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Generator GFCI Keeps Tripping: 5 Reasons & Fixes

This article is for informational purposes. Always seek the advice of qualified professionals.

It’s common for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets to trip, especially during the rainy season. They’re attempting to tell you something’s wrong when they trip.

Why does your generator GFCI keep tripping?

There are several possibilities. When a GFCI trips, it signals power leaks from the grounding circuit. Overloaded circuit triggers the GFCI causing it to malfunction. The fault may lie in the wiring or the GFCI outlet. Moisture buildup in the receptacle box can be another important factor for it.

This was just an overview of the reasons. The causes, as well as possible solutions, are described in detail below.

Continue reading!

Why Does Your GFCI Trip

GFCI is literally a life-savior but it can be really frustrating when it starts tripping. Read on to know why these issues occur:

Reason 1: Occurrence of a Ground Fault

Improper wiring or deteriorated wire insulation can lead to GFCI wiring issues. When a GFCI detects even a minor amount of current leakage, it trips. 

If a ground fault generates a current spike, the circuit breaker trips and the power goes out. And if the circuit in your home goes dead, it’s probably because of a ground fault.

To test for current leakage, unplug the circuit and turn off all switches. Examine the equipment for signs of wear. Any damage to the electrical portion is exposed to further problems and is not under protection

Reason 2: Overloaded Circuit

When you attempt to use more energy than the circuit can handle, you create a circuit overload. 

This triggers overload protection. When a circuit is overloaded, the GFCI outlet will open up and trip. It will ultimately cut off power to that circuit, thereby shutting down the electricity.

To understand whether overloading is truly the issue, perform the following things.

Disconnect any appliances connected to the circuit and reset the fuse box circuit. Wait a few moments. Reconnect an appliance and turn it on.

Verify that your circuit has not been tripped. Connect the following appliance, turn it on, and check the breaker, as necessary.

If the issue persists, it’s because of a circuit overload. So, a new dedicated circuit and outlet may be required.

Reason 3: Moisture 

Sometimes, moisture inside the line trips the GFCI. This problem is mostly seen with outdoor outlets.

Water can enter into uncovered exterior electrical boxes. Excessive rain or humidity are also to blame. Moisture can enter inside an appliance’s wiring too.

Reason 4: Electrical fault

If your GFCI outlet continues to trip, it might be due to faulty structural wiring. An electrical outlet linked to the same circuit might potentially be the issue.

Over time, the wiring might deteriorate. This especially goes for wires that have been pinched or over-tightened during installation. It is capable of breaking at such stress.

Reason 5: Bad/Backdated GFCI Outlet

Faulty GFCI Outlets are one of the most common electrical assessment mistakes found during home inspections.

GFCI outlets, like other electrical components, deteriorate with time.

Internal circuitry in GFCI outlets is extremely sensitive, detecting flaws in the electrical system. With time, the circuitry in the outlet deteriorates, rendering it dysfunctional.

They have been known to last up to 25 years but can fail considerably sooner. Numerous sources recommend changing them every ten years.

Those are the most common reasons. Now, go for further reading for the fixes.

Troubleshooting the Issue

If the GFCI has tripped, you must check for two things in the generator’s outlets. Check for a leak in a domestic circuit or in the outlet itself.

However, if your GFCI outlet displays yellow light, you should replace it rather than troubleshoot.

Step 1: Turn-off & Reset

Turn the generator off. Disconnect the generator’s cords and any connected devices. Afterward, restart the generator. Then reset the GFCI. First, disconnect any appliances connected into the same circuit as the GFCI.

To reset the GFCI outlet, check the two little buttons on the front. Press the RESET button which is usually red, while the TEST button is usually black.

It’s possible that your GFCI outlet’s letters and colors have faded. It makes the TEST and RESET buttons difficult to identify. If this is the case, consider replacing the GFCI.

When you push the RESET button, your appliance should work again.

Step 2: Checking Appliances

After resetting, connect a small, single electrical load to the generator for at least 15 seconds.

If it doesn’t trip, the GFCI is probably working. Move to step three. 

Somehow If it trips, try again with a different electrical load to rule out any hardware issue.

Is the GFCI still tripping? Then stop troubleshooting and service your generator. If not, disconnect the single electrical load and troubleshoot.

Step 3: For Multiple Extension Cords

Repeat step two with your extension cord connected. If you’re using numerous extension cables, inspect each one individually. And ensure that any intermediate connections are secure and free of dirt or moisture.

If the GFCI receptacle trips at any point, a faulty extension cable has been discovered. Replace the extension cable with a fresh, dry one and attempt again

Wiring is very crucial and it should be checked every 2-3 days.

Step 4: For Multi-Outlet Power Strip

Are you using a multi-outlet power strip? Then try connecting it now and plug in an electrical load. If not, then proceed to step 5. 

If the GFCI receptacle trips, then a defective multi-outlet strip has been detected. Replace the multi-outlet strip with a new multi-outlet strip and proceed with troubleshooting.

Step 5: Testing Additional Electrical Loads

First ensure that your extension cables and power strips are leak-proof. Now attach additional electrical loads one at a time to determine if they trigger the generator.

To test, an electrical load requiring constant, even power should be plugged in. It should be for at least 15 seconds. However, cyclical and motor operating loads might require additional time to locate the leak.

If the GFCI trips, it indicates a faulty electrical load. It’s time to disconnect, replace, or service the appliance after turning off the generator.

Final Solution: Choose the Right Circuit Breaker

While there is no way to regulate power surges and undesirable tripping, choosing the correct capacitor can help. Here are some tips for buying a capacitor:

  • Choose a capacitor that can handle enough voltage and won’t overheat.
  • Your capacitor’s interrupting capacity should be sufficient enough to avoid power fluctuations.
  • Always check that the capacitor you buy is recalibrated for the environment it will be used in.

And as previously stated, dust and moisture can cause generator tripping. So clean the capacitor on a regular basis.

Luckily for you, I have already listed some of my favorite picks:

Product 1
Product 2

You’ll get durable and satisfactory results from these circuit breakers.

If none of the procedures work, it’s better to seek help from experts. Also, choose a GFI transfer switch that works best for a tripping generator with a bonded neutral.

FAQs

Question: Why does a breaker trip in the absence of a load?

Answer: The breaker may trip in the absence of a load for two reasons. Positive juice is constantly fed to the breaker trip coil from somewhere. Or, there is a mechanical issue with the breaker that’s causing it to trip on closing.

Question: Why is my generator always shutting down?

Answer: If there’s a problem with the oil level in your generator, it will shut down. Either the oil level is low or there is an oil overflow in the generator.

Question: What is causing my generator to fluctuate?

Answer: It is possible that the generator is overloaded. And the load electrical appliances are regularly started, causing significant voltage fluctuations.

Final Thoughts

I hope you’re clear on everything about your generator GFCI keeps tripping. Remember to take proper precautions while setting up and troubleshooting your GFCI.

Additionally, if you are unsure about handling electrical circuits, always consult a professional

It’s time to wrap up for today.

Until then, have a lovely day!