I need an electrician's help

Electricians, I need help.

About a month ago, a GFI circuit popped in the middle of the night. The reason was unknown. The GFI outlet was reset without incident. When I awoke yesterday, the same GFI had popped overnight. It kept popping when I attempted to reset it. I unplugged a 3 year-old TV and the circuit was able to be reset. I tested by plugging in the TV and the circuit popped. The TV was unplugged and the circuit reset.

As the TV plug only had two prongs, I assume the leak was through something to which the TV was connected (roof antenna cable, VCR via RCA cables, or the DVR via a HDMI cable).

Then, I realized that the TV had a DVD inside it which I wanted. With all cables disconnected, I plugged in the TV without incident and ejected the DVD.

The roof antenna is connected to two other TV’s without incident. Is the TV bad or could there be some other cause?

There is an inconsistency in your story. Does the TV trip the breaker when plugged in, or not?

Is your roof antenna grounded against lightning? That sounds like the only ground path. Is your TV plug polarized? One blade larger. Gfi installed properly. All these will be asked sooner than later. Have you taken any power surges or lightning strikes recently . Tv or anything get wet or high moisture.

The TV tripped the GFCI (not breaker) until all the signal cables were disconnected from it, then it was able to be plugged in without tripping the GFCI. Suggests that there may be a ground fault through a signal cable. IANAE.

If I’ve read correctly, when she plugged the TV back in to take out the DVD it was unplugged from all other connections. You know, aerial, DVR, games console, and so on.

I’ve had GFCI outlets just fail, presumably from age. They’re sort of hair trigger devices (I think) in order to sense the tiny current leaks to ground and as such they probably fail as components age. Installing a new one seems to end the problem. Since they’re not too expensive, I’d give that a try.
(Edit) The issue with the input cables mentioned do seem like a likely suspect though.

I am not a licensed electrician.

Here’s what I will do :

Step 1 : Buy a GFCI outlet tester like this one : https://www.homedepot.com/p/Gardner-Bender-Outlet-and-GFCI-Tester-GFI-3501/202867890

Check if the TV outlet / VCR Outlet / DVR Outlet is correctly wired.

Step 2 : Try replacing the GFCI breaker (sometimes it goes bad)

mind the gap is correct. A typical GFCI should trip in the 5 mA to 10 mA (imbalance) range. This isn’t much current. Manufacturers obviously concentrate on making sure that failing GFCIs get more sensitive rather than less sensitive. I would replace the GFCI, which will most likely resolve the issue.

To be honest, I’m not sure why you have your TV plugged into a GFCI anyway. I wholeheartedly agree with making all electrical equipment as safe as possible, but your TV is probably not in a location that would traditionally require a GFCI (garage, kitchen, bathroom, outdoor, damp areas, etc.) and a TV is almost always connected to cabling that has a ground path (e.g., exterior antenna with protector, cable TV). This means there will ALWAYS be a path for some current leakage to ground. This is a sure-fire recipe for unwanted GFCI activations.

Too late to add to my post:

TV design varies quite a bit, but there is a lot of difference between having a hair-dryer with NO path to ground on a GFCI in the bathroom and having an appliance with a permanent path to ground somewhere on the chassis connected to a GFCI.

Where did you read that?

That would have been this bit:
With all cables disconnected, I plugged in the TV without incident and ejected the DVD.

Now, back to the OP, what I would suggest is reconnecting the cables and test the TV. Ensure it trips the GFCI, then unplug it, remove one cable, and plug it back into the reset GFCT, and record the result. If you get a consistent trip with one of the cables, you know where the fault is being introduced.

If there is no consistent tripping with a single (or combination) of connections, then I would assume it’s a bad GFCI. Replace the outlet. I would also suggest that if the outlet location does not require a GFCI, do not install a GFCI, as these nuisance trips can be an… annoyance.

GFCI is what protects you from being killed, of which improper wiring like in the OP symptoms could be at real risk of causing.

Remember that circuit breakers protect the building and not you.

I would recommend calling a professional in to make sure there is no neutral to ground situation which seems the most likely.

Most 2-prong plugs have one prong larger than the other.
Sometimes these will plug into the outlet either way, sometimes the socket is sized so that it only goes in one way.
Are you definitely plugging in the TV with the prongs matching up to the socket (big-to-big, little-to-little)?
Consistency is necessary to get accurate results when testing the circuit as described above.

IANAElectrician, but if I recall, the one prong (small?) is neutral which may be tied to ground in some fancier electronic devices?
(Although actually through a transformer etc. for the power supply. )

While it could be the gfi itself I would suspect it’s a peripheral device. If it were me I’d try one device at a time to narrow it down if you feel confident you can do so safely. Are the DVD/VCR plugged into the same recepticle as the TV?

Also might want to inspect cords for damage, this is a common case as well.

This is not in “fancier electronic devices” it is in caused by dangerous building wiring mistakes or what was called a “hot chassis”.

Here is a partial list of some dangerous conditions that could cause this. Open Neutral, Reverse Polarity, Reversed Polarity, Hot and Neutral Reversed, and Current Leakage.

Here is a page which may help, but diagnosing it without the proper tools is dangerous.

This may help, as GFCIs work fine on two prong plugs.

The hot and the neutral are pushed and pulled at the same time with AC current, and both are attached back to the power grid.

The ground is what it says, an electrical connection to the local ground around your house.

A GFCIc just compares that the push == pull and if the energy is not the same it trips.

So if it is tripping you have an electrical connection and live power being sent either over a ground or to another circuit and this is an unsafe condition.

You have current flowing over some place it is not suppose to be flowing.

Now that all the experts here have confused you, a 3 yo TV plug has big and little blade. They easily fit into the GFI one way unless the plug or receptacle is damaged. The DVD is current enough for the same plug. Your VCR may not be. That may set up a ground mismatch if the plug can be put in “upsde down.” You need to isolate which device takes out the GFI when it is connected to the TV.

I suspect that the roof antenna connection is the one that causes the GFCI to trip.

The shield of the antenna wire is supposed to be grounded at a grounding block where it enters the home. What I think is most likely happening is that your TV’s power supply isn’t properly isolated from the antenna ground, so part of the current from the AC power is going back to earth ground via the antenna connection.

This should be easy enough to test. Just test the TV with and without the antenna connected. If I’m right, the GFCI will trip whenever the antenna is connected.

I would think a bigger question is why now. This sounds like it was working until recently. Something changed, some component is beginning to fail. Or you were just lucky until now.

Poppasan is spot on. I’ll guess the VCR or maybe mice until the op checks back in.