Electrical circuit keeps dying

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jamescity1989

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Ok so my mother owns a 1992 mobile home that she bought back in 2015. We don't really know the repair history of the electrical parts of the trailer.

Well a few months ago the socket in her bedroom started smoking and tripped the circuit breaker (as expected). I suspect the sockets hadn't been changed in recent years. So she wanted a safer socket type so the guy at Lowe's sold her a GFCI/AFCI dual function socket. For reference it is this Lowes socket (click link). The original socket used the backstabbing method but I wired in the gf/af socket using the side wire screw method. The gf/af socket is the first in the circuit. The next socket is where her window unit ac is plugged in I changed it to a heavy duty socket a few months ago when the old socket burned out. I assumed that was due to the air conditioner and it being an old socket. It ran for over a year with no problem. I should point out this trailer was checked out after hurricane florence by a certified electrician and he checked all the wiring and approved it. No water got in the trailer but it did get high enough to make us replace the insulation under the mobile home.

I have checked every socket on the circuit and none of them were burned out but for some reason recently when her AC would run it would kill the circuit. Normally I would be able to reset the socket with no problem but now the socket won't reset at all and no power is going to the circuit. The gf/af socket tripped but won't reset and has no troubleshooting lights on it. The circuit breaker in the box doesn't trip at all which I assume is due to the af/gf socket.

I unplugged the ac in case that was the issue and the only thing plugged in when it died this time was the ac but that socket won't reset still. So now I am back at square one. I replaced all the sockets in the circuit with heavy duty sockets and used a socket tester to verify they were wired correctly.

Can anyone suggest anything else I can look into before I call an electrician. TYIA
 

Snoonyb

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Welcome.

GFCI/AFCI recep. have a line/ load wiring indicator on the back of the recep., and if the downstream recep. are connected to the load side, the GFCI/AFCI can then act as a circuit breaker.

If you pigtail the downstream recep. with the hot leads, you'll eliminate that affect, and they will be independent of the GFCI/AFCI recep.
 

jamescity1989

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Welcome.

GFCI/AFCI recep. have a line/ load wiring indicator on the back of the recep., and if the downstream recep. are connected to the load side, the GFCI/AFCI can then act as a circuit breaker.

If you pigtail the downstream recep. with the hot leads, you'll eliminate that affect, and they will be independent of the GFCI/AFCI recep.

How it's wired it has 4 wires and a ground wire. The black wires are on the hot wire side of course with the wire going toward the other sockets is on the load screw and the other hot wire is attached to the line screw and the same with the neutral wires. I hooked it up the way the old socket was installed and followed the direction of the gf/af socket instruction to verify I had it installed correctly.
 

Snoonyb

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Again, "if the downstream recep. are connected to the load side, the GFCI/AFCI can then act as a circuit breaker.

If you pigtail the downstream recep. with the hot leads, you'll eliminate that affect, and they will be independent of the GFCI/AFCI recep."

If the previous installed recep., WAS NOT AN GFCI recep., then all the recep. were individual, and controlled with a circuit breaker, unlike what you have done buy connecting the downstream recep. to the load side of the GFCI/AFCI recep.
 
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jamescity1989

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Again, "if the downstream recep. are connected to the load side, the GFCI/AFCI can then act as a circuit breaker.

If you pigtail the downstream recep. with the hot leads, you'll eliminate that affect, and they will be independent of the GFCI/AFCI recep."

If the previous installed recep., WAS NOT AN GFCI recep., then all the recep. were individual, and controlled with a circuit breaker, unlike what you have done buy connecting the downstream recep. to the load side of the GFCI/AFCI recep.

So would it be better to just wire in a non gfci recep.? Sorry im barely understanding this im fairly new at this im used to working on cars and computers lol
 

Snoonyb

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You could try an AFCI/GRFCI breaker, however, that will be 2-3 times the price of the recep.

Since recep. wear out, for any number of reasons, use and condition of cord ends as well as thing attached to the cords.

Were it I, I would install a commercial grade standard recep. which are heavier duty and last longer, with kind use, of course.
 

kok328

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Thinking that the AFI/GFI outlet burned up when it tripped, unless there is no power to it.
GFI's need line power to reset, do you have power on the line side of the outlet?
Get the A/C unit on it's own circuit or power it's outlet with line power not load power.
 

jamescity1989

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You could try an AFCI/GRFCI breaker, however, that will be 2-3 times the price of the recep.

Since recep. wear out, for any number of reasons, use and condition of cord ends as well as thing attached to the cords.

Were it I, I would install a commercial grade standard recep. which are heavier duty and last longer, with kind use, of course.

