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Answers to Electrical Questions About Troubleshooting a GFCI Receptacle and Upgrading an Electric Service

September 20, 2008

Question mark Don Allen asks:
I installed a koi pond in my yard and had a electrician run a wire to a GFI box on a pole which supplies power to my pump for the waterfall and pond circulation. Recently during two thunderstorms the GFI has tripped at the post outside but not at the breaker in the inside box. The lightning from the storms was not all that bad but it still causes my pump to stop running to circulate the water. Could it be that the GFI receptacle is not properly grounded at the receptacle outside? Really has me stumped. Appreciate any thoughts or help you may share.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Don Allen

Answer:
If an electrician installed the receptacle, then it is probably properly grounded. I’m willing to bet that the problem is a ground fault caused by the lightning or static electricity from the lightning strikes. If it was a ground fault, then the GFCI is working properly. It is designed to trip when it senses a ground fault. A circuit breaker is used for overcurrent protection.

 

Lawson Williams asks:
Question: I have a 60amps and need to upgrade to 150amps it’s a single family house. What do i need to do? Where the existing fuse box is located, i do not have space for a 30/40 breaker box. In fact the available space is 16×22. and on the outside there is a meter socket and switch box (fuse box).

Answer:
The first thing that you need to do is check with your local building codes department to see if you can legally upgrade your own electric service. Most areas do not allow homeowners to upgrade their electric services. You may need to hire a licensed or qualified electrician to complete this project.

If you are able to do this work, then you need to check with you local utility company to see what their specifications are. If you have an overhead electric service, your utility company may make you change to an underground service. You need to know this before you get started.

As for what you need to do to upgrade your electric service from 60 amps to 150 amps, you need to change the meter box outside, increase the wire size between the meter box and the breaker box and upgrade your breaker box. If you have an overhead service, then you need to increase the conduit and wire size. If you need to change to an underground service, then the utility company may require you to install the underground wire all the way to the power pole.

You also need to check your grounding and ensure it is in place and sized properly.

As for the space limitation for the new breaker box. There may be additional framing in the wall to accommodate for the smaller breaker box which may be easily removed. If not, then leave the old breaker box in place, remove all of the “guts” and turn it into a junction box. Choose a new location for your breaker box and install the needed cables between the 2 boxes to re-feed all of your existing circuits.

This is not a project that I recommend for a DIYer. This is definitely an advanced electrical wiring project. I highly recommend hiring a licensed or qualified electrician for this project.

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Comments

7 Responses to “Answers to Electrical Questions About Troubleshooting a GFCI Receptacle and Upgrading an Electric Service”

  1. Paul on September 23rd, 2008 8:14 am

    GFI outlets do not need a ground connection to work. I am not saying that they do not have to be grounded…they should be if a ground is available. However, the GFI function will still work without a ground connection. GFI have been used in houses with only two prong outlets and no ground connection.

  2. bizbead on October 6th, 2008 1:01 am

    I have an outlet next to the pool filter in my backyard that has 2 transformers plugged into it supporting outdoor malibu lights. I pressed the test button and all of the lights went out. Now when I press the reset button nothing happens. Is the GFCI faulty or is something else going on? I checked the circuit breakers and they did not trip.

  3. ron on October 18th, 2008 7:37 pm

    i am putting in a gfi in a mobile home. it is a kigt switch and a plug I have one red hot wire and two (one black and one white negative and a ground i om the replacement i have two wires on the top of the plug i assume are for the switch im not sur exactly how to wire it any ideas?

  4. Bryan W. on January 9th, 2009 8:14 pm

    ,What would cause the neutal bar in a breaker box to arc all of the wires? This is at our deer lease we only have two breakers in the box.

  5. john wiley on June 2nd, 2009 2:38 pm

    i have a switch with two black wires the light was working up a week ago.I have change the switch and check the breaker box. one wire is hot and shows hot when I put the tester on it and the ground wire. the box has 4 wires 2 white & 2 black. the 2 white are together and the blacks go to the switch.

  6. Grady on June 18th, 2009 5:54 am

    can your run electrical wire thru conduit in an un finished basement for a circuit?

  7. gabriel fequiere on July 25th, 2009 5:28 pm

    iI was adding some wiring in order to add some recess lights in a dining room when suddenly i noticed the tool that was plugged in an adjacent room was turned off. Thinking the problem was related to my new wiring ,i removed everything and began testing the 3 receptacles in question
    i thought that the receptacle were cold(no juice) through testing the conventional way however testing EACH insert against the box turns ot to be hot and at no time that the circuit breaker was tripped.
    How can i solve the problem ?

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