GFCI Outlet Installation

I just installed a GFCI outlet in my bathroom. There are five wires that connect to the outlet, 2 line, 2 load, and a ground. When I connect the
line wires to the line terminals and the ground wire to the ground terminal, everything works fine. I get power. But when I then connect the load wires to the load terminals, the reset switch keeps tripping and the power keeps shutting off. I'm not sure why this is happening. Any ideas? I don't think that there are any loads down the line from the GFCI outlet, so I'm thinking that maybe I should just cap the load wires and call it a day. Is this o.k.?
Thanks for the help.
Dave
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It is tripping because you have a wiring problem. Fastest way to determine the problem is to disconnect all appliances from the down stream (load) outlets, then use your multimeter to measure for conductivity between neutral and safety ground wires. You should not even see megohms of resistance between any two (of three) 'load' wires. Meter makes locating this problem quick and (more important) decisive. For human safety, you want decisive answers; not speculation.
David wrote:

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Thanks for the response. I apologize. Other than installing and troubleshooting problems with individual outlets and switches, I don't know much more about troubleshooting home electrical problems. Does downstream mean all appliances between the GFCI outlet and the main circuit breaker panel? Would I need a home wiring diagram to determine which appliances are downstream? If yes, I'm not sure that I have one. At least, I've never seen one/needed one as of yet since I've lived hear. I know how to check continuity using my multimeter. Is checking conductivity the same thing? If I see resistance between any of the neutral and ground wires on the downstream loads, what does that tell me? What should I do?
Thanks,
Dave

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wrote:

Dave, seriously, if you have any concerns about doing this installation safely, you shouldn't be in a NG asking questions. I would get a qualified person to finish the work. The service call will be much cheaper than damaged property or injured personnel.
Sorry if I sound like a doom-sayer, I've seen too many house fires, electrically started. :(
hth,
tom

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No.. I appreciate the suggestion. I like to install things, troubleshoot problems on my own, whenever I can. I learn that way. Sometimes, though. I've found it's better to let a professional do the install/repair or at least watch a professional do it the first time around to see how it's done. I definitely don't need a house fire, damaged electrical components, or a possible electrical injury.
Dave

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Make sure you've got your line / load right on BOTH hot and neutral. Its possible the old one was wired backwards, as older GFCIs would operate as a regular receptacle if wired wrong. The newer models will not. Easiest way to check is look for continuity between neutral and ground on the line side.
John
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Actually, it appears that the new ones will act as a regular receptacle when wired backwards. I just did that with a brand new Leviton "Smart Lock" GFCI (don't ask), and it was a live outlet. Neither the Test not Reset buttons did anything. When I got line and load where they belonged, Test and Reset worked as they should.
The instructions claim that they are shipped from the factory so they have to be reset before use and will not reset when wired incorrectly, but that was not my experience.
Paul
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It looks like everything is wired right. According to my instructions, if you connect the line wires to the load terminals, the receptacle will still operate, but it will not trip (shut off) when you push the "test" button like it is supposed to do I just tested the continuity between the neutral (white) and ground wires. It measured 0.
Thanks,
Dave

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| It looks like everything is wired right. According to my instructions, if | you connect the line wires to the load terminals, the receptacle will still | operate, but it will not trip (shut off) when you push the "test" button | like it is supposed to do I just tested the continuity between the neutral | (white) and ground wires. It measured 0.
Zero what? Zero ohms? If that is zero ohms, that is the problem.
Shorts between neutral and ground downstream (away from power source) would allow electricity to "leak" back through the grounding wire, which is what the GFCI device is supposed to prevent.
Other possibilities include an actual damaged neutral or hot wire downstream, or a shared neutral circuit where the neutral is merged with the neutral on another circuit. Such things can function, but a GFCI will still see it as a leak because the current coming and going is not the same on the two wires being monitored.
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You tested 0 ohms between neutral (white) and ground. Therefore GFCI complains about defective wiring. A wiring problem that may have existed since the house was first built. Find that short in one of the 'downstream' (load side) wall receptacles. Open each cover plate and inspect for a short between ground and neutral wires. And then confirm, with meter, that the short has been eliminated. If necessary, electrical tape those wires as well as separate them.
BTW, if any of those receptacles are powering computer equipment, then every wire should be firmly attached via receptacle screws on side; not connected by pushing into the back. Each wire must be firmly wrapped around screw so that it remains there even if screw is loose. Insulation on the white wire should have never made contact to bare copper safety ground. IOW the GFCI trip may be a symptom of a bad electrical job inside one of those 'downstream' (load side) wall receptacles.
Only white and neutral wire that should measure 0 ohms is the wire that goes to breaker box. Wires that connect to the GFCI's 'Line' screws. Those wires that connect to 'Load' screws must measure infinite ohms (no conductivity). GFCI will detect these wiring defects.
GFCI will not trip off when test is pressed? Did you properly identify 'load' and 'line' wires? This can be a symptom of reversed wires. But then this is also why you have the meter. Use meter to determine with wire pair has 120 VAC when circuit breaker is on. This would be the 'line' wires.
David wrote:

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Just a couple things.. The 0 ohm reading was between the line neutral (hot wire) and the ground wire . The reading between the load neutral and ground reads infinite. Is this o.k.? I'm sorry if I didn't make this clear. You write about the wire holes and the wire screws on the receptacle. When I the installed the GFCI, I pushed all of the wires (2 line and 2 load) through their respective holes. Was this a mistake? There are holes besides each line and load screw.
Thanks,
Dave

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David wrote:

