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Thread: Problems replacing old GFCIs

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member jayvee7777's Avatar
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    Default Problems replacing old GFCIs

    I replaced two old GFCIs today (changing from beige to white) and something went wrong. One of them works fine, but the other didn't. I figured I must have got the load/line switched, so I swapped them, and then the house circuit breaker tripped. I replaced the new GFCI with another new one, and the circuit breaker tripped again. I replaced the GFCI with a regular outlet. Same thing happened. I tied the wires together (temporarily, just to see what would happen) and the breaker tripped. I am just SO frustrated right now.

    I just have no idea what it could be. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    If there are no downstream receptacles protected by the GFCI, there should be nothing attached to the load screw.


  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member jayvee7777's Avatar
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    there are two outlet plugs by the bathroom sink. I just matched the wires from the old GFCI.

    I guess my bigger question is, "Why is my breaker tripping no matter what I do"?

  4. #4
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    I would speculate that it is because you are trying to do something without fully understanding how the system works.

    If the wires are attached correctly, the breaker will not trip.

    If in metal boxes, you could have pulled on a wire and accidentally damaged the insulation which is causing a short circuit.

    If the hot wire contacts the neutral or the ground (or anything attached to ground), the breaker will trip.
    Last edited by cacher_chick; 11-27-2010 at 09:37 PM.

  5. #5
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayvee7777 View Post
    "Why is my breaker tripping no matter what I do"?
    1st guess is that you somehow introduced a short into that branch circuit. Maybe the short was waiting to happen and you pushed it over the edge.
    2nd guess is that this short showing up now is a coincidence. This happens once in a while.

    To troubleshoot,
    1 look inside the boxes for damaged insulation.
    2 disconnect the breaker black output wire and ensure that the CB doesn't trip. Reconnect the wire.

    Then figure out in what sequence your outlets are wired, farthest downstream to farthest upstream. Disconnect the string in the middle and see if the CB still trips.

    From that result go upstream or downstream until you have the short isolated to a very limited area. This is the brute force method and it is tedious.
    Last edited by Thatguy; 11-28-2010 at 01:57 PM.

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If there is a switch in that electrical box and you connected all of the white and black leads to their 'normal' positions, when the switch is on, you have a direct short. If either of the outlets was switched, that could happen, too. Were any of the tabs between the hot or neutral sides of the receptacles broken off (not possible on the GFCI, but if there was a regular outlet feed from one, it could be). This could be done to feed separate circuits or switch an outlet.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  7. #7
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayvee7777 View Post
    I replaced two old GFCIs today (changing from beige to white) and something went wrong. One of them works fine, but the other didn't. I figured I must have got the load/line switched, so I swapped them, and then the house circuit breaker tripped. I replaced the new GFCI with another new one, and the circuit breaker tripped again. I replaced the GFCI with a regular outlet. Same thing happened. I tied the wires together (temporarily, just to see what would happen) and the breaker tripped. I am just SO frustrated right now.

    I just have no idea what it could be. Any ideas?
    It is now time to seek the help of a professional

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