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I am switching my kitchen receptacle to a GFI; it has 3 wires. I'm pretty sure I have to break the bar between the two hot screws, thus making the top and bottom on a separate circuit. What is the reason for this way of wiring? The outlet is not feeding anything else, it's on its own circuit with a double pole 15amp breaker. Seems a little useless to me. The house was built in 1978.

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It sounds like you're describing a multi wire branch circuit. You cannot connect a normal GFCI receptacle as you're describing because you'll effectively have a shared neutral with one of the hots on the gfci. See How do I install a GFCI receptacle with two hot wires and common neutral? and Is this a “shared neutral” situation? – BMitch Sep 15 '13 at 0:23
What are the colors of the three wires? Do you know if the same circuit breaker currently controls both the upper and lower outlets? – bib Sep 15 '13 at 0:29
This almost sounds like the outlet under a kitchen sink, where there is a single duplex receptacle with one circuit for a dishwasher and a second circuit for a garbage disposal. – Stefan Lasiewski Sep 15 '13 at 0:55

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