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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The outlet I'm replacing keeps tripping the breaker. It's a switched outlet, and it also powers another recpt.

The switched plug is the top left, the other recpt cable (14/2) is hooked into the left recpt. The two 14/3 neutral and hot cables are hooked onto the right recpt. Where is the wiring wrong?

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That neutral is fine, the picture makes it look like it is though. This recpt uses side clamps.

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So the red is a switched hot wire? Does it trip the breaker only when switched on or always?
looks like the right outlet is what powers the left lower..
What bugs me is the neutral from the right outlet is going to the left upper switched outlet with the corresponding red switched hot. So different branches are sharing neutrals with different hots? Not sure why that would short circuit a breaker but maybe its a gfi breaker?
Are they all on the same circuit?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The breaker trips when anything gets plugged in, whether it's on or off.

Yes, the incoming feed is a 12/3 that powers the right recpt, and then it jumps to the left recpt bottom plug since the lefts top plug is powered by the red wire. On the left plug, the bottom plug feeds another recpt. The two branches are sharing the same neutrals with different hots, it is a GFI breaker, and they're on the same circuit. Does the arrangement of the white/black wires matter if they're connected?

I pulled out the second dual gang recpt that is also controlled by the switch. The second recpt does NOT have the tab broken, so it's hot all the time as well as the first recpt. Shouldn't the tab be broken off on the second recpt so the red wire powers one plug? Otherwise, the recpt is powered by the black wire AND red wire.

Amazing how this wasn't tripping with the old outlets.
 

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Im almost at the limit of what i can translate into something i grasp.

I see the neutral tab on that switched recept is not broken. So i wonder if that is correct to have a half switched outlet with broken tab only on the hot side and unbroken tab bridging the neutral between a switched outlet and always hot outlet. As long as they are the same circuit i thought combining neutrals is no problem but i dont wire half hot outlets often..

The conditions that cause a trip need to be explored. I wonder if one of your neutrals isn't always hot...like the white has been spliced to a black or red somewhere. Do you have a multimeter?

I think try to isolate those outlets. Start with the right outlet isolated. Then isolate the left outlet. Then isolate the half switched....then combine the two always hot...then combine 1 always hot with 1 switched hot.

Examine that switch wiring too.
 

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If you have more than one neutral returning to the panel, that may be the problem. All of the neutral current must return to the GFCI breaker. If you have one neutral on the breaker and one on the neutral bar, not all of the current is returning. As soon as the missing current exceeds 5 milliamps the GFCI will trip.

You said you have two different hots. Do they both originate from the same breaker or 2 different breakers ? Is the breaker a two pole or a single pole ?
 

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Yes, the incoming feed is a 12/3 that powers the right recpt, and then it jumps to the left recpt bottom plug since the lefts top plug is powered by the red wire. On the left plug, the bottom plug feeds another recpt. The two branches are sharing the same neutrals with different hots, it is a GFI breaker, and they're on the same circuit.
Are you saying this is a shared neutral "2 hots 1 neutral" aka Multi-Wire Branch Circuit? (MWBC)?

So what's the deal with the circuit breaker(s) feeding the MWBC? Is it a 240V / 2-pole breaker that is GFCI? Or is it individual GFCI breakers with a handle tie?

If it's a MWBC what is the other 14/3 cable doing in the box? Is this taking power "onward" to other locations? Is it taking both hots with it?

We have a communication gap here because you are presuming this wiring is perfectly ordinary, normal and everyday, and nothing special needs to be said about it. Actually MWBCs are complicated and nothing can be assumed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The circuit did use to work, there was only one thing was ever plugged into it. The breaker is single pole and it's only getting power from one breaker, the room is on load from an AFCI/GFCI combo outlet that will be replaced when I upgrade the circuit panel and have rooms on AFCI breakers.

