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Old 11-20-2019, 07:03 AM   #101
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Baking soda. Lots of it. During the Recession we branched out to do foreclosure clean up. One was a property out in the country. Freeze had a deer in it. Not dressed. Just a deer. LOL It was rank. We buried the deer carcass. But the freezer was so bad nobody would recycle it. I went to the store and bought about a dozen baking soda boxes. Opened them all up, put them in and closed it up. A week later it was fresh as a daisy
In doing disaster recovery work, the muckers have a well know motto: "Don't open the fridge!"

Unless you like the smell of death, which may take months to get out of your nostrils, the fridge is not to be opened. Tape it up and dump it whole.

Glad baking soda worked for you. It is rare that anything works.
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Old 11-20-2019, 07:35 AM   #102
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So what do you use, a 10 amp? (LOL, doesn't exist.)

Did you mean don't use a 20 amp breaker on 14 gauge wire?
Yes, don't use a 20 amp breaker on 14 gauge wire. And I haven't had a glass of wine or other alcohol for two days.
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:12 AM   #103
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I do not agree that there is a safety issue with a tripped GFCI. If there was, they would have a non replaceable fuse, not a reset button. If the GFCI trips by itself or will not hold on, then it is time to replace. In this case, the OP had someone working outside with electrical tools. It sounds like the GFCI did what it was supposed to do.
If it's a fairly new GFCI outlet and this is the first time it tripped, I agree, it's probably OK. However, if the outlet is more than five years old and trips without a ground fault I would replace it.

"GFCI outlets have an average service life of only 10 years, so if your home is older than that, thereís a good chance your GFCI outlets arenít fully protecting you. And if you live in an area more prone to storms or power surges, itís not uncommon for a GFCI outlet to wear out in 5 years or even less."

https://www.stevejenkins.com/blog/20...ts-more-often/

For what it's worth, I have NEVER tripped a GFCI outlet. It's there to protect me so I would replace it if it tripped more than once. Why take a chance for something so important that costs so little?
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:28 AM   #104
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The other simple tool that I love (have one at home, sonís and all sisters and in laws) is one that plugs into outlet and allows you to find the breaker that powers that outlet. Hereís one Klein Tools ET310 Digital Circuit Breaker Finder with GFCI Outlet Tester.
That would have been handy a couple years ago when I was remodeling my mom's old house and trying to decipher the crazy wiring. All I had was one of those plug in testers (old style without the GFCI test button), so I turned off all breakers, then turned one breaker on and moved from outlet to outlet to see which ones were powered up on that breaker. It was a slow process, but it worked to map out the breaker panel.

I only missed one box in the kitchen that had a blank cover on it. I made the mistake of assuming it was on the kitchen circuit with the other outlets. I should have tested the wires with my meter before working on them, but I was in a hurry and grabbed the wire to receive a minor shock. Thankfully no harm done, but learned my lesson. I have completely wired two houses and partially rewired a third. I generally know what I'm doing, but it only takes a momentary slip up to do something stupid.
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:02 AM   #105
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"GFCI outlets have an average service life of only 10 years, so if your home is older than that, thereís a good chance your GFCI outlets arenít fully protecting you. And if you live in an area more prone to storms or power surges, itís not uncommon for a GFCI outlet to wear out in 5 years or even less." https://www.stevejenkins.com/blog/20...ts-more-often/

For what it's worth, I have NEVER tripped a GFCI outlet. It's there to protect me so I would replace it if it tripped more than once. Why take a chance for something so important that costs so little?
Er... Ah... IMO this is nonsense.

The linked web site is one of the worst sort: A guy with no qualifications or experience encouraging his readers to buy something, then helpfully providing a link that will cause him to be paid a sales commission.

Re replacing a GFCI outlet after a couple of trips, consider this: Underwriters' Laboratories would not have permitted the device to have a "reset" button if trips and resets were not normal and expected. I am too lazy to chase down their testing spec but I would be astonished if they did not require testing to at least 100 cycles. UL loves overkill.

If there is any question about a GFCI outlet's function, test it using one of the Klein plug-in testers mentioned in this thread. Klein is a well-respected brand specializing in electrician tools and I would trust their quality control even though their branded device (like all the rest) is probably made offshore.

(For background, I have an MSEE and have wired every kind of house circuit including high-amperage, sub-panels and generator transfer panels. Romex, EMT, and Greenfield. Personally I hate GFCI outlets and wherever possible I wire using GFCI [now also arc fault] breakers in the main or sub-panels. The GFCI outlets are a pain to install and they lead to the kind of annoying mysteries brought here by the OP and confirmed by others.)
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:05 AM   #106
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The same thing would happen with a 6 day power outage.
Worse might be a 4 day power outage, where the food goes bad and refreezes so you might not notice.
We are notified by the utility company via email if there's a power outage lasting more than an hour or so.

