Wiring Cooper GFCI switch / receptacle combo

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  #1  
Old 01-06-06, 09:13 PM
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Wiring Cooper GFCI switch / receptacle combo

Our bathroom only has a single 2 prong outlet as part of the light fixture. I've installed a GFCI switch / receptacle combo and believe its wired correctly but have pulled the fuse until I get some verification.

The switch box had 3 pairs or wire attached to the orginal switch 3 white 3 black.

1 pair - line from panel
1 pair - wiring to light
1 pair - feeds another bathroom and a bedroom. (guess I'll put this fix on the todo list)

Combo switch has 6 or 8 holes for wires in back.
I have everything working correctly but had to use the holes on the back of the unit(these are called backstab holes, Right?) to make everything work.
Also one of the wires from the back of the combo box had to connect into a hole.

Ok so I have:
1 pair going to other rooms connected to the load
1 pair going to panel connected to line backholes
white wire for light connects into backhole beside panel white
black wire for light is wire nutted with one wire from the combo unit.
That takes care of all 3 pair --now the confusing part-- the other lead from the combo unit is connected into the backhole beside the line black wire. This just seems odd to me. Is this setup corrrect?

Thank You
wes
 
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  #2  
Old 01-06-06, 10:04 PM
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AAsu, was that the wiring instructions calling for the lead to be placed in the hole by the line black. If so this is just a jumper taking power to the the other half of the combo device I would think.
 
  #3  
Old 01-06-06, 10:14 PM
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The instructions weren't clear to me.(don't have them here but will get them when I stopby the place tomorrow). But i remember them saying the wires should be hooked between the power from the fuses/breaker and the load.

They can't mean the black side of the GFCI load because when I tried that the GFCI blew right away.

I'll post the instructions tomorrow.

wes
 
  #4  
Old 01-06-06, 10:21 PM
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You never have to use the backstab connections, and for a quality job, you never should. To avoid using the backstabs, you might have to use a wire nut and a pigtail (short segment of wire to the screw).

Most combo units such as this have the following connections:
  • A screw marked "line hot".
  • A screw marked "line white".
  • A screw marked "load hot".
  • A screw marked "load white".
  • Two wires (for the switch function).
If what you have looks like what I've described, you should
  • Use a wire nut to connect the black wire from the panel to one of the switch wires, and also to a black pigtail that goes to "line hot".
  • Use another wire nut to connect the white wire from the panel to the white wire going to the light, and also to a white pigtail that goes to "line white".
  • Connect the black wire going to the light to the other switch wire.
  • Connect the black and white wires going to the other room to "load hot" and "load white" respectively.
 
  #5  
Old 01-06-06, 10:47 PM
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John this may be a backwired combo if its this one.....
http://www.cooperwiringdevices.com/c...4_CWD_GFCI.pdf
It looks like he is just taking power from the line of the gfci to the switch.
 
  #6  
Old 01-06-06, 11:01 PM
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Roger, thanks for the link. It would be good to hear from the original poster if this is indeed the device he has.

This device has backwire holes, which are different than backstab holes. Backwire holes are okay to use.

This device also says it has 8 backwire connections, although it doesn't say exactly what those 8 connections are. I would guess that instead of two wires for the switch, it has screws. It is possible that one of the switch connections is bonded to the "line hot" connection. If so, this would eliminate the need for the black pigtail. It is also possible that there are two "line white" connection points. If so, this would eliminate the need for the white pigtail.

Too bad that picture doesn't provide a closeup of the back side of the device so that we can see the connections.
 
  #7  
Old 01-06-06, 11:07 PM
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Yes I was dissappointed that they didnt show the back, either way your instructions will solve the problem.
 
  #8  
Old 01-07-06, 06:30 AM
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Roger - That looks like the combo I bought I'll check the model number later today.

John - you described the combo exactly. Your description of the pigtail setup would work and allow me to attach a single wire to the screw. The way I have it setup now the holes seem to be handling the pigtail setups. Since I need another combo for the other bathroom I'll take a picture and post it later.

Now a couple of questions:

I'm guessing:
Backstab - holes that secure the wire by some type of spring loaded setup
Backwire - holes that secure the wire by tightening the screw where a single wire would attach.
Am I right? You say backwire holes are OK to use but backstab are not. Is that because the spring becomes weak and the connection get flaky on a backstab? (Assuming the definitions are correct above.)

From reading the forums you should only attach a single wire to screw connection unless the screw is rated otherwise. Right?

I've been out of the DIY realm for about 30 years and some things have changed. At a backwoods cabin I can remember seeing four wires connected to a screw terminal back when I started DIY. Guessing that wouldn't meet code anymore :-)

Thanks
wes
 
  #9  
Old 01-07-06, 10:10 AM
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wes,

You seem to have grasped the back stab back wire definitions properly. Back wire connections are usually rated for two wires because the wires aren't bent and wrapped around the screws, but rather are inserted between a metal plate that tightens with the screw and a piece of metal on the device.

