GFI Outlet Won't Reset; Voltage At Lower Terminals--bad Outlet? - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 06-06-2013, 08:31 PM   #1
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GFI outlet won't reset; voltage at lower terminals--bad outlet?

Hi All,

After an intense, close lightning storm, we noticed that one of the GFI outlets in our kitchen was not working. The "Reset" button was popped out, and you can't push it back in. There is no discernible click when you push it back in, and it pops right back out.

There is also a "downstream" outlet that is not working, presumably because of this GFI outlet is not working.

I talked to an electrician friend of mine, who is going to come out and look at it next week, and he said that I could open the outlets up and check to see if the white wire's bare copper was touching the ground (bare copper) wire anywhere. As best I can tell, they are not touching.

I used a multimeter to check for voltage at the GFI outlet and the "downstream" outlet. As expected, there is nothing at the "downstream" outlet, but on the GFI outlet, there is a voltage differential of around 120 volts between the lower two terminals (where a white wire and a black wire are wired into the outlet.

To be a little more clear, I'm talking about the leftmost pair of wires in this diagram:

This makes me think that there is current available to the receptacle, but it won't reset for some reason.

As far as I can tell from the exposed wires (I took the plates off and pulled both receptacles out), the wiring job is neat and clean and there is no exposed copper, except for the ground and where the wires are connected to the receptables. In other words, it doesn't *look* to me like the any of the conductors are touching where they shouldn't be.

Should I suspect a bad GFI outlet at this point, or is there somewhere else I should go? I'm not an electrician but I'm doing my best to understand this stuff! Thanks for any tips you can give me.



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Old 06-06-2013, 09:33 PM   #2
Resi EC
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I think you answered your own question, good job troubleshooting the problem!
just change the GFCI recept. and all should be well

make sure the wires with the 120v are tied to the line side of GFCI the others that feed downstream on the load side


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Old 06-07-2013, 08:52 PM   #3
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It works now!

I disconnected the "load" wires to the other receptacle, and confirmed the GFCI receptable was still not working and there was still voltage at the "line" terminals on the GFCI receptacle (there was).

I cut the breaker off, and then took the old GFCI receptacle out and then wired up the "line" terminals and grounding wire on the new GFCI receptacle. Turned breaker back on, and confirmed new GFCI terminal was working. It was--great news, seems like I'm on the right track!

Cut breaker back off, wired up "load" wires on GFCI terminal, cut breaker back on, and confirmed power was now working at both new GFCI receptacle and downstream "regular" receptacle. All good! And the "test" and "reset" buttons on the new GFCI outlet work.

I pushed the receptacles back into their boxes, screwed them in, and put the plates back on. Everything still working, and I'm a happy camper. Glad I didn't have to call an electrician for this. Thanks for the help!

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