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deadeyeusa 12-04-2007 11:07 PM

GFCI Problems
I appreciate the help I gleaned from this forum re: 3-way lighting circuits. They work fine thank you.
Now; I wired my new workshop (detached garage) using 2 multi wire branch circuits,with a shared neutral, only to find that I couldn't use normal gfci receptacles. I learned that here, too! The thread stated that the solution was gfci circuit breakers so I purchased gfci cicuit breakers, used my little neon testor and rejoiced. It worked. Then I plugged in a power drill and tripped the breaker immediately. I have two such circuits and both react the same way. Is there a quick solution; I called for inspection before finding the fault!

frenchelectrican 12-05-2007 12:14 AM

What kind of GFCI breaker you used on the multi wire circuit and also majorty of GFCI breakers dont work with multiwire circuits at all.

how did you wired the repectales ?? you split it at the first one or what ??

let me know what breaker brand it is maybe there is a slouation to this

Merci, Marc

HouseHelper 12-05-2007 06:05 AM

The only GFCI breaker that will work in your case is a double pole breaker. If you are trying to use two single poles, it will never work.

You could use the GFCI receptacles, you just have to run separate neutrals after the first GFCI receptacle or junction box.

deadeyeusa 12-05-2007 07:49 AM

I used double pole gfci breakers as advised. The receptacles are wired alternately. First duplex oulet, red wire; second outlet black wire with the shared neutral. The breakers are pinned for dual trip.

HouseHelper 12-05-2007 08:04 AM

Can you describe exactly how you wired the breaker (it should be just one)? The red and black should land on the hot screws of the breaker, the shared white should land on the neutral screw of the breaker, and the breaker pigtail should connect to the neutral bar of the panel.

deadeyeusa 12-05-2007 08:24 AM

It's a single breaker, double pole, wired as you stated, except when I put the shared neutral on the breaker terminal, the breaker trips instantly, without a load. When I leave the pigtail only, it trips under load. My plug in neon testor is not enough load to trip, that's why I thought everything was good!

Stubbie 12-05-2007 01:00 PM


If your using a 120/240 volt double pole breaker you will be able to operate a multiwire shared neutral circuit. Obviously you have a problem somewhere in the way you wired this up, since both multiwires have the same problem. If the pigtail is connected to the neutral bar and the breaker is "on" when you touch the shared neutral to the breakers neutral lug terminal and you have no loads operating you have current flowing in that shared neutral or it would not trip. It sounds to me like you have wired a short circuit to the neutral somewhere and the gfci is tripping on overcurrent when you complete the circuit.

Andy in ATL 12-05-2007 03:07 PM

Stubbie is correct. It seems that the breaker is doing its job.


darren 12-05-2007 04:17 PM

So whats the reason you are useing GFI? Just curious why your not going the easy route to fix this.

Stubbie 12-05-2007 04:33 PM

The receptacles are in a garage .aka. workshop.

HouseHelper 12-05-2007 04:48 PM


Originally Posted by darren (Post 78612)
So whats the reason you are useing GFI? Just curious why your not going the easy route to fix this.

And what would that "easy route" be?

deadeyeusa 12-05-2007 08:34 PM

Sorry for the delayed response; I was busy all day hunting gremlins! And I found them. One circuit was a solderless ground lug that apparently nicked a hot when I pushed the whole mess together. The other was a loose wire nut, allowing the hot to migrate to the bare ground.
Thanks for all the help, this site is great
I'm still curious. What's the easier way?


RichyL 12-05-2007 11:37 PM

Would a regular double-pole breaker be code compliant if run directly to a gfi in the garage? I think thats what Darren was talking about with the easy method, although I do agree the gfi breaker is the safest way to go.

deadeyeusa 12-06-2007 12:36 AM


I tried the circuits with one gfci receptacle for each leg. That did not work and was confirmed on this forum through a search for help. I also found out that multiple gfci were not the answer! I think I tried every option before seeking advice here! I know gfci are the safest, but for awhile I doubted the need for them! Thanks to this group I am ready for inspection tomorrow.

arichard21 12-06-2007 06:28 AM

i was in lowes last night and just for the hell of it was looking for the dbl pole gfci breakers and didnt see any? are they pretty common where they should be avalible there?

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