GFCI Will Not Reset

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Wpollock

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Type GFCI Outlet- Eaton TR Installed mid to late 2020
Corresponding Breaker in Main Panel- Square D 20 Amp in number 20 position
The main breaker is designated as Bath GFCI and I know for a fact that the GFCI protects two outlets in a hall bath, one outlet in a powder room, three outlets in the master bath and one outlet in a utility room. I assume all outlets protected by the GFCI are run in a series that starts at the GFCI and ends at one of the protected outlets. The one farthest from the GFCI in distance is the one behind the master bath toilet.
I plugged a 110 volt ac Vornado heater into the protected outlet located behind my master bath toilet and the heater turned on and operated normally. However, roughly one hour later I returned to find the heater off and the GFCI tripped. The corresponding main panel breaker was not tripped. The GFCI has two indicator lights, one orange and I assume the other red. The orange light was lit and I was unable to reset the GFCI. The GFCI user pamphlet says the GFCI is bad if the orange light continuously blinks which it does not. Any ideas what my problem could be are appreciated. Pictures attached of the currently installed GFCI, the corresponding main panel breaker and one I am considering using to replace if it is possible the current one has gone out.
 

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LLigetfa

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We are seeing a very high failure rate on GFCI outlets that see high current. Try replacing with another brand and hope for the best.
 

Afjes

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Just for giggles, before you replace the GFCI look around the house for all GFCI receptacles and trip them with the test button and then reset them all with the reset button on each one.

Just to be sure I advise this because it is possible that when wired that this GFCI may be on the circuit with another GFCI before it wired to the load and not line side. This may cause phantom tripping overall of either. If there is no power to the circuit because of a tripped GFCI upstream then the GFCI in question will not reset because there is no power to it.

I say to trip them all with the test button and then reset them to be sure you are actually resetting each one. I would do this before you do anything else. Even a GFCI on the other end of the house in the garage may be a culprit. Don't go by their locations in relation to where this one is. Just test and reset all of them. Also look for any GFCIs in the basement or outside.

You can also be sure you shut off this circuit and then pull out the GFCI and then turn on the circuit and test to see if it is getting power. If you are getting proper power at the GFCI then more than likely you will have to replace the GFCI receptacle.
 

Reach4

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You are still unable to reset the GFCI. Unplug everything plugged into the downstream outlets, and try again. If the GFCI still will not reset, remove the wires wired two "Load" terminals of the GFCI. If now the GFCI can be reset, I expect some problem with the wires. From there I would try some ohmmeter checks.
 

Wpollock

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Latest update. I removed the load side supply lines and was able to reset the gfci. I reconnected the load side supply lines and the gfci tripped when I turned the breaker back on. I am unable to reset the gfci. Does this indicate a ground fault at one of the down stream protected outlets (there are six for sure) or possibly, and I really hope not, the supply lines between two of the protected outlets? What, if there is one, is the most efficient way to isolate the problem?
 

Reach4

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I would get a ground, and measure for AC voltage on each wire that had been going to the load. If 120 volts, you have a short. If something much less, it is not for sure what is going on. A wire can pick up electric fields like an antenna, for a high-impedance meter. During the day, when you have lights thru windows, turn off breakers that service that area of the house.

Once I was sure voltage sources are gone, I would measure the resistance of each wire to ground. If you have less than say 100KOhm, there is a short to track down.

Another idea is to go to middle outlet in the chain. Disconnect its wires that daisychain to the next outlet. Reconnect the wires at the GFCI. If the GFCI trips, you know the problem is before that middle outlet.

When powering outlets via a GFCI, it is important that you don't share the neutral with a circuit not powered via that GFCI.

Play with the multimeter. See what you can learn initially.
 

Wpollock

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So hoping the issue would be one of the protected receptacles, I decided to remove the one in the hall bath where the GFCI is located to make sure I got the correct replacement. Here is what I found. Thinking back, I believe this is the receptacle the electrician replaced in mid to late 2020. I can only hope the receptacle was wired correctly, there is enough of the hot wire that has the insulation sheathing melted to allow me to cut it back for a new connection and that this hasn't happened at other downstream protected receptacles. Clearly the GFCI is performing its intended function.
 

