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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1063
Experience:  27 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
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A small appliance triggered the safety shock protecting outlet

Resolved Question:

A small appliance triggered the safety shock protecting outlet in the kitchen which has a reset button. We were using the outlet with no problem for a printer and to charge our cell phone, but just recently we plugged a new blender into it and it set the built in smoke alarm off. When we go to reset it by pushing in the button, the green light goes on with the outlet, but it instantly sets off the smoke detector again. Meaning we cannot reset the outlet without the built in smoke detector going off.

In addition, we noticed that there is another outlet, which does not have this safety device on it to trigger it off if a short, which it is in another room, and when we go to plug the vacuum into the outlet, it also sets off another built in smoke detector, but if you plug in a lamp, it does not. There is no smoke or smell of smoke in both cases.

Some background is the house was built a few years ago, but we are the first to live in it.
What could be causing these issues?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 10 months ago.

Hello Bernard.........my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!

 

1) Is the outlet you are referring to a GFCI receptacle that has a test and a reset button on it?

 

2) Are all the smoke alarms hard-wired in the ceiling or are any of them battery operated and a wireless type?

 

Are all of the smoke alarms in the house wired as "inter-communicated"? In other words, if 1 smoke alarm goes off, so do all of the rest of the smokes in the house simultaneously?

 

3) If the smokes are hard-wired, are they all connected to the same circuit as the GFCI receptacle or only the (1) one smoke is connected?

Expert:  Kevin replied 10 months ago.

1) Bernard............if the receptacle is indeed a GFCI type and your smokes are wired to the LOAD side of the GFCI, it is never recommended to have smokes wired to a GFCI due to nuisance tripping and also for safety purposes.

 

2) A GFCI has 2 wiring connections located on the back of the receptacle, ie, LINE side and LOAD side. If the smokes are wired to the LOAD side screw terminals and the GFCI has been tripped, the smoke alarms will never work on AC voltage and would only work if they are a combo AC/Battery type.

 

3) Hard-wired smokes typically have 3 wires, ie...... 1 hot, 1 neutral and 1 inter-communicated. The inter-communicated wire is wired to other smokes within the house in a daisy chain fashion. If 1 smoke is triggered, it will send a voltage signal to the remaining smokes and all of them will sound simultaneously. It is very possible that if the smokes are connected to a GFCI LOAD side, the smokes were wired incorrectly and possibly the "inter-communicated" wire was connected to the LOAD side of the GFCI. If you feel comfortable in doing so, you would need to perform a visual inspection as to how things are wired to determine and confirm if this is what is causing the problem. If not comfortable working with electricity or you don't have the proper voltage testing instruments, I would recommend having a licensed electrician check things out.

 

4) The other outlet in the other room may also be wired as a downstream receptacle off of the same GFCI receptacle on the LOAD side and causing the same problem.

 

5) I would recommend to remove any smokes wiring in the house and get them off of the LOAD side of any GFCI breakers or GFCI receptacles. They should be re-wired and not on a GFCI device.

 


Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.

 

Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.

 

The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:http://www.justanswer.com/home-improvement/expert-your-electrician
..........Thanks..............Kevin!



Customer: replied 10 months ago.

1) Is the outlet you are referring to a GFCI receptacle that has a test and a reset button on it?


 


Hi,


 


Just noticed your response, so I will be reading over the great information you gave me. Please see my answers to your questions also.


 


2) Are all the smoke alarms hard-wired in the ceiling or are any of them battery operated and a wireless type? HARD WIRED


 


Are all of the smoke alarms in the house wired as "inter-communicated"? In other words, if 1 smoke alarm goes off, so do all of the rest of the smokes in the house simultaneously? IT SEEMS LIKE THEY ARE NOT, FOR WHEN WE PLUG IN SOMETHING WITH THE KITCHEN OUTLET ONE GOES OFF NEARBY, AND WHEN WE PLUG IN THE VACUMM IN THE OTHER THE SMOKE DETECTOR NEAR IT GOES OFF.


 


3) If the smokes are hard-wired, are they all connected to the same circuit as the GFCI receptacle or only the (1) one smoke is connected? AGAIN, THEY SEEM TO BE CONNTECTED TO THE CIRCUIT THAT IS BEING TRIGGERED BY THE OUTLET NEAR THEM.

Expert:  Kevin replied 10 months ago.

1) Thanks for the replies.

 

2) Since I am located in the United States, I am only familiar with the National Electrical Code and am not familiar with what code the Cayman Islands adheres too. However, since your home is fairly new, I would assume that your smokes are also the "inter-communicated" types since these are very common. But as I mentioned, I'm not certain of the electrical code requirements in the Cayman's.

 

3) As I mentioned, if the smokes are wired to the LOAD side of a GFCI and/or wired incorrectly with the "inter-communicated" conductor, this can very well be the cause of the problems. The only way to determine if the smokes are the "inter-communicated" type is to temporarily lower each smoke device from the ceiling and look if there are 3 wires. The wire colors will typically be black (hot), white (neutral) and a red or yellow for the inter-communicated conductor.

 

Shown below is a picture of a GFCI receptacle

 

graphic

Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1063
Experience: 27 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
Kevin and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Kevin replied 10 months ago.

Bernard........ thank you for the excellent service rating...........much appreciated!

 

If you have any other questions, let me know.

 

Take care and have a great evening...........Thanks again............Kevin!

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