switching a gfci

Old 05-22-04, 12:59 PM
Dale Sherman
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switching a gfci

I'm trying to install an exterior, switched GFCI outlet. I have a recessed "can" light in a ceiling on a circuit that only has 4 lights on it. From this, I have run a 12/2 flex to a switch box, then on to an outside GFCI in a weather proof outlet box. At the switch box, I connected both the whites together with a wire nut, properly grounded the switch, and inserted the black wires (one from the "hot" direction, the other from the GFCI outlet) into the back of the switch.

When I fliped the switch to the on position, my circuit breaker tripped. What have I done wrong?

Old 05-22-04, 01:35 PM
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If the box you used is metallic, make sure that the hot (and neutral for that matter) screws aren't touching the box on the sides. One trick to help with this is to wrap the receptacle or switch with electrical tape to cover the screws. You still should make sure that they aren't pressed up against the side, the tape is just a backup.

If the breaker is tripping, then there is a short. If you have an ohmmeter, you can verify this by checking for continuity between the hot and ground or hot and neutral wires. You'll need to go back over everything you moved or changed in the process and make sure nothing is touching other wires or the walls of the boxes or the conduit.

You could possibly also have the GFI wired wrong, or it could simply be defective. Make sure your wires go to the "line" side of the GFI, not the "load". This probably wouldn't cause the problem that you're seeing though.

As an aside, and probably not related to your current problem, you really don't want to use the push-in connectors on the back of the switch, but rather attach your wires to the screws on the side. Searching this forum for "backstab" should produce a large number of explanations why.
Old 05-22-04, 02:09 PM
Dale Sherman
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Thank you for your quick reply. I'll back check everything. I think I've got a bad GFCI, as it is one that I pulled from another area a few years back. I was concerned that I couldn't switch a GFCI as you can a normal receptical. Now I know.


Old 05-22-04, 05:39 PM
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From this, I have run a 12/2 flex to a switch box...
Exactly what is "this"? In other words, exactly where on the existing circuit did you tap power.

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