Some clarifications for kitchen outlets and GFCI

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by condoowner, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. Jun 25, 2013 #1

    condoowner

    condoowner

    condoowner

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    Hello,

    I have removed the outlets in my kitchen to install a backsplash and having completed the installation of it, I now want to install the outlets back.

    The problem is that I forgot to document or take note of how the wiring was connected to the outlets. Normally this would be no big deal since I have a general good understanding of electricity & I could simply put the outlets back the way I think they were installed but I have some concerns.

    Refer to my attached picture for nomenclature...

    At first, I had no idea of how the wiring was done and which breaker was controlling what.. I had done no testing (bad boy!). SO I simply installed a conventional outlet to locations A, & C, and GFCI's to D & E. I went to turn the breaker 26 & 28 and the main tripped! (not good!).

    I immediately rtemoved everything and did some testing.

    I have found that:

    There are 3 breakers in the main panel (18/20, 26/28 & 6/8) controlling the kitchen outlets (marked by the electrician as so on the panel nomenclature sticker)
    Breaker 6/8 controls Outlet B (not sure if fed directly from main since it uses 3 wires)
    Breaker 18/20 controls the left wire of outlet A, right wire is dead. Again, not sure if fed directly from main because of the 3 wires.
    Breaker 26/28 controls the left wire of outlet C, right wire is dead. Again, not sure if fed directly from main because of the 3 wires.

    Outlets D & E are never alive so I assume they are fed from another outlet. I have marked in purple the possible path I think of..

    So now to the questions:

    • Do you think my sketch is right, that is, are the purple connections correct?
    • If so, How can I install GFCI's to the outlets D & E with 3 wires? If they are feeding something else (hence the 3rd wire?) would that pose a problem?
    • Why is there a red wire in each outlet? Whats the purpose of it? As far as I know prior to stripping the kitchen, none of these outlets were controlled by a switch.
    • I have checked, all light switches and light fixtures are on a separate unrelated breaker

    If all else fail, I will call an electrician.

    I appreciate any answers!!

    Thanks!

    elec.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  2. Jun 25, 2013 #2

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    On the old outlets, check to see if the little strap is removed to seperate the top and bottom plug, the strap is between the two screws on each side.
     
  3. Jun 25, 2013 #3

    bud16415

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    Looks like you have 3 breakers controlling 5 outlets. The power from the breaker goes first to the GFCI and connects to the LINE connection the black wire goes to the side that says HOT the white goes to COMMON. The second outlet in each of the two A & C are controlled by the GFCI and are attached to the other set of screws marked LOAD. That way E & D are just normal outlets but are GF protected by A & C. B is just a stand alone GFCI and should just have wires attached to LINE.
     
  4. Jun 25, 2013 #4

    CallMeVilla

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    Unusual to find a red wire in a kitchen back splash outlet but it does typically have a purpose. A red wire usually indicates one of the two outlets to be operated by a switch. In this case, the strap Neal mentions would be removed, creating two separate outlet points. The black wire would supply and "always on" power to one the one outlet and the red supplies power to the other outlet point which would be switchable.

    You can test this easily by locating a likely switch and flipping it to see if you get power "on" or "off."
     
  5. Jun 25, 2013 #5

    bud16415

    bud16415

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    The OP has checked all the switches in the room and none of them are on any of these three circuits. I would find it rare to have counter outlets controlled by a switch or used as a split outlet. That’s mostly seen in living and bedrooms with end table lights and such. Red and black are normally hot wires. Not sure what the OP means by being fed with 3 wires though. If he can look in the boxes and see if the red is coming in with the power or maybe it’s another cable that’s going out to the remote outlets E & D.
     
  6. Jun 25, 2013 #6

    condoowner

    condoowner

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    Unfortunately I have thrown away the old outlets a while ago... :(

    Correct, if you assume that BOTH D & E are fed from another outlet in the kitchen.

    Are you saying this is what I have or what I should have? Because my testing has indicated otherwise, no power to D & E whatsoever. I have once again double checked, and ALL breakers ON in the main panel, I still have no power to D & E so somehow they must be fed from another location??

    Already done that. There is a braker in panel named "Kitchen lights" which controls both lights. When the breakers for all three backsplash outlets are off (6/8, 18/20, 56/28) I still have power to the lights and light switches. When I turn off the breaker for the lights, there is no more power to the switches and light boxes.

    Otherwise, if I turn the breakers ON for the outlets but keep the kitchen light breaker OFF, I have power to A B & C.

    I am pretty sure the lights are independent from the outlets in this case.

    Anyways, if the red wires were supposed to be switched, wouldn't they (or at least one of them) be alive when the lights are alive? They arent right now..

    The only memory I have from the original wiring is the way the outlet A was wired. If I remember correctly, it was wired something like the picture attached... Since I didnt tamper with the wire ends and left them as they originally were, at least I know which wire was attached to a terminal screw and which wire was inserted in the back holes of the outlet..

    elec2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  7. Jun 25, 2013 #7

    condoowner

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    Funny you posted just before I replied...

