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Thread: GFI outlet problem

  1. #21
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    Default Re: GFI outlet problem

    Ho Ho Ho ... I love a good Ground Fault discussion.

    Ground Fault Protection is simply a differential comparison of IN/OUT current. Polarity does affect the function. GROUND wire? Nothing to do with it. It is an EQUIPMENT GROUND and NOT required for proper GFCI operation. GFCI receptacles are designed to open both poles if current leakage is greater than 4ma. If you use a tester and the ground is not connected - guess what - you think the GFCI is bad. Not necessarily.

    Also, the device cannot detect anything prior (upstream). It only detects what is connected to it. If it was installed by a competent electrical worker, I would strongly suspect the device is defective.

    I have been an electrician 30+ years, before GFCI receptacles went mainstream. I can prove its function and it is in the National Electrical Code. The facts are clear and I've done an extensive amount of testing on Ground Fault Protection systems. GFCI is designed to PROTECT PEOPLE from doing stupid things.

    What I am hearing is a junk GFCI ... it happens. I saw it is on a 20a breaker? Hope you use a 20a device. 20a devices are superior to their 15a counter parts. Technically it is in the NEC the receptacle should be rated for the breaker. I still see NEMA 5-15's used where NEMA 5-20's should be used in NEW installations. Some workers didn't get the memo (or are unusually THICK).

    If you replace it again ... It is very clear on the back of the device. LINE Hot/Neutral -- not LOAD, unless you have more than 3 wires and this suggests there is a device downstream that needs protection ... those are the only 2 wires necessary for proper operation but use the ground anyway. There are several configurations electricians use depending on the requirements - Sounds like you only have 3 wires so it is simple.

    If you know what PPE is required (by NFPA 70e and OSHA standards) then feel free to finger around with hot wires. If you have a complete understanding where that current is going to go through your body if you touch the HOT, you will consider a professional. I don't use GFCI receptacles. I have GFCI breakers protecting several branch circuits going outside, the hot tub, pool and pond. Each breaker is tested in the field (at the device it protects using a Ground Fault Current Meter). For the general public - use the TEST button at least twice a year. Some installations and institutions require testing every 30-60 days along with test logs.

    If the ground below your feet is wet and your feet are damp or wet - don't mess around with the live black wire. Less than 3ma (0.003a) can cause serious problems up to and including cardiac failure.

    Make it BEAUTIFUL! Make it SAFE!

    Happy Holidays!
    Last edited by RGB_Mixer; 11-29-2015 at 11:45 AM. Reason: Gremlins took the keybaord!
    -Eddie

    The missus wants to ride!

  2. #22
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    Mar 2015
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    Default Re: GFI outlet problem

    Since this is an OUTSIDE outlet, and most Digital Volt Meters have a relatively high impedance, a quick check for reversed hot/neutral, a meter probe can be stuck into the soil and then you can probe to ensure the Black is hot. Due to the earth connection, you may read a little low on the volts and due to current from other circuits on the Neutral, you may read up to a volt or two on neutral (white) to the soil. This is again normal. The bare ground wire should be well below 1 volt to the soil. If you read voltage on this wire, it's time for a licensed electrician to check your grounding.

  3. #23
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    Sep 2013
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    Parker, CO
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    Default Re: GFI outlet problem

    It is supposed to warm up mid-week, I'll get another outlet and try again.

    A little more background on my situation. This circuit was put 6-7 years ago along with all of my outdoor light circuits. I used an electrician that I have used for many years, everything was permitted and inspected. This particular one runs my water feature pump, which draws about 8.5A. It has been on the original outlet since it was installed. There are no other outlets upstream or downstream.

    When the outlet died a month or two ago, I moved the pump to one of my light circuits until I replaced the outlet. I didn't get to that until now. The pump circuit is on a 20A breaker, and the replacement outlet I bought was 20A.

    I was able to move some lights to other circuits so that the pump can stay on this light circuit for a while if needed. I only have about 4A worth of lights on it now, along with the pump.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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  4. #24
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    Default Re: GFI outlet problem

    Quote Originally Posted by RGB_Mixer View Post
    Ho Ho Ho ... I love a good Ground Fault discussion.

    Also, the device cannot detect anything prior (upstream). It only detects what is connected to it. If it was installed by a competent electrical worker, I would strongly suspect the device is defective.

    e.

    Make it BEAUTIFUL! Make it SAFE!

    Happy Holidays!
    Mixer, I would consider this might have an upstream issue and disagree with your statement. I took this off of one manufactures website, but it is the new design requirement that gfi's have no power when reversed wired.

    http://www.legrand.us/passandseymour...-standard.aspx
    Last edited by Inspector Steve; 11-28-2015 at 12:36 AM.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: GFI outlet problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Inspector Steve View Post
    Mixer, I would consider this might have an upstream issue and disagree with your statement. I took this off of one manufactures website, but it is the new design requirement that gfi's have no power when reversed wired.

    http://www.legrand.us/passandseymour...-standard.aspx
    Inspector Steve, great data to support the polarity detection capabilities, but please do not use the term upstream....this is "line side input detection," not upstream detection. I know this may sound a little nitpicky, but to an electrical engineer, they are night and day different.

