GFCI Question

My place is wired strange. Its a bi-level house and upstairs in the bathroom theres a GFCI outlet that for some reason is wired to the wall outlet
downstairs in the utility room. In the utility room I run an extensive amount of CCTV/Alarm equipment that is plugged into this outlet. I figure I'm pulling about 10A-13A consistantly from the 15A GFCI circuit as this equipment runs 24/7. Anyway, last night for the 1st time in nearly 2 yrs. the GFCI tripped, over 2-3 times in a row. So I unplugged all of my equipment and rerouted it to another outlet where it worked fine. Even after this was done, the GFCI repeated to trip even with nothing plugged into it and the surface of the outlet was slightly warm to the touch. So needless to say, I replaced the GFCI with a new 20A capable outlet and it still trips whenever a load is applied to it now, from as little as a 4W night light to a 1500W hairdryer but not when nothing is plugged into it. Let me add, for 2 days now my equipment is still running fine on a totally different 30A circuit. Anyone have an idea what could be causing this? Thanks a ton for any help and Merry Christmas to you all.
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AnotherAnonymous wrote:

As I understand it, your wiring goes like this: GFCI regular receptacle ==throom===================Utilityroom
Does it go beyond the utility room? In any event, disconnect (both the hot & the neutral wires) the run from the bathroom to the utility room from the GFCI receptacle in the bathroom, resulting in this: GFCI regular receptacle ==throom ================Utilityroom
Does that eliminate the problem?
Ed
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wrote:

Nuisance tripping is quiet common for GFCI's. Tracing this to a particular load may be difficult. I would not personally want critical CCTV/alarm equipment wired to this circuit and you did a good thing by changing this. The problem may be that there are other downstream outlets/loads on the GFCI that perhaps you are not aware of.
You can check by tripping it off and going around the house very carefully with a circuit checker to see what else is off. Make sure you check every outlet. Unplug the loads going to every GFCI outlet on this circuit and see if this stops the problem.
Leakage can occur in bad or detiorating wiring. I once traced nuicance trips to a defective "Telephone" surge protector that was apparantly inducing stray currents on the ground wire of a downstream GFCI protected outlet. It could be an outdoor outlet or wiring, or something as mundane as LV outdoor lighting.
Every situation is unique, but I would suggest that these would be the probabilities....
Orgin of the problem - Defective appliance leaking current to ground Probability: HIGH
Orgin of the problem - Defective internal house wiring causing leakage Probability: MEDIUM
Orgin of the problem - Defective GFCI causing nuisance trips Probability: LOW
Beachcomber
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Why bother? It's just as easy to wire the "downstream" side to the line as the load side of the GFCI. When you get a new GFCI, it usually has tape on the "load" connections. Just leave the tape on.
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Often a single GFI is used in residential wiring to satisfy several GFI required locations. This was supposed to save money , because GFI outlets are pricey compared to regular "U-ground" outlets. This is undoubtably what happened to your house. I could never see a cost savings in running a separate 2-wire circuit clear acrosss a residence in order to save about 5 bucks on the outlet cost. Around here, when the GFI first became a staple, it was common to have one running two bathrooms, and the garage. Anyway, if your location has the room, you can by-pass the GFI and feed the utility room with the "line" side of the circuit. (Connect wires on output of GFI to the wires that feed the GFI.) Now, power a regular duplex receptacle with that Non-GFI circuit, and use it to power your static loads. Make sure it is marked clearly as to it's intended use. Then add a jumper over to another box, and make that your GFI by adding a new GFI receptacle for your hand tool loads. This adds the benefit of isolating the GFI control to right where it's being used, and not affecting the cicuits "upstream". I agree with the other posters that whatever is tripping your GFI is undoubtably downstream of it, on the way to that utility room outlet, or the loads connected to it or other outlets fed by it. If you take the load side wiring off, it will likely quit tripping. Also, it is true that you don't want circuits for alarms and the like on a GFI. GFI circuits in a residence are typically for outlets near grounded items that are likely to be used for portable hand tool loads, and spa-hot tub applications.>
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Thanks for all of your input. I haven't done anything else to this circuit yet but now it seems that the problem has just stopped on its own. For tonight and testing purposes, I've plugged my CCTV equipment back into this outlet to see what happens. Weither or not it works through the night, I plan on moving it back to the 30A circuit tomorrow. So far its been fine for the past 5 hours. In testing, I've also found that theres an outlet in the garage directly on the other side of the utility room wall that is powered by this GFCI circuit and it has nothing plugged into it. What would make this happen then just stop on its own? Thanks again.
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It could have been a temporary moisture problem, possibly on that garage circuit. It is hard to tell unless you start disconnecting circuits and waiting a week to see what happens.
I agree with the other posters that the CATV and alarm equipment should be on a dedicated non-GFCI circuit. However, if it uses a standard 120 volt, 15 or 20A plug, then the receptacles are limited by code to a 20A circuit. It doesn't matter whether they are marked 15A or 20A, they will be fine on a 20A circuit, but not on a 30A.
Ben Miller
--
Benjamin D. Miller, PE
B. MILLER ENGINEERING
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Thanks Ben that makes alot of sense. It still seems to be working. I've permenantly moved my equipment to the 110V dryer outlet in the utility room since we have an electric dryer that uses the 220V so the 110 was free. Thanks again.
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AnotherAnonymous wrote:

Most likely the problem is in the garage junction box. The diagnosis (to determine if the failure is in that box) and repair are simultaneous - you're looking for crud in the j-box. Kill power, open up the box, clean out the spider webs/crud/whatever, and install a new receptacle.
Ed
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