However, our own equipment failure such as a breaker or GFCI tripping is our own problem.
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:23 AM   #107
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Re replacing a GFCI outlet after a couple of trips, consider this: Underwriters' Laboratories would not have permitted the device to have a "reset" button if trips and resets were not normal and expected.
I'm sure you are right on the design specs, but I would still ask myself why the GFCI is tripping repeatedly. One time, sure, maybe the appliance I plugged in was faulty or there was truly a ground fault. But if it's happening repeatedly, especially if you're not using the same appliance, I wouldn't waste time testing the outlet I would simply replace it. Especially if it was several years old. It's only $15-20 after all.

For what it's worth, I've had many UL listed devices fail prematurely. UL just says the device is safe, not that it won't fail at some point. There's a lot of cheap junk out there with UL approval. I've had two UL listed light switches fail in the last five years. No smoke, no danger, no drama, they just quit working.

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Personally I hate GFCI outlets and wherever possible I wire using GFCI [now also arc fault] breakers in the main or sub-panels.
I prefer GFCI breakers too, except for bathrooms. If the GFCI trips I can reset it right there without having to get dressed and run out to the breaker panel to reset it.
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:29 AM   #108
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... I would still ask myself why the GFCI is tripping repeatedly. One time, sure, maybe the appliance I plugged in was faulty or there was truly a ground fault. But if it's happening repeatedly, especially if you're not using the same appliance, I wouldn't waste time testing the outlet I would simply replace it. Especially if it was several years old. It's only $15-20 after all. ...
Well, here's an example: The outlet on our deck, into which I plug my smoker, is protected by a GFCI in the basement near the furnace (discovered after a long hunt!). In the winter I plug anti-ice-dam heaters into the outlet. Petty much whenever there's a little snow or rain blown onto the plug the GFCI trips. But I do agree if multiple appliances are causing trips, then it's probably the GFCI and it should be replaced.

But routine replacement without evidence of problems? No.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:21 AM   #109
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Since this is an electrical trouble shooting thread, it might be helpful to know this. I was helping a friend with an outlet not working in the bathroom. I put my induction tester to the hot lead and it read no power. As I was undoing connections, I got a spark. Turned out two hot leads were wired together and they canceled each other out with the tester. Scariest electrical thing I’ve seen.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:52 AM   #110
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Since this is an electrical trouble shooting thread, it might be helpful to know this. I was helping a friend with an outlet not working in the bathroom. I put my induction tester to the hot lead and it read no power. As I was undoing connections, I got a spark. Turned out two hot leads were wired together and they canceled each other out with the tester. Scariest electrical thing Iíve seen.
Wait until you get a strong neutral backfeed. That will wake you up!

Background: in some installations, the neutral may be shared on circuits. (I think above they talked about 3 wire GFCI with 2 circuits sharing a common neutral. Good example.) This can especially happen in conduit THNN installations.

So, your innocent little white neutral has a low resistance incandescent plugged in on the other circuit. You somehow contact neutral to ground through your body. Boom goes the dynamite!

Lesson: don't trust any wire, especially in older installations.

Another lesson: some older switch legs use the white neutral as a switched hot. (I think this is not allowed in the most recent code.) Same thing. "white neutral" now is NOT neutral. Wire was supposed to be marked as such. Yeah, like someone had time to do that.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:54 AM   #111
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In the winter I plug anti-ice-dam heaters into the outlet. Pretty much whenever there's a little snow or rain blown onto the plug the GFCI trips.
Can you cover the plug so it can't get moisture in it? I do that with our outdoor Christmas lights, wrapping the plug/socket on extension cords with plastic and tape to keep them dry.

If it's a wall outlet, maybe install one those plastic outlet covers that work with an cord plugged in (they're required by code around here). Kinda ugly, but they work.

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routine replacement without evidence of problems? No.
I wouldn't replace a GFCI that is working (tripped once or never) out of "routine". Ours are 15 years old and have never tripped, never been replaced.

I'm just saying if a GFCI started tripping after 10 years or so without issues I would replace it. It's inexpensive, easy to do, and not worth troubleshooting. If replacing the GFCI doesn't fix the problem, something else is causing it.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:57 AM   #112
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My older GFCI didn't start tripping. It just stopped working. Opened the circuit in failure mode. That's a good failure.

Reason: I loaded it with a space heater. Somehow, it failed with that use case.
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:02 PM   #113
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... For what it's worth, I've had many UL listed devices fail prematurely. UL just says the device is safe, not that it won't fail at some point...
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My older GFCI didn't start tripping. It just stopped working. Opened the circuit in failure mode. That's a good failure.

Reason: I loaded it with a space heater. Somehow, it failed with that use case.
Yes. Anything and everything will eventually fail. It is desirable that the failure mode is "fail safe".

Overloaded and stressed circuit breakers fail this way. They can hold lower and lower currents, until they can no longer be reset. This behavior is by design, not by accident.
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