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Electric Circuit - appliances not working properly, GFCI won't reset, etc.

Electric Circuit - appliances not working properly, GFCI won't reset, etc.

Old 01-14-12, 12:04 AM
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Electric Circuit - appliances not working properly, GFCI won't reset, etc.


I have done some basic wiring of lights, two way witched outlets, etc.

I have an odd problem that I have just started to diagnose before it got late so I figured I would post this and hope for a great response in the am.

Please bear with me....I'm going to describe the symptoms and see if it triggers anything for you. I can re-test whatever you need in the am. I have a tester with the multiple lights and an ammeter but it can only measure 10A of current.

This morning I woke up to find my frig flashing. It has a digital display panel and nothing on the panel or inside was working accept one light flashing. I left for work and asked my wife to call a repairman. I noticed my coffee pot was on but when I drank my coffee in the car...it was warm not hot. Maybe it is a coincidence?

My wife called me later to say that my coffee pot wasn't working and when she plugged in a blender in the outlets over teh kitchen counter, the blender didn't work. She then moved down to another and sparks came out of the bottom of the blender. She qickly unplugged it. She then plugged a toaster into the first circuit and it didn't work but worked in the second. She tried another outlet for the blender and she said it ran oddly like half power. She then went to another room and plugged the toaster and blender in and they both worked fine. She ran an extension cord for the frig and I told her how to turn off the circuit at the breaker.

Turns out there are two circuits.

When I came home, I used the three prong tester that has the red and two yellow lights to indicate shorts, etc. From what I can tell, one circuit feeds a wall plug and frig then a GFCI at the counter with a few circuits past it. The tester showed odd results. One light would light with another really dim. The frig outlet showed yellow and red indicating load and line were reversed. I clicked the GFCI and it tripped (disabling down circuit plugs but not he frig). I cannot get the GFCI to reset.

It turns out the second set of outlets my wife used where the one sparked the blender and one ran the blender at half speed, are on the other circuit. Again, tester did not show two yellow light indicating a good circuit. one was yellow and the red was dim. I tripped the GFCI and down circuit outlets went out. I can't reset the GFCI. Typically these are not too hard to reset. They are original from the build about 6 yrs ago.

I flipped the breakers off and on and stil can't get the GFCI's to reset. BUT...when I re-tested the frig (before the GFCI) it now shows two yellow lights on my tester indicating a good circuit and ~120 V. I didn't try to measure the amps and the outlet b/c my meter maxes at 10A.

I tried the frig and nope. Same issue. one light flashes and nothing else works.

I turned off the breaker.

Can I have a bad GFCI or a loose connection that is preventing the frig from getting full amps it needs? Maybe it is a coincidence but if the frig circuit has an issue...what is the other circuit on the other side of the kitchen a problem with the blender and the GFCI won't reset? Could these two circuits share a common line and that is loose affecting both circuits?

How do I test for this? What do I check or should I just call an electrician? I am an engineer that enjoys knowing the details of my house so I would love to figure this out but I'm OK calling an electrician to get it fixed right. I have little kids so my time is a bit limited but I can do some tests and get back with you.

Old 01-14-12, 02:14 AM
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I think you have a loose connection. Since it affects 2 circuits it is either in the panel or a device box where the circuit splits into the black and red. Look for a loose white wire.
Old 01-14-12, 11:34 PM
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Make sure you have line and load correct on your gfci and make sure your neutral conductors are realy tight. If you have a multi-wire branch circuit feeding these receptacles (2 or more hots to 1 neutral) and you loose a neutral it will have voltage from 150 to 240 depending on tha load. That causes your blender to draw way to much current, possibly frying it !!!

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