Question 1: We had a pool installed. It has been out of service. I am trying to get it back up and running. It was installed after the house was built. There are separate breakers added by the pool installer for the pool equipment. The pool control panel has a GFCI outlet. I need to drain the pool. I have a pump I used a few years back. I plugged an extension cord into the GFCI outlet, and the pump into the extension cord. It's an older extension cord. Initially, there was no power. I reset the breakers, and tested the GFCI outlet. Nada. I have a GFCI tester and a non-contact tester I picked up today. Both show the outlet as dead. I was replacing another GFCI outlet. I picked up a 20a GFCI outlet for the freezer - it was also tripping. They are on separate circuits. But I was finally able to reset the GFCI for freezer and it seems ok. It was a 20A circuit. So, I used the replacement outlet for that, for the pool panel. Not sure if 20A is right, just realized - will check tomorrow. Checked the wiring, non contact, etc, and replacing went well, it's up and running. But, the submersible pump to drain the pool keeps tripping the gfci. Bad pump? Bad extension cord? (Too short to try without, but I can swap cords), or something else?

2nd question: I had the pump plugged into an outdoor outlet that was gfi protected. It tripped that GFCI also. I can't find the outlet to reset it. I've reset the breakers in the box, no luck.

I have 2 outdoor patio outlets. Pump was here. Neither work.
I have 4 I can locate in the garage: the one for the water softener has power. The one for the garage door opener has power. A 3rd was... higher amp? separate circuit when house was built. Has power. The 4th doesn't. I have one by front door. Small fountain/pump was plugged in. Doesn't work.

I can't for the life of my find the GFCI to reset that. Again -- I've reset all the breakers in the house - nada. So it's the GFCI (I presume). I reset the 2 kitchen ones, the 2 bathroom ones (master/guest) -- all were fine and didn't resolve issue.

I checked just inside the house, by door to garage. Not GFCI.

There's enough stuff in garage, perhaps one is lurking, but I tried peeking behind shelving and couldn't find it. The one wall hard to see/with shelving, is the one that, on the other side, is the pump/fountain/front door.

The garage is on the NW corner of the house. The house faces W. The breaker box is on the SxSW side of the house.

So, the front door is closest to the breaker box. The back patio is probably next, where the 2 outlets are. The garage is definitely furthest.

There are 3 attic entry ways. I haven't checked them all. one in garage, one in master bedroom closet, one in laundry room.

Anyway: any thoughts/feedback on either question appreciated.

Thanks Neal

  • 1
    Where is this freezer that was tripping the GFCI located? Jun 3, 2019 at 3:58

1 Answer 1


Get the freezer off GFCI. It should not be on a GFCI outlet; it's not that type of load. It has a metal frame with all the electrical bits in an impossible-to-access location, and you're not likely to drop it in the sink. Fit a single receptacle off-GFCI, and label it "Freezer only". Re-task that GFCI to a circuit where protection would be helpful.

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There are at least 3 types of GFCI device: GFCI+receptacle combo devices (you know), GFCI+breaker combo devices (which look like breakers with a TEST button), and plain GFCI (which look like a GFCI+receptacle with sockets missing). All of them can protect a downline load. I'm glad you know that. Do not fit GFCI receptacles at locations already protected by GFCI. Do fit "GFCI Protected" stickers at those locations right before the inspector comes.

You're right, the downside to using receptacles/deadfronts to protect downline locations is it can be the devil to find the receptacle! Keep looking; it must be somewhere. It's also remotely possible that pulling a heavy load on the circuit has made a wire connection at a receptacle fail, typically a backstab connection. Those are very annoying to find.

15A receptacles are internally certified for 20A through-current, so 15A receptacles can be used on 20A circuits. A 20A GFCI receptacle might just be that. However, if the 20A GFCI has the "T" shaped neutral like the above pic, then it must not be used on a 15A circuit.

When an appliance trips a GFCI, that means the appliance has a ground fault. That's what GFCIs do. That's their one job. It's amazing how people are in denial about that. It's like if you taught them to detect steel with a magnet, and they try their toaster and it sticks, and they're all like "No way, this CAN'T be metal, there MUST be something wrong with my magnet!" And they try 3 more magnets and you're like dude...

That's how people are with GFCI trips.

You've performed due diligence; you tried it on other GFCIs. The answer is conclusive. The pool pump is a human-safety device (electrical drownings) so a ground fault is 110% unacceptable, and they also have a tendency for ground faults, so it's not a surprise. You can try a bench overhaul, but most likely into the trash it goes. For the freezer, it's faulting too and that's common, but no way. We're not throwing away freezers for that, because it's not a threat to anyone and a lot of brand new freezers trip GFCIs. Nature of the beast. Just make sure it's solidly grounded and call it a day. The inspector won't like it if it's a general-use receptacle; but he's unlikely to flag a dedicated freezer-only receptacle because he knows the score.

  • There are ground faults and there are ground faults. Electronics are quite likely to to have some earth leakage currents because there are lots of capacitors and high frequencies; it's just the nature of the beast. Enough electronics on a circuit can trip an RCD (which is what I assume a GFCI is). OTOH, pumps are not full of electronics ... Jun 3, 2019 at 8:14
  • @MartinBonner if I ever do a hardware engineering degree I shall do my master's thesis on where exactly those frickin' electrons go that supposedly isn't a fault to safety shield. I mean 6ma for 10ms is a whole lotta electrons... Jun 3, 2019 at 14:34

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