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JohnPublic 02-17-2009 08:29 AM

GFI Trouble (Not a load/line issue)
We recently moved into an 18 year old house and I am having some trouble with outlets in the kitchen:

The kitchen counter has two outlets, one is a GFI and the other is downstream. As far as I can tell it is the only other receptacle connected to the GFI. When we moved in both outlets were providing current, but the inspector mentioned that the GFI was not tripping correctly and needed to be replaced. I put it on my list of things to do, but had not yet gotten to it when the downstream outlet suddenly stopped working. I supposed that it was simply the GFI outlet that had finally bit the dust, but wanted to replace them both as they were both beige and I wanted them to be white. Here is where the fun begins.

I turned off the breaker, wired both outlets, and turned the breaker back on. The trip on the GFI pushed in properly and the light came on green. I plugged a nightlight into both the GFI and the downstream outlet and both worked. I turned the breaker off, pushed in the wires on the gfi, mounted it to the wall, screwed on the faceplate, and turned the breaker back on. I plugged the nightlight into it and it came on. I then turned the breaker back off and installed the downstream plug into the wall and attached the faceplate. I turned the breaker on and tested both plugs with my nightlight one last time. The downsteam plug was working, but the GFI no longer was. The green light was still on and it had not tripped, but was providing no power. I pulled them both out from the wall, but the problem persists.

I have tested and reset the GFI several times, but it still has no juice. I can't make heads or tails of this as both of the plugs were working correctly while wired and sticking out of the wall. If there is some sort of short the GFI and/or the breaker should trip, correct?

Thank you in advance for any advice short of calling an electrician.

glennjanie 02-17-2009 10:43 AM

Welcome JohnPublic:
I have a lot of trouble with night lite bulbs burning out if I turn them off and back on. It seems they last a long time as long as I don't do the off, on thing.
Are both of your night lite bulbs good? Maybe you need a small electrical tester; Sears has a digital one that is shirt pocket sized and doen't cost very much and there are other analog testers for few bucks.

JohnPublic 02-17-2009 10:50 AM

I thought the same immediately after I had everything together and tested them both with a single nightlight that works in the downstream, but does not light in the GFI. = /

I do have an analog multimeter though.

glennjanie 02-17-2009 02:51 PM

Sorry, it was worth a shot. Now is the time for Speedy Petey; he's like magic in a case like this.

kok328 02-17-2009 04:39 PM

On the GFI outlet you will have LINE and LOAD lugs. The outlet downstream will be connected to the LOAD lugs. Incoming power will be connected to the LINE lugs. Check for incoming voltage at the LINE lugs. Check for voltage at the LOAD lugs. The outlet downstream should have power if you have power at the LOAD lugs. If you have power at the LINE & LOAD lugs & the green light is on but, no power out the front of the outlet, then you have a bad GFI or a new GFI that just went bad. It happens.

JohnPublic 02-17-2009 05:13 PM

I will break out the multimeter when i get home.

Assuming that I do have power in both places (the plug was working just before I put the faceplate on the one downstream) what makes a brand new GFI stop working? My primary concern is that there is damage somewhere to the line. Remember that this is exactly the same problem I had prior to replacing the outlets, only before it was the downstream that suddenly quit working while the GFI was fine. Though damage to the line would cause a short and trip the GFI/breaker, correct?

Is there a way to test the GFI outlet without it being installed? Is there a way to test my line?

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the Reset does pop out when I press Test and pushes back in just as it should.

speedy petey 02-17-2009 05:48 PM

Well you do need to test the GFI with something more than the night light.
From the sound of it everything should be working fine.

Try to test it with a drill or coffee grinder or something like that. A motor that is easy to tell if it is on.

Post back the results.

kok328 02-17-2009 06:54 PM

It is very possible to have a short in the line. In this case it seems to be intermittent but, does show up when you stuff the wires and outlet back into the box. Check your wires for continuity while wiggling them. Also, make sure to use the power lugs even if the device offers the stab in type connection.

JohnPublic 02-18-2009 09:07 AM

I had a late night and as such did not have a chance to work on the outlets yesterday. I will report back asap.

I did use the quick stab-in connectors. If the voltage checks out I will move them to the lugs and see if that helps.

triple D 02-21-2009 09:51 PM

Turn off the power and remove both devices. Remove the wires from them and turn the power back on. Make sure the power was/is the wires hooked to line side of gfi. Then re connect the wires to gfi. Turn the power back on and test gfi. If it works correctly, go to next plug and make sure that only one pair of wires turn on and off when you test/reset gfi. If this looks right then hook up the plug and re-test. Let us know your results. I think its possible the wires are mixed up in the gfi connection. Good luck....

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