where is the problem? GFCI,circuit breaker or outlet?

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  #1  
Old 10-12-00, 07:56 AM
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In my kitchen, there is a GFCI outlet (#1), there is another regular outlet (#2) next to it.

Just this sunday, 5 minutes after I turned on a toaster and a rice-cooker from outlet #2, all 4 outlets in my kitchen stoped working. This happened before, so as I did before, I resetted the GFCI, but this time nothing happened, then I turned off and on the curcuit breaker for the kitchen, nothing happened.

I thought GFCI was broken, so I replaced it with a new one. But when I put in a lamp in the GFCI outlet, it didn't lightup, even though my meter detect electricity in hot black wire.

In despair, I also replaced outlet #2. But
when I put in the light in #2, no light. Similarly, I detect electricity in the Line black wire.

So there is definitely electricity flowing to both outlets, for some reason, no appliance works.

Any idea where the problem might be? Any help s are appreciated.

Thanks,

Bill
 
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  #2  
Old 10-12-00, 08:18 AM
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GFCI outlets have two sets of screws. One marked "line" and one marked "load." Make sure the power coming in to the outlets is on the "line" side of the GFCI, and the second outlet is connected to the "load" side.

If this is not the problem, could you have a broken neutral wire? It's hard to tell from your description exactly where you are measuring voltages. Across the black and white wires, or what?
 
  #3  
Old 10-12-00, 09:31 AM
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I have the same questions ranck does. I'm not sure how you're "detecting electricity" in the black wire. But if you're detecting 120 volts between black and white, then the outlet must be wired incorrectly, tripped, or defective. If you're measuring 120 volts between black and ground, then retest it between black and white, and between white and ground. Turn off the power and test continuity between white and ground, and between black and white.
 
  #4  
Old 10-12-00, 11:55 AM
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For GFCI outlet, I can detect voltage between black wire (line or load side) and ground (bare wire). I can also detect voltage between white wires and ground. But no voltage between black and white wires, no voltage between the two black wires. If I turned off power, no voltage detected between any wires. I did reset the circuit breaker a couples of time, still the same thing happened.

2nd outlet has same voltage problem. But for the 2nd outlet, I thought the eletricity goes in the side marked "line", not "load".

It seems that the 4 outlets in the kitchen are connected in a series fashion. I just don't know where the problem could be.

BTW, which one is the neutral line? the black wire on the "load" end or the two white wires?


Thanks for your quick reply.

Bill



<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by John Nelson:
I have the same questions ranck does. I'm not sure how you're "detecting electricity" in the black wire. But if you're detecting 120 volts between black and white, then the outlet must be wired incorrectly, tripped, or defective. If you're measuring 120 volts between black and ground, then retest it between black and white, and between white and ground. Turn off the power and test continuity between white and ground, and between black and white.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>



[This message has been edited by william (edited October 12, 2000).]
 
  #5  
Old 10-12-00, 01:46 PM
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OK, it seems like I need to back up and go over a few basics. First, the black wire should be the hot lead, and the white wire should be neutral. The bare wire is a safety ground. You should never have a voltage reading between the white and bare wires. You should get a voltage reading from the black to the white, and the black to bare. That is how things *should* be. So, let's try some things to find out what has happened.

First, turn off the breaker. Take the GFCI outlet out and disconnect all the wires from it. Make sure none of the wires are touching each other or the box. Look closely and determine which white and black wires come into the box together in one cable. Now, turn the breaker back on and check for voltage across the black to white, black to bare, and white to bare. You should get 120 volts from black to both white and bare, but nothing from white to bare.

If you still have voltage between white and bare wires, I suggest you get an electrician to look at this. Something is wrong. However, if you have voltage only on the black wire, then we can proceed.

A GFCI has two sets of screws. One set is marked "line." The two line screws should be brass colored and silver colored and on opposite sides of the outlet. The black wire goes to brass, the white wire goes to silver, and the bare wire goes to the green (gnd) screw. Do not hook up anything else yet, just the cable that brings in the power.

Turn on the breaker again. See if the test and reset buttons work normally. If so, turn off the breaker and connect the wires going to the other socket to the "load" screws on the GFCI. This allows the GFCI to protect the other outlet. The other outlet is a load on the GFCI. That is why it connects to that side. Again, black to brass and white to silver. The bare lead should be pigtailed to both sockets.

Your outlets should be connected in a daisy-chain fashion with the GFCI as the first one in the chain. This allows the GFCI to protect all the others, but you have to have the GFCI wired up correctly for it to work right.

Finally, don't be afraid to call in an electrician if you can't figure this out. It's better to spend $50 than get electrocuted in your kitchen.
 
  #6  
Old 10-13-00, 06:48 AM
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Hi, Ranck,

Following your suggestion, I disconnected all wires from GFI and turned the breaker back on. First I identify the black (hot black) where the electricity come from, here is what I found:
(1) 120 V between the hot black and bare
(2) 120 V beteween the hot black and the white from a different cable.
(3) No Voltage beteween the hot black and the white from the same cable.
(4) No Voltage beteween whites and bare
(5) No Voltage beteween LINE black and any white wires or bare

The 3rd finding seems like a problem. Then I connect the GFI back on, No voltage between any back wires and any white wires. But 120V between hot black and bare, only 80V between line black to bare, **there is also 80V from the two white wires to the bare**. It seems that putting the GFI changing the flow.