I installed a commercial/industrial grade heavy duty standard receptacle where the ac was. So I should install it in the place of the af/gf receptacle?

Thinking that the AFI/GFI outlet burned up when it tripped, unless there is no power to it.
GFI's need line power to reset, do you have power on the line side of the outlet?
Get the A/C unit on it's own circuit or power it's outlet with line power not load power.

It shouldn't have burned out that fast I had just replaced it with a new afi/gfi outlet about 20 mins prior to turning the circuit back on to test it. After turning it back on I ran the ac for about 4-5 mins before it died out again.

image.jpg

The guy at Lowes told me the line side would be the wires coming from the circuit breaker box and the load side would be the one feeding power to the other receptacles on the circuit. So that's how I wired it. Line side has a neutral and hot wire to it as expected and same on the load side. The load side is just feeding the wires going to the other receptacles.
 
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Snoonyb

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I would install the commercial grade at all.

And as Kok said, provide a separate circuit and run for the AC.
 

afjes_2016

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Well a few months ago the socket in her bedroom started smoking and tripped the circuit breaker (as expected). I suspect the sockets hadn't been changed in recent years. So she wanted a safer socket type so the guy at Lowe's sold her a GFCI/AFCI dual function socket. For reference it is this Lowes socket (click link). The original socket used the backstabbing method but I wired in the gf/af socket using the side wire screw method.

I would be more inclined to believe that it would be more important to determine what burned out the receptacle (they are called receptacles not sockets). Installing a Dual function AFCI/GFCI receptacle does add safety to the circuit but it does not cure the problem. I would want to believe that it was the backstabbing of the receptacle that caused the problem. Over time the backstabbing method tends to fail because the wires are pushed into the back of the receptacle and loosen up over time causing arcing which of course will cause heat. Replacing the burned out receptacle with a higher quality receptacle and using the screws to anchor the wires would do the trick. Now you have a two fold problem. The AFCI/GFCI receptacle is tripping and you still don't know what caused the original receptacle to burn up.

As mentioned I would run a separate circuit for the AC unit if possible. I would replace the AFCI/GFCI receptacle with a high grade receptacle and use the screws. If the AFCI/GFCI receptacle keeps tripping and you it is telling you that there is either a ground fault or an arc fault.

Also most mobile homes use the self-contained receptacles when being wired so there is a greater chance of weakened connections causing arching and heat. Self contained receptacle for mobile homes. Ther reasons for this is because the walls tend to be shallow in a mobile home not allowing enough depth for an electrical box to be used. I don't like them at all and I always steered clear of working on mobile homes. Was the receptacle you replaced a self-contained or was there a box in the wall?
 

jamescity1989

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I would be more inclined to believe that it would be more important to determine what burned out the receptacle (they are called receptacles not sockets). Installing a Dual function AFCI/GFCI receptacle does add safety to the circuit but it does not cure the problem. I would want to believe that it was the backstabbing of the receptacle that caused the problem. Over time the backstabbing method tends to fail because the wires are pushed into the back of the receptacle and loosen up over time causing arcing which of course will cause heat. Replacing the burned out receptacle with a higher quality receptacle and using the screws to anchor the wires would do the trick. Now you have a two fold problem. The AFCI/GFCI receptacle is tripping and you still don't know what caused the original receptacle to burn up.

As mentioned I would run a separate circuit for the AC unit if possible. I would replace the AFCI/GFCI receptacle with a high grade receptacle and use the screws. If the AFCI/GFCI receptacle keeps tripping and you it is telling you that there is either a ground fault or an arc fault.

Also most mobile homes use the self-contained receptacles when being wired so there is a greater chance of weakened connections causing arching and heat. Self contained receptacle for mobile homes. Ther reasons for this is because the walls tend to be shallow in a mobile home not allowing enough depth for an electrical box to be used. I don't like them at all and I always steered clear of working on mobile homes. Was the receptacle you replaced a self-contained or was there a box in the wall?

There was a box in the wall in all of them. I can tell when I took them apart that someone who previously owned this trailer had done their own electrical work because all of them had fairly new electrical boxes in them. I did notice that this circuit has two receptacles that are far away from the others. One in the living room and the other in the bedroom furthest from the rest that are all in her bedroom.
 

jamescity1989

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I realized where I was going wrong I was looking at that one receptacle that wouldn't reset as the first receptacle on the circuit. It's not the first one is behind her TV stand so I'm going to check that one as soon as I go over their when daylight breaks. So hopefully the problem is I just need to change that receptacle to a commercial grade and everything should go back to normal.
 

jamescity1989

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Ok so I started early this morning and changed all receptacles to industrial grade to no avail. Still no power to that circuit. When those afci/gfci receptacles won't reset do I need to replace them every time or are they still usable? I mean not on this circuit of course but in places like my bathroom and kitchen.
 

