GFI problems

Old 10-27-04, 07:30 AM
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Question GFI problems

Our 12-year-old, three bathroom house inexplicably has one GFI outlet in the master bathroom and that one is connected to the other "regular" outlets in the other two bathrooms. That seems to be a strange set-up to me. At any rate, I only discovered this set-up because the GFI in the master bath has tripped during the last two hard rains that we've received, resulting in all three bathroom electrical outlets going off. The first time it tripped, I was able to reset it after the rains stopped, but it won't reset today as the rains continue. I guess I have two questions. First, what would cause the GFI to trip only during hard rains? Second, why on earth wouldn't each bathroom be wired with it's own GFI instead of all being wired into the one in the master bath? I should also mention that the outlet in our garage is also wired into that same GFI, which is all the way on the other side of the house. Very strange. Any possible insight as to why that GFI keeps tripping during hard rains would be greatly appreciated....
Thanks in advance-
Old 10-27-04, 07:52 AM
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Water is getting a receptacle and causing the GFCI to trip. In addition to the garage, you may have outdoor receptacles on the same circuit. I would look for an outdoor receptacle. You will probably find one that is getting water into it. You need to correct the problem.

As for the GFCI wiring, builders are cheap. Unless explicitly called for, they will wire as cheaply as they can get away with. Years ago it was allowed by code to have receptacles outside of bathrooms on the bathroom receptacle circuit. It is quite common for basements, garages and outdoor receptacles to be on the same circuit. As for one GFCI receptacle protecting all those locations, it is cheaper to buy one GFCI receptacle and four or five cheap receptacles than it is to buy four or five GFCI receptacles. There are numerous posts here where people have no power to their bathroom receptacle(s) and where have had trouble finding the GFCI. They swear up and down that they don't have a GFCI, only to eventually find it hidden in the basement or garage somewhere. be thankful your GFCI is in plain sight in a bathroom.

By todays code, your bathroom receptacles would have to be separate from the garage, basement, and outdoor receptacles. You don't have to deal with that until and unless you remodel, so don;t get overly concerned there.

What you can do now is to rewire the receptacles, installing GFCI receptacles on this circuit after the bathroom that has a GFCI. Switch the existing GFCI so that nothing is on the load side and put GFCIs in each bathroom, in the garage and in the outside receptacle that you discover is on the same circuit.

You can also thoroughly map out your home's electrical wiring. You should be able to tell at a glance exactly what circuit breaker control each and every receptacle or light fixture. You should have labeled exactly what is on every circuit. Then you would know that the garage and outside receptacles are on this bathroom circuit. The time to do this mapping is when everything is working properly, not when something is wrong.

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