As you first suggested, the evidence seems pointing to a faulty neutral white wire from the cable where the hot black wire is. I can not explain why there is voltage between white and bare when GFI is connect.

Another mysterious thing: before I disconnect ed GFI, I did turn on/off the breaker a few time, all outlets and GFCI worked. I thought the problem got self corrected. So I changed my original outlet #2 back, and put GFCI back to the box. However, when I turned the breaker back on, things started not working again.

Any idea? If the neutral is broken, what's the best way to handle it?

Thanks for your help,

Bill





But NO VOLTAGE between this black to the white from the SAME cable, N
 
  #7  
Old 10-13-00, 06:53 AM
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Hi, Ranck,

Following your suggestion, I disconnected all wires from GFI and turned the breaker back on. First I identify the black (hot black) where the electricity come from, here is what I found:
(1) 120 V between the hot black and bare
(2) 120 V beteween the hot black and the white from a different cable.
(3) No Voltage beteween the hot black and the white from the same cable.
(4) No Voltage beteween whites and bare
(5) No Voltage beteween LINE black and any white wires or bare

The 3rd finding seems like a problem. Then I connect the GFI back on, No voltage between any back wires and any white wires. But 120V between hot black and bare, only 80V between line black to bare, **there is also 80V from the two white wires to the bare**. It seems that putting the GFI changing the flow.

As you first suggested, the evidence seems pointing to a faulty neutral white wire from the cable where the hot black wire is. I can not explain why there is voltage between white and bare when GFI is connect.

Another mysterious thing: before I disconnect ed GFI, I did turn on/off the breaker a few time, all outlets and GFCI worked. I thought the problem got self corrected. So I changed my original outlet #2 back, and put GFCI back to the box. However, when I turned the breaker back on, things started not working again.

Any idea? If the neutral is broken, what's the best way to handle it?

Thanks for your help,

Bill
 
  #8  
Old 10-13-00, 08:47 AM
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by william:

Following your suggestion, I disconnected all wires from GFI and turned the breaker back on. First I identify the black (hot black) where the electricity come from, here is what I found:
(1) 120 V between the hot black and bare
(2) 120 V beteween the hot black and the white from a different cable.
(3) No Voltage beteween the hot black and the white from the same cable.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

OK, numbers 2 and 3 have me worried. Please get an electrician to look at this. I can think of a couple ways you might get these results, and I don't like any of them from a safety standpoint. You could have a neutral wire shorted to the ground, or junction box, somewhere. There could be some oddball situation where the neutral from one circuit is acting as neutral on this circuit. It could be something as simple as a loose connection inside your breaker box. But, you really need someone who knows what he is doing to figure this out.

 
  #9  
Old 10-13-00, 11:45 AM
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(1) 120 V between the hot black and bare
(2) 120 V beteween the hot black and the white from a different cable.
(3) No Voltage beteween the hot black and the white from the same cable.
(4) No Voltage beteween whites and bare
(5) No Voltage beteween LINE black and any white wires or bare

In (1), you found the line black. So that means what you're calling "LINE black" in (5) is in fact the load, not the line. Make sure you make this adjustment when you reconnect the GFCI outlet.

The fact that you're not getting voltage between white and ground with the wires disconnected, but you did get voltage when they were connected, suggests that you may have miswired it, somehow misconnecting a white wire.

But the fact that the problem comes and goes when you flip the breaker suggests you have a bad breaker. Consider replacing it.

As ranck suggests, you may also be shorting something out when you pack the wires back in the box.

Some of your other observations sound impossible in normal wiring. But perhaps someone wired this circuit in a loop somewhere, connecting it back on itself such that the load white wire connects back to the panel but the line white wire doesn't. It sounds like your line hot wire and line neutral wire may not be in the same cable. This suggest something really screwy.

There are far too many "maybes" here. I'd go back to ground zero. Disconnect absolutely everything -- outlets, switches and lights -- on this circuit. Use a continuity detector to map out what wires are connected to what other wires.
 
  #10  
Old 10-14-00, 07:58 AM
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Looks like I am jumping in the middle of some good suggestions. I think the previous relies seem to be heading in the right direction. Thought I would kick in a couple of new thoughts that may not be in consideration.

I wonder if he is trying to run all GFI control and not a GFI on the first receptacle and normal receptacles on that circuit relying on that first GFI control as it is designed to do. If more than one GFI is on the same circuit you may have two GFI's reading each other causing a problem.

Here is one I am not sure of, maybe someone can confirm. I can't remember does a GFI kick out disconnecting both the white and the black, or just the black?

I wonder is it possible that the GFI he is talking of has been installed in the middle or a circuit? He may have a bad receptacle connection in the circuit before the circuit gets to the GFI.

I wonder if maybe he has a loose connection in the panel and as he turns the breaker on and off he is vibrating the circuit enough to get the correct circuit reading momentarily then loses it again.

Hope these ideas may spur some thought

Wg

 
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