Pool Pump GFCI Breaker Keeps Tripping? (Possible Causes & Fixes)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Imagine the following moment: you’re in your pool, enjoying the jets. Then, the jets stop working and your pool lights shut off. Your breaker has tripped. You run over, untrip the breaker switch, and get back in. Within a matter of minutes, you can’t enjoy your pool anymore. The breaker tripped again. Your GFCI breaker is supposed to protect your system. So, what’s going on?

GFCI breakers are fairly sturdy machines, but they can still have problems. The most common issues that could lead to this is an excess amount of moisture after a storm, corrosion around the pump, electric “noise” from other controls, and a malfunctioning breaker.

Understanding how to fix this issue is important. So is knowing whether you need to call an electrician for help. Let’s talk about the basics before you take another dip in the pool.

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Why Does My GFCI Breaker Keep Tripping?

Believe it or not, it probably has very little to do with your pool pump and more to do with the breaker’s design. GFCI breakers are designed to trip faster, simply because they’re there to reduce the chances of injury to people. With that said, there can be a number of issues that might cause what people call “nuisance trips.”

Excess Moisture

GFCIs are meant to trip when they are exposed to moisture. However, your pool pump can trap quite a bit of moisture around the GFCI. The same can be said about moisture that comes after a major storm. In some cases, sensitive GFCIs can even trip as a result of having the sprinklers run too close to them.

How To Fix It: Give your GFCI a day or two to dry out. You should be able to see an improvement after the moisture gets evaporated away from your setup.

Corrosion In The Pump

Water exposure will make almost any machine start to rust. Your pool pump is not an exception to that rule. When your pump gets corroded, it will start to work harder and harder just to do its job. Sadly, the corrosion that starts in your pump can also travel to the wiring in your breaker.

If you notice that there are warning signs of corroding around your pump or breaker, then this is the most probable cause of your rapid tripping. Unfortunately, there is no way to “un-rust” a pump or a breaker.

How To Fix It: In this case, there’s really not much that you can do on your own. You will need to have a professional figure out which part of your system is more corroded. From there, you will have to replace the corroded portions.

Outside Noise

I’ll be upfront here: the noise we’re talking about isn’t the type of stuff coming out of your stereo. GFCI breakers are meant to be very sensitive to electrical fluctuations. I mean, it only takes a single electrical fluctuation to cause a shock, especially near a pool.

You might be surprised at how sensitive some breakers can be. Things like living next to a transformer, having a solar flare, or even having a power surge near you could all cause your pool’s breaker to trip. This is not always preventable.

How To Fix It: There isn’t much to do in this situation, primarily because you cannot control what outside influences do to your breaker. In some cases, you will be able to wait it out. This is particularly true if you have reason to believe that your glitchy breaker is caused due to a solar flare. If the problem persists, you may need to assume your breaker is broken.

A Bad Breaker

Once in a blue moon, your GFCI breaker could actually be on the fritz. If you have been experiencing a number of glitches or see serious signs of corrosion, it could be time to replace your breaker. Due to the price of a typical GFCI breaker replacement, this should be a last resort. Moreover, you should weed out any and all other potential causes before you assume that this is the problem.

How To Fix It: You will have to have a professional double-check to see if it’s the breaker before you replace it. If it’s clear that the breaker is on the fritz, then you will have to hire said pro to get your breaker fixed or replaced.

One thing we want to emphasize is that you should not, under any circumstances, try to replace the breaker yourself. The same goes for repairs.

When Should You Call A Professional For This Issue?

With circuit breakers of any type, you should be aware that calling a pro is a smart idea whenever you have to remove the breaker, replace it, or inspect the area for corrosion. So, if waiting it out for a week or so doesn’t work, then the next step is almost always going to have to be a call to your local pool electrical technician.

Pool breakers will have a lot of ways that they can hurt you if you mishandle them. That’s the primary reason why we do not advocate for DIY repairs. With that said, this isn’t just a matter of safety, either. The majority of cities in the nation also require you to hire a professional to install your pool breaker or fix it.

How Much Does Repairing A Pool Breaker Cost?

This can vary greatly depending on what you need to have done, but GFCI breakers are fairly affordable when it comes to replacements and repairs. Some electric breaker repairs can cost as little as $20. If you need to get a new breaker for your pool, expect to pay between $160 to $200. Those quotes include labor and inspection fees.

Can You Get A Different Type Of Breaker For Your Pool?

GFCI breakers are pretty annoying, especially if you get one that is prone to nuisance trips. If you’re like many homeowners, you might be wondering whether you can skip that genre of breaker for your pool pump. Unfortunately, you cannot get a different type of breaker if you are using it for your pool.

In 2017, a national mandate was passed into law. In order for your pool to be considered up to code on a national level, you have to use GFCI breakers. The mandate was meant to be a way to improve the overall quality of safety that pool pumps have. As a result, you cannot use anything aside from a GFCI breaker. Otherwise, you’re going to look at some building code violations in your future.

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Related Questions

How can I tell if my GFCI circuit breaker is bad?

The best way to test it is to press the “TEST” button on the breaker. The breaker should be able to shut off all the circuits immediately, acting as a mass trip. This may sound bad but it’s not. A mass trip is what you want to happen. If you notice that certain circuits are not shutting off, then your GFCI is bad. Most electricians suggest that you test it at least once a month to keep abreast of its safety.

How long should a GFCI outlet last?

If you have a GFCI outlet, then you have some good news about any items that you might want to plug into them. Most GFCI outlets will last between 12 to 15 years under optimal conditions. If your outlets are in an area that’s corroded, you might see a sharp decrease in longevity. This can make your outlet last as little as five years.

How many outlets can a GFCI protect?

The only limit you have with GFCI protection is that you have to keep it under 20 amperes. Aside from that, there is no limit to the number of outlets that your GFCI breaker can protect. Take that news bite as you want to.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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