GFCI Installation

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  #1  
Old 07-18-04, 11:58 PM
reillyjp
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GFCI Installation

I attempted to replace a receptacle with a GRCI receptacle today, for use near an aquarium. There are 2 other outlets that would be covered by the GFCI on the circuit. The existing receptacle had the white wires entering and exiting the box, each one attached to a silver screw. The black wires were pigtailed with a short black wire attaqched to the line screw. There was a red wire from each end of the box. These were pigtailed and connected to the "load" brass screw. I attempted several times to install the GFCI but was unsuccessful. How do I do this?
 
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  #2  
Old 07-19-04, 06:52 AM
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You need to determine which wires are the feed {from the circuitbreaker or fuse}.These wires get connected to the LINE terminals of the GFCI.The wires from the other receptacles get connected to the LOAD terminals{they can be pigtailed so only one wire is used}.I'm not sure what you mean by a red wire from each end of the box,what was it connected to?
 
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Old 07-19-04, 07:27 AM
reillyjp
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The red wires were pigtailed together, with a short piece of red wire connected to one of the brass terminals. Similarly, the black wires were pigtailed and connected to one of the other brass terminals. The white wires (which were not pigtailed) were connected to the silver terminals. (This outlet is along a brick wall with the electrical conduit to the other 2 outlets external to the wall, so I can tell which end of the box is leading away from the circuit board. This should help determine which are the "Load," correct?)
 
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Old 07-19-04, 01:23 PM
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Was this the original setup:
  • One cable (group of wires in a single sheath) comes into box containing one each of a red, black and white wire (and ground?)
  • One cable leaves the box containing one each of a red, black and white wire (& ground)
  • Brass tab broken off between brass screws
If this is the case, it sounds to my unprofessional ears like you have a multi-wire circuit. If so, I believe you can't do a GFCI on a multi-wire circuit.

Or was one half of the original receptacle switched?
 
  #5  
Old 07-19-04, 01:55 PM
reillyjp
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That is what it looked like. Grounds were present also from both. Would have to look again to see if a brass tab was broken off.

So, no GFCI?
 
  #6  
Old 07-19-04, 06:17 PM
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Please verify the brass tab. Proceed with this post only if the tab was broken out on the old receptacle.

You can use GFCI here, but with caveats:
  1. You cannot provide downstream protection. Each outlet requiring GFCI must have its own GFCI receptacle.
  2. You can't use both circuits in a single receptacle. At each outlet, chose either black and white, or red and white. I suggest using black and white on every other outlet and red and white on remaining outlets. If you are using black and white, the red wires must connect to each other so that they pass through, but the red wires are not connected to the GFCI receptacle (and vice versa).
  3. Make your connections to the line side only. Connect nothing to the load side.
 
  #7  
Old 07-20-04, 09:04 AM
reillyjp
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I will give that a try (won't have a chance until Sunday), although I thought I tried that option. So if I choose to use the black wire, I will connect that to the GFCI receptable "line" and connect nothing to the load, as if it was the last receptacle.

1. Do I cap off the other black wire that is currently running toward the other receptacles?
2. I attach one white wire to the "line" silver terminal. How does the white wire continue to the other two receptacles? I am assuming that I should pigtail the white wires and have a short segment that connects to the silver LINE terminal.
3. Do I make sure that the red wire is used on the other receptacles?
4. When I first attempted, some of the time when I pushed the RESET button, it did nothing, no power (assumed my connections were loose), and other times it would not RESET.
 
  #8  
Old 07-20-04, 09:16 AM
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1. Not if you want those receptacles to continue to work. If the GFCI provides two line-side-hot connections (some do, some don't), you can use that for the two black wires. Otherwise, you'll need a wire nut and a pigtail.

2. Wire nut and pigtail. Don't use the two line-side-white connections even if the receptacle provides them.

3. Make sure? You probably want to use the red wire for other receptacles (otherwise it's a waste), but you don't need to make sure of it if you don't want to.
 
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Old 07-20-04, 09:36 AM
reillyjp
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Thank you, I will let you know.
JP
 
  #10  
Old 07-25-04, 10:13 AM
reillyjp
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I am back in town, and opened the receptacle. The tab between the brass screws seems to be intact. From your earlier post it sounds like I need to do something different (or not at all) in this case.
 
  #11  
Old 07-25-04, 10:23 AM
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In your original post, you referred to the "line" and "load" brass screws on the receptacle. But ordinary receptacles don't have line and load sides. Can you clarify what you meant by line and load.

If the brass tab is not removed between the two brass screws on the old receptacle, then the wiring makes no sense. The reason it makes no sense is that someone probably replaced that receptacle once before and did not understand the purpose of the brass tab.

Since the brass tab was not removed, and since this didn't all go up in a blaze of fire earlier, we can probably rule out a multiwire circuit. So that means that most likely, the red wires are switched and the black wires are unswitched. But of course with the tab still in place, the switching function would no longer be functional. Have you always had a switch on the wall that didn't seem to do anything?
 
