Can't Find GFCI Outlet...


Old 06-16-04, 03:12 PM
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Can't Find GFCI Outlet...


The outlets in my bathrooms and garage are not working and the circuit breaker is not tripped. I've been searching the whole house, including garage and outside, and have not been able to find a GFCI outlet to reset. Is there any other way that the GFCI could have been installed instead of on an outlet, or do I just have to keep looking?

Breaker position 3 (and possibly 4) are labeled (poorly) as GFI outlets. Is the breaker bad? Grrrr...



ps. If it helps, the house was built in the early '80s.
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Old 06-16-04, 03:23 PM
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Gfci's are either receptacle type or in many cases the breaker itself is a gfci device. If the breaker is gfci it will have a test button. If no gfci's on this circuit I would invest in a receptacle tester (about $8) I would plug this into one of the dead outlets. A series of lights on the tester will indicate what kind of fault exists on the circuit. However this sounds like a tripped gfci keep looking. Do this and let the forum know the results......RL
Old 06-16-04, 03:28 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
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Posts: 18,497
Dave, I'll give you 4 to one odds that the GFCI that needs resetting is in the garage, behind something you've got stored there. Your stuff has been stored there so long that you've forgotten that receptacle even exists. You should clean out your garage more often.

If it's not in the garage, it's in the basement.
Old 06-16-04, 03:51 PM
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Posts: n/a it. Thanks for the help. There were some simple, obvious problems.

1. The panel is labeled very poorly/mislabeled. The GFCI breaker is position 1, not 3&4.
2. Duh - I didn't know I had a GFCI breaker and was expecting a regular one in the indicated slot. (+ outlets in the house)
3. The tripped position was extremely close to the on position. Maybe only 1/8" difference.

I'll take the newbie blame for 2 & 3.

So, I tried the test switch and nothing happened, which was the obvious indicator that my slot 1 GFI breaker was tripped. So, I reset it and everything is working again.

Thanks for the help.

If I have a GFCI breaker, should I really bother with GFCI outlets?



ps. John: can I collect on those odds now? But...good guess. I've been cleaning out the garage over the past 2 weeks. The landscape is now down to 3' and I have a 6' wide path. It's a miracle!
Old 06-16-04, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Yep, I guess you can collect now.
Old 06-16-04, 04:15 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973

Now that you have solved your immediate problem, it's time to go through and identify which breaker each and every outlet is wired from. By each and every outlet, I mean each and every normal receptacle, each and every light, the water heater, furnace, range, and whatever else uses electricty in your house.

You should be able to walk to the breaker panel and very quickly (within the time it takes to read your chart) know which breaker controls whatever is not working.

If everyone did this then electricians would get less service calls and people would be able to solve their problems much faster.

As for the GFCI breaker being tripped, some breakers (of any type) have their tripped position somewhere between on and off, and some don't even really move when they trip. A breaker may look on when it is tripped. If you don't have power at an outlet, before removing any face plates or checking any wiring, it is always a smart idea to check the other outlets on the circuit and to turn the breaker off and then back on. If you still don't have power, and you are sure that you have the right breaker, then it is time to investigate further.
Old 06-17-04, 02:08 AM
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Yes...definitely want to do that.

I have been planning to go through the panel for some time. The current "labels" consist of barely readable pencil on a barely clinging piece of ancient masking tape. There are some nice dymo-type sticky labels with some longer text that says "see printed sheet," but the "printed sheet" must be in the hands of some previous owner.

Also, the furnace, water heater and ventilation filter seem to have a dedicated shut-off switch in the garage, which is nice.

Anyway, thanks for the advice and help.

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