Here's how it looks: (orange is for the 2 gang receptacle in photos above):
Other room recepts == 14/2 == Split two gang outlet 2 == 14/3 == Split two gang outlet 1 (Power is 14/3 from a switch) == 14/2 == one gang recept​


Questions:
1. Split dual gang outlet 2: The tab is not broken where the red wire goes into the top plug, so it gets power from the black hot and red hot (same circuit). I think this is the problem.
2. Should the left recept only have one neutral going to the right plug? The second neutral is from the one gang recpt.



Later today I will isolate the right recept and see what happens.
 

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Split dual gang outlet 2: The tab is not broken where the red wire goes into the top plug,
but the tab is broken. the bottom outlet is double tapped. the top outlet with the red has a broken tab so it's only getting power when the switch is on. correct?

Is it possible the two blacks in the bottom outlet are from different circuits or both always hot. I think that would cause a trip. But if one is always hot (coming from the right outlet) then the other black is just going downstream.

That 2nd question is a good one. Why are two neutrals tapped into a half hot outlet? Is it the same as splicing them? I don't know. But I do see that the romex with the red wire has a neutral going to the right outlet...and then pigtailed to the left outlet...that also has another neutral from another romex.

I'm not sure it matters but that romex with the red wire..that neutral seems to belong with the left upper outlet exclusively.

taking the Romex left to right 14/3, 14/3, 14/2. You should assign those letters. A, B, C and investigate and confirm destination and origin.

the more I look at that double tapped switched outlet...that middle black wire is on which terminal?? I can't tell. If that red wire is switched hot...but it's getting an always hot from the middle black wire then it's just going to be always hot, at best the switch won't do anything. . where is that middle black wire going?

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it might've worked before because someone got lucky...not because it was wired right...so I don't think the goal should be to make it work like before. Now you have to investigate all the wires and breakers and switches. draw it all out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
but the tab is broken. the bottom outlet is double tapped. the top outlet with the red has a broken tab so it's only getting power when the switch is on. correct?
There are two dual gang outlets, they are 8 ft apart and a bedroom switch controls both of them. "Split two gang outlet 2" is a separate outlet not pictured that does not have the tab removed, it is being fed by the black wire and red wire from the same 14/3 cable.

On the left receptacle: The middle black wire (below the red wire) is on the bottom terminal and is coming from the right receptacle. The bottom black wire beneath it goes to a single gang receptacle in the bedroom.

Perhaps I've found a problem that has always existed and I just got lucky not using the plugs that weren't ever wired correctly (wouldn't be the first time). I added more clarity to the picture, I still have a hunch it's the other outlet that has the tab in place, I will need to draw this out later.

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This is progress.

So that left 12/3 has 2 breakers...one for each the red and black? That is a critical detail. I thought all the power came from the 12/2 and split from there.

...red is switched?

And you have another pair of outlets with one half hot?

There is a lot to unpack here but there are individual 2 hot feeds...the red is allegedly switched....and then a branch with another switched red...plus a basic always hot branch?

If you isolate each portion until it trips you should isolate the short circuit. Im thinking with the jumpers and two switched hots and 1 neutral with 2 hot feeds something is crossed up.
 

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This is how i think that will work. A mentor will doublecheck it. but i used wire nuts and also double tapped outlets which are basically the same thing. Wire nuts have capacity limits..though i use lever nuts with 5 ports. Also assumes old school switches with no neutral.

edit: The whole 2 breaker arrangement doesn't make sense to accommodate 1 switched outlet so I don't think this is accurate. That 12/3 must be coming from another outlet where both the red and black are hot but the red gets switched. the other details still look in the ballpark of correct.

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I see 1 red wire nut in that box with red wires in it and I'm trying to figure out how that is a pigtail if the red is switched. Unless there is only 1 switch for two different switched outlets and the red wire just splices to another red and it's all switched. in that case I have a switch in my drawing that doesn't exist with your situation.

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Resumed at URL below after figuring out the whole circuit and drawing it up:

 
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