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Electrical Wiring in the Home/Is Ground Fault breaker at fault?

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Question
Dear Robert,

My house has a ground fault breaker in the main board, which controls the "wet" parts of the house: the bathrooms' electric outlets to connect hair dryer, etc, and an outlet that's in the back yard, which wiring goes under the ground outside. When it rained a lot, this ground fault breaker turns itself off, disabling power to those outlets.

Question # 1 > Is this normal or is it indicative that power cable(s) are getting wet and they shouldn't?

Recently I've noticed that no matter how many dry days we have, the breaker can't be turned on, it disables itself, so the outlets in the bathrooms, and outside remain w/o power all the time. Btw, nobody has changed anything in the electrical system, or overloaded anything. We don't even use those outlets that much.

Question # 2 > Is there any troubleshooting I could do? Might it be that the GF breaker is damaged? What do you think could be happening?

Best regards, and thank you in advance,

Richard

Answer
Robert Wilber
Philadelphia Licensed Electrician
Philadelphia License # 3516 - 16765
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LIFE SAFETY WARNING! [disclaimer]
Electricity is dangerous!
You can be injured or killed!
Improper installations can cause fire, injury and death!
Are you qualified to do this work?
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National Electrical Code definition, NFPA 70 2008 Article 100: Qualified Person. "One who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved."
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Electricity is fire in a box! Death on a leash!
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Always check with the local “Authority Having Jurisdiction” for an official interpretation before making installation decisions.
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In Philadelphia, it is unlawful for anyone except an individual licensed by the City of Philadelphia to install electrical equipment and wiring.
Homeowners are not allowed to install wiring.
The owner of any property wherein any such installation is discovered shall be issued a violation by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
The limited exceptions include replacing devices and fixtures at existing outlets.
Contact the Department of Licenses and Inspections for more information.
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You are more likely to be killed by 120 volts than any other voltage [120 volts creates the PERFECT fatal current through the human body's electrical resistance!]
TURN THE POWER OFF WHEN WORKING!
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LIFE SAFETY WARNING! [disclaimer]
This information is provided for the use of parties as they see fit!
I am not responsible for the application of this information by any party, including those lacking sufficient skill or knowledge to perform these steps safely and any hazard created is the SOLE responsibility of the user.
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Age can have an impact on the stability of a GFI device. Newer models are more reliable than older versions. When we first started installing GFI devices in houses, the first device was served with a GFI receptacle in a bathroom fed from a lighting circuit and the remaining bath receptacles and the outside receptacle were protected by that receptacle. The GFI almost always tripped if it rained a lot or people took steamy showers. That was in the 70s. GFIs are much more stable than they were then.

The idea of a yard receptacle being on the same circuit concerns me. The logical place for the problem is where the circuit transitions to outside, at the yard receptacle or another outside outlet on the same circuit. There is also the possibility of the wrong wire having been used for the yard outlet with insulation breakdown due to exposure to deleterious materials.

Troubleshooting involves opening the circuit at various points and determining if the remaining connected circuit stabilizes. ...and, of course, the breaker might have gone bad.
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Robert Wilber

Expertise

Licensed Philadelphia electrician serving Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania. I install and repair residential, commercial and industrial wiring and lighting. Troubleshooting and repair of problems that stump other people is my favorite. I am willing to help people figure out why things don`t work. I understand motor controls, transformers and machine wiring. I do not teach basics to novices or do free design work.

Experience

Experience in the area I have 44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair, 480 volts and below. This is not to be confused with one week repeated two thousand times.

Education/Credentials
44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair

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