please help trouble shoot 20A GFI circuit

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  #1  
Old 08-21-05, 04:53 PM
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please help trouble shoot 20A GFI circuit

Hello everyone,
I've studied up on electrical work and done a bit of it over the last year. I have run into a problem and I would appreciate your help figuring it out...

About a year ago I completeley rewired my house. There was an un-used 20a breaker tthat I eventually wanted to run to the back yard. I ran the wire to the back of the house where it connects to a 20A GFCI outlet. Then, go from an outlet to a box inside the house where connect the hot to three wires - 2 of them going to switches on the wall by the back door. Then all of it runs under ground to the garrage ( a ground, nutral, hot and 2 switchable hots) . In the garage I have connected the switches to an outlet and a light - the hot goes to three outlets and another light switch and light for the inside of the garage.

When I fired this up for the first time the GFCI poped. I tried disconnecting the rest of the wiring from the GFCI and powered it up again. The GFCI got power and tripped fine. Next I disconnected the light switch on the inside of the garage - when i powered the circuit on the GFCI didn't pop, but once i fliped the light switch on the inside of the house it triped. I turned the light switch off and reset the GFCI and when I put my outlet tester in it, it poped again.


I was under the impression that you could use a GFCI outlet to protect a whole circuit, is this incorrect? can you only connect the gfci to other outlets? not lights and light switches?

thanks for any help and advice you can give.

max
 
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Old 08-21-05, 06:47 PM
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You can use a GFCI to protect the whole circuit. It sounds like you have a problem in the light. Perhaps the ground and neutral are touching?
 
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Old 08-21-05, 08:04 PM
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how many hots is the neutral being used for?
 
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Old 08-21-05, 11:57 PM
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the nutral wire on this circuit is first being used for the gfi, then for three other outlets, then for one light switch and light inside the garage (the light socket has an outlet in it), one light switch inside that turns on 4 x 100watt sockets and lastly a switch inside that turns on another outlet outside. ..

in total : 5 outlets, 5 light sockets (extra outlet in one of the sockets)
 
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Old 08-22-05, 11:03 AM
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Sorry, I wasn't clear.

A GFCI monitors the difference in current between its hot and its neutral. If you are SHARING a neutral with more than one hot circuit, the GFCI will trip immediately; its circuit must have a dedicated neutral from that point onward. I couldn't make out if you were sharing a neutral or not.
 
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Old 08-22-05, 11:09 AM
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thanks mac702-
the neutral is not connected to any other hot circuit - only one hot wire feeds this circuit from one breaker.

so its true is should be able to connect lights and light switches to the gfi? when you turn the light on and off that shouldn't trip the gfi monitoring?
 
  #7  
Old 08-22-05, 11:51 AM
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Should work, but there are a number of reasons why it might not. Perhaps you scuffed up the cable somewhere, underground or otherwise. Did you treat it gingerly? Or maybe you used wire not rated for wet conditions? Or maybe you have accidental contact between wires?

The solution is to divide and conquer. Disconnect things one at a time until it quits happening.
 
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Old 08-24-05, 05:58 PM
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thanks a lot for your help everyone, i went through the circuit and found a few instances where the ground wire was touching the neutral terminal. I have the whole circuit working now, except for one isolated problem...

i might need to post a drawing so you can get an idea of the circuit, but first i'll try to describe it best i can...

the problem is with the second switch. I have a hot black wire going to the switch after the gfi and then running under ground and to an outlet on the side of the garrage. I have the ground and neutral for this switched outlet spliced into the romex inbetween two outlets in the garrage that are alway hot.

if i disconnect this outlet, the whole circuit works - so there must be a problem with the way i wired it right?
 
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Old 08-24-05, 06:23 PM
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whoops. sorry. that was just another case of neutral touching ground. now the whole circuit works great. thanks a lot guys.
 
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