  6. #26
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    Default Re: GFI outlet problem

    Quote Originally Posted by RGB_Mixer View Post
    Ho Ho Ho ... I love a good Ground Fault discussion.

    Hope you use a 20a device. 20a devices are superior to their 15a counter parts. Technically it is in the NEC the receptacle should be rated for the breaker. I still see NEMA 5-15's used where NEMA 5-20's should be used in NEW installations. Some workers didn't get the memo (or are unusually THICK).

    Make it BEAUTIFUL! Make it SAFE!

    Happy Holidays!
    Ok...........let's discuss this one because I am a bit rusty on this code section, but I thought this requirement only applies to a single outlet, not a duplex. I am thinking this is not a requirement of the code. It is/ or was completely legal by the NEC to install one 15 amp duplex receptacle on a 20 amp breaker. I will open up my code book this week end and refresh myself and confirm. Edit: I can confirm use of a 15 amp duplex is completely acceptable by the NEC for use on a 20 amp circuit.
    Last edited by Inspector Steve; 11-28-2015 at 01:01 AM.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: GFI outlet problem

    Hey folks,

    I believe this is going in the wrong direction. There is no mention of illegal use of 5-15R vs 5-20R - 'technically' means just that. 20a circuit should have 20a devices on it - not 59 cent 15a devices - especially seeing the demand could reach 80% of the rated breaker current of 20a - 16a (80% of 20A) exceeds specs for a 5-15R. The NEC does allow 15a devices - it is a matter of personal preference and the load demand should be researched for proper device selection. There are other factors to consider when making a good selection. Inrush, duty cycle, connection frequency, etc.

    Not making it complicated, using common sense --> how many times I have to come back and replace a device when it fails. 20a devices are superior to 15a, generally cost a little more and that added cost is priceless for peace of mind. My guys are instructed to do good field work: 20A branch circuits get 20A devices. Do it right the first time and there will be no recalls. In another respect - it is good business. Can't make a living if you screw up projects.

    There are stacks of different rules for residences vs commercial and industrial wiring.

    Some folks might notice 20a receptacles on a 15a circuit - still limited to 80% (or 12a). That is overkill - completely harmless.

    This is one of my many personal resources - Holt is on the board and contributes to the NEC: https://www.mikeholt.com/

    The last bit I saw was the mis-wiring of the LINE side and LOAD side. Newer devices that are of the TAMPER PROOF grade will lock their cover if the feeder is wired to the LOAD side. The FEEDER (from the breaker) must be connected properly to the LINE side of the device for these new devices to work and unlock. Newer code calls for tamper proof receptacles (STD and GFCI) in residential installations. Also calls for Arc Fault breakers that feed bedrooms. The Authority that has Jurisdiction. THAT is the inspector of that area. HIS word is pretty much law. The inspector has the right to change things to fit the conditions. Most of the inspectors around my area I know and are a wealth of information too.

    There are GFCI receptacles that have a "WP" or "WR" suffix. WATER RESISTANT. Similar to the Tamper Proof devices but are designed for wet conditions.

    Downstream connections are just that. Downstream from the GFCI and are connected to the LOAD side of the device. Prior to the GFCI (feeder/upstream) there is NO protection except from the branch circuit breaker. Adding a GFCI to the branch circuit does not re-classify the feeder. Only the loads plugged into the GFCI are Ground Fault Protected and any loads protected downstream from the GFCI i.e. additional receptacles fed from the LOAD side of the GFCI are Ground Fault protected.

    What needs to be done is verify an installed GFCI device. Keeping it simple Black to the LINE (hot) - White to the LINE (neutral) - Green/bare copper to the GREEN ground screw. There is also a bit of code many are not aware of in regards to ground screws and acceptable wiring practices.

    In this case I read it is a single 20a branch circuit to a single receptacle installed by a competent electrical worker, in service for several years and then took a sheet. So the above connections should work as advertised.

    Since the device refused to 'Reset' and turn ON under the assumed correct connections, usually it indicates the replacement unit could be defective. Not a first time thing for those who work in the field daily. I agree assemblies have improved and failure rates are very low, however it can happen.

    I strongly advocate the use of a 20A device since it is the ONLY device on the 20a branch circuit. As it was pointed out - 8.5A draw. Within specs of a 5-15R - the 5-20 is an overall better choice and in most cases will outlast a 15a device under the same conditions.

    Did you know there are specifications for hospital grade receptacles? All these receptacles must have a PULL OUT rating - meaning the amount of force necessary to remove a plug from the device. Ever plug like a lamp or other 2 wire device see the plug sort of droop a bit? Or just tug lightly on the wire and it falls out? Hmmmmmmm. Tells me that receptacle is pretty much a potential fire hazard.

    Here is a good example of a GFCI which does not have a equipment ground - the GFCI will work as expected.

    GFCI without Ground: http://ecmweb.com/site-files/ecmweb....3ecm18fig1.gif

    Single GFCI receptacle: http://www.buildmyowncabin.com/elect...fci-outlet.gif

    I have a "cheater cord" set I use for testing devices in the field. It is a plug with insulated alligator clips on the end of a piece of 16/3 SO cord. It is a 'tool' of the trade.

