House ELCB Tripping Problem Solved
Recently my house main ELCB (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker) tripped intermittently. The ELCB can trip from few minutes to an hour. For your information there must be something that had gone wrong and drawing too much current causing the ELCB to trip.
Before I reset the ELCB switch, I removed all the electrical devices plug like handphone charger, hair dryer, TV, router and etc and also turned off all the lights. I even turned off the air-conditioner (air-cond).
Once done, I reset the ELCB switch and connecting back the electrical plugs one by one hoping to see the ELCB trip again. If it tripped then I know the source of the problem. I did not turn On the air-cond. I let all the electrical devices connected to the ac socket and all the lights On for more than 2 hours and the ELCB did not trip. This is a good sign because it means the air-cond could be the problem. So I went to the living room and turn On the air-cond and within 10 minutes the ELCB tripped! I tested few more times and I confirmed indeed the air-cond was the cause of the problem.
Since I do not repair air-cond I called my friend who is a specialist in fixing and repairing air-cond. I told him about the problem. He came, took some tools and climbed up to reach the air-cond. Just within 10 minutes he showed to me a big capacitor (30uf 400v) and told me it was open circuit.
He said the capacitor (Compressor Motor Starting Capacitor) did not show any sign of kicking (charging/discharging) when tested it with his Sanwa analogue meter. He fixed in the new capacitor and asked me to turn On the air-cond.
He waited for about few minutes for the compressor motor to kick in. And when we heard the motor was running and the ELCB did not trip he tested the air-cond for few more times to really make sure it would not trip.
He explained to me saying that when the compressor motor fail to start at all (due to the bad capacitor), the motor will just hum (drawing high current) and eventually the tripping will occur. I then paid him for the job done.
By the way, I brought the capacitor back to my workplace and tested it with my digital capacitance meter and it showed zero capacitance value. It also showed no reading when tested with my Blue ESR meter.
Note 1: All the high voltage capacitors need to be discharged first! High voltages which are still present inside the capacitor can give you an electrical shock which is hazardous! It can kill you! Do not try to do this on your own if you are not sure what you are doing! Do not try to repair if you are not a qualified technician or engineer.
Note 2: Be extra careful when climbing on high places to fix air-cond, antenna and etc. There are fatal cases involving repair techs falling down from high places. If you do not have confident let the professional do it.
This article is brought to you by Jestine Yong
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