How do I fix my seemingly improperly ground outdoor lighting circuit that trips my RCD when it rains?

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by

Maxm007

Last Updated February 21, 2016 01:09 AM

This is for a UK wiring issue, but I suppose the issues here are universal.

Every since I bought my home, my outdoor garden lighting circuit trips the RCD when it rains. After multiple expensive visits from 2 different electricians, without success and before I spent money on rewiring the whole thing, I decided to look at this myself first. Bear with me, I have a basic understanding of circuits and DIY enthusiast, but not electrician.

Quick overview of the outdoor wiring. Armoured cable goes from the house to summerhouse into breaker box with RCD and circuits for summerhouse interior lighting and sockets , one circuit for outdoor lighting, and one circuit for outdoor pond pump. Its definitely the outdoor lighting circuit tripping the RCD when it rains. The RCD never trips when that circuit is OFF.

Worrying thing #1 I noticed is that the pond pump circuit and outdoor lighting go through the same...

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This is for a UK wiring issue, but I suppose the issues here are universal.

Every since I bought my home, my outdoor garden lighting circuit trips the RCD when it rains. After multiple expensive visits from 2 different electricians, without success and before I spent money on rewiring the whole thing, I decided to look at this myself first. Bear with me, I have a basic understanding of circuits and DIY enthusiast, but not electrician.

Quick overview of the outdoor wiring. Armoured cable goes from the house to summerhouse into breaker box with RCD and circuits for summerhouse interior lighting and sockets , one circuit for outdoor lighting, and one circuit for outdoor pond pump. Its definitely the outdoor lighting circuit tripping the RCD when it rains. The RCD never trips when that circuit is OFF.

Worrying thing #1 I noticed is that the pond pump circuit and outdoor lighting go through the same 4 core flex cable going outside. Black and Blue for the lighting,...

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If you haven't had any new lights added to the circuit recently then you most likely have a short somewhere (where a live cable is in contact with a neutral or earth cable either permanently or intermittently). This can be caused by many things, a loose connection (badly fitted connections can come loose with time) in a light fitting or junction box, leak from upstairs, rodent chewing through wire, nail through a cable etc.

If it is a fault on a light fitting you might be able to narrow it down by switching off all of the lights at the switches then switching the breaker back on. If the breaker doesn't trip straight away then go round and switch on each light one at a time and see if this trips the switch. If it does it is most likely a loose connection in or a faulty light fitting wired from the particular switch that tripped it. You will need to get someone to check that light fitting for you for loose connections or signs of burning. If the breaker trips with all the...

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Everything works fine when the weather is dry. But you have a circuit breaker that trips every time it rains hard. And then when you try to reset it, it won’t reset.

What’s the deal?

Water is making contact with your electrical system somehow. If not corrected, this is a serious problem that should be taken care of as soon as possible! Electricity and water should never mix. If you need help finding and fixing the problem, contact a licensed electrician.

We’ll go over the most common problems that cause a circuit breaker to trip when it rains.

Note: Sprinklers & misting systems can also cause your breaker to trip for many of the same reasons.

But before continuing, check out our other article Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping? to get a better understanding of how circuit breakers work and the 2 reasons they trip.

No exterior outlet cover

All of your exterior outlets should be covered with an exterior outlet cover or outlet...

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I've never waited so long

Я никогда не ждал так долго,

I'm not expecting a thing

Я ничего не ожидаю,

Something tells me you'll come back to me

Что-то говорит мне, что ты вернешься ко мне.

I spend my winters alone

Я провожу зимы в одиночестве,

It gets so cold when you're gone

Становится так холодно, когда тебя нет,

Something tells me you'll come back to me

Что-то говорит мне, что ты вернешься ко мне.

[Chorus:]

[Припев:]

But sometimes when it rains

Но иногда, когда идет дождь,

There's no time to do it again

Нет времени делать это вновь.

The real me wants to savor it all

Мое настоящее "я" хочет наслаждаться всем этим

In my memory yeah!

В моей памяти, да!

I know I made you afraid

Я знаю, я заставил тебя бояться,

I've been wounded too long

Я был уязвлен слишком долго,

Something tells me you'll come back to...

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Hi,

Our house had completely new wiring installed about 1.5 years ago. This morning (and I guess it happened when a light switch was turned on somewhere) one of the RCDs in the CU tripped.

