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  1. #1
    Joe Van Orsdol's Avatar
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    Default Testing GFCI breaker

    While reviewing a panel, I tested the GFCI breaker, it buzzed for 3 seconds and then popped. Would not reset.

    I called the listing agent and advised them so the homeowner would know why the hot tub was not working, and she thanked me.

    Now the homeowner is claiming I did an intrusive inspection and causing the breaker to fail. They want me to pay the $290 repair bill.

    As I see it, I would be negligent if I had not tested it.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Van Orsdol View Post
    While reviewing a panel, I tested the GFCI breaker, it buzzed for 3 seconds and then popped. Would not reset.

    Remember these words ... use them often ... "Failed under testing".

    That is a GFCI breaker, IT FAILED to operate properly, you did your job, you LIKELY SAVED SOMEONE'S LIFE as that GFCI should not have taken 3 seconds to trip off, it should have tripped off immediately - by time 3 seconds has gone by, the seller would be dead ... the seller should be thanking you for finding that DEFECTIVE GFCI.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
    Joe Van Orsdol's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Allow me to clarify, the "pop" was like a spark, not the breaker tripping.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Van Orsdol View Post
    Allow me to clarify, the "pop" was like a spark, not the breaker tripping.
    So the breaker DID NOT trip?

    That's an easy one: "Defective GFCI breaker, DID NOT TRIP, there was a "popping" sound inside the breaker, replace DEFECTIVE GFCI breaker with a new GFCI breaker."

    You can follow it with "Your thanks for saving your life and your family's lives is accepted." (if you so chose ).

    End result is "No, I am not paying for saving your life, during the inspection *I* found a defective GFCI breaker, the cost to replace the breaker is nothing compared to the cost of the life I saved. Your thanks is accepted."

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    1. Tell them to piss up a rope.
    or
    2. Do as Jerry suggested.
    or
    3. Have them prove that your action of pushing the "test button" somehow damaged the breaker. Then, see #1.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Tell them it is in your Standard of Practice. You must test the GFCI (or lose your license.)
    Licensed or not, you are required to inspect the GFCI's, and the only right way to inspect them is to test them.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  7. #7
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Van Orsdol View Post
    While reviewing a panel, I tested the GFCI breaker, it buzzed for 3 seconds and then popped. Would not reset.

    I called the listing agent and advised them so the homeowner would know why the hot tub was not working, and she thanked me.

    Now the homeowner is claiming I did an intrusive inspection and causing the breaker to fail. They want me to pay the $290 repair bill.

    As I see it, I would be negligent if I had not tested it.
    What was the manufacturer of the breaker ... square D, seimens, ge ? ... there have been several recalls over the years ... just a thought.

    $290 to replace a 120 volt single pole gfci breaker is a bit overboard IMO....


  8. #8
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Van Orsdol View Post
    While reviewing a panel, I tested the GFCI breaker, it buzzed for 3 seconds and then popped. Would not reset.

    I called the listing agent and advised them so the homeowner would know why the hot tub was not working, and she thanked me.

    Now the homeowner is claiming I did an intrusive inspection and causing the breaker to fail. They want me to pay the $290 repair bill.

    As I see it, I would be negligent if I had not tested it.
    Quite frankly .... tell them real nice like to pound sand. Or if you are a bit on the nicer side tell them failed while testing. They are lucky you tested it. If an accident did take place and that breaker hung up for 3 seconds one of them would be dead. If they don't get the message then life is a b and ... you know the rest of the story.

    Last edited by Ted Menelly; 06-17-2011 at 07:05 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Van Orsdol View Post
    They want me to pay the $290 repair bill.

    As I see it, I would be negligent if I had not tested it.
    GFCI breaker about $35. Minimun trip charge of Electrican at $75-$100. Max it should cost is $150. $290 is way out of line.

    Your job is to test GFCI. GFCI testers are non destructive to working GFCI. They are only destructive to failed units. Failed under testing, not gonna pay.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Original post indicated that the GFCI circuit breaker was for a Hot Tub.
    A 50A, two pole GFCI can be as much as $130. So....that's one trip to the house to determine the problem. One trip to the electrical supply to obtain a replacement circuit breaker and a return trip to the house to remove and replace the defective circuit breaker plus whatever else the electrician investigated in association with the problem. Still think $290 is too much? Don't call a licensed professional next time. Get a trunk slammer to fix it.

    Kudos to Joe for testing and finding the defective circuit breaker.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Beg them to take U to court so that you can 'learn' them something.
    Manufactures' specs that GFCI's are to be tested once a month, therefore as Jerry stated, "failed under testing" and tested as required by the manufacturer.
    Simply supplying the Manufacturer's requirements for the required testing is sufficient.

    It is the same as when we change a panel out and install the correct breaker size relative to the conductor/circuit and now the breaker trips.
    "It used to be fine and now it doesn't work, you brokeded it".
    People will get $$ from whatever wimp will bow to their whim.
    Sometimes we just have to be firm and leave it at that.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    I'm UNCLEAR as to what the original poster meant by "testing". To me, the way the original post was written it is unclear that the OP merely operated the "self-test" "test" button on the breaker. I suspect some "other" method was used - such as an attempt to "trip" the breaker with some other "testing" device, use of same in certain situations is contrary to the instructions for same, can cause damage in certain situations, and can be hazardous to the person utilizing such equipment to do same.


    The post is devoid of specifics. How this was "tested"; Circuit rating, type of equipment, wiring method, location of equipment, equipment type (hot tub??, rather generic) vintage of equipment, etc.

    As I recall, Minnesota does not have statewide licensing program for HI, but some local areas do, and specify certain critera for property transaction inspections, residential.


  13. #13
    Joe Van Orsdol's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    I'm UNCLEAR as to what the original poster meant by "testing". To me, the way the original post was written it is unclear that the OP merely operated the "self-test" "test" button on the breaker. I suspect some "other" method was used - such as an attempt to "trip" the breaker with some other "testing" device, use of same in certain situations is contrary to the instructions for same, can cause damage in certain situations, and can be hazardous to the person utilizing such equipment to do same.


    The post is devoid of specifics. How this was "tested"; Circuit rating, type of equipment, wiring method, location of equipment, equipment type (hot tub??, rather generic) vintage of equipment, etc.

    As I recall, Minnesota does not have statewide licensing program for HI, but some local areas do, and specify certain critera for property transaction inspections, residential.
    I pushed the test button on the breaker.


  14. #14
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Van Orsdol View Post
    I pushed the test button on the breaker.
    I think most of us know you made the test correctly ...

    However I likely was in error in an earlier post not reading the words 'hot tub' . My bad as they say. Hot tub would more likely indicate a 240 volt gfci ... so the 290 bucks is very reasonable in that case.

    Nonetheless the owners are way out of line thinking you could have possibly made an intrusive test of a gfci. I wonder how the inspection of the hot tub electrical and installation came out .. My guess is they are selling due to financial reasons and are looking for a way out of the repair costs.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI breaker

    Then, assuming this "test" was done prior to removing the deadfront cover for the panel, I agree with Jack Feldman and echo his response with his post #5.


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