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Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit

 
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Old 06-11-2010, 07:25 PM   #1
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Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


I have 5 outlets on a GFI circuit, two of which are actual GFI outlets (i.e., they have the Test and Reset buttons) and the other three are regular outlets.

I've run into dead GFI outlets before, but this time the two GFI outlets are fine, both test and reset properly. It appears one of the other three is intermittently tripping one or both of the GFI outlets, even though none of the 3 outlets have anything plugged into them.

All the outlets have been in place for some time, so no recent event causing the failures, which is why I think it's one of the outlets dying naturally. Any quick way to figure out which regular outlet is dying without just trying to replace each in turn?



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Old 06-11-2010, 07:30 PM   #2
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


If it's an intermittent, the only quick way is luck.

Do you have one GFCI being fed by another GFCI?

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Old 06-11-2010, 07:34 PM   #3
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


Are the standard receptacles loaded on one of the gfci receptacles?
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Old 06-11-2010, 07:36 PM   #4
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


Just three receps? Wow. That'll cost you about $1.47+tax down at the hardware store to buy new ones. Swap 'em all out and see if that solves the problem.

While you're in each box, check for moisture, corrosion and nicked insulation.
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Old 06-11-2010, 07:53 PM   #5
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
Just three receps? Wow. That'll cost you about $1.47+tax down at the hardware store to buy new ones. Swap 'em all out and see if that solves the problem.

While you're in each box, check for moisture, corrosion and nicked insulation.
X2, check that the ground is not intermittenly touching the line too. I have seen this several times when the recepticle was installed and the wires got crammed inside the box. Is it a steel box? Be sure the recepticle mounting screw is not rubbing on the line side, seen that too.
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Old 06-11-2010, 08:02 PM   #6
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


Thanks for the quick responses, guys.

I don't know if the load of the first GFI is feeding the other GFI, I'll have to check tomorrow. If it is, should I feed the second from the Line terminal of the first?

Would it cause false trips otherwise?

EDIT: I'll have to pull the cover to check for sure, but I'll bet all the other receptacles, including the second GFI, are all fed by the Load side of the first GFI.
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Old 06-11-2010, 08:05 PM   #7
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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Originally Posted by Duck042 View Post
Thanks for the quick responses, guys.

I don't know if the load of the first GFI is feeding the other GFI, I'll have to check tomorrow. If it is, should I feed the second from the Line terminal of the first?

Would it cause false trips otherwise?
Depends on how they're wired to begin with. It's not illegal to protect a GFI with another GFI, but not a good design.

When the one GFI trips, check to make sure you know what all goes dead. Then troubleshoot just that part of it.
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Old 06-11-2010, 08:18 PM   #8
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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Depends on how they're wired to begin with. It's not illegal to protect a GFI with another GFI, but not a good design.

When the one GFI trips, check to make sure you know what all goes dead. Then troubleshoot just that part of it.
I've seen multiple GFI outlets on the same circuit in a lot of cases, including new construction. I assumed they did it intentionally for redundancy. What's the downside of having two GFI outlets on the same circuit, do they interfere with each other?
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Old 06-11-2010, 08:37 PM   #9
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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I've seen multiple GFI outlets on the same circuit in a lot of cases, including new construction. I assumed they did it intentionally for redundancy. What's the downside of having two GFI outlets on the same circuit, do they interfere with each other?
Not really. But it can make finding the offending GFI difficult. Most people don't wire them that way, so power goes out, you check the GFI you're plugged into, it's still on, so you naturally go the the panel.

Three hours later, you find a GFI in the middle of the run tripped.
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Old 06-13-2010, 12:35 AM   #10
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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It appears one of the other three is intermittently tripping one or both of the GFI outlets
Easy way to test that is to pull out the GFI you think is tripping the other ones and twist the wires together to bypass it. If they stop tripping, you were right.

Are GFI's wired correctly? If they are miss-wired they will pop. I use Leviton GFI's, they are easy to wire, it says where to put everything on it. Supply power goes to the bottom two screws, load line on the top two.
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Old 06-13-2010, 11:11 AM   #11
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


All GFCI's are labeled as far as connections go. It is silly and expensive to use more than one GFCI on a circuit. Silly.
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Old 06-22-2010, 07:36 PM   #12
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


So, as usual, the source of the problem wasn't what I initially thought. On the same circuit as the bathroom GFI's was an outdoor outlet (nearly invisible between two bushes, naturally ).

When I pulled out the receptacle, the backstab clip holding the hot wire gave way in my hand, yelling "free at last, free at last!"

Deoxed the wires, tightened them securely the side screws of a new receptacle - problem solved...
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Old 06-22-2010, 07:47 PM   #13
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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So, as usual, the source of the problem wasn't what I initially thought. On the same circuit as the bathroom GFI's was an outdoor outlet (nearly invisible between two bushes, naturally ).
Always great to hear the rest of the story.

























Now waddle quietly away so you don't have to hear us telling you that violates code.
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Old 06-22-2010, 10:23 PM   #14
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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...............Now waddle quietly away so you don't have to hear us telling you that violates code.

If it was wired prior to the adoption of the 1999 NEC, it's perfectly legal.
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Old 06-22-2010, 10:38 PM   #15
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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If it was wired prior to the adoption of the 1999 NEC, it's perfectly legal.
Depends on what the job was. My AHJ says "You touched it, you fix it."
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Old 06-22-2010, 10:41 PM   #16
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Depends on what the job was. My AHJ says "You touched it, you fix it."
Replacing a bad GCI should not warrant a complete rewire. Otherwise, people would be completely rewiring their houses every 3 years.
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Old 06-22-2010, 10:53 PM   #17
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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Replacing a bad GCI should not warrant a complete rewire. Otherwise, people would be completely rewiring their houses every 3 years.
Agreed, but [slaps ruler!] pay attention. I said "Depends on what the job was."

Granted that the Duck didn't mention doing so, but if I modify (as opposed to just repairing) the circuit, I have to bring it up to code.
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Old 06-23-2010, 01:23 PM   #18
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


Didn't touch the wiring at all, in fact.

The only reason I got sucked into this initially was because I thought I introduced the problem when I took the faceplate off one of the bathroom GFI's to put in a new backsplash. The clip in the receptacle chose that day to give up the ghost, evidently.

Btw - what do you all think of the backstab-type receptacles?
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Old 06-23-2010, 01:29 PM   #19
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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.............Btw - what do you all think of the backstab-type receptacles?
They suck.

But because of all the others who use them, I love 'em. Keep using them, guys..... I make a lot of money on service calls!
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Old 06-23-2010, 01:33 PM   #20
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Re: Diagnosing A Bad Outlet On A GFI Circuit


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Btw - what do you all think of the backstab-type receptacles?
They suck.

But because of all the others who use them, I love 'em. Keep using them, guys..... I make a lot of money on service calls!



Oh. Somebody already said that.

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