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Old 09-16-2013, 11:36 AM   #1
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issue with three GFCIs on one circuit


A few months ago, I re-purposed an existing dedicated line from a 15A breaker in my panel. The line now runs into an in-the-wall mounted plastic quad box in which I have a TR GFCI outlet on one side (which runs my new irrigation system controller). On the other side of the quad box I have an Intermatic digital timer which controls the power to two TR GFCI outlets on the exterior of my house on either side of my front steps. Both of those outlets are outdoor rated TP GFCIs. None of the three GFCIs has anything connected to their LOAD side. The intended purpose of those outdoor outlets (and the timer that control both) was to simplify connecting Christmas lights this season.

When I first hooked it all up (back in July), all seemed fine and when the switch was manually enabled the two outdoor outlets worked fine. This weekend I went to use one of the outlets and its seems the GFCI had been previously tripped and it would not allow me to reset it. I had to replace it with a non-GFCI so that we would operate a blower for a children's jump house. When I tested the connection for the non-GFCI (the plug that tests for open circuits and incorrect wiring) it tested fine.

Any suggestions as to what is happening here? From the timer the wire runs into the basement into a J-box from which the two outdoor outlets tap into it. The outlet that's further away from the J-box (by about 10 feet or so) is the one with the issue.


Last edited by njitgrad; 09-16-2013 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 09-16-2013, 11:53 AM   #2
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issue with three GFCIs on one circuit


Some GFCI can not be reset with no power to them.

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Old 09-16-2013, 11:56 AM   #3
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issue with three GFCIs on one circuit


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Some GFCI can not be reset with no power to them.
But my switch was on. I don't understand exactly what you're getting at.
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:46 PM   #4
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issue with three GFCIs on one circuit


I guess the question is are you sure the switch was on when you tried to reset the GFCI? Not that the switch worked when you swapped out GFCI with simple duplex receptacle. Either way I doubt this is the issue.

I suspect moisture in the GFCI causing it to not to allow itself to be reset. Could your irrigation system have soaked the GFCI in your yard?

Maybe put the GFCI inside the house at the "quad box" and then run regular duplex outlets outside from the load side of the indoor GFCI. Then you would need only one GFCI for the outside outlets.
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:15 PM   #5
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issue with three GFCIs on one circuit


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I guess the question is are you sure the switch was on when you tried to reset the GFCI?
Yes the switch was on, because the amber indicator light was lit up on the tripped GFCI outlet (no power, no indicator, right?) and the other GFCI outlet on the other side of the steps did have power (I checked to make sure). I even tripped the good GFCI just to see if I could get the one in question to reset.

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I suspect moisture in the GFCI causing it to not to allow itself to be reset. Could your irrigation system have soaked the GFCI in your yard?
That's not it either. That side of my steps is bone dry, no sprinkler heads in the vicinity, and very well protected by the overhang of the house and trees. When I removed the outlet and checked the connections, the outlet, all wiring and the external mounting block (inside and out) were bone dry.

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Maybe put the GFCI inside the house at the "quad box" and then run regular duplex outlets outside from the load side of the indoor GFCI. Then you would need only one GFCI for the outside outlets.
Sure I could do that but that would defeat the purpose of the switch (i.e. timer). In the winter it is supposed to power the two outdoor GFCI outlets from dusk until 10pm for the xmas lights on both sides of my steps. The whole point of making the two outlets was to eliminate having to run an extension cord between the two sides. I wouldn't know how to connect a switch to the load side of a GFCI to control the power to two non-GFCI outlets.

Last edited by njitgrad; 09-16-2013 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 09-16-2013, 04:16 PM   #6
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issue with three GFCIs on one circuit


is the timer a plug in type? if not like curious said, add regular outlets on the load side of the gfci. if the timer is hard wired just wire it like an outlet, then let the load side of the timer supply the outlets. black on brass, white on silver , & bare on the green screw.
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Old 09-16-2013, 05:16 PM   #7
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issue with three GFCIs on one circuit


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is the timer a plug in type? if not like curious said, add regular outlets on the load side of the gfci. if the timer is hard wired just wire it like an outlet, then let the load side of the timer supply the outlets. black on brass, white on silver , & bare on the green screw.
The digitial timer/switch is hardwired. The hot wire coming into the quad box from the panel goes both to the GFCI (in the quad box) and the adjacent timer/switch. Are you saying I should use the load side of the GFCI (in the quad box) to supply the hot to the switch instead of taking it directly from the panel? I though you can only add outlets to the load side of a GFCI, not a digital switch/timer.

Is there any reason why my setup doesn't work? I could have sworn it did work when I first hooked it up.
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Old 09-16-2013, 10:36 PM   #8
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issue with three GFCIs on one circuit


well not exactly, if you use the load side of the GFCI to run through threw the timer then too your outlets then they would be protected by the gfci when the clock turns them on. there considered down stream outlets & should be labeled as so.if the light switch just controls an overhead light then , no i would not have to be connected to the gfci outlet. hope this is a little more precise. just wish i was able to draw diagrams.
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Old 09-16-2013, 10:39 PM   #9
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issue with three GFCIs on one circuit


just thought of one other thing, just think of the timer as a switch with a motor.
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Old 09-16-2013, 10:52 PM   #10
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issue with three GFCIs on one circuit


one last thought ocured you could also put a GFCI on the load side of the timer as it is now, then connect a regular outlet after the GFCI. some GFCI's are picky. never tried switching plugs on an off with a switch after a gfci, it could sense it as a fault , but i don't see why.

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