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poolguy810, owner - pool and spa service company
Category: Pool and Spa
Satisfied Customers: 1675
Experience:  Servicing pools and all brands of spas for over 28 years.
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I replaced my GFCI about two months ago after I found it was

Customer Question

Hello I replaced my GFCI about two months ago after I found it was faulty. Fast forward last week my heater stopped working. Everything else worked and the control panel even showed it was trying to heat. So I took the panel off to see what it might be. After looking at the heater connectors I noticed one had corrosion around it and the wires that connected it had been burned. I noticed black burn spots on the metal inside the spa pack. So after turning off all power I went to disconnect the wires and they broke off. I guess they burn or corroded all the way thought. So I need a new heater. But my question is should my GFCI have kicked since the wires had burned all the way thought and looked to be possibly touching the case? I hit the test button on the GFCI and it test ok. I just don't want to had a false sense of security thinking the GFCI is good, when it's not. And would there be a way to test it? I have a digital multimeter
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Pool and Spa
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

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

1) What type of GFCI? A GFCI circuit breaker or a GFCI receptacle?

2) Burn't wires suggest that the branch circuit wire size may be too small or a loose wire connection. A GFCI will only trip upon a current imbalance and not because of improper wire sizes.

3) If the GFCI can successfully trip using the test button under a "no load" condition, then the GFCI is working correctly.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It was a GFCI made for spas. I had a certified electrician install the first one and I installed the second the same as the first one. I replaced with the exact same one, 50 amp 2-pole breaker that is in its own box outside. The wires were not loose and are the same as installed by the manufacturer and look to be the same gage as the wires coming from the GFCI. I ended up breaking the heater connector trying to take it off. I think it was fused to it. I noticed the inside of the control box had burn marks all around the wire
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

OK, Thank you for the replies.

1) Since the spa is a 50 amp GFCI disconnect, the branch circuit conductors need to be sized as 6 AWG Copper. Branch circuit conductors that are sized smaller than 6 AWG Copper can overload and the insulation can burn due to overheating.

2) The only way to test a GFCI is to intentionally trip it via the test button. If the GFCI can successfully trip under a "no-load" condition then it is working OK.

3) When wires start to overheat and burn, this is due to either an incorrect wire size (overloaded conductors) or a loose wire termination that will cause arcing on the wire insulation. Loose wire terminations can cause unstable voltages and a sudden spike in the branch circuit voltage therefore compromising the wire rated insulation value.

4) Since the control box wires show signs of burnt marks, this may suggest an internal problem with the spa control box and not the branch circuit conductors or GFCI disco switch.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think the heater may have been leaking a little around the connector as well since there was rust and corrosion around it
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what should I do? i'm certain the wires are the write size.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also in testing the GFCI under a (no load) do you mean without power?
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Corrosion/rust on wire connections can easily lead to a poor or a loose connection which in return, can contribute to a voltage drop or a spike in voltage. All wire terminations should be free and clear of any rust or corrosion deposits in order to make a proper connection.

Flip the spa branch circuit breaker in the main electrical panel to the OFF position as well as turn the GFCI breaker to the OFF position. Remove the wire connections and clean them using some steel wool pads or a wire brush and make sure they are clean and no more rust deposits. Then re-activate power by turning the breakers back to the ON position.

2) The GFCI breaker needs to have power and voltage connected to it in order to test the GFCI by using the test button. A "no load" condition means to temporarily remove the "LOAD" side connection (spa side wiring). If the GFCI can successfully trip via the test button when the spa wires are not connected to it, then the GFCI is working correctly.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok I'll need to get a new heater before I do this since it doesn't have any leads on it. I just wanted to ask about the GFCI before I went forward. Thank You
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the replies.......I understand on the new heater.

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.