I think you already know this, but I;ll say it anyway. You have violated code by adding this device. Since this circuit serves a bedroom, it is not allowed by today's code to serve bathroom receptacles. I'm, guessing it also is probably not a 20 amp circuit either. You should correct these violations sooner rather than later.

John has provided proper wiring instructions, but ones that have the light on the line side of the GFCI. Since the light contains an integrated receptacle, I would rather see you place the light on the load side of the GFCI. I would recommend this even more if the receptacle on the light is used on a regular basis.
 
  #10  
Old 01-07-06, 05:49 PM
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Good point Bob. That integrated receptacle needs GFCI protection too, and my instructions didn't do that.

aasu, if you are still using that old fixture with the integrated receptacle, post back for different instructions.
 
  #11  
Old 01-07-06, 07:43 PM
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Hadn't thought about the old receptable till you mentioned it. I'll open the light and disconnect the receptable in the next couple days. There is no reason for it to be used now that another is available.

Should the light itself be on the load side of the GFCI?

This is a recent purchase so I'm finding new stuff all the time. The fuse box is mostly filled with 30 amp fuses. Aren't these a little large for the 50's vintage wiring? It has a silver cloth looking covering.

I am thinking "downsizing" to 20 amp -- but maybe 15 amp would be better. Suggestions?

Planning this years tax return for panel and wiring upgrade.

Thanks everyone for your help.
 
  #12  
Old 01-07-06, 08:04 PM
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Whether or not the light is GFCI-protected is optional. Most are not.

If you have mostly 30-amp fuses, then the previous homeowner was an idiot. In most homes, there are only two things on 30-amp fuses: the electric hot water heater, and the electric clothes dryer.

Chances are that the previous homeowner was blowing his 15-amp fuses, probably because he was leading a modern lifestyle in a far-from-modern house. So he upped the fuses to elimiate this problem. Unfortunately, he increased the fire danger a hundred-fold in the process.

You need to figure out the gauge of the wire. You can purchase a wire gauge at any home center. If the wire is #14 copper, use a 15-amp fuse. If the wire is #12 copper, use a 20-amp fuse (or a 15-amp fuse). Unfortunately, once you make this essential change, you may start blowing fuses as did the previous homeowner. If so, the only safe solution may be to rewire the house. This can get expensive. But the expense probably cannot be avoided, unless you want to give up half the appliances in your house.
 
  #13  
Old 01-07-06, 08:08 PM
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The 30 amp fuses you have are a code violation. More importantly they are a fire hazard. They were installed by someone ignorant of the safety hazard, ignorant of code, or both.

The wiring in your house most likely can only support 15 amps maximum. Years ago houses were wired with multiple rooms on a circuit. When those houses were built, that was enough. Now we place much higher demands on our electrical system.

In your case, someone was blowing fuses all the time. Rather than correct the problem (ie add more circuits or lower the load), they installed 30 amp fuses.

You need to immediately install 15 amp fuses on your 14 gage wired circuits, and 20 amp fuses on your 12 gage wired circuits. When you find that you are continually blowing fuses, and you will find this to be the case rather soon I suppose, you will need to address the problem properly. That is, you will need to separate the circuits and/or add new circuits to supplement the old.

Now for the important question. Why did you buy a house that had 30 amp fuses installed in the fuse panel? That should have been a red flag to any decent home inspector that the electrical system is undersized and the at the seller had no clue what he or she was doing. You should have demanded (at most) that the problem be addressed, or (at the least) that the proper size fuses be installed.

Boy John, you are starting to sound like me. I was going to use the word idiot, but decided against it.
 
  #14  
Old 01-07-06, 08:17 PM
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Yes, I generally prefer "ill-informed" to "idiot", but this infraction seems particularly boneheaded. Besides, I'm just insulting some anonymous person who's totally out of the picture. I try not to use that word very often, but I've had occasion to use it twice today. Maybe I'm just having a bad day.
 
  #15  
Old 01-08-06, 04:01 AM
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Well that narrows it down. Dryer comes off a sub-panel and hot water is gas. Picking 15's and 20's up on the way over today. Whichever circuits blow first will get moved up the priority list for replacement.

Racraft boy are you right about the multiple rooms. other than the Bathroom-bedroom-bathroom combo, I just found a range hood-bedroom-hallway closet- ? combo. The question mark is because the closet light appears to also be a junction box for continuing the circuit elsewhere.

Mapping the outlets will be a good job for the kids. We already completed a "general" room <-> mapping.

The inspector only mentioned that there were alot of fuses laying around which to him meant they were blowing them frequently. At least that is what I understood him to mean. He did recommend the fuse box be replaced but I see nothing on the report about code violations. We got the house cheap so we do expect to put in money to upgrade services.

I've got another question about panel replacement options but will post that as a new thread. This one is getting a little off-topic of the orginal post. Thank you everyone for all your help.

wes
 
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