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Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3670
Experience:  30 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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while changing out an outlet for a GFCI, the curcuit-breaker

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while changing out an outlet for a GFCI, the curcuit-breaker tripped. I finished the change out and reset the curcuit-breaker. However, the GFCI didn't work, so I removed it and tested for power in the wires. Nothing! I bought a new curcuit-breaker, installed it and still no power at the outlet. What happened and how do I fix it? 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) Do you have a 2-prong AC voltage tester or an AC voltmeter to check the voltages?


2) Did you wire the GFCI correctly, LINE and LOAD along with the correct corresponding hot/neutral pair and no flipped wire pairs in LINE and LOAD?


3) Did you place black electricians tape over the screw terminals in order that no ground fault or short exists when resetting the GFCI back into the wall box.


4) Is the circuit that you connected the GFCI to a shared neutral circuit? Where is the outlet located in the home?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1) 2-prong AC voltage tester.


2) The GFCI WAs wired correctly, as far as I know.


3) Did not use tape.


4) The outlet is in the bathroom at the vanity and is not shared. Nothing else is effected.


The breaker was tripped when I crossed two live wires before attaching the GFCI

1) Turn the breaker to OFF, then Disconnect the LINE and LOAD wires at the GFCI.


2) Spread all wires apart so they don't touch each other. Then turn the breaker back to ON. Measure hot to neutral and hot to bare copper ground. When you get a 120 volt measurement on the hot to neutral, that's your LINE side. Label the LINE side hot and neutral with a piece of black electricians tape. This will also confirm if the breaker is cranking out 120 volts and this will also confirm that you have the correct hot/neutral for the LINE side.


3) If all OK, re-wire the LINE and LOAD on the GFCI and re-test.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1) I already did disconnect the wires. (see where I said "the GFCI did not work, so I removed it and tested for power in the wires") There are no LOAD wires, only LINE (hot, neutral, ground).


2) I measured hot to neutral and both hot and neutral to ground and had no reading.

1) Have you tested for 120 volts at the breaker? Turn the breaker to OFF and temporarily remove the hot wire from the breaker in the panel. Then turn the breaker back to ON. With your tester, measure for 120VAC from the breaker to the neutral bus bar and from the breaker to the metal electrical panel enclosure.


2) If you can successfully measure 120 volts at the panel with no wire (no LOAD)connected to the breaker, that means the breaker is good and you have a wiring issue downstream from the main electrical panel or upstream from the bathroom wall receptacle.


3) Double and triple check all of your wire nut connections to make sure they are tight and nothing is shorting out. Make sure no bare copper ground wires come in contact with the hot/neutral on the LINE side screws, thus the reason to use black tape.


4) If you opened any boxes upstream of the bathroom wall receptacle box, very possible that is where the problem is.

1) Also make sure the breaker is properly seated onto the hot bus bar stab. If in doubt, turn the breaker to OFF, remove the breaker and re-seat it again.


2) You may also have a loose or faulty splice connection at an upstream receptacle box if this circuit is shared with other receptacles. If the bathroom receptacle is shared with other receptacles, check them for voltage at the upstream receptacles.


You can try the method shown below:


Wiggle Procedure


You have a circuit with dead outlets and maybe some dead lights on it or you’re experiencing flickering on a circuit. You will need a 2 wire voltage tester to check the outlet. A Multimeter or a Volt/Con are suggested. I prefer the Volt/Con because there are no settings to make, it does continuity and is audible. Success begins with knowing what you’re looking for.


1] No voltage reading between the hot and the neutral or ground indicates an open hot.


2] No reading between the hot and the neutral but 120V between the hot and ground and 120V between the neutral and ground indicates an open neutral.


3] No continuity between the neutral and ground – Check for tripped GFCI device first


4] If all the branch circuit breaker are on you have a bad connection on the hot or neutral wires. The usual cause is a bad connection, either a termination on a device or connection in a wire nut.

Over the years I’ve found the easiest way to locate the opening needing examination and correction is to wiggle the devices.


5] The first step in this exercise is to get a lamp to act as an alert. Make sure the lamp works and in the on position. You may also use something like a vacuum cleaner or blow dryer, for an audible alert. Don’t use anything electronic, like a radio.


6] Plug it into a dead outlet.


7] Now with a cube tester or any plug you will need to go to all the dead outlets and any live outlets in the area, insert the plug and wiggle the device side to side slightly. Watch the test lamp or listen for the other alerts as you wiggle the devices.


If the loose or bad connection is present the wiggle action may make it contact briefly and the lamp or the other things will alert you . Having found the suspected outlet all that is left is to correct the bad connection.


If the device is a push back wired device, this probably is the cause of the circuit failure. All wires must be terminated under the screws. Also you should never put more than one wire under a screw.


This troubleshooting procedure works in most cases and won’t have you open boxes un-necessarily.


Keep in mind that the problem is in one of two places in the circuit, either in the first dead outlet or the live outlet just ahead of it.




Let me know what you find.......Thanks............Kevin!


Thank you for the positive service rating.............much appreciated!


If you have any other questions, just let me know and reply back to me on this question.


Take care and have a great day................Thanks.................Kevin!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


I was finally able to get back in and fix the problem. It wasn't as hard as I made it out. But, I did learn a lot from your answer!


It turns out that there was one other GFCI upstream from the one I was replacing. It was in another part of the house and no one had noticed it had been tripped. I was halfway through the house checking outlets and switches, when I found it hidden behind a nightlight and childproof plug-in. Duhhhhhh!


Anyway, thanks for you expansive answer. It taught me above and beyond!



Good evening Bob and Happy Friday!


Yes, multiple GFCI's installed upstream or downstream from each other always present a challenge as well as the hidden one's

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Good to hear that you were able to resolve the problem and glad I could assist.


If you have any other questions or follow-up questions, just reply back to me at this question.... no need to create a new question.


Thanks for your feedback and letting me know what the problem was..........Kevin!