Troubleshoot Outdoor GFCI and Switch

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  #1  
Old 11-19-13, 11:18 AM
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Troubleshoot Outdoor GFCI and Switch

Had 4 wire 240v running from breaker box outside to a shed. Tore down the shed, but want to wire a 120v GFCI outlet and a switch for my well pump on the load side of the GFCI outlet. Replaced the 30amp double pole breaker with a 20amp double pole breaker that matches the rest of the breakers in my box. Wired the black wire to one pole on the new breaker. Left white wire and ground connected to separate screws on the neutral bar. Capped red wire with wire nut.

Wired white and black wires from breaker box to line side of GFCI outlet (black to brass and white to silver), bare to ground, and capped red wire with wire nut inside outlet box. Ran a black wire from brass screw on load side of GFCI to bottom of switch. Connected black wire from well pump to top of switch. Connected white wire from pump to silver screw on load side of GFCI. Connected green ground wire from pump to ground in outlet box. The goal is to have GFCI outlet always hot, and use the switch to turn the well pump on and off.

I have a simple voltage tester with lights for 120v or 240v. When I touch the leads to the black wire on the breaker and the white wire on the neutral bar, the 120v lights up. When i touch the leads to the black wire and the white wire on the line side of the GFCI outlet, the 120v lights up. When I put the leads from the volt tester into the GFCI outlet, I get no lights. Also, the test and reset buttons and light on the GFCI outlet do not work. So, it seems like power is getting to the outlet, but the outlet is not hot, and the pump does not come on when I flip the switch.

It seems the only possibility is the GFCI outlet is bad. I bought it new, and this is the first time it has been wired/installed. Are there any other possible problems, or should I just stop wasting my time and go get a new GFCI outlet? FYI - I used the holes in the back of the GFCI outlet for the wires. Should I pull them out and use the screws on the side of the outlet? I appreciate the advice.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 11:27 AM
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If you sure you have both line in wires to the line side then yes, try a new GFCI.

I used the holes in the back of the GFCI outlet for the wires. Should I pull them out and use the screws on the side of the outlet?
No. You have back wired connections not the back stabs we warn about. The back wired connections use a pressure plate that you tighten by turning the screws. So long as the screws are tight the connection should be good.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 11:31 AM
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Yes, double checked it last night and confirmed the wires from the breaker box are connected to the top of the GFCI outlet which is stamped LINE on the back of the outlet.

Also checked the wire connections last night. The screws on the sides for the pressure plate were tight, and I pulled on the wires, and they did not come loose. They seem to be seated properly and held by the pressure plate.

Thank you for the quick response! I appreciate the advice. Next stop, Ace Hardware.
 
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Old 11-25-13, 08:08 AM
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Double checked wiring yesterday. Wired as described in original post.

Removed switch from load side of GFCI. In breaker box black wire is connected to 20A breaker. White wire and ground wire were left connected to neutral bar. Red wire is capped with wire nut. In outlet box black wire connected to hot on line side of GFCI. White wire on neutral on line side of GFCI. Ground from box and ground from GFCI outlet are connected to ground screw on back of outlet box. All other wires from pump, switch, and load side of GFCI have been removed.

Result is same. When I touch leads on voltage tester to screws on line side of GFCI the 120v light lights up. GFCI will not reset, and no reading from voltage tester when leads are inserted into GFCI outlet slots. I bought a brand new GFCI outlet and replaced the old one, result is the same.

What prevents a brand new GFCI outlet not to reset for the first time after installing, other than incorrect wiring. Everyone I have talked to has said it is wired correctly, and they have no idea why it will not reset. Just looking for general reasons a single GFCI outlet with no other outlets on the circuit will not reset. Not sure even what my next steps should be. I appreciate the help.
 
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Old 11-25-13, 08:16 AM
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One thing that doesn't make sense to me, and may be normal, I just don't know any better because I have no training in electrical concepts. So, forgive me if this is a stupid question.

In the outlet box when I touch the leads on my voltage meter to the white (neutral) wire and the black (hot) wire my cheap meter lights up 120v. The same happens when I touch the leads to the black wire and the ground wire - the 120v light lights up. Is that normal, or is my ground wire not connected properly in the breaker box?

Both my white (neutral) wire and the bare (ground) wire are connected to the neutral bar in the breaker box. Not the same screw, but right next to each other. Is this normal? Attaching the ground wire to the neutral bar may be completely correct, but due to my amateur status I don't even know if this is ok, or a possible cause of my problem. Having a hard time understanding why the neutral wire and the ground wire are both connected to the neutral bar.

For what its worth - My house was built in 1958. Half the house has been remodeled and has 3 prong outlets. The other half of the house still has 2 prong outlets.
 
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Old 11-25-13, 09:01 AM
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The same happens when I touch the leads to the black wire and the ground wire - the 120v light lights up. Is that normal
Yes neutral and ground are at the same potential.
Attaching the ground wire to the neutral bar may be completely correct, but due to my amateur status I don't even know if this is ok
It is if there is no ground bar and there won't be a ground bar if there is no panel with a breaker before the main panel.

Refresh my memory. Have you tried the GFCI with nothing connected to the load side?
 
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Old 11-25-13, 09:28 AM
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What prevents a brand new GFCI outlet not to reset for the first time after installing, other than incorrect wiring. Everyone I have talked to has said it is wired correctly, and they have no idea why it will not reset. Just looking for general reasons a single GFCI outlet with no other outlets on the circuit will not reset.
It's always possible you have a bad GFI receptacle. Did you buy a weather resistant GFI receptacle, they are required outside you know.
 
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