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#87794 - 07/12/04 09:50 AM Failure rate of GFCI's?
foxnest Offline
first timer

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 10
I need to blow off the deck around my pool no less than once a day, and often many more times. In that I do it so much, instead of bunching the cord all up at any given end so it doesn't drape through the pool as I walk along the perimeter, well, suffice it to say it drapes through the water each and every time.

The guy who lives across the street from me is an electrician. I began doing it this way because he said that as long as there aren't any nicks in the extension cord--and because it's plugged into a GFCI--this is OK to do. I therefore buy a new extension cord every few months to ensure there aren't any unseen nicks in the cord.

Something struck me out of the blue the other day. I wondered if GFCI's can fail. I did a quick Google search and saw some literature that stated GFCI's can and do fail, as much as 57%.

If my GFCI failed, and there was an unseen nick in my cord, would I be merely shocked or would I be killed?

The answer will determine my future behavior. Thank you.


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#87795 - 07/12/04 09:58 AM Re: Failure rate of GFCI's?
MTeator Offline
"I am the Ipeman"

Registered: 05/05/03
Posts: 7622
Maybe you should go cordless or get a gas blower. I'm sure the cost wouldn't be so high when you consider the extension cords you're buying.

As long as you're not wet, and the cord to you isn't wet, a cut in the cord would just trip the circuit breaker. If you're somehow electrically connected to the pool though, then you could receive a shock. It depends on the person what effect it'll have on you.
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#87796 - 07/12/04 09:58 AM Re: Failure rate of GFCI's?
Arnold Offline
Helpful Electrician

Registered: 07/09/02
Posts: 5000
Loc: United States
Well, if you wait ten thousand years, almost 100% of GFCIs will fail. So I'm not sure what that 57% number means. The number I've seen is that about 25% of the installed GFCIs are no longer working. But these are GFCIs that are not being tested regularly.

Test your GFCI monthly as you are supposed to, and inspect the cord regularly, and the risk should be small. In the event that the cord becomes nicked at the same time as the GFCI fails, there still should be little danger to you as long as you stay out of contact with the water.
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#87797 - 07/12/04 10:08 AM Re: Failure rate of GFCI's?
foxnest Offline
first timer

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 10
I do have a gas backpack blower, but it's very noisy and stinks up the air. I only use it to move huge amounts of leaves in tandem with my electric blower in the fall. I was thinking of researching battery-powered blowers. I understand they don't have as much power, but I don't need much power around the deck, and then I wouldn't continually be having to untangle a 100-ft. extension cord either.

The cord is wet because it's in the water as I'm blowing. Is what you're saying is that if the GFCI failed the circuit breaker would take over if a nick in the cord? Thanks again --

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#87798 - 07/12/04 10:13 AM Re: Failure rate of GFCI's?
foxnest Offline
first timer

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 10
How does one test one's GFCI?

On another subject (please humor me), if I am out blowing off the deck while it's still raining, which I like to do if high winds preceded the rain because I don't care to look at the pool deck being trashed with nature's debris, is that sort of like the hairdryer in the bath sort of thing, i.e., under no circumstances operate an electric leaf blower while it's raining? Take heart that I am *not* in the pool while doing this!

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#87799 - 07/12/04 10:17 AM Re: Failure rate of GFCI's?
MTeator Offline
"I am the Ipeman"

Registered: 05/05/03
Posts: 7622
The circuit breaker would trip if enough current flowed to trip it, which would usually happen with a cut cord in the water.

This post just sounds like a nomination for a Darwin Award. I wouldn't be doing much of what you're doing...
_________________________
so long and thanks for all the fish.

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#87800 - 07/12/04 10:28 AM Re: Failure rate of GFCI's?
foxnest Offline
first timer

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 10
I've been draping the cord through the water after consulting with my electrician-neighbor. I am revisiting these issues here on the forum because of a very clear sense of discomfort with his advice.

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#87801 - 07/12/04 10:38 AM Re: Failure rate of GFCI's?
Arnold Offline
Helpful Electrician

Registered: 07/09/02
Posts: 5000
Loc: United States
Every GFCI has a "TEST" (or "T") button on it. Push it. If the GFCI is still functioning, the outlet will then be dead. Once you've verified that it is dead, press the "RESET" (or "R") button to bring it back to life.

The circuit breaker provides some protection here, but not enough. You need to test the GFCI frequently, because you need it.

Outdoor cords run through wet grass, snow and rain all the time. A dip in the pool just carries this a bit farther. As you recoil the cord, just check it for damage.
_________________________
_____________________________________________ Start every day off with a smile and get it over with

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#87802 - 07/12/04 12:33 PM Re: Failure rate of GFCI's?
foxnest Offline
first timer

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 10
Thanks, I really appreciate all the advice. I've decided to get a battery-operated blower. Not only can I run it with impunity in the rain if I care to, but no more daily untangling of the long cord -- mostly, no more worry. There's always that potential...a small shock could dump me into the pool with the blower, and even with the minute chance of the GFCI failing, it could happen. MTeator's right: it wins a Darwin award.

Thanks again.

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