GFCI in old kitchen


Old 01-22-01, 01:55 PM
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I installed a Leviton GFCI receptacle to replace an old, poorly-installed, ungrounded, 3 prong (polarized) outlet in our kitchen last night and tested it with a nightlight which turned on but did not go out when I pressed the "TEST" button, nor did the "RESET" button pop out. When I then pressed the "RESET" button, I noticed a bluish white spark inside the receptacle. The included instructions' troubleshooting section suggested that the line and load connections were reversed, so I reconnected them and the same problem exists. It is virtually impossible to detect wire colors due to age so I had followed the previous recepticle's layout. Also, though the nightlight turns on when plugged in, neither a coffee pot nor toaster oven turn on. My husband and I are planning on doing more major rewiring this summer, thankfully with an electrician friend's help, mainly grounding all the outlets; but we're hoping to add some safety for the time being with just the GFCI receptacle for now in the kitchen. Do I understand right, that it will provide some protection from electrocution but the outlet is not really grounded?
Any suggestions about fixing the outlet without having to run new wires now from main to outlet to ground the whole box?
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Old 01-22-01, 04:50 PM
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I suspect you did reverse line and load. The spark you saw probably damaged the GFI protective device.

I suspect you will have to replace that GFI with a new one due to damage caused in the spark affect.

Before you install a new one use a voltage tester and locate the power coming into that box and connect the set of wires on the line side. Then connect the other set of wires to the load side. To find polarity run a jumper wire from you metal plumbing or other none grounding source across the room to that receptacle and find the one conductor that shows voltage between that temporary ground source through the tester from that one conductor. This will be you hot conductor.

Yes the GFI will try to replace the equipment grouding conductor in its protective action. However nothing fully replaces the equipment grounding conductor. The GFI is the closest we have available at this time without running a new equipment grounding conductor from that receptacle to the panel's neutral bar.

You spoke of installing equipment grounding conductors in the near future. If you do this that equipment grounding conductor must go back to the neutral bar in the main panel or to the grounding source. [grounnd rod usually]. I wonder why you would bother running a single conductor to each receptacle to create an equipment ground when you could add less that 200 dollars difference in cost from a single THWN conductor and a 12 ga romex to rewire the whole house full of receptacles.

I am confused why you would want to fish a flimsy wire that would be tough to shove through the walls instead of fishing a more stiff 12/2 w grnd Romex instead considering the cost factor. If you are going to the trouble of fishing the single grounding wire I would just rewire the circuit with new Romex, then I would know I have the grounding, know that all conductors are in the same cable as usually required except for this exception, and know the condition of the wires that I have installed. Feeling much more safe.

Good luck

Old 01-22-01, 05:33 PM
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Thanks so much for the info. When I mentioned our hopefully sooner than later rewiring I meant with new Romex throughout the house. I don't have much electrical experience but it does seem ridiculous to simply run the flimsy copper wire from main to just this outlet, especially since our plan is to replace all the old wiring with new to each outlet. Which leads me to wonder what exactly to do with this kitchen receptacle in the meantime. Is the GFCI our best bet, as a temporary solution to have an useable outlet in the kitchen? Or should we bite the money bullet and run new Romex from main to this outlet or the whole circuit?
Thanks again for any help.
Old 01-22-01, 05:43 PM
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I would install two GFI breakers in my panel that serves the required two receptacle circuits in the kitchen. Then I would replace all the two prong recepatcles with three prong receptacles and tag them as GFI protected. Then do the same anywhere else in the house that I wanted to change the two prong receptacles to three prong receptacles. Easy, maybe a little more expensive, but much more simple method of doing what you want to do, especially for a novice style DIY fan.

This way you don't have to find line and load at the receptacle and the breaker will protect all receptacles on that circuit.

Hope this helps

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