After switching off all MCBs on this side of the RCD, resetting the RCD itself then switching each MCB back on, I've isolated the problem to one of our downstairs lighting rings.

On this ring, there are 15 regular CFL downlighters, 4 water resistant ones (bathroom), 1 bathroom mirror (also florescent, but with heating pad) and - unknown to me up to this point (qualified spark fitted the new system) - two lights that sit outside our front door (25w halogen). MCB is 6A.

As soon as I switch the MCB for this ring on, it trips the RCD (the MCB remains un-tripped) - it doesn't matter if all of the load is switched off (note that I can't switch the heating pad of the mirror off, and therefore even with all switches off there is a small load).

The obvious thing for me was the...

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If you’ve ever had the pleasure of upgrading old electrical wiring in a residence, you know that a separate earth ground wire was generally not used in the past. In such cases, you find yourself with 2 wires: live, and neutral.

Now, you might want to install a grounded outlet without redoing a lot of wiring. A common method of getting around this little problem is to install the new 3-conductor outlet by tying live to one prong, neutral to the other prong, and then using a jumper wire to connect neutral to the ground connection inside the outlet.

“Theoretically, this should work just fine!” you reason.

It turns out that theoretically, you are in fact correct. Practically speaking, adding a “ground” in a 2-wire installation by tying neutral and ground together has several serious – and possibly dangerous – drawbacks.

Here’s the scoop.

This here post assumes that you actually have some idea of how AC power systems work. Obviously, if you know very...

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Jamie Hanrahan gave an excellent answer but I think there is another possibility apart from what he described. It seems that many people have zapping issues with their laptops and the zaps seem to be more than just static. See this page for a lot of examples

From that same page, a user responded with the following (and I quote):

"If you have the laptop in your lap, and if you are wearing shorts, the areas of your legs that are in contact with the screws will feel uncomfortably tingly - like there are pins being poked into the surface of your skin, but not deeply. The sweatier you are, the more galvanic reaction (the more it hurts). This is NOT a power supply problem, so getting another DC power supply is not going to cure the matter.

What this is, is the AC voltage that is sinked to ground through a number of circuits that rely on higher voltages stepped up through DC to DC converters (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC-to-DC_converter). Displays...

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In general...
GFI outlets don't generally last forever. Moisture, heat (sun), lots of trips can reduce life imo.

You can replace the breaker in the panel with a GFI breaker. About $100. These are built to be outdoors. The deal of putting an indoor GFI outlet outside is allowed when these weather tight boxes are used...but they're not completely weather tight. You can use plug caps to fill unused outlets so less moisture gets in thru the holes. Might help a little. Anything you can do to protect the box will help.

With the GFI breaker in the panel you can use regular 15 or 20 amp outlets rated for 30 amp pass thru. These last a lot longer outdoors.

Your case...
The short (sorry) answer is you should have an electrician look at it. I say that because it's unusual to have GFI outlets on a 30 amp circuit. I'm used to seeing two 15 or 20 amp circuits run instead of a single 30 amp. Makes little sense to me.

Most 15 amp outlets are rated for 20 amp pass thru...

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If you have been trying to put up lights to decorate your garden for a party or to enhance the security and found that the outdoor outlet does not work, you need to take steps to rectify this. Outdoor outlets that are exposed to the weather are more likely to fail than indoor outlets. However, with a little bit of patience and skill you can fix it on your own.

1.Rain and Water

Often outdoor outlets are damaged because of their exposure to rain and water. Even when the outdoor outlets have some amount of protection from the weather, they can be affected by the damp and humidity in or emanating from the garden.

 

When encountering an outdoor outlet that does not work, do not assume the worst and immediately call an electrical contractor or pull out all the wires. You can try to fix it yourself and certainly determine how to prevent this from happening again. Instead and furthermore,you should look for the simple solutions first and call the electrical...

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Change

It wasn't trendy, funny, nor was it coined on Twitter, but we thought change told a real story about how our users defined 2010. Unlike in 2008, change was no longer a campaign slogan. But, the term still held a lot of weight. Here's an excerpt from our Word of the Year announcement in 2010:

The national debate can arguably be summarized by the question: In the past two years, has there been enough change? Has there been too much? Meanwhile, many Americans continue to face change in their homes, bank accounts and jobs. Only time will tell if the latest wave of change Americans voted for in the midterm elections will result in a negative or positive...

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