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#634961 - 11/16/10 10:01 PM CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRIP GFCI WHEN RAINS OR SNOWS!
Wenger6 Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/16/10
Posts: 32
Loc: Ohio
There are at least 2 homes on my street (including mine) that have a GFCI outlet in the Garage which is evidently wired to the same breaker as both front and rear exterior outlets of the home. This results in both exterior outlets tripping whenever Christmas lights are on and it rains or snows - which is most of November/December in Ohio. You cannot re-set them until some time after it stops raining. Why do I see other newer homes not having this problem? Aren't they also built the same, where the outside outlets are on a GFCI line? I have all the free ends of light strings taped, and using all outdoor extension cords.
How can I resolve this problem. It stinks every Christmas!

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#634962 - 11/16/10 10:18 PM Re: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRIP GFCI WHEN RAINS OR SNOWS! [Re: Wenger6]
RCovell Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/26/03
Posts: 5971
Loc: Jayhawk Land
Welcome to the Forum.

Sorry to hear your GFCI trips during bad weather and shuts down your Christmas lights. Bummer.

Maybe the GFCI is just doing it's job. Despite your efforts, the moisture is causing a ground fault to manifest itself and trips your GFCI.

Since the NEC requires all garage and exterior outlets to be GFCI protected, you have limited options.

Since you don't mention any other problems with this particular GFCI, I'll assume it's operating OK and replacing it wouldn't solve your issue.

So, here's an idea. If you have multiple strings connected to the GFCI, try removing strings and plugging the remainder into the GFCI and seeing if it trips. Perhaps just one of the strings is 'bad'.

Secondly, buy different, better quality lights.

Thirdly, run an extension to a non-GFCI receptacle and plug your lights into the non-protected outlet. Please note that you do this at your own risk, though people did it for years without problem.

Good luck. Bob.

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#634963 - 11/16/10 11:16 PM Re: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRIP GFCI WHEN RAINS OR SNOWS [Re: Wenger6]
MCA Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/09/06
Posts: 4943
Loc: Illinois
I had some motorized figures that tripped the GFCI, some current leakage from the motor I assume, or a pinched wire on the figure's lights. I put a plastic bag over all the cord connections and use a wire to tie it, water will still seep in, I try to prop them up so the opening is at the bottom. I never bother to cover the string to string connections, I never had a problem yet, but I cover the plug boxes on the ground.

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#634964 - 11/17/10 05:18 AM Re: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRIP GFCI WHEN RAINS OR SNOWS! [Re: Wenger6]
code_ceis Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/29/09
Posts: 7108
Loc: Seneca Nation
When do you put the lights up and how long do you leave them up? Most holiday lights are listed for 90 day use. That is TOTAL use not 90 days each year. If they are old lights they should be replaced. It ruins the holidays when the holiday lights burn down the house.
_________________________
It is a good day today. I woke up.

RIP RS

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#634965 - 11/17/10 05:30 AM Re: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRIP GFCI WHEN RAINS OR SNOWS! [Re: code_ceis]
ront02769 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/03/04
Posts: 10111
Loc: New England
Mine go on a few days before christmas and go off night before easter. and they never come off of the trees. extension cords come in, but the lights just stay. has only been 3 or 4 years, but I likely have gotten my '90 days' worth. ront

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#634966 - 11/17/10 05:33 AM Re: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRIP GFCI WHEN RAINS OR SNOWS! [Re: ront02769]
CabinConnection Online   content
Bigfoot
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/20/04
Posts: 38618
Loc: The Indianhead's Left Nostril....
Mine go up on Thanksgiving Day and come down on New Years Day. Also on a timer. Same strings for last 4 years (this will be 5th). I also must not have reached my 90 day point.

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#634967 - 11/17/10 06:45 AM Re: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRIP GFCI WHEN RAINS OR SNOWS! [Re: ront02769]
code_ceis Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/29/09
Posts: 7108
Loc: Seneca Nation
My wife's are strapped to EMT fits in the clips on the gable end. She turns on about now until 1/6 on at dusk off in 6 hours. I think the handyman is supposed to take down after that. Looked this AM like he forgot last year guess I will just plug in tonight. Lost the receipt so not sure when 90 days would be.

90 days is 2160 hours so at six hours a day it takes 360 days to get to 90 days worth of hours 11/20 through 1/6 47 days 360 / 47 = 7.5 years??

Now I sound like a contractor.
_________________________
It is a good day today. I woke up.

RIP RS

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#634968 - 11/17/10 07:10 AM Re: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRIP GFCI WHEN RAINS OR SNOWS! [Re: code_ceis]
Wenger6 Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/16/10
Posts: 32
Loc: Ohio
Thank you all for your reply.

There is nothing wrong with the GFI itself, and I don't think it's the lights either, as others are having the same problem (2 other homes). What we have to do is, when it rains and the breaker trips, we pull a cord from the garage (not on a GFI) and plug everything into that, everything works fine,no breaker trip. The GFI seems to be too sensitive for connections such as Christmas lights and cords that are across-the-ground. Who in the heck strings their cords off the ground? I tried taping plastic bags around the cord connections, but this just accumulated and trapped water inside the bags and made things worse.

I hate GFI's, and don't know of ANYONE who has electrocuted themselves from an outside outlet - compared to the number of people that I know that have a nightmare with their Christmas lights going off when it rains! Again, the breaker only trips when it's raining, no other time. I guess I'll just not be able to use my outside outlets for Christmas lights (STUPID). I think this is equivilent to the banning incandescant LIGHT BULBS and GUN CONTROL.

Me, I'm probably going to take the dang GFI's off of my outside outlet circuits - so that I can USE them.

Thanks all for the replies!

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#634969 - 11/17/10 07:21 AM Re: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRIP GFCI WHEN RAINS OR SNOWS! [Re: Wenger6]
3phase Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 6849
Loc: Licensed Electrical Contractor...
Quote:

I hate GFI's, and don't know of ANYONE who has electrocuted themselves from an outside outlet -


But I did get bit from an old drill at my house. Non GFI recpt, I know you would think an electrician would have them but had just moved in and not had time to put one in, from a drill that had been in toolbox on truck and a flashlight's batteries leaked out on it. It raised havoc with the insulation of the drill motor and had it been wet out I could have been seriously injured. Put GFI's in the next day!
_________________________
Rule of thumb,Keep your thumb from under the hammer!

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#634970 - 11/17/10 07:22 AM Re: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRIP GFCI WHEN RAINS OR SNOWS! [Re: Wenger6]
3phase Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 6849
Loc: Licensed Electrical Contractor...
Wenger, it is probably the lights themselves. Probably all made in the same factory in a foreign country.
_________________________
Rule of thumb,Keep your thumb from under the hammer!

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