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Home AC: Plug anything into receptacle, upstream GFI pops. Help!

Home AC: Plug anything into receptacle, upstream GFI pops. Help!

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  #1  
Old 03-29-12, 11:26 AM
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Home AC: Plug anything into receptacle, upstream GFI pops. Help!

Hey gang,

I replaced two kitchen-counter receptacles and ran into a snag. Please help!

Circuit in question is 20-amp. Its breaker at the service panel has a regular switch breaker (not GFI). The circuit powers two kitchen counter duplex receptacles, which I wanted to replace because neither were GFI (verified by the GFI test on my Home Depot receptacle tester). Also, one outlet was totally grungy and corroded.

One receptacle (grungy & corroded one) was middle-of-run, and the other was end-of-run. So I replaced the middle-of-run receptacle with a new GFI receptacle, after sanding the crud off the wires, and re-attached the 'load' wire to one of the new receptacle's load screws. Then I replaced the end-of-run outlet with a new non-GFI receptacle. I grounded both. By my understanding, the downstream receptacle is GFI protected by the upstream GFI receptacle.

My little green Home Depot receptacle tester showed the "all good" signal on all four of the outlets; additionally, from all four outlets, pushing the 'GFI test' button on the tester immediately popped the GFI on the GFI receptacle.

The middle-of-run GFI receptacle works great. But now when I plug in anything to the non-GFI, end-of-run receptacle (either outlet) -- toaster, coffee maker, cell phone charger ... it causes the GFI on the upstream receptacle to pop immediately. Ironically, the only thing I've found that does not cause the GFI to pop when I plug it in is my receptacle tester, which happily lights up the "everything is wired correctly" lights.

How can I troubleshoot this? Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 03-29-12, 12:37 PM
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First, all of your small appliance outlets in the kitchen need to be GFCI protected. So you need to install the GFCI receptacle in the box where the power is coming in from the panel.

Second, GFCIs only work properly when all of the wires attached to them are attached to the correct terminal. That means that the pair of wires coming from the panel must be attached to the pair of terminals marked LINE, and the pair of wires that feed the other receptacles downline must be attached to the pair of terminals marked LOAD.

The only way I can think of for you to get the results you did is if you attached both the Line and the Load neutrals to the LINE neutral terminal. Possibly?
 
  #3  
Old 03-29-12, 02:29 PM
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Thanks for your help. I'm not at a skill level yet to install a GFI breaker in my service panel, though I do recognize this is probably the easiest way to go about this. This is why I am addressing this issue at the receptacle level.

I think I might have figured out what the problem is. When I pulled out the old (non-GFI) middle-run receptacle, the neutral from the panel and the neutral that feeds the downline receptacle were pigtailed together. The old receptacle's LINE was wired up with hot from the panel, and neutral from the pigtail; its LOAD was wired up only with the hot from the downstream receptacle. I mimicked this wiring when I put in the new GFI receptacle.

What I should have done is un-pigtailed the neutrals, sorted out which one was associated with the panel (and connected it to LINE) and which one was associated to the downstream receptacle (and connected it to LOAD).

And so I infer the problem I am experiencing is because the GFI receptacle is sharing a neutral with a downstream receptacle, which apparently is OK to do when you don't have GFI receptacles (because it's been working for 20 years), but GFI doesn't like this and so it was popping.

Does this sound right?
 
  #4  
Old 03-29-12, 04:05 PM
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Yes.

.........................
 
  #5  
Old 03-29-12, 04:08 PM
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The line and load pairs need to be kept in the correct terminals. The GFI is seeing current from downstream that does not match the outgoing power.
 
  #6  
Old 03-29-12, 04:40 PM
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One receptacle (grungy & corroded one) was middle-of-run, and the other was end-of-run. So I replaced the middle-of-run receptacle with a new GFI receptacle...
Have you moved the GFCI to the first-of-the-run? If not, then you have at least one receptacle in that run that is not GFCI protected.
 
  #7  
Old 03-29-12, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Yes.

.........................
Indeed, I rewired it as per above and it fixed the issue. Thanks guys!
 
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