Snoonyb

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Have you turned the breaker off, then back on?

Sometimes they can be difficult.

Do you have a Volt/Ohm Meter, referred to as a VOM?
 

BuzzLOL

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Junk all the temperamental GFCI's and install good quality outlets as Snoony suggested...
Make sure the contacts on the AC's plug are clean...
 

BuzzLOL

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Have you turned the breaker off, then back on?
Sometimes they can be difficult.
Do you have a Volt/Ohm Meter, referred to as a VOM?
Plugging something (lamp, electric drill motor, etc.) into an outlet on that circuit closer to the breaker box will let you know if power is there...

How many amps is the AC unit?
Is the circuit breaker 15 or 20 amps?
15 amps for #14 house wiring...
20 amps for #12 house wiring...
 

BuzzLOL

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Plugging something (lamp, electric drill motor, etc.) into an outlet on that circuit closer to the breaker box will let you know if power is there...
How many amps is the AC unit?
Is the circuit breaker 15 or 20 amps?
15 amps for #14 house wiring...
20 amps for #12 house wiring...
 

jamescity1989

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Plugging something (lamp, electric drill motor, etc.) into an outlet on that circuit closer to the breaker box will let you know if power is there...

How many amps is the AC unit?
Is the circuit breaker 15 or 20 amps?
15 amps for #14 house wiring...
20 amps for #12 house wiring...

I've tried plugging in a lamp and it won't even go in the receptacle due to them being tamper resistant the one that isn't tamper resistant has no power.

The circuit breaker is 15amp. The AC I have no clue she threw it out and is considering getting a new one.
 

afjes_2016

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Thinking that the AFI/GFI outlet burned up when it tripped, unless there is no power to it.
GFI's need line power to reset, do you have power on the line side of the outlet?
Get the A/C unit on it's own circuit or power it's outlet with line power not load power.
kok328 - The GFCI/AFCI receptacle did not burn out. This receptacle replaced a regular receptacle that burned out.

Jamecity1989: The new GFCI/AFCI receptacle is not the problem here in my opinion. As I said we have to determine what caused the original receptacle to burn out. Now that this new AFCI/GFCI tripped and won't reset tells us that the feed to it lost power. What is on this circuit before the AFCI/GFCI receptacle. This is where the problem may be.

Junk all the temperamental GFCI's...
We are only talking about one dual function AFCI/GFCI receptacle at this time. If this receptacle will not reset this more than likely means either it was wired incorrectly (the way he describes he wired it seems corret) or there is no power going to the GFCI/AFCI receptacle. Tossing all GFCIs receptacles will not solve this issue.

The issue is the original receptacle burned out which means there is an issue with the circuit or the original receptacle.

Jamescity replacing the original burned out receptacle with this AFCI/GFCI receptacle will not necessarily make this circuit safer if there is a problem with the circuit prior to the location of the AFCI/GFCI receptacle. We need to first determine what caused the original regular receptacle to burn out.

Jamescity you say you have a VOM. Do you know how to use it?
First shut off the breaker to this circuit. Disconnect the wires going to the line side of the GFCI/AFCI receptacle. Pull the wires apart from each other so they do not touch. Turn the breaker back on and record the readings of these wires. Tell us what hot to neutral, hot to ground and ground to neutral are in Volts. This will be the starting point. We need to know if 120volts are being feed to the AFCI/GFCi receptacle on the line side of this receptacle and then take it from there. If you don't have 120v on the wires connected to the line side of the AFCI/GFCI receptacle then it will not reset. Also double check carefully by looking at the back of the AFCI/GFCI receptacle to be sure you are placing the incoming power wires to the line side and the outgoing wires to the load side.

Let's take this one step at a time and not start throwing things away thinking they are bad or replacing the AFCI/GFCI receptacle thinking it is bad. They are pricey. Changing the other receptacles to a higher grade is acceptable but it would be best to first before fiddling with other receptacles etc taht we determine what caused this receptacle to burn up. By making all of these changes we are complicating how we can solve this issue. Don't make changes yet.

Jamescity you say you are good with computers. I used to be an IT analyst and computer programmer. We know that the last think you do when attempting to troubleshoot a computer problem or software problem is to go in an make multiple changes at one time. Doing this you will not know what caused what. Think of this the same way. One change or troubleshoot step at a time only. The more changes you put in the mix the more difficult it will be to find the problem. Load multiple programs on a computer and you find you have problems you won't know what program caused the problems. Load one at a time and test it and then you will see what program caused the problem.
 
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