arc caused bad GFI?

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Old 07-14-11, 11:24 AM
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arc caused bad GFI?

My wife complained about a standard kitchen outlet being "loose" earlier this week. I said I'd fix it this weekend. She plugged in a hand mixer yesterday and said a big arc happened, but luckily didn't hit her or anything flammable. When I got home I saw a burn mark on the plug and the face of the oulet. I proceeded to take the cover plate off, and the outlet literally fell apart...the almond face came off w/ the cover plate. As I removed the wiring from the outlet, the rest of the outlet kind of broke into pieces (3 or 4 total in the end).

I proceeded to put a new outlet in, and tried a toaster...nothing. I tried a GFI outlet in the kitchen...nothing. I realized the "Test" button looked like it was pressed in, but it wouldn't let me "Reset" it.

I'm assuming this was caused by the arc...but shouldn't it let me reset it after the outlet was replaced? Could the GFI be bad now?
 
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Old 07-14-11, 11:37 AM
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Yes, it is possible the GFCI receptacle is toast but have you checked the circuit breaker in the main panel? You may have to push it all the way off before trying to reset.
 
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Old 07-14-11, 11:41 AM
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A couple ideas come to mind.
  • The arc may have caused a wire to burn off somewhere in the circuit which would interrupt power. A GFCI receptacle will not reset if it does not have incoming power. The fix for this would be to open up other receptacles, switches and lights on this circuit and inspect for bad connections. Wires poked into the backstab holes instead of wrapped around screws on receptacles are notorious for failing in this manner.
  • The GFCI outlet itself may have been damaged by the high current, but I think this is unlikely. They are designed to handle situations like this.
  • There may still be a ground fault such as a ground wire accidentally touching a hot or neutral wire when you replaced the burned receptacle.
 
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Old 07-14-11, 12:13 PM
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I did flip the breaker to the circuit off and on. The outlet was backstabbed as well. I'm picking up a voltage tester on the way home and plan to see if I can figure it out. Thanks for the advice.
 
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Old 07-14-11, 12:41 PM
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Get a simple two lead neon bulb tester ($3). A digital multimeter can produce false readings with this type of problem.

 
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Old 07-14-11, 01:05 PM
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When you replaced the recepticle did you also inspect the wires to make sure non of the insulation was cut or exposed. Just as a first step to make sure that there is nothing shorting out still inside the box that is causing the GFCI not to reset. Did you also check the panel breaker to ensure that it also did not trip and still needs to be reset.
 
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