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Steve G.
Steve G., Electrical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 17987
Experience:  Spent 20 years as an Electrical Engineer, designing electrical plans and specifications.
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GCFI circuit breaker trips whenever ANYTHING is plugged into

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GCFI circuit breaker trips whenever ANYTHING is plugged into any outlet on the circuit. I have disconnected all outlets but the first and GCFI resets but trips as soon as anything is plugged in. The breaker is about 5 years old and has been working fine until now. Is there some method of checking the breaker before trying to pull a new wire through existing walls?

Hello there and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX 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. you have a multimeter or better still, an insulation tester ('Megger')?

Please let me know so that we can continue.



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have a standard vom but not a megger

Ok, shut the breaker off and ohm out the hot to ground and hot to neutral - do this at the panel and use the neutral terminal on the breaker.

Then, still with the breaker off plug something into one of your receptacles and ohm out hot to ground again at the panel.

Let me know your findings.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

either way, no continuity between hot and neutral nor hot and ground

Ok, I would really like to megger that out but it is reasonable to assume that the breaker is faulty.

How about this. Disconnect the hot and neutral to the breaker, find an old extension cord, cut the (male) plug off the end and wire it into your GFI breaker along with the ground wire.

Then plug something into the female end of the cord. If the breaker trips, get a new one. If it doesn't then you have a task ahead of you unfortunately as you have a wiring fault somewhere on that circuit.

I'll be here if you need further help with this issue. Please let me know.



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I've assumed that the length of the coiled "tail" on the GFI is critical so I left it as original but extra wire in the box is messy. Can it be shortened?

The tail on the GFI is essential for it to function.

I'm not sure about your box as I cannot see it but I think that is irrelevant to your issue.

If you can disconnect the wiring from the breaker and hook up an extension cord, we can see if the breaker is at fault.

I'll be here.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Looks as though I'll be pulling new wire; breaker works with the extension cord so I guess it's ok. I'm still wondering if the length of the tail is important or can I shorten it?

You can shorten the wiring in the distribution panel, there is nothing wrong with that especially if it wraps around the box three times :)

See if you can rent a megger from Home Depot or Lowes. It will help you track down your wiring fault and I can help you with that procedure once you have it.


Steve G. and 2 other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Steve. You've been very helpful; I'll scope out the wire run to determine if it will be worth it to make a round trip to Home Depot, then go through the megger procedure and maybe wind up doing the same thing any way.


Your service is rated "excellent.Smile"

Thank you very much.


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