trying to find source of outlet

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Old 06-12-10, 09:22 AM
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Question trying to find source of outlet

I have an outlet in my garage that doesn't appear to be working. It states on the outlet that it is a "GFCI protected outlet". However, it does NOT have the reset button like other GFCI protected outlets I have in my bathrooms and kitchen. I am trying to find the source of this outlet and am having difficulties.

Since it has a little sticker on it stating it is a "GFCI protected outlet", I'm thinking its tied to some other outlet that has a reset switch. My bathroom and kitchen each have multiple outlets, but one outlet has the reset switch so if the others in the room trip it somehow, I can simply reset the whole room from that one outlet/switch.

I can't seem to figure out where the source of this garage GFCI outlet is coming from. I checked my main breaker box and no breaker switches are off so the source of the problem is not from there. Is there a chance the whole outlet is blown? If so, how do I figure out what breaker it is on so I can change it out? Short of turning EVERY breaker off in the house, I was hoping there was a better way. Or is there maybe some other way of determining how to reset this switch? Is there maybe a way of determining if the outlet is bad too?
 
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Old 06-12-10, 09:31 AM
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Yes, one GFCI can protect multiple downstream outlets.

Keep looking in the garage (behind boxes or shelves) and outside. Possibly in the laundry or utility room?
 
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Old 06-12-10, 09:31 AM
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The key is the fact that the sticker says GFI protected. This means it is downstream of a GFI device. Look for a GFI receptacle in another room or behind some shelves or furniture. I would check the basement,outside, and bathrooms and powder rooms.
 
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Old 06-12-10, 09:36 AM
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Often the GFCI that feeds the receptacle is in a place you least expect it. If you fail to find it after moving furniture, boxes, heaven and earth everywhere even in the attic and crawl spaces under the house you need to open the dead receptacle and check the wires leading to it. Are the wires inserted into the back? If so they need to be moved to the screws. Backstabs often look good but don't work well. Since you aren't sure of which breaker turn off the main breaker.

Is there two cables running into the box? If so the problem could be at the last working receptacle. You may have to use educated guess to find that one. Are there any other receptacles in the garage?

If you don't have an analog multimeter, test light, or solenoid voltage tester you should get one. They are very handy for this sort of trouble shooting. The non contact style pens are ok for quick checks but not serious troubleshooting.
 
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Old 06-12-10, 10:35 AM
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OK, problem solved. It was in fact a GFCI outlet that was sort of secretly located in the basement. I had checked all the bathroom and kitchen GFCIs on the main level and they were good so this is why I was somewhat baffled.

It suddenly came to me. The house was built in 1999 and its a ranch. At the time we bought it in 2004, it had an unfinished basement. The basement was fully studded down there and ready to be finished. It also had numerous lights & light switches down there. However, it had only ONE outlet in the whole basement at the time. This was a GFCI outlet. I suspect they put at least one outlet down there so in case future owners wanted to finish it, they would be able to have power equipment down there to help out.

We had the basement fully finished in about 2006. It was professionally wired so there were then a lot of other normal outlets down there. I checked the basement bathroom GFCIs for kicks, but was pretty sure it wouldn't be any of them since they weren't installed until 2006 & this garage outlet was part of the original construction. The room that this original GFCI was in ultimately became a craft room. It was simply like all the other outlets in there & I had totally forgotten about this ONE original outlet. I then put 2 and 2 together and realized it was also probably the GFCI for the garage outlet.

Sure enough, it had been tripped and once I reset it, all worked good. Live and learn I guess. Thanks for all the advice though.
 
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Old 06-12-10, 12:11 PM
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Now that you know which it is you may want to move the cable to the garage to the line side of the basement GFCI and install a GFCI in the garage so the next time it trips, if it ever does, where to reset won't be a mystery for the next person.

Also you need to map out that breaker box before something elase happens.
 
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Old 06-12-10, 12:45 PM
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Question

Well, the basement is now fully finished and drywall is throughout. Its basically all sealed up down there so rewiring this garage outlet would require ripping up some of the drywall. While I am aware of this, I think I'll just make an extra note of it for the next possible person.

Or like it was mentioned, I guess I could install a GFCI outlet directly in the garage too, right? I can't imagine it would be a huge deal to have two GFCI outlets on the same line, right?
 
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Old 06-12-10, 01:20 PM
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Since the basement is now finished you no longer need GFI protection in the finished part. You could move the GFI to the garage and replace the one in the basement with a regular duplex receptacle. No need to tear up the walls.
 
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Old 06-12-10, 02:57 PM
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Pcboss' way is better then mine but just to be clear my suggestion did not call for any ripping of walls. Just moving two wires on the existing receptacle from the load side to line side. That would be done simply by unfastening the receptacle and pulling it out enough to access the wires to it.
 
