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Alex
Alex, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1694
Experience:  Owner of independent electrical contracting company. Licensed Electrical Contractor in CT.
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Will you help me find a short in my wiring (GFI keeps trip

Resolved Question:

Will you help me find a short in my wiring (GFI keeps tripping)?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Hello. Is it a gfci breaker or gfci receptacle that trips? If its a receptacle please open it and let me know what color and how many wires are connected to it.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Let me explain further.

 

The circuit connects to:

 

1 outlet in one bathroom

2 outlets in another bathroom

1 in the outside front of the house (weather-proofed outlet)

4 outlets in a sunroom in back of house

1 hardwired fan in sunroom in back of house

2 outlets in garage (1 is gfci)

 

Believe it or not, I rarely use any of these outlets. I noticed though (of the only outlet that I use) that my electric shaver wasn't charging.

 

So, I went to reset the gfci in the garage. I reset it and the breaker popped.

 

I replaced the gfci and the breaker.

 

I opened the outside outlet (because this was a problem before) pressed the gfci and the breaker popped.

 

I replaced the gfci with a regular outlet and the breaker popped.

 

I put the gfci back in and took out the hard-wired fan in the back, and the breaker popped.

 

Right now: the gfci is in, all outlets are connected, but the fan is still taken out.

 

The gfci has 4 wires and the ground. I put the two hot (black) on one side, and I put the two whites on the other. I matched up the correct black to white too (the respective ones). I've put in gfci before and I know that the black needs to go with it's matching white.

 

 

Questions: Could the breaker or gfci be bad after tripping so many times?

 

What should I do from here?

 

Thank you.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
This what we need to do as a first step. Please take those 4 wires off of the gfci. Cap them of separately and turn the breaker on. Let me know if that holds. Do you have a volt meter with 2 probes?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, I took the wires off (I didn't cap them though - I know it's a safety issue - but the effect is still the same).

 

I turned the breaker on and it held.

 

Note - the gfci was a little warm in the back when I took it off.

 

I do have a voltmeter with two probes (I have a basic electrical kit).

 

 

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Now. Please shut the breaker off splice white to white and black to black. Then go the closest affected outlet ( it might be an outside outlet ). Open it and let me know how many and what color wires do you have there. Before you do that please put one probe of tester on splice of black wires and another on splice of bare wires and let me know if you have continuity.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok - I know I have:

 

an outside outlet with two wires - white and black (and ground)

 

and another in the garage (the closest) with four wires - two white and two black

 

 

With the gfci wires I tested one black with white and I had about 120 volts. With the other set I did not though...I had nothing.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Now please do the same with garage gfci. Take the wires apart. Then with the wires spliced in previous gfci as I asked, turn the breaker on and tell me if it holds.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, sorry I may have confused you. There is only one gfci - the garage gfci. I tested it, and one set had voltage and the other didn't.

 

Should I check the closest outlet for voltage?

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
That's ok. Let me explain to you what we are doing. The circuit is daisy chained from panel to first outlet and to the next outlet and so forth. Now we need to find what is downstream from that garage gfci. We already know that wire from panel to that garage gfci is good. So why do not we do that for now. First shut the breaker off. Make a list what is not working with breaker off. Then disconnect the wires in the garage gfci. Turn the breaker on and make another list of what is not working with breaker on. Let me know.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, here is where I am:

 

I spliced the gfci wires - black to black and white to white. And:

 

I tested the garage outlet with 4 wires. One set works the other doesn't.

 

The outside outlet doesn't work. The outlets in the bathroom and everywhere else didn't.

 

 

Then I spliced the blacks and whites of the garage outlet together (after splicing the gfci). The breaker tripped when I did this. So nothing obviously will work.

 

Quick question: I had spray in insulation (looked like shaving cream) where this outlet is. Now the outlet has worked since I had this insulation put in (last summer), but could this still be a problem. What about water leakage (rain)?

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Let me see if got it correct. With gfci wires spliced but garage outlet wires not spliced the breaker held and bathrooms, outside outlet did not work. Is that correct?

1. In garage outlet you have 2 sets of wires. Please tell me if you have continuity between black and bare on ether set.

2. Do you only have on outside outlet?

3. Confirm that you only have on black and one white wire in outdoor outlet.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That is correct - With gfci wires spliced but garage outlet wires not spliced the breaker held and bathrooms, outside outlet did not work.

 

1. In garage outlet you have 2 sets of wires. Please tell me if you have continuity between black and bare on ether set. - I have continuity on only one set.

2. Do you only have on outside outlet? I only have one outside outlet.

3. Confirm that you only have on black and one white wire in outdoor outlet. That's correct - I only have one black and only one white wire in the outside oulet.