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LLigetfa

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Clearly the GFCI is performing its intended function.
Do you have a GFCI outlet or GFCI circuit breaker? Overcurrent protection is not the job of a GFCI outlet but is for a breaker.

That heat damage is likely due to a loose connection.
 

LLigetfa

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It might be a code violation to daisy-chain outlets that way. They should be wire-nutted with a pigtail to the outlet.
 

wwhitney

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It might be a code violation to daisy-chain outlets that way. They should be wire-nutted with a pigtail to the outlet.
Maybe in Canada, but not in the US. The only restriction like that in the NEC is that if you have a MWBC, then the neutral conductor can't be wired through like that, the device needs to be removeable without breaking the neutral conductor.

Cheers, Wayne
 

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Latest update. I removed the load side supply lines and was able to reset the gfci. I reconnected the load side supply lines and the gfci tripped when I turned the breaker back on. I am unable to reset the gfci. Does this indicate a ground fault . . .
Looks like you found your problem, but to the question above (as edited), the answer is yes. I was going to suggest that with the downstream loads disconnected, you check resistance between the neutral and the ground to confirm.

Cheers, Wayne
 

LLigetfa

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Also, unless the image was reversed, the wires are wrapped around the screw in the wrong direction (CCW). They should be swapped CW so tightening the screw tightens the wrap.
 

Wpollock

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This circuit has a GFCI outlet connected to a 20 amp breaker. My mistake in not stating the picture showing the black wires and terminals is reversed. All wires are looped clockwise. What I did find upon further inspection is that one of the black wire terminal screws was never tightened down. With this information now known, is it still recommended that with the downstream loads disconnected, I check resistance between the neutral and the ground to confirm.
 

Reach4

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With no power present, you will want to check resistance of both the neutral and the hot to ground during your testing.

The point is that removing downstream loads eliminates them as potential leaks to ground.
 

wwhitney

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With no power present, you will want to check resistance of both the neutral and the hot to ground.
If a multimeter is available, certainly worth making some checks while the box is open. But if I'm following correctly, there's no evidence of a hot to ground fault, that would have tripped the breaker. There was evidence of a neutral to ground fault, which kept the GFCI from resetting. If in assessing the damage it is obvious how the overheated, misterminated connection caused a neutral to ground fault, I would be satisfied.

Cheers, Wayne
 

Reach4

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If there is an imbalance current, it could be either hot or neutral leaking. It does not take as low of a resistance for hot to ground to get the 5ma trip as it does for a neutral to ground.


As I see it, with stuff unplugged, and the load wires disconnected from the GFCI outlet, you should not have significant continuity to ground. Mentioning 100,000 ohms (100KOhms) as a threshold was fairly arbitrary. Resistance to ground, once things are isolated, should be much higher than that. Yet 100K is not low enough to trip a GFCI.

So 10K continuity hot to ground would not trip the breaker, but would trip the GFCI. 1 Ohm continuity neutral to ground would trip the GFCI but not trip the breaker.
 

wwhitney

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If there is an imbalance current, it could be either hot or neutral leaking. It does not take as low of a resistance for hot to ground to get the 5ma trip as it does for a neutral to ground.
You are right, I was only thinking of a low resistance fault, which would have to have been neutral to ground. But a high resistance fault could have been either from hot or neutral to ground.

Cheers, Wayne
 

Wpollock

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I am considering reinstalling the new receptacle using pig tails since I need to cut back the overheated black(hot) wire to get to good insulation. If I am understanding how they work, I would lug both black(hot) wires coming into and going out of the receptacle box with a single new black wire of the same gauge, lug both white(common) wires coming into and going out of the receptacle box with a new single white wire of the same gauge and run the new single black wire to one of the gold terminals, the new single white wire to one of the silver terminals on the new receptacle and the bare ground to the green terminal on the receptacle. If this is correct and I choose to do so, do I have to make the same change at all other down stream protected receptacles on the circuit?
 

Afjes

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Post #7
Are you sure an electrician wired that receptacle? The hot wires wrapped in the wrong direction is a tell-tale sign that it may not have been an electrician. Any real electrician would know that.
 
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