Gfci, need help fixing

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  #1  
Old 01-02-13, 11:15 PM
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Gfci, need help fixing

Hi all,

Looking for a little help on a weird electrical issue. I was running a space heater in my garage while I was working on a project when it went out all of a sudden. I went back to the source and found that I had plugged into a GFCI receptacle in my laundry room that had switched off. Assuming all I needed to do was reset the GFCI i pushed the reset without anything happening. I pulled the receptacle out of the wall and tested for power only to find that the hot wire had to power into the GFCI. I went to the panel and found that no breaker had flipped which at first was a little confusing.

A little later I discovered that my freezer which is in the garage, on what is labeled in the panel as a dedicated circuit, was no longer working. I pulled the receptacle from the wall and found that it too was receiving no power to its hot wire.

With these two outlets being the only 2 in the house to simultaneously give me problems my guess now is that they are in fact on the same circuit and the GFCI flipping has caused my freezer outlet to no longer receive power. The piece I can't figure out, how is the GFCI not receiving power?

I have been able to visually track the freezer wire back to one stud bay away from the blown GFCI in my partially unfinished basement ceiling. Though I am not 100% sure that the two are connected because there are 4 wires total that run down from the ceiling to the same location in the wall.

(side note, the home runs for the circuits in my basement are in the ceiling and the only other things in that same wall are a dedicated 120 receptacle for my washing machine and on the reverse side a GFCI and light sconce in the bathroom, i've tested thus far and the GFCI in question is not connected to the GFCI in the bathroom, i was able to access them from a hole behind my bathroom mirror.)

I've gone all throughout the house and tested all the GFCI's I can find because we did remodel about 7 years ago and did quite a bit of new electrical. The only two outlets that I've found to have problems are the two described above and i'm at a loss for what is going on. Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!
 
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  #2  
Old 01-03-13, 12:01 AM
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I am not an electrician but I have had experience with GFCI's. The thing you have to remember about them is that they look constantly for a ground fault and if they find none they stay on. To test the GFCI you could turn the circuit off to a plug you know is not downstream from another GFCI and then temporarily hook it up. Then carefully with gloves on test the GFCI in question and see if it resets. If it doesn't then it is bad and if it does then you know the problem is with another GFCI downstream from the other one so you need to find the first one and then check it. Really you shouldn't have a refrigerator connected on the same circuit with a GFCI as you never know what will trip them. If we have had a power surge some of mine will trip and we used to have our washer on a circuit with the GFCI in our kitchen upstairs and then our washer was wired separately in the basement. So you probably have a panel job ahead of you either by an electrician or yourself depending on how comfortable you feel doing panel work. Myself I usually just do plugs and switches and leave the panel work to an electrician.
 
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Old 01-03-13, 12:16 AM
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I pulled the receptacle out of the wall and tested for power only to find that the hot wire had to power into the GFCI.
I guess that to be no power.

Did you find two black and two white wires on GFI receptacle.
Did you find one black and one white on freezer receptacle.

If you do find 4 wires on the GFI one black will be in and one will be out.
Did you check the in (line) black wire.

GFI receptacles go bad all the time especially with a high load on it.
 
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Old 01-03-13, 01:00 AM
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That's correct, the gfi had no power and both the freezer outlet and gfi outlet only had one black and one white wire. Will replacing the gfi outlet altogether possibly restore power? Cause I didn't think that was the case. I thought that not having power to a line in would indicate more than a faulty gfi?
 
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Old 01-03-13, 05:22 AM
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You will need to check the breaker feeding those receptacles for power.

To Hedge, there is no reason not to have a refrigerator on a GFI protected circuit.
 
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Old 01-03-13, 06:54 AM
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I was running a space heater in my garage while I was working on a project when it went out all of a sudden. I went back to the source and found that I had plugged into a GFCI receptacle in my laundry room that had switched off. Assuming all I needed to do was reset the GFCI i pushed the reset without anything happening. I pulled the receptacle out of the wall and tested for power only to find that the hot wire had to power into the GFCI. I went to the panel and found that no breaker had flipped which at first was a little confusing.
Assuming that there was no problem with the wiring in the heater, the likely problem is that you created an overload. That would trip a circuit breaker, not a GFCI.

Tripped breakers can be difficult to spot, because the handle moves to a central position if it moves at all. Did you test each likely breaker by switching it off before switching it on?

Also, what are you using to test for power?
 
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Old 01-03-13, 05:35 PM
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Really you shouldn't have a refrigerator connected on the same circuit with a GFCI as you never know what will trip them
It was a freezer, but regardless, refrigerators and freezers in either a garage or unfinished basement are required by the NEC to be on GFCI protected outlets.
 
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Old 01-03-13, 07:04 PM
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The heavy load from the heater may have caused a connection to fail. Please see the troubleshooting sticky at the top of this forum.
 
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Old 01-03-13, 07:24 PM
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I have a decent amount of experience with panels and know what to look for when looking at tripped breakers. In this case no breakers were tripped and only the gfi and separate outlet to the freezer have lost power. (I have a pen electrical tester that I'm using to check if the lines in are hot in both outlets)
 
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Old 01-03-13, 07:27 PM
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Pcboss Can you explain what you mean a little further?
 
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Old 01-03-13, 07:32 PM
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Heavy loads can cause a loose or marginal connection to fail open. You can still have power, but the return path could be open.
 
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Old 01-03-13, 07:41 PM
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So how do I troubleshoot this?
 
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Old 01-03-13, 09:30 PM
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I have a decent amount of experience with panels and know what to look for when looking at tripped breakers. In this case no breakers were tripped and only the gfi and separate outlet to the freezer have lost power.
Originally Posted by pcboss
You will need to check the breaker feeding those receptacles for power.
(I have a pen electrical tester that I'm using to check if the lines in are hot in both outlets)
If you have tested that tool and determined that it is working correctly, then you have determined that you have lost the ungrounded potential at those two outlets. Using any analog multimeter, or a good quality digital multimeter, test to determine the voltage at the breaker(s) serving those outlets, both hot-to-ground and hot-to-neutral.

So how do I troubleshoot this?
Please see the troubleshooting sticky at the top of this forum.
Troubleshooting a dead receptacle or light, Basic Terminology & Other info
 
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