GFCI weirdness


Old 08-21-20, 11:56 AM
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GFCI weirdness

I have one GFCI in each of four bathrooms and two in the kitchen. The two in the kitchen work (but more on that below). As for the ones in the bathrooms:

They are all tripped and will not reset--the button won't click in at all.
They will not power a load.
Nothing is plugged into any of them right now.
No lights at all show up on an outlet tester.
They DO have a voltage as indicated by a contactless voltage detector.

Weirdness #1: This has been the situation for literally years and when I finally got around to addressing it (apparently my girlfriend needs a hair dryer), I pressed the reset button on one of the outlets and for the first time in forever it actually reset and the little green indicator light came on. But before I plugged anything in I figured I'd see if it would actually retrip and re-reset--and when I hit test, it tripped and is now as unresponsive and unresettable as ever.

What's going on? Why would it manage one last gasp? If something were just wired wrong, it couldn't do that at all, right? Any way to narrow down the problem on my own without calling someone in?

Weirdness #2: One of the working GFCIs in the kitchen shows a reversed hot and neutral. Otherwise it works fine, though apparently more dangerously than I'd realized. Any chance this is related to the other issues?

Thanks for any help.
Old 08-21-20, 12:21 PM
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* GFIs won't reset without power. So if there's an up-stream issue causing there to be no power at the receptacle, the GFI won't reset.
* Check to see if the GFI has anything connected to the LOAD side. If so, something downstream could be causing a fault and not allowing a proper reset. This sometimes happens when trying to reset a bathroom GFI that's also connected to an outdoor receptacle that got water in it (for example).
* A contactless tester is a good first test, but a neon tester is much more reliable. Sometimes a contactless tester can pick up induced voltages which aren't enough to actually power anything. I would make sure you have power at the receptacles before doing too much more on the GFI front.
* GFIs can go bad, especially with surge events. So it's possible that something happened that fried the GFIs to the point that they don't reliably reset. If they do have power, and nothing connected to the load terminals, and still don't reliably reset/test, you probably need to replace the GFI. But I would test the other items first before buying new ones.

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