Possible GFCI Malfunction?

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Old 09-11-13, 05:04 PM
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Possible GFCI Malfunction?

I have an exterior outlet controlled by a GFCI in the kitchen. I know that I have the right GFCI as I can trip it and reset it thereby restoring voltage to the circuit.
With the GFCI properly set, I can measure 117v at the exterior outlet when the GFCI is set but anything plugged into the exterior outlet does not work (though it used to).
I plugged my outlet tester into the outlet with measured voltage and it does not light up. My guess, then, was a defective outlet so I replaced it with a new one. No change. I am mystified by this one. Don't tell me that I'm not on the right GFCI because I can turn the measured voltage off and on by tripping and resetting the GFCI.
Could there be bad house wiring between the GFCI and the exterior outlet or could there be some GFCI malfunction that could cause this situation. Other devices on the circuit (mostly low power) work fine. By the way, even though my outlet tester does not light up in the exterior outlet, pressing the test button DOES trip the GFCI. I'm going crazy with this and the only thing I can think to do is to replace the kitchen GFCI. (or call an electrician)
 
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Old 09-11-13, 05:11 PM
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Need a real volt ohm meter.
Sure sounds like a loose connection.
Even a poor connection can light up that tiny bulb.
PS the kitchen should be on it's own circuit.
 
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Old 09-11-13, 05:20 PM
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Yeah, I know about the kitchen. There are several violations although the house was built in 1994.
The same circuit that I described also, unbelievably, has the refrigerator outlet which should be on a circuit of its own. Downstream from the GFCI are several small applicance outlets in addition to the exterior outlet.
I hate to put out a lot of money to have everything rewired as we've never had any other problems that I have been aware of. I have a certain amount of experience in doit yourself house wiring and, since we bought it in 2001, have added three new circuits. (I was using a VOM, by the way, until one of the probe leads broke.) I couldn't find any resistance problems in either the old or the new outlet.
 
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Old 09-11-13, 06:21 PM
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Loose Connection?

Based upon the earlier reply, I am going (tomorrow) to pull the GFCI and make sure that all the connections are good ones. Whoever did the electrical work when this house was built seems to have made several errors and it wouldn't surprise me if something was wrong with the GFCI installation. When I replaced the exterior outlet I noticed that the old one was once of the cheapies without screw terminals for the hot and neutral lines so there may be other cut corners.
 
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Old 09-11-13, 06:25 PM
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Your house was probably not under the 1994 code at the time it was built, so things have changed a lot. I would remove the power and disassemble the GFCI receptacle loose connections. Bear in mind you should have a weatherproof box with a sealed "in Use" cover attached to the outside receptacle to keep the elements at bay and to keep it from tripping in the rain when something is plugged in. Do you have any more receptacles on this circuit? Does this receptacle come directly off the GFCI or one that is downstream??
 
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Old 09-12-13, 06:31 AM
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With the GFCI properly set, I can measure 117v at the exterior outlet when the GFCI is set but anything plugged into the exterior outlet does not work (though it used to).
How did you measure the voltage? Hot to ground? Hot to neutral? You are going to have to either get a new set of leads for your meter or get a new meter.

When I replaced the exterior outlet I noticed that the old one was once of the cheapies without screw terminals for the hot and neutral lines
I suspect that eventually you'll find that the circuit feeds at least one other receptacle in the kitchen before it goes to the outside receptacle. Your problem will probably be at one of those outlets that still has the backstabbed connections.
 
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Old 09-12-13, 08:18 AM
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Ignoring some things just to introduce a phenomena, I would say that you could be experiencing inductive "ghosting" of the voltage. Disconnected wiring inductively picking up voltage from another circuit will give you a reading at or near true line voltage, but with a non-zero current value, sometimes not even enough to light a puny neon indicator.
 
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Old 09-13-13, 12:34 PM
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There ARE receptacles downstream from the GFCI. I'll check them. Thanks.
 
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