• Find an incredible deal for Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Share those epic bargains with the community by posting them in this forum thread!

[SOLVED] Computer tripping GFI breaker

Oct 24, 2019
4
0
10
0
Hey,

I am having issues with a GFI breaker tripping only when my computer is plugged in. The breaker is a 20 amp Square D GFI and its like 40 years old. I used other high power appliances like table saws and didn't have an issue. I brought my grandfather over to take a look at the outlets and the breaker and they all seemed fine but because the breaker is so old I had wanted to replace it. The person helping us at the electronics store was a friend of my grandfather and told us that computers have caused issues like this before and the GFI was not the issue. I had never heard of issues like this and I couldn't find much information online other than bad GFI. I have a Mach 1 Kingwin 1000w modular PSU that I suppose could cause issues but nothing I could find. If you guys have any info on things like this that would be a ton of help. Also if you need any other info I would be happy to oblige.

Thanks
 

Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
Realistically you only need a gfi in a wet or possibly wet location. There's 2 sides to a gfci outlet, line in and load out. Line in is not protected, but load out is. So if your circuit goes outside, for just one plug, you can hook all the wires to the line in side, that'll make just the outlet gfci protected, but all the other plugs the same as any other interior outlet. Will mean just putting a regular breaker in the panel, replacing the gfi breaker.

Any electrician who knows anything about wiring a household gfi capable circuit could solve all that with no worries.

End result would be taking the pc off the gfi.
 

Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
If no other appliances or devices cause the GFI to trip then the computer is indeed the culprit.

Why does a GFI trip?

https://www.pursolaraz.com/why-does-my-gfci-outlet-keep-tripping/

Computer's draw far less power than such things as table saws. So tripping the GFI probably means some electrical short is involved. Which would implicate the computer.

Plug the computer into other circuits with GFI's. Determine if those GFI's trip.

You may need to carry the computer around and/or run some extension cords to other host GFI's.

If only the current GFI trips then it is the culprit (for what ever reasons) and that GFI is likely need of replacement.

Be methodical and consistent in your testing.

Consider:

https://www.fluke.com/en-us/learn/blog/grounding/chasing-ghost-trips-in-gfci-protected-circuits

Overall, I would consider an 40 year old GFI very suspect even if its' behavior does not make physical or electrical sense.
 
Oct 24, 2019
4
0
10
0
The GFI is has 2 outdoor outlets and 2 indoor outlets, both within about 5 feet of each other, all on the same line. The computer does trip the breaker on the other outlet too. I will see if I can get to another GFI outlet somewhere in the house tomorrow. Assuming there is an issue with my computer, I would not know where to begin diagnosing it. I will try to reproduce the issue with another computer tomorrow also.

I appreciate the starting point and articles. Thanks!
 
Oct 24, 2019
4
0
10
0
Update for the day. I was able to find a GFI outlet outside, but it is not connected to a GFI breaker just a regular one. The computer did start and did not have any issues. I also plugged another spare media computer into the outlet and it also did not have any issues. I also tried disconnecting everything but the motherboard power in the computer to see what would happen and it still tripped the breaker. Also when I turned the computer on when it was on an extension cord, plugged into an outlet that is known to work, the GFI breaker tripped again even though it is on a separate non-GFI line. Not sure if this is a PSU or breaker problem still.
 

Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
Gfi is ground fault interrupter. Meaning it'll only trip when the power sees very little resistance, like the ground. Most table saws and power tools only use 2 prongs, not the ground at all.

Many older houses have issues because there was no ground run in most of the household circuits, for years everything was 2 prong, so many upgrades to gfi circuits got cheated and ground was tied to neutral, just to get the gfi to reset.

So, often you can plug things into a gfci, whether it's a breaker or receptacle and it'll work, but something that actually uses the ground will trip it. Even items that do have a ground prong, the ground is a protection and generally sees no use will be fine, but a pc often dumps DC voltage to ground, RF and other airborne frequencies to ground, which can affect the gfi.

Can also be loose terminations, either in the neutral from the circuit, neutral to the buss bar from the breaker, the ground in the panel or in any repectacle in the line.
 
Reactions: CompuTronix
Oct 24, 2019
4
0
10
0
Thanks for the info! I had no idea that the PC would be pushing DC back to the ground, so I will be doing some research on that to perhaps solve this issue. I'm not sure how I would even go about fixing this though other than avoiding these outlets altogether and just running an extension cord. I will see if I can get some information on the breaker in question.

Thanks
 

Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
Realistically you only need a gfi in a wet or possibly wet location. There's 2 sides to a gfci outlet, line in and load out. Line in is not protected, but load out is. So if your circuit goes outside, for just one plug, you can hook all the wires to the line in side, that'll make just the outlet gfci protected, but all the other plugs the same as any other interior outlet. Will mean just putting a regular breaker in the panel, replacing the gfi breaker.

Any electrician who knows anything about wiring a household gfi capable circuit could solve all that with no worries.

End result would be taking the pc off the gfi.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

Latest posts