If this was the newer type of GFCI (probable) then the right way is to install the wires in the holes - NOT to wrap them around the screws - and then tighten the screws. Tightening the screws on this style GFCI receptacle clamps the wires. Simple to check - if the screws are loose, the wires pull out of the holes easily.
Unlike it being ok to cap the load side wires, it is NOT ok to leave those screws loose!
Ed

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Are you saying that the GFCIs that "clamp" the wire as you tighten the screw aren't "good enough?"
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I think that statement was in reference to inspecting the standard duplexes that may exist load-side of the GFCI, In which case I agree with him totally.
John
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John Ray has corrected a misconception. All those other wall receptacles, if powering things that require high startup currents (ie electric motors) or computers should have wires wrapped completely around the screws; not use the push in holes on the back of conventional wall receptacles. That was not a reference to GFCIs that can only connect using screws.
Dave has apparently modified an earlier post. There is no conductivity between any two 'load' side wires. He was measuring neutral to ground on 'line' side. BTW the conductivity meter must be set to read in the megohm region - not just measure for short circuit. The 'beeper on a meter' is not a valid reading. The meter must read more than a megohm resistance which is more than testing for a short circuit. Dave may have done this correctly. But if he has not measured a leakage, then other problems may exist such as a leaky capacitor installed in some receptacle as a noise reducer or some other problem causing a non-linear leakage. For example, a 1000 ohm resistance between two wires would not 'beep' the conductivity tester but would be resistance so low as to always trip the GFCI. 100K ohm resistance might cause marginal GFCI tripping. But the resistance between two wires much be more than 1000K ohms. Anything at or less is considered a short circuit - to the GFCI..
Non-linear in this case would mean a leakage between two wires does not exist when at low voltage (ie using a meter) but exists when a higher voltage or a higher frequency current is applied. Inspector for something unusual in that electric box (ie electronic bugging device).
Other possibilities could include a short inside walls from the white neutral wire to, for example, some adjacent pipe. One way to check for this fault is to measure for high megohm resistance from each 'load' side wire to the safety ground wire on the 'line' side cable.
This we know. Something is leaking excessive current. If I read the post correctly, this leakage only exists when the 'load' wire is connected to 'load' screws on GFCI. But I am rather confused about another post where the test button does not work. That is a different inconsistency.
I am rather concerned about a GFCI not tripping when the test button is pressed. One reason why this can happen is that the 'load' and 'line' wires are reverse connected to GFCI. Another reason observed is that the 'load' side neutral wire was wrapped together (wire nutted) with a neutral wire from some other circuit. I have seen amateur electricians do this. Two switches were to be powered by different circuits. But the electrician wired all neutrals from both circuits together. When asked why he did this, well, he always did this for years. It was only when AGFIs were required by code that his circuits had strange problems.
IOW be suspicious of any receptacle or switch boxes that control power from two different circuit breaker circuits. Just another reason why the GFCI would see a failure and complain.
Again, we do know one thing. The GFCI sees and is complaining about a wiring problem. It could be a problem existing for decades - before the GFCI was installed.
How do electricians learn of the wiring schematic? They use testers that put radio waves on those wires, then follow the wires inside wall with a 'receiver'. They cost as low as $20 even in Radio Shack. However, with experience, the meter, and process of elimination, one can also figure out (discover) how each circuit is wired.
John Ray wrote:

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w_tom wrote:

Tom - look at a new GFCI. The new ones should NOT be wired by wrapping the wire around the screws. The wires SHOULD be put in the holes in the back, and the screws must be tightened. These are not the "push-in" holes you are thinking of. Those make contact with the wires via spring tension. The newer GFCI's have a clamp in the holes, which is tightened onto the wires when you tighten the screws.

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Those make contact with the

Some months ago "someone" on this NG was touting a replacement for the wirenut that to all appearances is equivalent to the "push in" you see on cheap outlets.
I purchased a recessed ceiling fixture (new work type) that has these already "in the box" but I haven't used it yet. I haven't seen them at the local BIG BOX store but I haven't looked lately.
Problem is, of course, is when "they" start selling GOOD "push ins" many folks will remember the NOT so good "push ins." Maybe that's why I don't see them at HD.

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(JohnGilmer) wrote: Those make contact with the wires via spring tension. The newer GFCI's have a clamp in the holes, which is tightened onto the wires when you tighten the screws. Some months ago "someone" on this NG was touting a replacement for the wirenut that to all appearances is equivalent to the "push in" you see on cheap outlets. I purchased a recessed ceiling fixture (new work type) that has these already "in the box" but I haven't used it yet. I haven't seen them at the local BIG BOX store but I haven't looked lately. Problem is, of course, is when "they" start selling GOOD "push ins" many folks will remember the NOT so good "push ins." Maybe that's why I don't see them at HD. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>
I have a box full of assorted push in wire connectors, I always say to my self I am going to use these to do an impressive job foe someone lucky., some of them have there own test point/hole so you don't have to take them off or shove wires aside to test., I think I'm saving them for my own home };-)
[Oh' I got them at electro international]
Roy
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On Wed, 06 Apr 2005 04:39:29 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@bellatlantic.net wrote:

I believe GFCI's give the option now for both back wiring, and terminal wiring.
I mean newer ones, I changed out one from my kitchen, and found it had no back wire options, only terminal screws. It's about 10 years old.
later,
tom @ www.ChopURL.com
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snipped-for-privacy@bellatlantic.net wrote:

Most of the GFCI receptacles you are talking about are listed to be wired either way. The Leviton rear clamping type is listed for either termination method for example. If the device is not listed for side wire by using the screws the screws would be tightly shrouded by the plastic housing to make mis wiring difficult. -- Tom H
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