Electrical Wiring in the Home/Wall outlets
I have a water feature in my yard that uses a large submersible pump. For several years I have had that pump plugged into an outlet in a garden shed. It has worked very well, and has run continually for days on end. Recently I tried to turn the pump on, and it ran well for almost a minute, and then it shut off. The oilers I have are the kind that have a little button that pops out when the electrical load is too high (I think that's the reason). I pushed the button back in and tried again, but again it shut off after a short while. I tried a similar outlet in the garage, but same story. So I ran the extension cord to my house outlets (not the kind with the pop-out buttons) and the pump runs fine for as long as I have it plugged in m.
QUESTION: Is it possible to change out the plugs in the garden shed to a type that will either handle a greater electrical load or for the kind without the pop-out buttons? Is it safe for me to make such a change if I make sure the power source to the shed is turned off before I do so?
ANSWER: That type of an outlet is called a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, and it is there to make it less likely for people to get shocked. Your pump sounds like it now has a defect which could cause a shock, and the outlet is doing its job. You can try plugging something else into the outlet, to make sure the outlet is not defective, but that is unlikely. Also make sure that any extension cord connections are off of the ground.
Changing the outlet to handle a greater load will not help, and could actually be a fire hazard. Putting a regular outlet there could cause someone to be electrocuted. My wife knew a woman who died in a bathtub when a portable light fell into it. If it had been plugged into a GFCI outlet, she may still be alive today.
So, the bottom line is that most likely the pump needs to be replaced.
If the pump costs tat much, you may be able to get it repaired. But make sure all of the connections are dry
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QUESTION: Thank you very much for your helpful answers. Just one more related question: since no one ever touched the pump, which is submersed In a closed pump housing, and since I have received no shock from putting my hand into the water, what would make it dangerous?
I had thought the problem might be caused by something that might have impeded the turning of that part and thus causing the pump to work harder, and thus requiring an extra surge of energy, which might in turn cause the electrical flow to fluctuate enough to trigger the circuit breaker inside the outlet to react by shutting off the power. Does that make any sense?
A ground fault interrupter measures the power going into the circuit, and the power coming out of the circuit and shuts it off immediately, if they are not equal. (Remember that electricity goes in a circle). If the amount is not the same, then the power is leaking to the ground. If someone is standing on the ground and touches the pump, or even the water that is there, they could become the path for the electricity and get shocked. The GFCI only measures the power difference, it does not act as a circuit breaker for the pump using too much current.