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Old 06-12-10, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mcf57 View Post
Well, the basement is now fully finished and drywall is throughout. Its basically all sealed up down there so rewiring this garage outlet would require ripping up some of the drywall.
Rewiring the two outlets should not require opening any walls. Just take the line and load wires in the box in the basement, splice them together, and pigtail off the splice and connect a regular outlet. The box in the garage, identify the line wires with a meter and connect it to the line of the gfci. Any wires going down stream will need to go on the load. You may have to check other outlets around the house as the one in the garage might not be the next one in line from the one in the basement.
 
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Old 06-12-10, 06:17 PM
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Wink

Oh, I think I understand what you are getting at & now see that there is no need to tear up drywall. Basically, I could just swap the two outlets, right? take the GFCI outlet from the basement and put it in the garage. Then take the normal outlet in the garage and put it in the basement. WOuld this work?

Since that basement room it is currently in is on its own circuit breaker, I wouldn't need to worry about it. I am thinking they originally put that SINGLE GFCI down in the unfinished basement due to some sort of code. Not sure exactly why they would of needed to tie the garage outlet to a basement located GFCI (as opposed to maybe one of the bathroom's GFCI's that is technically near by), but whatever.
 
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Old 06-12-10, 06:29 PM
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Oh, I think I understand what you are getting at & now see that there is no need to tear up drywall. Basically, I could just swap the two outlets, right? take the GFCI outlet from the basement and put it in the garage. Then take the normal outlet in the garage and put it in the basement. WOuld this work?
Yes.

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Old 06-12-10, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by mcf57 View Post
Since that basement room it is currently in is on its own circuit breaker, I wouldn't need to worry about it. I am thinking they originally put that SINGLE GFCI down in the unfinished basement due to some sort of code. Not sure exactly why they would of needed to tie the garage outlet to a basement located GFCI (as opposed to maybe one of the bathroom's GFCI's that is technically near by), but whatever.
Code requires at least one GFCI protected receptacle in an unfinished basement. Code also requires at least one GFCI protected receptacle in a garage. The electricians killed two birds with one stone. I would not be surprised if some or all of your outside outlets were on the same GFCI protected circuit.

The bathroom receptacles are required to be on their own circuit and must be 20 amps. That is why they are not tied into that circuit.
 
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Old 06-12-10, 08:50 PM
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I'm assuming that now that the basement is finished and has a bathroom with a GFCI outlet, this would satisfy code for having at least one GFCI outlet in a basement. And then moving this original basement GFCI outlet to the garage would not be a problem either, right?

I have three other original outside outlets that aren't direct GFCI outlets. I will have to investigate where they go to and as stated, I'm sure they are connected to one of the main floor bathroom or kitchen GFCIs. I know they aren't tied to this basement GFCI cause I tested them when the garage one went out and they worked fine before I reset the basement GFCI. If for some odd reason, they are not tied to a main floor bathroom or kitchen GFCI, can I simply install one on each one for safety measures?

I'm thinking this is not a problem and probably a good thing to do (if needed) anyway. When we had the basement finished, we actually had a fourth outside outlet installed and the electricians installed a direct GFCI outlet for this one (under a porch).

I'm also assuming it really isn't that hard to install a GFCI outlet where needed, correct? Anything special I need to be made aware of for self-installing a GFCI outlet?

.
 
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Old 06-12-10, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mcf57 View Post
I'm assuming that now that the basement is finished and has a bathroom with a GFCI outlet, this would satisfy code for having at least one GFCI outlet in a basement. And then moving this original basement GFCI outlet to the garage would not be a problem either, right?
The code is for unfinished basements. Now that the area has been finished it is no longer required to be GFCI protected. The bathroom receptacle always is required to be GFCI protected.

Originally Posted by mcf57 View Post
I have three other original outside outlets that aren't direct GFCI outlets. I will have to investigate where they go to and as stated, I'm sure they are connected to one of the main floor bathroom or kitchen GFCIs. I know they aren't tied to this basement GFCI cause I tested them when the garage one went out and they worked fine before I reset the basement GFCI. If for some odd reason, they are not tied to a main floor bathroom or kitchen GFCI, can I simply install one on each one for safety measures?

I'm thinking this is not a problem and probably a good thing to do (if needed) anyway. When we had the basement finished, we actually had a fourth outside outlet installed and the electricians installed a direct GFCI outlet for this one (under a porch).
If they are not now GFCI protected it would be a good idea to upgrade these to GFCI. However, you might be able to install one in the first one where the feed comes in and wire he rest on the load side. Just like the garage one was. Or just pigtail off the existing wires and install one at each location. The choice is yours.

Originally Posted by mcf57 View Post
I'm also assuming it really isn't that hard to install a GFCI outlet where needed, correct? Anything special I need to be made aware of for self-installing a GFCI outlet?
.
It is not hard. Just read the directions and just be aware of the LINE and LOAD ports of the device. And of course, turn the power off.
 
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