Uncommonly bad GFI Outlets?

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  #1  
Old 05-10-13, 01:05 PM
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Uncommonly bad GFI Outlets?

Hello,

I'm a volunteer at a local museum, and there are several outdoor receptacles.

Late last fall I replaced a GFI outlet on a circuit. The Test and Reset buttons seemed to have no function, and the GFI wouldn't allow power to either that outlet or the downstream outlets. Since then, the new GFI outlet is exhibiting the same behavior. I expect to replace it again. Though, that outlet and box is in a location where it's easy for rain and snow to get to it. It's on the ground, facing upwards. There is a cover on there, it covers both receptacles when nothing is plugged in. Before last summer, there was always a cord plugged into that location, with the cover being useless, and it seemed to last that way for a few years. Nothing has been plugged in there recently, I don't think.

This other circuit confounds me, a lot. I've attached a rough drawing of this second circuit. Much of the circuit is in a shed. The GFI outlet on the left of the drawing, nearest the breaker, is on the utility pole with the breaker and the meter. All the way to the right, is a GFI outlet protecting a plain outlet. The GFI outlet is in the exterior wall of the shed, and the plain outlet is at the end of a long cord. Basically a hardwired extension cord. That outlet is the one we use the most.

The extension outlet stopped working one day. I checked voltage all over, and didn't find any. Not in any of the outlets, nor switches. The breaker had voltage, on the supply side, and on the load side when it was shut. That seems to be in order. But, there still didn't seem to be any voltage anywhere else.

At one point, I removed the GFI outlet which is on the pole. All the way to the left of the drawing. At that point, the lights and receptacle inside the shed began to work. The extension outlet did not work (all the way on the right of the drawing). It was raining during most of this, and I finally lost my nerve, and quit touching things.

It looks like all of these GFI outlets are acting wacky. I don't know why the main part of the circuit would be affected by the one (left side) GFI, as it wasn't in series to anything. It was just a separate wire from the breaker, to the outlet. I can believe that the GFI to the right is bad, as I'd previously tinkered with the Test and Reset buttons, and didn't get any effect. But with those two old ones being bad, and then the new one being bad also, is that normal?

Thanks for any help,

James
 
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  #2  
Old 05-10-13, 06:31 PM
Justin Smith's Avatar
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What company GFI are you using? I've had problems with a few brands.
 
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Old 05-10-13, 10:43 PM
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Another issue is that GFI's don't like to get wet. The water in/on them will cause them to trip.

Mounting one on the ground pointing up is the worst way to install it.
 
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Old 05-12-13, 05:48 PM
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Thank you for the replies.

I'll have to remember to look at the brands of the receptacles.

I expect that it is closely related to them being wet. Now to decide if I want to go through and correct some of the covers, such that nothing gets wet. We don't use those often...

After disconnecting the receptacle on the pole, like I mentioned in the previous post, everything works now. I don't know why the final two exterior outlets finally started working, but after wiggling the wires around, and checking things again with a meter on Saturday, the final two outlets work again.

I don't know.

Thanks again,

James
 
  #5  
Old 05-12-13, 07:41 PM
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You may also want to consider using a GFCI breaker.
 
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