) At the 60 amp disco, is the feeder neutral bonded to the equipment ground? Is there a green screw or a main bonding jumper strap installed that bonds the neutral bus bar to the panel metal enclosure? Does the disco contain a separate equipment ground bar?

2) What is the voltage of the hot tub? 240 volts only or a combo of 120/240 volts?

If a combo voltage, is the white neutral from the tub terminated to the GFCI breaker or to the neutral bus bar?

3) If the NMB cable is exterior to the home, that is a code violation. Romex cable is not rated for wet conditions.

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks...............Kevin:)

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The neutral and ground bars are separate on the disconnect. The spa is 240 v. And the bomb is in grey PVC pipe on the exterior of the house.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

1) Is the white neutral GFCI pigtail terminated to the neutral bus bar?

2) Not sure what you mean by the bomb is in grey PVC?

3) If you remove the 2 hots from the GFCI LOAD side, does the GFCI still trip

4) Has the main bonding screw or main bonding jumper strap been removed at the neutral bus bar?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I won't be back over to the house until tomorrow. My phone auto corrected bomb, it was supposed to be wire.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

No problem, just reply back to me tomorrow..........Thanks............Kevin:)

1) If NM Romex cable was installed in exterior PVC conduit, that is a code violation since Romex cable is not rated for wet conditions. Even though the Romex cable is installed in conduit, it is not rated for exterior/wet conditions. Over time, the NM Romex insulation will break down and fail.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The breaker still pops with the hots disconnected from the breaker
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

1) What about the GFCI pigtail neutral? Is it terminated to the neutral bus bar even though the 2 hot wires have been removed?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

Thanks for confirming.

1) Since removing the LOAD side connection at the GFCI and it still trips, this rules out a problem with the hot tub.

2) At the disconnect, is there a main bonding screw or a main bonding jumper strap terminated to the neutral bus bar?, If so, remove the main bonding screw or strap.

3) If no main bonding screw or no main bonding strap installed in the disco, then I recommend to obtain a replacement GFCI.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The neutral is bonded at the disconnect and the ground is separated. We have tried it both ways and it still trips. We also tried a new breaker. Same problem.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

The disco box needs to be configured as a sub-panel. On all sub-panels, the main bonding screw or main bonding jumper strap needs to be removed. The neutral must be isolated from the panel metal enclosure. Neutral and ground are only bonded together at the main service panel and never at a downstream sub-panel.

There should be a separate equipment ground bar or a separate ground lug in the disco box to terminate all grounds. The neutral bus bar in the disco only lands the GFCI white neutral pigtail and a neutral from the feeder circuit

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

See attached diagram. Is this how the disco box is configured?

If so, then you may have a short on the neutral feeder wire or the GFCI breaker is defective.

Remove all 4 feeder wires at the main panel and at the disco box and check for continuity to rule out any short on the neutral.

If no neutral to ground or no neutral to hot shorts, then the feeder circuit is good. Only item remaining is a possible faulty GFCI.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The disconnect box doesn't have the gfci breaker in it. The grounds are tied together and the neutrals are goino to the neutral bus I'm the disco box. We tested for continuity and we are good on that. When a normal breaker is put in its doesn't trip. We tried a new gfci breaker and that didn't work either. The only time it doesn't trip is whenot the neutral pigtail is not attached in the main panel.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

1) Is the main panel configured as a main service disconnect or as a sub-panel? How do you kill power to the home? Using a main breaker at the main panel or a separate disconnect switch or a separate main breaker located near the meter socket?

2) At the main panel, is there a green main bonding screw or a main bonding jumper strap at the neutral bus bar.

3) Does the main panel have a separate equipment ground bar to only land bare copper and/or green ground wires or are the ground wires also terminated to the neutral bus bar?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
It is configured as a sub panel, the main breaker is at the pole. There is no bonding screw or jumper. The neutral bus is isolated from the panel. The ground bus is grounded to the panel. The grounds and neutrals are separated.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

OK, Thanks for confirming.

The main panel is properly configurated then.

I am running out of possibilities on this.

1) Is the manufacturer of the main panel also Siemens or another brand?

2) Is the hot tub GFCI the only GFCI breaker installed in the panel or others? If other GFCI breakers installed, I assume they test and reset correctly?

3) Is the main feed from the pole panel a 3 or a 4 wire feed? Does it contain a separate equipment grounding conductor in addition to the 2 hots and 1 neutral from the pole box to the house sub-panel?

4) At the house sub-panel, are the ground rod and/or cold water main metal piping grounding electrode conductors terminated to the separate equipment ground bar or do they land on the sub-panel neutral bus bar at the house?

5) At the pole box, the neutral and the ground rod are bonded together, correct?

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

Shown below is a diagram I created. This is what you should have in place. If not, let me know.......Thanks............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

On the diagram, notice that neutral and ground are only bonded together at the main pole panel? They never meet up again at the house sub-panel or at the hot tub disco switch. Neutral to ground bonding only takes place at the main service disconnect, which in your application is at the pole panel.

A) Pole panel has the main bonding screw installed.

B) House sub-panel does not have the main bonding screw installed.

C) House sub-panel ground rod and/or city water ground terminates to the separate equipment ground bar and not to the neutral bus bar.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
That is how we have it
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

1) Then the GFCI should work and should not trip even with the hot tub load disconnected.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I know. But it is. ��
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 months ago.

Unfortunately, I have run out of ideas as to the cause of the problem. Sorry that I was not able to assist you.

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