Random Hot Leads in GFI Box

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  #1  
Old 09-30-14, 03:03 PM
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Random Hot Leads in GFI Box

So I've been trying to trace why a kitchen outlet and outdoor outlet (in close proximity to each other) no longer work since my kitchen remodel last year. About 3 feet above the no-longer-working outlet is a new GFI that works fine. Suspicious, I pulled off the plate and unscrewed the GFI outlet and found a BUNCH of wires in there. Before investigating further, I shut power to the GFI at the breaker and ran my current tester over them to be sure they were cold. I think pulled out the outlet (which had 3 black/3 white pigtailed together and singles to the GFI. All well and good. Then I noticed that deep, deep in the back of the box was another set of leads (1 black/white/ground.) Low and behold, these were still hot.

I suspect that when the kitchen was remodeled, the construction guys found these wires, didn't know what they powered, so capped them, stuck them in box and ran new romex for the GFI. And hoped that I didn't find out what didn't work anymore until they were gone.

Honestly, I'm unsure what to do next. I'm hesitant to attach a hot lead to a GFI that already has it's own power and it's own breaker. Can I do that? Suggestions?
 
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Old 09-30-14, 03:46 PM
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I'm hesitant to attach a hot lead to a GFI that already has it's own power and it's own breaker. Can I do that?
No. That's a big No.

I'll get back as will others.
 
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Old 09-30-14, 03:50 PM
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Thanks, Handyone. I had a feeling that would be a bad idea.
 
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Old 09-30-14, 04:11 PM
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Could you please post some pictures of this wiring. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...rt-images.html
 
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Old 09-30-14, 04:54 PM
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Picture of the outlet

As requested, here is a picture of the box in question. The top wires are the hot leads I found buried in the dark recesses of the box. The leads to the right and left are the leads to the GFI that have a dedicated breaker in the box.
Name:  outlet.jpg
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Size:  34.8 KB

First time attaching pic....read the instructions but apologies if I goofed it up.
 
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Old 09-30-14, 05:23 PM
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I just want to get a few things clear.

About 3 feet above the no-longer-working outlet is a new GFI that works fine
I take it the picture is the working GFCI, and non working outlet is outside of house 3' down?


trying to trace why a kitchen outlet and outdoor outlet (in close proximity to each other)
Where is other non working outlet? Maybe a diagram or pictures would help.

Also, take another picture of working GFCI with face tilted down towards counter. Need to see line/load connections.
 
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Old 09-30-14, 05:26 PM
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Disconnect the two wires on the receptacle and measure the voltage using a multimeter, preferably analog. The measure between the non white lead* on the receptacle and ground.

*I'm saying "non white" because I can't tell if it has a yellow or black "hot".
 
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Old 09-30-14, 05:48 PM
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Sorry for the confusion. Yes, the pic was of the working GFI outlet that was added since the remodel. I'll take a new pic with the line/load visible. About 3' directly down from that is a non-working out that has 3 wire sets (black/white/ground) all of which come up as dead with my pen-type current tester. (I'll take a pic of that one, but I've disconnected all wires from the outlet. Not sure what I was trying to accomplish by doing that, honestly. I think I was considering pulling out the box to see if I can trace where those wires were coming from.)

On the other side of the wall from this non-working outlet, on the outside of the house, is an outdoor outlet with only 1 wire set (black/white/ground) and it is also non-working. (current tester doesn't light up or beep.)
 
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Old 09-30-14, 05:58 PM
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Thanks for the reply, Ray. I'll do that, but it will have to wait till tomorrow. It's almost 9pm here on the east cost and as a rule I don't mess with electrical stuff when I'm tired. Bad things happen that way. Expensive, messy, house-burning-down things.
 
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Old 09-30-14, 06:17 PM
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About 3' directly down from that is a non-working out that has 3 wire sets (black/white/ground) all of which come up as dead with my pen-type current tester
OK,
Get some rest. When you go back to it, here's what I have a hard time picturing:
I work on many kitchens. Your pictured working outlet is counter level. If there is an outlet 3' down from that, I can't imagine why? Especially with 3 cables.
Normally the only outlets you will see below counter level are Disposal, Dishwasher, Compactor, something along those lines.
 
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Old 09-30-14, 06:42 PM
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My misunderstanding. I thought that was the dead receptacle. We need pictures of that.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 10-05-14 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 10-01-14, 09:49 AM
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Okay....more pics. First one is the working GFI with the face pointed down. Yellow is GFI lead pigtailed to blacks. (If you need one with tape off let me know.)Name:  top of GFI.jpg
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Size:  44.6 KB

Next is a shot showing the physical relation between the working GFI at countertop level, with the currently dead plug near the floor. This is just a standard wall socket like all the others in the kitchen, but it's in such close proximity to the countertop GFI that I'm suspicious that there might have been a relationship to the mystery hot lead at some point. Name:  GFI_and_wall_socket.jpg
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Size:  31.2 KB

Next is a close up of that wall socket.Name:  lower_wall_plug.jpg
Views: 193
Size:  27.6 KB

Finally, a shot of the outside socket, which is directly opposite to the wall socket.Name:  outside_plug.jpg
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Size:  28.5 KB

Thank you guys for your comments--very nice to find such helpful folks. If it helps, my top priority is making sure everything is safe; secondly--I'd like to get the outside plug to work; if I can get the wall socket to work too, great---but honestly, I have lots of other wall plugs in the kitchen so if I have to just cap it all and throw a plate over it, so be it. Thanks again!
 
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Old 10-01-14, 08:20 PM
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This will be a little tough.
I wouldn't bother the GFCI just yet. It works and the additional hot cable is properly capped.

This probably won't fix your problem, but you have to start somewhere.
The outlet under counter pictured above:

Connect the 3 whites together with a pigtail
Connect the 3 blacks together with a pigtail
Connect the 2 pigtails to the receptacle (use a new one), using the side screw terminals.

If you have other receptacles that are wired as in the picture (backstabbed), change them as well.

It's always better to connect wires together with wire nut and have only one hot wire and one neutral attached to receptacle. This way, if a device fails, it doesn't interrupt power going downstream to other devices.
 
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Old 10-05-14, 12:43 PM
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Resolved!

Problem solved. First of all, thank you both for responding and giving me the confidence to figure this out. In the end, all it took was the confidence, some patience and a couple of holes in the drywall:

So remember the non-GFI floor level outlet inside the house--the one with the 3 dead wiresets? Well, with a little creative tugging, I was able to figure out which one of those wiresets was coming from the outdoor socket. I cut a small square in the drywall hole above the inside junction box to trace the other two sets and for the life of me, I have no idea where they go. So I secured them with wire-nuts and electrical tape to concentrate on the indoor and outdoor outlets.

Now, remember that I had that random hot lead in the GFI box? Well, I piggy-tailed a length of new romex to those hot wires and ran it down the wall and into the floor-level junction box. I took the new hot wireset and connected it (with wire nuts and tape) to 1) the outdoor outlet leads; and 2) the indoor outlet (using a piggy tail so there is one set of leads into the outlet.)

So now I have power to both the outdoor socket and the floor-level indoor socket, I know which dedicated circuit breaker they live on, and where the hot leads originate from. I still have a two dead wire sets, but they are properly capped in the junction box and everything works. Woohoo!
 
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