    There IS a way to test the GFCI device under controlled conditions. Since we all use wires, this is simple. You can use a 2 wire or 3 wire cord - whatever is lying around will work. A piece of zip cord with a plug on the end, preferably polarized - determine which wire is hot and neutral ... wire it to the device in question. Plug it in to any other live outlet being CAREFUL not to cause any shorts (working on a non conductive surface is good). With the device on the bench - if in any doubt, use some PPE --> put on some dry leather work gloves. They offer enough insulation for this test. Then test the GFCI. It should SET and TRIP properly when pressing the buttons. If not, yup - the device could be declared D.O.A.


    Lets just fix the problem - if a new device tests GOOD and fails to resolve this problem - it might be time to start examining the feeder - carefully. It could have a failed joint in a junction box somewhere between the breaker and outlet box - that is the last piece of the puzzle. Bad connections in junction boxes - fairly un-common although when good wiring practices are used, rarely an issue. I am going to assume the wire used is probably a common 12/2 NM. Solid wire. If the wire was manufactured in the past 10 years, the jacket color will be YELLOW. #14 NM is white - #10 NM is ORANGE. Older NM cables are white, regardless of size. This also helps trace wires unless someone actually used all #12 in a residence - OH JOY!

    So, for me, I'd test the GFCI receptacle in question under controlled conditions to verify GO or NO GO. If it is GOOD, then it is time to trace back the feeder since there is no verification it was a single wire without a junction box. If it is found in a junction box with other wires - I'd recommend calling in a professional if not completely confidant in sorting out a box of wires. The conditions in the box - box fill and other live wires that could be in there - something to consider.


    Hope this clears up any misconceptions.
    -Eddie

    The missus wants to ride!

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Default Re: GFI outlet problem

    Quote Originally Posted by rgb_mixer View Post
    ho ho ho ... I love a good ground fault discussion.

    Ground fault protection is simply a differential comparison of in/out current. Polarity does affect the function. Ground wire? Nothing to do with it. It is an equipment ground and not required for proper gfci operation. Gfci receptacles are designed to open both poles if current leakage is greater than 4ma. If you use a tester and the ground is not connected - guess what - you think the gfci is bad. Not necessarily.

    Also, the device cannot detect anything prior (upstream). It only detects what is connected to it. If it was installed by a competent electrical worker, i would strongly suspect the device is defective.

    I have been an electrician 30+ years, before gfci receptacles went mainstream. I can prove its function and it is in the national electrical code. The facts are clear and i've done an extensive amount of testing on ground fault protection systems. Gfci is designed to protect people from doing stupid things.

    What i am hearing is a junk gfci ... It happens. I saw it is on a 20a breaker? Hope you use a 20a device. 20a devices are superior to their 15a counter parts. Technically it is in the nec the receptacle should be rated for the breaker. I still see nema 5-15's used where nema 5-20's should be used in new installations. Some workers didn't get the memo (or are unusually thick).

    If you replace it again ... It is very clear on the back of the device. Line hot/neutral -- not load, unless you have more than 3 wires and this suggests there is a device downstream that needs protection ... Those are the only 2 wires necessary for proper operation but use the ground anyway. There are several configurations electricians use depending on the requirements - sounds like you only have 3 wires so it is simple.

    If you know what ppe is required (defined by the nec 70e article and osha standards) then feel free to finger around with hot wires. If you have a complete understanding where that current is going to go through your body if you touch the hot, you will consider a professional. I don't use gfci receptacles. I have gfci breakers protecting several branch circuits going outside, the hot tub, pool and pond. Each breaker is tested in the field (at the device it protects using a ground fault current meter). For the general public - use the test button at least twice a year. Some installations and institutions require testing every 30-60 days along with test logs.

    If the ground below your feet is wet and your feet are damp or wet - don't mess around with the live black wire. Less than 3ma (0.003a) can cause serious problems up to and including cardiac failure.

    Make it beautiful! Make it safe!

    Happy holidays!
    nfpa 70e

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Fox Valley Area, Wisconsin
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    173
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    Default Re: GFI outlet problem

    Quote Originally Posted by K-State Fan View Post
    nfpa 70e
    yup - sorry - was tired and running around - thanks.
    -Eddie

    The missus wants to ride!

  10. #30
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    Aug 2011
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    Cleveland Ohio
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    Default Re: GFI outlet problem

    Eddie
    Lots of good info. I apologize if you think this is going in the wrong direction. From my name you can see what I do for a living. I like to be technically correct in layman's terms. Can you point me in the direction of a WP designated GFI receptacle? Technically, all new GFI receptacles will lock the cover when mis wired weather or not they are tamper resistant. Not just TR rated outlets. Lock the cover does not mean what it might sound like. Lock the cover means no live parts will be present for contact, most likely by cutting off power to the metal tabs inside the outlet where the cord plug would most likely make contact. Or put another way, if tested with a simple plug in type tester, it would read as a dead outlet

    Steve

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