    You are 100% right, I also find stranmge that kitchen outlet be controlled by switch? Who would turn their coffee machine or toaster on by a switch? :)

    Yes I also would expect the switched behavior of the outlet like in my bedrooms that are exactly like that. Bottom outlet is always on (for small electronics, TV's, clock, etc) while upper one is switched for table lamp, etc..)

    What I meant by "being fed by 3 wires" is that as far as I know, power from the main is achieved via 2 wire (14/2 with black & white)? Is it possible to have 3 wires (14/3) coming FROM the main panel? (red black & white)

    Unless it was a 220V service, why would there be 3 wires from the main panel?
     
  8. Jun 25, 2013 #8

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    The picture you posted could have 240 volts to that plug, the red and the black are both live 120 volts each In the old systems they split the plugs and ran red to top and black to bottom so all the tops in the kitchen were on one cercuit and the bottoms on another.
    You want something like this. I'm not sure what they mean by unprotected terminal unless they are saying to use regular plugs down stream.

    kitchenwiring.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  9. Jun 25, 2013 #9

    condoowner

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    240V on a 14/3 wire??? isnt' that against code?

    Why would the outlets be 240V? no kitchen appliances consume that much power?!?!


    Then it would mean that all metal tabs on the live sides only were broken off so the top & bottom outlets were independent?
     
  10. Jun 25, 2013 #10

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    If you take the cover off the breaker panel you will see that the black goes to one breaker and red goes to the one beside it.
    The only reason they do that is to save wire they both are separete cercuits but use the same white and ground and if you do it wrong you could have 240 volt to one plug and yes that would not be code but using properly is not against code.
     
  11. Jun 25, 2013 #11

    condoowner

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    Ok so if I was to install the normal outlets with broken tabs would it be ok?
     
  12. Jun 25, 2013 #12

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    I'm not sure they still do that but you can wire this with 4 gfis outlet, each on it's own cercuit.
    Not sure how you could split and use gfis.

    multiple_split_receptacle_wiring_diagram.jpg
     
  13. Jun 25, 2013 #13

    condoowner

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    I think you may be right Neal.. Now the GFCI I purchased are not good for this configuration... According to Cooper's instructions, the outlet has 4 terminal screws. The top ones are for the LINE (power source, say the main panel), and the bottom screws are for the LOAD (to feed something else).

    Naturally left screws are white for neutral while right screws (brass colored) are for hot wires.

    Lets say I am wiring the RED circuit (assuming you are right and they wired outlets independently as 2 circuits, red & black), then I would connect the red wire to the LINE hot terminal screw and the white neutral to the LINE white terminal screw. Simple enough, but what do I do with the black hot wire from the "black" circuit? The only terminal screw left on the hot side of the outlet is on the LOAD which is to feed another location..

    IMG_0932-1.jpg
     
  14. Jun 25, 2013 #14

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Have you opened the panel to see if I was right, that would be first.
     
  15. Jun 25, 2013 #15

    bud16415

    bud16415

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    The reason you see no power at E & D is they are the load side and are not yet connected. I would assume the load was run using red to maybe show it different. If I understand correct there are 3 points where you are measuring power, a black wire at A, B, C

    I highly doubt they ran 220 into a switch box and broke the two into two legs there each 110. If that was the case you would have power to measure on the red wires also. Do you show power at the red wires when everything is not connected?
     
  16. Jun 25, 2013 #16

    condoowner

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    100% right!

    I even wired the standard outlets with broken tabs between red & black wires and all is fine!! I was also right with my purple lines on the first sketch.

    Location A feeds E, while C feeds D.

    Now I just need to figure out how to install a GFCI outlet on a 2 circuit electric box....
     
  17. Jun 25, 2013 #17

    condoowner

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    Just to wrap up so far, I made a sketch of what Ive found to be so far.. Basically Circuits 1 & 2 are identical, one outlet feeding another.. Circuit 3 is similar but has only one outlet explaining why it has only one 14/3 and not two like the others..

    All outlets are working fine, breakers not tripping, only the two green outlets now I need to install GFCI's on them..

    elec3.jpg
     
  18. Jun 25, 2013 #18

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Yes your sketch is right for a split system
    For 4 gfis do this
    In box A join the two reds together with a wire nut, join the two whites togther and add 6" white pigtail and wire nut them.
    The white pig tail and the black go to the gfi line screws, put a wire nut on the extra black
    In box E wire nut the black wire and red and white go the line screws of the gfi
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  19. Jun 25, 2013 #19

    nealtw

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    You may have spoiled the first one you hooked up, it blew the main because you had a 240 volt dead short thru the outlet.

    Bud & Villa This was standard in the 60s and 70s so you could plug a toaster and tea kettle at the same staion with out blowing a cercuit, that's likely why they went to 20 amp plugs when the gfis came in.
     
  20. Jun 26, 2013 #20

    bud16415

    bud16415

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    Good call Neal and I have not ran across such a power feed setup before. I guess too many old houses for me. You learn something every day.

    Is this still common to wire this way? Personally I wouldn’t care for the 220 potential on adjacent screws on an outlet.

    In the OP’s last sketch he shows a standard outlet then feeding a GFI outlet. Is that correct? The first outlet doesn’t then have GF protection? He passes the 220V on to that GFI outlet is this a 220V GFI made just to do this?
     

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