  #12  
Old 07-25-04, 10:54 AM
reillyjp
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There are 2 light switches that are likely on the same circuit (turned off by the same breaker) that do not seem to operate anything.I apologize for misusing terms. I will try again.I used "line" and "load" because that is what I interpreted from the GFCI receptacle.

Just double checking, the brass tab is the tab that seems to connect the 2 screws on the original receptacle. Because that is still there.

There was a white wire that comes into the box and connects to one of the silver screws. The other white wire, connected to the other silver screw goes out of the box to the 2 outlets "downstream." There is a black wire that comes into the box and is pigtailed to the black wire that does downstream to the other 2 outlets. A short black wire is connected to one of the brass screws (on the upstream side). Similarly, the red wires are pigtailed and a short red wire is attached to a screw on the same side as the brass screw although it is not brass.

I looked at the last outlet on the circuit. There is a black wire attached to one brass screw and a red wire attached to the other. There is one white wire attached to one silver screw, and the ground wire.
 
  #13  
Old 07-25-04, 11:06 AM
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You refer to one of the white wires as going "downstream". Do you actually know for sure which wire is coming from "upstream" and which wire is going "downstream", or are you just guessing? If you know, how do you know? Can you see the cables behind the wall, or have you done electrical testing to determine this?

In the same way that I didn't understand your use of the terms "line" and "load," I now don't understand your use of the terms "upstream" and "downstream." Please clarify.
 
  #14  
Old 07-25-04, 11:16 AM
reillyjp
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Maybe I am guessing. But the conduit for the wires run outside of the wall.My condo was formerly a factory. So the walls are almost all solid brick. There is an interior wall from which the metal wire conduit comes, it runs along the wall to four outlets. I can see that the last outlet along this chain has no other way for the wires to go. On some previous attempt to wire this receptacle, when I turned the power back on a receptacle an outlet "upsteam" (closer to the wall from which the conduit comes) from the one I worked on was operational, but the two further along the string did not work. I cannot remember exactly how I had wired those attempts that had one working.
 
  #15  
Old 07-25-04, 11:36 AM
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Okay, we'll that's a reasonable way to guess which receptacles are upstream and which receptacles are downstream. But we should not guess as to which wires come from upstream and which wires go to downstream. So if you're not sure, you should test. One simple way to test is the following:
  • Shut off the breaker.
  • Remove the receptacle from the box, and disconnect all the wires in the box. So now you have (not counting grounding wires) six wires sticking out of the box, all disconnected (two black, two red, two white). You should be able to identify one black/red/white triplet as one set, and another black/red/white triplet as the other set. This grouping can be done because a set all enters through one hole in the box.
  • If you have a neon circuit tester or voltmeter, you can test each black/white pair (from the same set), and each red/white pair. Turn the breaker back on to test.
  • If you have no tester, you can use that old receptacle as a tester. Simply connect just one set of wires to it at a time. Try set#1, connecting black to brass and white to silver (leaving the other four wires still unconnected). Plug a lamp into the receptacle and turn the breaker back on.
  • The objective of these tests is to see which set of wires is the power feed. The power feed needs to be connected to the "line" side of your GFCI, and the other set needs to be connected to the "load" side. Once you have identified the power feed, shut the breaker back off again.
  • The red wires are a problem here in terms of providing downstream protection. So I suggest that you cap off each red wire separately with a wire nut and leave them unconnected in this box.
  • Connect the black wire of the power feed to the line side hot of your GFCI, and the white wire of the power feed to the line side white. Connect the other black/white set to the load side.
  • Now you need to inspect the downstream receptacles to see if they are as miswired as this one was. If you see both red and black connected to the brass screws on the downstream receptacles, and if the tab is also intact on those receptacles, then you're okay. The red wire will be functionless, but it will not interfere. However, if these receptacles have the tab broken out, then half of these receptacles will be dead. To correct this, you'll need to replace them with receptacles with the tab in place, or use a jumper to replace the tab.
 
  #16  
Old 07-25-04, 12:18 PM
reillyjp
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I capped off the red wires individually. Both red and black had power on the line side. I attached the black wires with power to brass screws on the line side and white wires to silver. Then to load side attached white and black again. Downstream outlets are working, also GFCI protected.

Thans for all your help, John
 
  #17  
Old 07-25-04, 02:58 PM
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This was a funny one. It is normally not possible to use a GFCI to downstream protect split-wired receptacles. But we took advantage of the fact that somebody had previously screwed up and miswired these split-wired receptacles so that they were no longer split wired. The only thing left to do was to take the parallel conductor (the red wires) out of the picture so that the hot curent was no longer split between the black and red wires. We couldn't have two wires carrying the hot side with only one wire carrying the neutral side. The GFCI would not have allowed it.
 
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