 

Also - with gfci outlet wires spliced and garage outlet wires spliced none of the outlets in the daisy chain work.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
ok. that continuity between black and bare means short somewhere downstream of the garage outlet. what is the closest affected outlet to the garage outlet?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have the outlets in the bathroom - 2 in one bath room and 1 in another, the everything in the sunroom outback.

 

It's a townhouse - 2 bed 2 bath and sunroom out back with the garage in front of the house.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
So which of the outlets are closest to the garage outlet, outdoor outlet?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, sorry, the outdoor outlet would be the closest.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
lets do this. you said you only have 2 wires in the outdoor outlet box. Can you just disconnect those wires from the outlet and test again the wires in the garage outlet if you still have continuity between one of the sets on black and white wires
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I spliced the gfci wires.

 

I opened the outdoor outlet wires.

 

The wires in the garage outlet are the same - 1 set has continuity the other doesn't.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.

there has to be some outlet or switch between garage outlet and outdoor outlet. can you take another look and see what else is not working within vicinity of the garage? where is the panel board, in the garage?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, the panel board is very close to the gfci in the garage. Let me check....

 

 

I couldn't find anything else between the outside outlet and the garage....i looked and ran a circuit tester against the wall. Is it possible that the outside outlet is at the end of the daisy chain?

 

Should I check the bathroom outlets?

 

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Well, everything is possible. the only thing is that why would any electrician run the wire from the garage to the bathrooms, sunroom and then come back to the garage to pock it out to the outdoor outlet and finish the loop. are you sure there are no more wires inside the outdoor box spliced to each other?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, I double checked - there are no more wires in the outdoor box.

 

I also looked around, and I didn't see any other outlets.

 

There is another outlet in the garage - the one my garage door opener plugs into. However, it works when the breaker isn't tripped.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
is that outlet off when you shut the breaker off?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
graphic
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That is a rough map of my house with circuit.

 

Yes - the outlet is off when I shut the breaker off.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
that's cool. thank you for diagram. Let's check dining room outlet. can you tell me how many wires you have there?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Sorry, that outlet is the outside...beside the front door.
Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
thats ok. lets go to the first bathroom between bedroom and dining room. let me know how many wires you have there.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I have two sets of wires in the bathroom on the right of the diagram.
Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Now. please take those wires off of the outlet, keep them a part and go back to the garage outlet and see if you still have continuity between black and bare. do not forget to shut the breaker off
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
With the breaker on I don't have any continuity for either set.
Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
in the garage outlet? please keep the breaker off. we need to get rid of continuity between bare and black.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry, by continuity do you mean check for voltage or resistance?

 

I was saying with power (breaker on ) and gfci spliced together (black w black, white w white) I don't have any voltage in the bathroom.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Let me ask you this. when you touch 2 probes of your tester to each other, does it beep? what does it show?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have a multimeter. I understand electricity...just not electrician terms.

 

I've been measuring voltage with A.C. setting.

 

Of course with the voltage ~ setting I don't get anything.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Let's go to ohms. I want to see if there is a short between the ground and hot or white and hot. when you switch to ohms tell me what does your meter show when you touch 2 probes to each other.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I'll switch to 200 setting with ohms...it bounces around a little bit around 1 ohm or so (resistance between the probes).
Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
now with the same setting please check between both sets of black and white in the garage outlet and let me know.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I checked both and I'm getting infinite resistance with both....does that make sense?
Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Now do the same test in the bathroom outlet on both sets. Infinite means there is no short.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Both were infinite (my display has a one - same if the probes didn't touch anything).

 

The outside outlet is infinite too.

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Well that means there is no short between black and bare. We have a short between hot and neutral, which makes things harder. Now please splice whites to each other and blacks to each other in the garage outlet and gfci. Keep wires disconnected in the bathroom and outdoor outlet box. Make sure they are capped off or do not touch each other. Go back to the panel and reset the breaker. It should hold. Let me know.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I spliced colors together (black w black, white w white) for the gfci and garage outlet. The breaker didn't hold...it popped.
Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
That means there is a short between garage outlet and bathroom outlet. Maybe there is an outlet behind something?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok...thanks for all of your help. Sounds like I may need an electrician to come out and check things. Is that what you would suggest?

 

Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Well, you seem like you are pretty handy, but everything on that circuit needs to be checked to see if there is a short. Most of the time its outdoor outlets. Its up to you if you want to tackle it by your self or call someone. Short troubleshooting takes time. It looks like short is somewhere within the garage, before it reaches the bathroom.
Alex, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1694
Experience: Owner of independent electrical contracting company. Licensed Electrical Contractor in CT.
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Expert:  Alex replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for accepting my answer, for feedback and for bonus.

I'm sorry I was not able to help you.

You can bookmark my profile for your future electrical question. That way you could find me easy.



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Alex

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