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hi, the red gfci button keeps on popping out in the garage

Customer Question
hi, the red gfci button keeps...
hi,
the red gfci button keeps on popping out in the garage but nothing is plugged into any of the outlets in the kitchen or the bathrooms. Also, no electrical work of any kind has been done in the house for years. What is causing this and how can i fix it? Thanks
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Electrical
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12/22/2009
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
Inactive
Inactive, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,772
Experience: Electrical Contractor
Verified
Do you have access to a digital volt meter?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
unfortunately I don't
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
Well there are a couple of reasons this could happen. For one if the gfci is going bad, it will nuicance trip like your experiencing. Your other option is that you have a wire downstream from the gfci that is touching (grounding and neutral wires)

If its just the gfci you simply replace it with a new one. If its wires, you will need to start pulling all the outlets on that circuit to check for wires touching, then separate them and re-energize the gfci.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
When you say that there could be a wire downstream from the gfci that is touching do you mean that one of the outlets in the kitchen or bathroom has a wire inside that is touching? We haven't worked on any of the outlets so I'm confused as to how a wire inside of the outlet could now be touching.
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
Yes that is what I mean. And it does not matter that you did not do any work, sometimes things like this just happen out of the blue. Either vibration, plugging something in and out constantly etc will be enough to make this happen.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
You asked if I have a digital volt meter. How much do they cost? If I buy one and check out each outlet what should I do and what kind of reading should I see if it is ok or if it has a problem?
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
A cheap digital meter will cost you about $23 from any home improvement store. And when you get it you will be taking continuity readings between the neutral and grounding wires. If you have continuity between those two wires, then you have a ground fault and it will trip the gfci. If you dont have continuity - then just replace the gfci.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Just a basic question. how will I know the neutral from the grounding wire? I guess you don't plug the digital volt meter into each outlet.
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
In order to do this, you will need to remove your gfci, then do this test on the wires connected to the load side of the gfci. The neutral wire is white, and the grounding wire is a bare copper wire.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Do you mean to open up and disconnect the gfci in the garage and then test the white and the bare copper wires inside of each bathroom and kitchen outlet?
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
If the wiring is a problem, you will be able to tell from the gfci's location because you will have continuity between the wires. If you dont have continuity, then you will need to replace the gfci.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
I asked if I should open up and disconnect the gfci in the garage and then test the white and the bare copper wires inside of each bathroom and kitchen outlet? I don't understand your answer. Should I not disconnect the gfci in the garage? Should I not check each outlet in the kitchen and the bathrooms? What should I check with the digital volt meter?
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
I answered that question. Your neutral and grounding wires will be continuous from that point at the gfci's location throughout the circuit. So by doing this test at the gfi's location will tell you if you have a ground fault or not. If you do - then you need to separate all the wires in each box to find the specific location. But if you dont have continuity - I just saved you allot of needless work.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
I asked if I should open up and disconnect the gfci in the garage. Is the answer no? I should not disconnect the gfci in the garage?
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
If you look I did answer that question - I said you disconnect the gfci to expose the wires, if that is where the gfci is located then yes, you will do it there.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
what reading will the volt meter display if there is continuity and also if there is no continuity
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
It will read 0 or very close to 0 and you will hear a beeping noise. If you dont hear a beeping noise, you dont have continuity.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

So if I don't hear a beeping noise, I don't have continuity and I need to replace the garage gfci?

 

If I do hear a beeping noise, I have to check out each outlet in the kitchen and bathrooms. Do I use the digital volt meter on each of those outlets as well?

Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
Yes you will need to go to each box one at a time and separate the wires. Check for continuity at each location if you get continuity back at the gfci. This is the only way to isolate the problem if you do in fact have an issue with continuity. If you dont - then just replace the gfci.

Here is a video that I made showing you how to properly change a gfci:

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Thanks fort the video. Just one last question. The circuit breaker has a switch for the gfci and I will turn it off before I start. Throughout the house there are 5 outlets between the kitchen and the bathrooms. Does the gfci breaker in the panel only control the one gfci in the garage or does it control the power in the other 5 outlets as well? My guess is that it only controls the one outlet in the garage and I have to shut off power in the kitchen and the bathrooms separately before I work on those outlets.
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
I cant answer that one. But If you shut power off to that circuit - and all the outlets are dead then that one breaker protects them all.

Now let me ask you this, if you shut off power to the gfci - do you still have power to all the other outlets you describe above?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

No. The other outlets in the bathrooms do not work when the circuit breaker is off.

 

Also, I just assumed that the kitchen outlets were connected to the gfci. They aren't because they work with or without the gfci circuit breaker.

Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
Are you having trouble with the kitchen outlets as well?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

No the kitchen outlets are around the sink and I incorrectly assumed that they were connected to the gfci. They work fine whether the gfci circuit breaker is on or off.

 

But to answer your original question, when the gfci circuit breaker is off the bathroom outlets do no work. what does that tell you?

Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
When you press the test button on the gfci, what all outlets are affected?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
when I press the black button on the gfci, the red button pops. Then I press the red button to reset and I hear a brief buzz.
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
When you press the test button and trip the gfci, what all outlets are dead?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
the outlets in the bathrooms
Electrician: Inactive, Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
Ok then the only outlets you need to check then are the gfci and the bathroom outlets. Just follow what I described above in checking for continuity etc.
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Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,772
Experience: Electrical Contractor
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Thanks
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