GFCI will Not RESET-Plug Wiring tests Correct

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  #1  
Old 10-15-11, 10:55 AM
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GFCI will Not RESET-Plug Wiring tests Correct

Hello,

I am having a problem with being able to reset a GFCI on a circuit and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions.

This is a 20AMP circuit fed from a GE panel with standard 20AMP breaker. The circuit has 5 or 6 outlets in a room and also feeds 2 ceiling fans (which are wired together with 2 wall switches in a 2-way configuration), 2 circulation fans (on a single switch) and at the end of the circuit is a patio outlet which is where the GFCI is located. Everything is 12 gauge Romex and the home was built in 1982.

Initially I thought the GFCI was bad so I got a new one. Once installing, I could still not reset the outlet. I put a standard outlet on it and tested with one of those Ideal Plug-In style testers and it shows correct as well as all the other outlets on the circuit. I don't know if this GFCI ever worked. I bought the home 4 years ago and this is the first time I have tried to use it.

On a related note, last year, I was trying to put a GE AFCI breaker on this circuit and as soon as I turned it on, it immediately tripped. At the time, I thought it was just because there was a GFCI on the end of the circuit that was causing that to happen so I just switched back to the standard breaker but now I am wondering what the problem is.

What could cause that GFCI not to reset when the wiring test shows correct? Is there another tester of some kind I can get that will tell me more? Any chance the 2-way switches on the fans are causing this?

Thanks!!
Jason
 
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  #2  
Old 10-15-11, 11:03 AM
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What could cause that GFCI not to reset when the wiring test shows correct?
Wiring test does not test current leakage between neutral and hot so really isn't relevant. You are sure both hot and neutral are connected to line side. If either is on the load side it may not work. If the GFCI feeds another device through the load side disconnect the load side and test.
 
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Old 10-15-11, 11:34 AM
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Thank you Ray!! I just went out and tried again and it works just as it should. I am also able to trip the GFCI using the test button on my tester. I must have wired it in to the load side as you suspected. As many of these as I have done in the past, I can't believe I did that but oh well.

So now that this mystery is solved, will it cause any problems installing a GE AFCI breaker on the circuit (in the panel) while leaving the GFCI at the end of the circuit? The "electrician" at Lowes told me the AFCI breaker will function as AFCI and GFCI so I don't need a GFCI now on the outdoor outlet to meet code but I am not sure if he is correct.

Thanks!
 
  #4  
Old 10-15-11, 11:52 AM
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The "electrician" at Lowes told me the AFCI breaker will function as AFCI and GFCI so I don't need a GFCI now on the outdoor outlet
Unless specifically rated for dual use you still need a GFCI for life safety issues. The regular AFCI usually trips at a higher threshold then required for life safety.
 
  #5  
Old 10-15-11, 12:22 PM
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The AFCI breaker does not specify dual use so I will assume the answer is no.

Now I am leaning towards just installing a GFCI breaker in the panel to protect the whole circuit and be done with it. Does having GFCI protection on outlets in general living space offer any increased protection? Don't want to buy a GFCI breaker if it will be of little or no benefit within the home.

Thanks
 
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Old 10-15-11, 01:41 PM
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Now I am leaning towards just installing a GFCI breaker in the panel
Local code may require AFCI. It is required in most living spaces by latest code. I would not remove an AFCI.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 10-15-11 at 03:04 PM.
  #7  
Old 10-15-11, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Local code may require AFCI. It is required in most living spaces by latest code. I would not remove an AFCI.
It never had an AFCI. The home was built in 1982. I was just contemplating adding one to that circuit as a safety measure. After thinking it over, I think what I may do is try to add the AFCI breaker, then put a GFCI on the first outlet in the circuit so the whole circuit is dual protected.

I cannot install the GFCI in the new patio outlet box because it is too small for the large GFCI outlet and I cannot fit a larger box because it is cut out in the brick. The old plastic box was crammed in the hole and cracked up which was obviously unsafe. The only box I could find that would work is an old work metallic box that has expanding wings on the sides to hold it between the bricks. The new box is too small for a GFCI outlet but a standard size wire outlet will work. The outlet has snap on covers for the terminals since it is a metal box.



One final question, I read that a AFCI may not work in an older home that is wired MWBC. What is MWBC?

Thanks Again!
 

Last edited by ray2047; 10-15-11 at 03:04 PM.
  #8  
Old 10-15-11, 03:23 PM
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MWBC is a multi-wire branch circuit. it is where two hots from opposite legs of the panel share one neutral between them. If you try to install a AFCI it will not work properly.
 
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Old 10-17-11, 05:45 PM
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Thanks for all the replies!
 
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Old 10-07-12, 03:48 PM
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Wanted to circle back around on this. I finally figured out what the problem was with a GFCI breaker not energizing on this circuit. Although it was not a MWBC, Ray was spot on with the idea it might be a shared common which it was, kind of.

I had to trace down and disassemble the whole circuit. At the end of the circuit (of course) was an outdoor three way light. Even though the lights in the switchbox were on different circuits, the electrician had twisted all the commons together. Once I split the commons off on to the their respective circuits, the GFCI breaker energized. So, the lesson here is to check for shared or in my case, combined circuit commons for this type of problem.
 
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Old 10-07-12, 04:22 PM
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I had to trace down and disassemble the whole circuit. At the end of the circuit (of course) was an outdoor three way light. Even though the lights in the switchbox were on different circuits, the electrician had twisted all the commons together. Once I split the commons off on to the their respective circuits, the GFCI breaker energized. So, the lesson here is to check for shared or in my case, combined circuit commons for this type of problem.
That would do it, and it's one of the most elusive problems there is to track down and solve. Congrats on getting that worked through and corrected, and thank you for coming back to tell us how you did it!
 
  #12  
Old 10-08-12, 05:26 PM
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The "electrician" at Lowes
hahahahahaha Now that was funny!
 
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