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Old 28-09-2020, 05:47   #1
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Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

Hi folks,

I have a grey water "tank" for shower, sinks, A/C drains, etc. The pump is on the lower tier and the float switch is on the upper tier. It probably holds 3 gallons.

The pump keeps tripping the breaker. I can reset the breaker and get a few seconds out of the pump before it re-trips the breaker. This occurred on-and-off in the past but now it is occurring every time. The pump is a Rule 1500.

Before I do the obvious thing (replacing the pump) I wanted to see if anyone had heard of this and perhaps something else that might cause this. I'm also thinking about replacing the pump with a smaller one thinking that might be a part of the problem.

Thanks in advance
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Old 28-09-2020, 06:06   #2
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

When, if ever, was the last time you cleaned the sump and pump? If it's in need of cleaning, it's highly likely that hair, body oils and soap scum have clogged the pump, causing the motor to overheat and trip the breaker.


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Old 28-09-2020, 06:10   #3
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

It could be a number of issues:
Pump electrical fault
Pump bearing siezed
worn-out breaker
short circuit in the wiring

Before replacing the pump, I suggest taking it out and test running it on another circuit. That would narrow it down to either pump fault, or circuit fault
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Old 28-09-2020, 06:23   #4
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

Could be bad connections somewhere between the battery and the pump. Bad connections cause voltage drop which in turn increases current draw.

It might be anywhere in the system, even between the batteries and the main circuit panel, or perhaps a series of marginal connections in the entire circuit all adding to each other.

A "short" circuit would tend to trip the breaker all of the time and not just when the pump was running unless it was downstream of the sump pump switch.
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Old 28-09-2020, 06:40   #5
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

Quote:
Originally Posted by peghall View Post
When, if ever, was the last time you cleaned the sump and pump? If it's in need of cleaning, it's highly likely that hair, body oils and soap scum have clogged the pump, causing the motor to overheat and trip the breaker.
--Peggie
Thanks Peghall. Yes. I have cleaned it all up. Don't think that is the problem, but I will take another look just in case.
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Old 28-09-2020, 06:42   #6
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

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Originally Posted by BlackHeron View Post
Could be bad connections somewhere between the battery and the pump. Bad connections cause voltage drop which in turn increases current draw.

It might be anywhere in the system, even between the batteries and the main circuit panel, or perhaps a series of marginal connections in the entire circuit all adding to each other.

A "short" circuit would tend to trip the breaker all of the time and not just when the pump was running unless it was downstream of the sump pump switch.
Thanks BlackHeron. I'm assuming I could test this just by cutting the wires and measuring the voltage coming to the pump?
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Old 28-09-2020, 06:45   #7
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

Quote:
Originally Posted by pilott View Post
It could be a number of issues:
Pump electrical fault
Pump bearing siezed
worn-out breaker
short circuit in the wiring

Before replacing the pump, I suggest taking it out and test running it on another circuit. That would narrow it down to either pump fault, or circuit fault
Thanks pilott. The pumps bearings are not seized as it runs just fine and pumps water great for a few seconds before tripping the breaker. I think the other 3 are def candidates. Not exactly sure how to troubleshoot...
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Old 28-09-2020, 07:58   #8
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

FWIW

We have a small screen inline filter just before the pump. It was difficult to find at first so I didnít clean it and had the same symptoms as you do. Now we clean it a couple of times a week and the pump works fine
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Old 28-09-2020, 08:32   #9
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

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FWIW

We have a small screen inline filter just before the pump. It was difficult to find at first so I didnít clean it and had the same symptoms as you do. Now we clean it a couple of times a week and the pump works fine
Thanks SK. This is inline with PegHall's comment. I'm going to take a look at the actual pump a little better. I don't have a strainer on mine, but maybe the impeller is gunked up.
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Old 28-09-2020, 09:16   #10
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

Quote:
Originally Posted by peghall View Post
When, if ever, was the last time you cleaned the sump and pump? If it's in need of cleaning, it's highly likely that hair, body oils and soap scum have clogged the pump, causing the motor to overheat and trip the breaker.


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Peggie, you always seem to come up with the pragmatic answers.
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Old 28-09-2020, 09:29   #11
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

One of many possible electrical faults is a worn out circuit breaker. Breakers do not last forever. I have had to replace the main breaker on my boat several years ago. And I had to replace a breaker on a house. Try running the circuit on a different breaker to see if that might be the problem.
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Old 28-09-2020, 10:09   #12
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

Use an inexpensive ammeter in series with the breaker. Observe the reading. If the pump circuit exceeds the breaker rating then you need to work on the pump or switch wiring, pump might be fine but the switch might have leaky wiring. If the load stays below the breaker rating then replace the breaker. This measurement can be taken right at the breaker by disconnecting the load and adding in the ammeter with alligator clips. Observing the connections and corrosion in the back of the panel is always a good idea anyway.
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Old 28-09-2020, 12:53   #13
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

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Originally Posted by caffel View Post
Use an inexpensive ammeter in series with the breaker. Observe the reading. If the pump circuit exceeds the breaker rating then you need to work on the pump or switch wiring, pump might be fine but the switch might have leaky wiring. If the load stays below the breaker rating then replace the breaker. This measurement can be taken right at the breaker by disconnecting the load and adding in the ammeter with alligator clips. Observing the connections and corrosion in the back of the panel is always a good idea anyway.
Thanks Caffel. I have a multimeter. I'm pretty sure it measures amps. I'm guessing I can open up the panel, turn the breaker on and see how many amps are being drawn. That's a great idea. I'll try that first and narrow it down.
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Old 28-09-2020, 14:52   #14
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

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Originally Posted by UFGator View Post
Thanks Caffel. I have a multimeter. I'm pretty sure it measures amps. I'm guessing I can open up the panel, turn the breaker on and see how many amps are being drawn. That's a great idea. I'll try that first and narrow it down.

Unless you are using a clip-on ammeter, be careful with the multimeter. Check it's current range. The one's I've seen go to 10A, and there is an internal fuse which you would rather not blow. Easy to get a spare breaker (you need one anyway) and connect in place of the existing one. Temporarily, using wire and alligator clips from the bus bar to the new breaker, and moving the pump wire to the new breaker, doing the test with the new breaker loose before actually installing it in the panel.
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Old 28-09-2020, 20:23   #15
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Re: Grey water bilge pump tripping breaker

Voltage drop is a function of current. If there is no current when the pump is not running there will be no voltage drop. A voltage test under a no-load condition is pretty useless.

Test the voltage at the pump with the motor running. Stab the leeds through the insulation if you need to.
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