GFI Issue/How to find a 'hidden' junction

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  #1  
Old 07-13-14, 08:17 PM
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Angry GFI Issue/How to find a 'hidden' junction

When I went on vacation for a few days, all was good, when I got home, I realized that a couple of bathroom plugs did not work and a GFi had tripped. I tried to reset it but it would not stay on and the green light would not stay on either. At first I thought that I just needed to replace the GFI as it had gone bad. I bought a new one with a green light and installed it the same way as the old one (checked the wiring vs. instructions and it was wired correctly) and it still did not work. I then opened up the 2 plugs the GFI protected and there were no loose wires and no charring. I undid and reattached all wires and still nothing worked.

Now comes the weird thing. I thought the 14/2 wire would go from bath 1 with the GFI to bath 2 and then to bath 3, BUT both bath 2 and bath 3 ONLY had one 14/2 wire going into the boxes, SO to me this means that there is a hidden junction box or a hidden plug somewhere in my house where the wire from bath 1 GFI goes to this hidden box and 2 wires come out of the box, one to bath 2 and one to bath 3.

Here are my questions:

Am I missing something here as to why the GFI would not work? Should I change out the plugs in bath 2 and 3 with new ones and see if that fixes the problem?

Is there a way to find a hidden box without taking off drywall? I have not gone into the attic to check for a junction box, but spent an hour testing all plugs and lights anywhere near these bathrooms to see if I could find another plug that was not working - did not find anything.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I will go into the attic tonight to search but it is over 100 degrees outside so not looking forward to this. The only other thing I can think of is to systematically go through all my breakers in the house and properly label the breaker panel and see if there are any plugs, etc not accounted for.
 
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  #2  
Old 07-13-14, 08:21 PM
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Forgot one thing which may or may not help. I removed the GFI plug and directly attached the 14/2 wire to the wire that heads up the bath 2 and 3 and there was power getting to bath2 and 3 plugs
 
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Old 07-13-14, 08:28 PM
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Check your outside and garage outlets first.
 
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Old 07-13-14, 10:01 PM
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Checked them all and not on that circuit breaker
 
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Old 07-13-14, 10:40 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Three bathrooms on one GFI receptacle and on a 15A circuit. You must not have a lot of blow dryer users there.

You pulled out the non resetting GFI receptacle and tied the incoming wiring to the outgoing load circuit. Everything is powered. That's a plus.

Now... you'll need to remove power from bath 2 and bath 3. You will need an ohmmeter to check from the white wire to ground and the black wire to ground on the load wires. You should not measure any continuity on those wires.
 
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Old 07-14-14, 12:13 AM
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It IS possible that the new GFCI was defective as well as the old one.
 
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Old 07-14-14, 09:54 PM
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I tried another new GFI and still no luck
 
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Old 07-14-14, 09:58 PM
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I am waiting for my neighbour to return from a few days away at work to borrow an ohmmeter from him. In the mean time I bought and tried 2 new plugs for bath 2 and 3 - still does not work.
I went in the attic briefly and could not find an obvious junction box. 107 degrees so I worked fast.

I am systematically going through all plugs, etc to label my breakers properly and see if there is an unaccounted for something that is part of this equation.

It will probably be until Friday before I get the ohmmeter but will reply once I have done your test, thanks
 
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Old 07-15-14, 08:54 PM
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PJmax

I got the ohmmeter early

I left the gfi wired in bath 1 and took off the plugs in bath 2 and 3 and recorded the following with a digital ohmmeter set on 200

bath 2 and 3 white wire to ground both read between 1.4 and 1.9
bath 2 and 3 black wire to ground both had no reading - no numbers at all showed up, not even a 0

did the same thing with the gfi unwired (line and load wires in bath 1 not attached) and got the same readings as above

I must admit I don't know what this tells me
 
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Old 07-15-14, 08:59 PM
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Between white and ground you should see no continuity.

Make sure you break the connections at bath 2. You want to check from bath 1 to bath 2 and from bath 2 to bath 3 to narrow down where the problem is.
 
  #11  
Old 07-15-14, 09:49 PM
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In my initial post, I wrote that there is one wire that leaves bath 1. There is only one wire going into bath 2 box and only one wire going into bath 3. SO there must somewhere be a junction box or an unfindable plug after bath 1 that the wire from bath 1 goes into and 2 wires come out with one wire going to bath 2 and another wire going to bath 3. I know what you mean by checking 2 and 3 separately but they are not in series
 
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Old 07-15-14, 10:00 PM
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Have you checked the light fixture and light switch boxes?
 
  #13  
Old 07-15-14, 10:24 PM
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When you leave that circuit off..... have you found anything else dead..... other than those three receptacles ?
 
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Old 07-19-14, 03:16 PM
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Hello
Just to update you, I looked in 3 plugs and one light switch and I have not found anything. There is actually a junction box in the attic with about 3 3-ways and two or 3 2 ways in it. I talked to an electrician about something to find out where a wire goes without tearing off drywall and he told me about a circuit tracer. He is going to lend it to me and maybe I can figure it out that way. I have given up and put a non-GFI in bath 1 and of course everything works. After a good 7 hours on this I think I gave it a good effort.. If I trace things and find the problem I will let you know. Thanks for the suggestions.
 
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Old 07-19-14, 05:56 PM
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I have given up and put a non-GFI in bath 1 and of course everything works.
It sounds like you accidentally found the problem in spite of the fact you don't have a clue what you are doing and need professional assistance to correct the problem and have a safe electrical system again.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 08:31 AM
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Why don't you read my whole post and offer some constructive help. You will then see that I did not actually find the problem, but by-passed it with an incorrect solution and know it.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 11:06 AM
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I was going to write a note about how to use the ohmmeter and a long extension cord to ensure the two other bathroom receptacles are actually connected the way you think they are... but from your testing, it sure sounds like they are.

My guess is that a staple or cable clamp is a bit too tight, and while it was fine for a while, something moved or expanded with the warm weather and is causing the hot to ground (or hot to neutral) very minor short.

Take a closer look at the attic junction box - does it look like any of the wires are crimped by the cable clamps? Additionally, you can turn off the bathroom breaker and test the hots in the junction box. Next turn on the breaker and test again (carefully). You can confirm if that circuit actually does run through that box.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 07:01 PM
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Why don't you read my whole post and offer some constructive help. You will then see that I did not actually find the problem, but by-passed it with an incorrect solution and know it.
Sorry to have ruffled your disgruntled feathers, but I have followed/read the entire thread and from that I believe you need an electrician experienced in diagnostics to find and fix your problem.
 
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