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Old 10-02-2006, 05:48 PM   #1
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


The other day my wife plugged our toaster in and we saw a large spark jump from the outlet along with soot around where she plugged it in.

The outlet is on a GFI circuit. There are four other outlets on the circuit. I know almost nothing about electricity. Should I try to replace the GFI or is the fact we saw the spark and smoke an indicator there is a short on the circuit and we should have an electrician check it out?

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Old 10-02-2006, 06:23 PM   #2
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


the two things i do NOT mess around with are electrical and plumbing. i'd personally call an electrician since you dont know anything about it. hopefully it's an easy fix and someone can explain how to replace it.

good luck!

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Old 10-02-2006, 06:49 PM   #3
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


Does the outlet still work? Do the downstream outlets still work? Does the GFI test button still work properly (if the outlets are still working)? If the outlets are off, the GFI could be tripped...or the breaker in the panel may be tripped (or fuse blown). Is this 4 regular outlets fed from a GFI breaker in the panel? Chances are, the toaster cord or plug is what is faulty. Tell us more.

Last edited by sootybuttercup; 10-02-2006 at 06:51 PM. Reason: forgot something
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Old 10-02-2006, 07:29 PM   #4
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


I doubt that the problem is with the gfi. It is probably a problem in the outlet that she was plugging into, or the toaster.
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Old 10-03-2006, 09:48 AM   #5
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


Knowing that this is really not that difficult for DIY... I will advice otherwise rather than hiring a contractor to do it... as long as you know the switch in the panel for the circuit... there is really not that dangers to DIY... at least try that first.... you could save hundreds of dollars...
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Old 10-03-2006, 10:53 PM   #6
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


I'm not saying the outlet needs to be replaced in your circumstance, but this is a very easy DIY project and there are several resources on the internet to accoomplish this. Just do a search on replacing an outlet.

A couple of tips:
  • Always cut off power at the breaker/fuse
  • Always test the outlet with a circut tester or multimeter to confirm that power is shut off to that outlet...both plugs! (if one side of a duplex outlet is bad that side won't show power, even when the box is still hot!)
  • Wrap the wire clockwise around the terminals, so when you tighten the terminals the wire stays wrapped around it.
Other than that, it as simple as removing the old outlet and then replacing it with the new the same way the old was originally installed. Though if it's and older home, some challenges might surface that require the experience of a professional.

Cheers!
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:58 PM   #7
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


"I know almost nothing about electricity."

If that's the case and you're not interested in learning the hard way, at least get someone who is somewhat familiar with the dangers involved to point you in the right direction.

The more I learn about electricity (as a non-electrician) the less I feel comfortable messing with it. The course to become an electrician is four years for a reason.
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Old 10-04-2006, 09:33 AM   #8
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


I think those 4 years course taught uncommon things such as how to set up those big transformer for big thick cable for utility companies... for regular wiring stuff inside a home... a HD wiring book is more than enough which takes approx a weekend to finish bourse through... together with high school knowledge, you can't go wrong...
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Old 10-04-2006, 10:52 AM   #9
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


Quote:
a HD wiring book is more than enough which takes approx a weekend to finish bourse through... together with high school knowledge, you can't go wrong
....hmmmm "can't go wrong" ...famous last words
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Old 10-04-2006, 05:13 PM   #10
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


Quote:
Originally Posted by KUI****G View Post
I think those 4 years course taught uncommon things such as how to set up those big transformer for big thick cable for utility companies... for regular wiring stuff inside a home... a HD wiring book is more than enough which takes approx a weekend to finish bourse through... together with high school knowledge, you can't go wrong...
That's true. This is 18 years now that I've been in this trade, and everything I needed to know I learned by watching 'This Old House' and I'm still using the same broken screwdriver and rusty pliers I bought at a yard sale in 1988. Electrical work isn't that hard.
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Old 10-04-2006, 08:55 PM   #11
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


Hey, Doctor Shunk, perhaps this is the time for your famous lecture about 'just because it works it doesn't mean it's safe.' Rich.
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Old 10-06-2006, 09:45 AM   #12
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


Thanks everyone for your input. I've got a little more information now. When the outlet sparked and tripped the GFI, apparently, it also tripped the circuit breaker, too. I hadn't checked that before. I was just trying to reset the GFI. When it didn't work, I assumed I had a short in the circuit or the GFI was shot. I reset the circuit breaker and then the GFI started working again. I plugged a can opener into each outlet to test them and they all are working now- including the one that produced the big spark and smoke. Also, the toaster works fine when plugged into another outlet.

So, now I'm confused. Should I be concerned about the toaster, the outlet or both? Is there some sort of meter I can buy to test the outlets?

Thanks again for your help. It's much appreciated.
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Old 10-06-2006, 09:52 AM   #13
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


It may be,sounds like, just one time event for the toaster, may be water inside...etc... try again with the GFCI see what happen first before next action... but if your toaster is unstable, may be wise to replace it as it is so cheap these days...
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Old 10-06-2006, 12:14 PM   #14
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


If the toaster were turned on when you plugged it in it would make alot of sparks and possibly trip the breaker.
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Old 10-06-2006, 12:59 PM   #15
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Should I replace my GFI or call an electrician?


Quote:
trip the breaker
Why would that be? Shouldn't be any different than turning on the toaster switch...if there's nothing wrong with the toaster...as far as current draw is concerned.

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