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I have a GFCI receptacle that is clicking. Every 5-10 minutes it clicks repeatedly for 1-2 seconds. The GFCI is turned off (the RESET button is sticking out) but it still clicks! What does this mean?

It's in an RV that is connected to shore power through a few long extension cords, total ~200 ft., plugged in to a GFCI receptacle by the meter base.

It's a bit windy right now, maybe that is triggering something.

It suspect there's a loose connection somewhere the system, maybe that is the cause.

Where should I begin diagnosing the issue?

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What else is on the circuit? Is there anything on the load side of the receptacle? It could be caused by the voltage drop across the ~200 ft. of extension cord. –  Tester101 Apr 21 '11 at 12:12
    
Are you sure it's the receptacle? you said it was windy, could it be something else near the receptacle making the sound? –  Tester101 Apr 21 '11 at 12:12
    
I disconnected the load side and the problem went away. (There just a couple laptops plugged in there.) Today I looked at the extension cords and noticed the contacts on one were corroded. I cleaned them up. Reconnected the load side and it hasn't happened again. Still no conclusive diagnosis. –  Jay Bazuzi Apr 22 '11 at 4:58

2 Answers 2

I'd wonder if the GFCI is detecting a fault in the wiring coming into the outlet. The first step is to verify it's the power by unplugging from the metered base. The next step, for me at least, would be to verify the GFCI in the meter with a simple tester that includes the GFCI button on the side (assuming it's a 110v style plug, not sure if they make them for 220v).

Make sure your extension cords are a high enough gauge to handle that distance for the number of amps you expect to pull, and be sure to replace them if they are showing any wear.

And if all else fails, replace the outlet (taking careful note of which side the wires are feeding the outlet, and which lines may be daisy chained off of the old GFCI so you can rewire it the same way).


Edit: [From your comment on the extension cord.]

Corrosion could have been the problem. GFCI detects a leak in current, not necessarily going to ground. So if there is a bad connection due to corrosion, that might appear to be a leak. Also, realize that most fires are caused by arcing, and so AFCI are becoming common, which will detect more than GFCI. That may be what's in the RV, and the reason it caught the issue before the base receptacle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arc-fault_circuit_interrupter

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I am afraid you may have the rare but dreaded condition known as MRCWTO in the trades. The only known fix involves chanting and meditation while wearing a coat of Armour,(grounded of course), immediately followed by singing a rousing chorus of the theme some from the Munsters TV show. If doesn't work, maybe just replace the receptacle with a new one and see if the problem goes away, before digging for other problems. BTW, MRCWTO is also known as "my receptacle clicks when turned off" Sorry Jay, I couldn't resist having a little fun with this one.

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Serious note: What is the voltage at the GFI? The reading should be 117VAC +/- 5VAC. Does the trip indicator light on the GFI blink when the clicking is heard? I am interested in the voltage drop. –  shirlock homes Apr 21 '11 at 10:41

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