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Steve G.
Steve G., Electrical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 16913
Experience:  27 years in Electrical Engineering, designing electrical plans and specifications.
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I need to replace my pool light gfci switch, but the new ones

Resolved Question:

I need to replace my pool light gfci switch, but the new ones have that donut on the back-which incidentally doesn't fit in my housing.
When it says feed the wire "through" the donut, it means just put it through the hole? and all the load and line wires or just some of them, and if I have wires coming from 2 sides (2 load, 2 line) can I criss-cross them, or do all have to go the same direction through the donut? And if my wires are too short, is it safe to add wire with the screw things in that application?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Hello there and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be assisting you today. I am an engineer with over 30 years of electrical and electronic training, repair and installation experience. I will try and answer your question accurately and precisely so that we can get you on your way.

I need some additional information from you in order to fully understand the situation.

Where is the 'donut'? At the switch? What is a GFCI Switch? I am unclear. You should have a GFI breaker in one of your panels feeding this arrangement, or a GFI receptacle somewhere feeding this arrangement.

Which one are you replacing?

Please let me know so that we can continue.

Regards

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


I guess it is a gfi. I've seen it printed both ways and I don't know the difference.


 


It is a gfi switch with the two buttons, on and off. they used to be black and red, now they are just white and white. It is a higher voltage one for spas and pool lights, so now it has this big plastic donut on the back of it. I don't know when they made the change. within the last 20 years.


 


If you don't know what I'm talking about, maybe you are not the one I need?


 


I have a breaker box in the house, then the wires go outside and attach to my gfi switch, which no longer worked--worn out--so I got a new one to replace it, but it has the donut in the back-this big circle sticking out of it--this is new. the directions say to run the wires through the donut. I followed the directions, but the switch doesn't work. The light only works if I turn on and off the breaker in the house. So obviously I did something wrong.


 


 

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

I know exactly what you have there, your term GFI Switch threw me off. I'm sorry.

Is the pool light the only thing on that GFI, other than what might be actually plugged into it?

Please let me know so that we can continue.

Regards

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes. Although this particular one is the switch only. Not with an outlet
Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Ok, to answer your original question, the two 'line' conductors that are freeding the 'switch' shoudl pass through the donut once and once only.

The donut is a current transformer. During normal operations, the current in the hot wire is cancelled out by the current in the neutral which is flowing the other way (back to your panel). The sum total of current induced into the donut is therefore zero.

If there is the slightest fault (to ground - through your body for example) more current flows in the line conductor than the neutral conductor, the net sumcurrent is now NOT zero and current is induced into the donut which in turn trips the GFI.

That GFI likely controls a relay. Make sure your wires go back exactly as they were.

Here is a diagram: http://screencast.com/t/15RLSVllToFI

Good luck, be careful and have a happy 4th July.

I'll be here if you need further help with this issue. Please let me know.

Regards

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, so am I running just the black lines through or both the black and white? And am I running both blacks and or both whites through the donut? Or just from the panel or just to the relay (one black vs 2 blacks
t's just not clear to me from any of the diagrams I've looked at. Also I'm going from memory when I installed it last summer.
Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Ok, JUST the two wires coming from the panel in your home to the GFI. These are your 'LINE' conductors and they are usually a black and a white wire. That is not to say that yours are black and white, they may not be.,

 

Two wires only - the ones coming from your house to the GFI and connecting to the terminals labeled 'LINE'.

 

I'll be here if you need further help with this issue. Please let me know.

Regards

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


ok. to recap.


 


(mine are black and white)


 


the black and white wires from the box side go through the donut--just straight through, I do not need to pry the cover off or anything, just through the hole-- and into the side of the gfi where labled.


Then, the 2nd set of lines (black and white) that go to the actual light DO NOT go through the donut, but just attach to the other side of the gfi.


 


wait:


 


The opposite side of the gfi?? where the ends end up? or do I need to buy some more wire, splice them together and send them back around the back of the donut into the same side of the gfi as they come from?


 


do you understand that question?


 


The gfi is facing me.


So, the wires come from the left from the house, they would go through the donut and attach to the right side of the switch. Then the ones that go from the light to the opening at the switch--coming from the right of the opening--would just pass under all the mess and hook into the left side of the gfi switch? NOT going through the donut.


 


 


 


 


Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

The wires coming from the house, a black and a white, it does not matter which way they go through so long as they both go through the same way. So both can go left to right or both can go right to left. It does not matter but they HAVE TO GO THOROUGH THE SAME WAY and then connect to the terminals labeled LINE.

The wires to your load DO NOT pass through the donut.

I'll be here if you need further help with this issue. Please let me know.

Regards

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

ok. that is VERY helpful. I think I have all 4 going through the donut.


 


I change out these things all the time, in the house, but that stupid donut thing threw me. The directions weren't very helpful, obviously :)


 


I hope to get back out there within the next day or so to fix it.


 


thanks for your help.


Kris

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Kris, you are most welcome.

Before we wrap thisup, if you would, please rate my service today using the smiley faces or stars that appear right here. It is the only way I am compensated by this site and it works like an eBay or Amazon rating so please consider clicking on one of the better choices :)

I thank you in advance.

Regards

Steve

Steve G., Electrical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 16913
Experience: 27 years in Electrical Engineering, designing electrical plans and specifications.
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