Kitchen GFCI Question

Old 10-25-08, 11:33 AM
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Kitchen GFCI Question

Our GFCI's in the kitchen never worked, as in the reset/test never worked. The power to them still did. I finally got around to changing old outlets in the living room that were 'loose/worn out' and decided to look into the kitchen GFCIs.

As stated above, the power worked, but not the protection. So I assumed the black/white was reversed. (I actaully did that on accident in our basement bathroom and it reacted the same way when trying to test). So after shutting off the breaker at the service panel, I removed the GFCIs and sure enough, the back and white were on the wrong screws. But also, both outlets were on the load side.

Not counting the ground wire.. one box has 2 wires coming in the other has 4 (pig tailed). Both boxes had the GFCI on the load side.

I corrected the white/black placement on each and put them both on the line side. Went downstairs and flipped the breaker and back up to test. Initially they were tripped, but I reset them and all seems to be working just fine. Plugged in the coffee maker to both outlets and both tested/reset OK.

So my questions are..

Why would the GFCIs trip upon flipping on the breaker? Is that normal?

Should they both be on the line side? Or was that what caused them to trip when flipping the breaker?

The kitchen is has two circuits going to it.. labeled Kitchen East (which has the GFCIs that I was working on) and Kitchen West. As far as I can tell, there is nothing else connected to Kitchen East but the two GFCIs. No other outlets down stream that would lead me to believe the load side is needed anywhere.
Old 10-25-08, 05:19 PM
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GFCI recepticles come from the factory tripped and will not reset if not properly wired as you discovered. If you only have two recepticles on one circuit then they both do not need to be GFCI just the first one. The line feeds the first one and the second one would be on the load side of it. Obviously someone put them in and did not realize the proper way to wire them.

Old 10-25-08, 05:22 PM
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So Kitchen East has two GFCIs on it and Kitchen West has none? Do both of the GFCI in East work correctly now - have power and trip/reset as they should? What is on the Kitchen West circuit - general use receptacles, refrigerator, disposer, microwave, etc., or some combo?

Let's call the box on the Kitchen East circuit with 4 wires and pigtail to GFCI, Box 1, and the box with 2 wires to a GFCI, Box 2. Call the GFCIs in Box 1 and Box 2 GF 1 and GF 2, respectively.

If that's right, and West is just countertop recepts, I think you will want to move the GF 2 to the West circuit, and replace it with the regular recept that was in West (or replace it with a new one). There is little value in having two GFCIs on one circuit if this is wired like it sounds.

This would be my approach: (mostly ignoring grounds - leave them alone)

Note: It may be worthwhile to take pictures as you go so you can backtrack if necessary! Digital photos are cheap, cheap, cheap!

1. Leave GF 2 alone (connected, reset and working correctly) for the moment, kill power to the circuit and separate the 4 wires in Box 1, setting the pigtails aside.

2. Assuming the 4 wires come into Box 1 as two cables, using a circuit tester figure out which cable is hot, and which goes downstream.

3. With the wires separated and GF 1 removed, turn power on at the breaker and see if GF 2 is dead (no power). You hope it is. Try resetting GF 2 if necessary.

4. Turn the power back off, hook the wires in Box 1 to the LINE side of GF 1 (black to brass, white to silver [and ground to green]), and turn the breaker back on. Does GF 1 work correctly (has power, tests and resets OK)? GF 2 should still be dead.

5. If so, turn power back off and connect the second pair of wires to the LOAD (b->b, w->s) connections of GF1 [and ground]. Turn power back on.

6. GF 1 should still work, and GF 2 should also now have power (reset if necessary). Push the Test button on GF 1, and both should go dead.

7. If so, kill the power to the circuit again and replace GF 2 with a normal duplex receptacle. Test.

8. If all OK, discard the two pigtails you removed in step 1.

9. Depending on what's on it, you may want to use GF 2 in the West circuit. Find the most upstream box and put it there, feeding downstream from its LOAD connections.

If you're not sure how to do step 2, describe in detail what's in Box 1 (cables or individual wires, their colors, where they come from - top, bottom, etc.). If step 3 does not behave as expected (or any other step for that matter), report back what you have done and what you found.

At any rate, please let us know how it works out!
Old 10-26-08, 10:04 AM
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The countertop receptacles would need GFI protection under recent Code editions, regardless of their relationship to the sink.

Earlier Editions, 80s or so, only required GFIs within 6' of the sink, IIRC.

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