Does your radon fan keeps tripping the GFCI, and you must reset it all the time? Now, you want to know why it does that and what you should do? You’ve come to the right place, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.
Condensation can accumulate inside a radon fan, and this can cause it to trip the GFCI. There are several things that you can do to prevent this from happening.
- Move the radon fan to a circuit without GFCI
- Seal circuits of the radon fan
- Make sure that the circuit that the radon fan uses is not overloaded
- Create a circuit that only the radon fan will use
- Check for faults in the GFCI circuit
Learn more about how to prevent your radon fan from tripping the GFCI in the sections below. You can even learn more about GFCI and how it works in the succeeding sections.
What is GFCI, and how does it work?
GFCI, or ground-fault circuit interrupter, is a kind of circuit breaker that works closer to the appliances.
A ground fault, on the other hand, happens when an electrical current travels a path where it should not go—like water or humans. A ground fault is similar to a short circuit.
The difference between the two is that a ground fault happens when an electrical current travels an alternative path to the ground, while a short circuit happens when it travels an alternative path back to the source of the electrical energy.
In both cases, there is a risk of injury, fire, and damage to property.
A GFCI helps prevent the dangers of a ground fault by monitoring the difference between the amount of electrical current leaving a piece of equipment and the amount of electrical current that goes to the same equipment. A GFCI will shut down the circuit if the difference between the two is 5 milliamperes.
It can shut down a circuit in just 1/40th of a second to prevent damage or injury.
Receptacle Type GFCI
This is the most common type of GFCI.
This type of GFCI is integrated into a wall socket where it can provide protection and reset the socket itself. It is easy to use and saves time from not having to go to the circuit breaker to reset the circuit from there.
A portable GFCI is like a phone charger that has an outlet and a switch.
It can be plugged into a non-GFCI outlet and give that outlet GFCI protection. Any electrical appliance that you connect to the portable GFCI will have the protection of a GFCI circuit.
This type is similar to a portable GFCI because they are both made to be portable, and they provide GFCI protection to the wall outlet where you connect them. The main difference between the cord-connected GFCI and the portable GFCI is that the cord-connected GFCI has a cable that you can connect to the power outlet and a female outlet where you plug in an appliance.
A cord-connected GFCI can have several power outlets on one end where you can plug in several electrical appliances that have low loads. Tripping this GFCI will cause every electrical appliance on it to lose its electrical supply.
What situations can trip a GFCI?
You will need to understand what situations can trip a GFCI to understand the different solutions below.
A Ground Fault Has Occurred
The first situation that can trip a GFCI is the situation that it was made for—a ground fault.
This could be from damage to the electrical system. This can also come from natural wear and tear on the wires. If the insulation between wires is worn, the wires can be exposed to moisture and cause a ground fault.
If moisture or condensation finds itself inside your radon box, then it could trip the GFCI.
Rain is the most common culprit. High humidity levels can also cause the radon fan to accumulate condensation or moisture inside.
The GFCI can also detect overloading in the circuit. It will disconnect the circuit to prevent the overloaded circuit from causing a fire.
This can easily happen in a cord-connected GFCI type where multiple electrical appliances can be connected to the same GFCI circuit. Similarly, an extension cord that you connect to a GFCI outlet can also cause a circuit to overload.
Defective appliances can start to consume large amounts of electricity and trip the GFCI.
To test if the cause of the GFCI tripping is overloading, follow the steps below:
- Unplug all the appliances that are connected to the tripped GFCI.
- Reset the circuit breaker and reset the GFCI circuit.
- Wait for five minutes.
- If the GFCI circuit did not trip while you’re waiting, plug back one of the appliances and turn it on. Wait for five minutes.
- If the first appliance did not trip the GFCI, go ahead and plug back the second electrical appliance. Turn it on and wait for five minutes.
- Keep plugging back appliances and waiting for five minutes. Once the GFCI trips, the last appliance can no longer be on the same circuit because it will cause an overload. The appliances that are on the circuit are all that the circuit can handle. Move the remaining appliances to another outlet.
A Problem With The GFCI Circuit
GFCI circuits are not immune to faults. They can also develop problems or are defective.
The sensitive components inside a GFCI circuit can wear out after years of use and become too sensitive, tripping with even the slightest variance in electrical current.
A problem with the GFCI circuit is something that a professional electrician should handle.
Faulty or old wiring in your home can also cause the GFCI to continuously trip.
Since GFCI measures variance in electrical current, problematic home wiring can cause it to trip when exposed to moisture or condensation. Insulation in old wirings can be worn or has various damages that can cause the circuit to trip the GFCI.
A professional electrician should check the wires inside your home for problems and replace any aging and faulty ones.
How to prevent GFCI from tripping?
Now that we understand what can cause a GFCI to trip and how it works, we can talk about the different ways that you can do to prevent your radon fan from constantly tripping the GFCI circuit.
Moving The Radon Fan
One of the recommendations when installing a radon fan is that you should plug it into a non-GFCI circuit. The housing on most radon fan models is not enough to prevent condensation from accumulating inside the fan and causing a GFCI circuit to trip.
Thus, the most straightforward solution is to move your radon fan to a non-GFCI outlet. If you do not have a non-GFCI outlet within reach of your radon fan, then you need to have an electrician install one for you.
Dedicated Radon Fan Outlet
In connection with the previous section, if you’re going to have an electrician install a non-GFCI outlet for your radon fan, make it a dedicated circuit that goes to your circuit breaker and that no other appliance can use except your radon fan.
This will eliminate the chances of overloading the circuit and triggering the GFCI. This will also eliminate the possibility of old house wiring that might trip the GFCI.
Checking The Circuit Load
The radon fan may have its own outlet on your outside wall, but if that outlet is connected to a circuit where other high-consumption appliances are connected, then you will have a problem.
Check that the circuit where the radon fan is connected is not overloaded by turning off the circuit breaker that turns it off. Look for all the other appliances that turned off after you switched the breaker off.
Having even a single high-consumption appliance on that same circuit can cause it to overload. Move those to another outlet.
Sealing Radon Fan Circuits
Seal the circuit of the radon fan so that it will become resistant to moisture once it gets into the electrical panel. Use vinyl electrical tape that is water-resistant to protect exposed wires from moisture.
Some radon fan models have circuit boards that have exposed wires. Seal these wires with electrical tape.
Use silicone sealant to make the casing of your radon fan water-resistant.
Cambridge vinyl electrical tape (flame retardant and water-resistant) for indoor and outdoor use is available on Amazon through this link.
Henkel’s 2.7-ounce tub of clear silicone waterproof sealant is available on Amazon through this link.
Check The GFCI Circuit
The last resort is to make sure that the GFCI circuit is not faulty. Continuous tripping of the GFCI can be a sign that there is a problem with it and that it needs replacement. A professional electrician will be able to check this for you and recommend a fix.
Understanding how GFCI works and what can trip it will help you pick a solution to prevent your radon fan from constantly tripping the GFCI.
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