8

Total three outlets on a 20 amp breaker:

  • Wiring # 12 / 2 from breaker to Receptacle #1 line.
  • Receptacle #1 for Ironing cloths. 20 amp GFCI receptacle.
  • Wiring # 12 / 2 from Receptacle #1 load to Receptacle #2 line.
  • Receptacle #2 in Bath room for Dryer or shaver. GFCI receptacle.
  • Wiring # 14 / 2 from Receptacle #2 Load to Receptacle #3.
  • Receptacle #3 In Kitchen open cabinet for Wine Cooler. 15 amp receptacle (non-GFCI).

Every time there is a power outage in my area the cooler stay off until I reset both of the 20 amp receptacles. The main breaker never goes off, only the GFCI. What could be the cause? Or what should I do?

  • When some GFCI receptacles lose power, they revert to the open (tripped) state. Once power is restored, these GFCI devices must be reset. – Tester101 Dec 27 '16 at 12:20
18

This whole thing is a hot mess.

That breaker MUST be changed to 15 amps immediately.

First, you have 14 AWG wire in the curcuit, yet the breaker is 20A. That's not allowed. Since the smallest wire in the circuit is 14 AWG, the breaker can be no larger than 15A. The fact that it's downstream of a 12AWG section makes no difference at all. The GFCI does not provide overcurrent protection to the downstream 14AWG. The only way this would be legal is if you added fuse protection somehow.

Daisy-chaining GFCI's is pointless

At best, it causes weird interactions, such as your situation where the GFCI trips after power failures. (Mind you, this also may be a downstream device ground faulting on startup or power loss).

At worst, you are leaving another circuit unprotected which you could protect, if you would make better use of your 2 GFCIs. Move the downstream GFCI somewhere useful.

Refrigerators with grounds should not have GFCIs

For this reason. A GFCI trip knocks out the fridge, someone finds it tripped and resets it unaware that it shut off the fridge so he does not Mention it to the cook. Fridge cools back down, cook arrives and discovers cold food in fridge as expected, is unaware it's spoiled, serves it, sick family.

Power failures can already cause this, but this GFCI trip problem turns short outages into long ones.

Fire your electrician

This whole setup is awful. It was carelessly put together by throwing random parts together without concept nor care for the rules and best practices.

Since you seem smart enough to describe what's there with impressive precision, it may fall on you to school up and put this house right. Hit a library or home improvement store's book section, find a book that speaks to you (feels accessible) and devour it eagerly... want to learn much more than is strictly required for the job at hand, so you know what you're seeing when you see the unexpected.

I have to say, taking broken wiring and making it tight and right, is a lot of fun and a cheap hobby to boot.


More on the refrigerator-GFCI issue

The "no GFCI on refrigerators" advice has caused some interest. GFCI treatment is different in the US than in Europe, and I'm not calling Europeans wrong for having whole-house RCD (GFCI). That is driven by different sensibilities: Europe is interested in protecting older homes from many faults including electrocution, and the whole-house units have a gentler detection threshold so they don't have nearly as many nuisance trips (also adequate, but not as jumpy, at stopping fatal electrocutions.)

America is motivated (as always) by cost, but also by an American nightmare of pool, lake and tub electrocutions, where smaller current barely stuns a person, and they drown. As such, our thresholds are so low that nuisance trips happen a lot. And that's fine on most circuits where you just reset it.

A grounded, metal-outside, plastic-inside, HV electrical gear at the bottom, refrigerator is vanishingly unlikely to fail in a way where a GFCI would protect a human. And so the nuisance trips are bad news.

Issues only arise in two places: if the refrigerator is ungrounded (want that GFCI), or the refrigerator outlet is a duplex outlet (2 sockets) and in a location where a consumer might plug in other kitchen appliances which ought to be GFCI protected. In that case, the duplex should be replaced by a simplex to stop that from happening, or by moving the receptacle.

NEC specifically allows refrigerators to be non-GFCI-protected. It even swerves way out of its way to specifically allow non-GFCI fridges and freezers in locations where everything else needs GFCI, such as garages and unfinished basements. Again, a grounded refrigerator is simply not going to present a situation where GFCI would help.

Code allows you to put GFCI protection on a fridge, if you really want to. But since many newly made fridges state flat-out in their instructions "Do not use GFCI protection"... Oh, hold on. Yes, if you disregard those instructions, you are using an electrical product contrary to its labeling -- which is, in fact, a violation of the electrical code. Sorry.

Also, regarding the "cook oughta know it's spoiled" argument. Very often, at least here in America, the "cook" simply grabs prepared food out of the fridge and hands it unexamined, untested to another human unable to raid the fridge themselves, owing to youth, age, or infirmity. These are the very folks most vulnerable to fatal consequences from food poisoning, and least able to detect or successfully signal an unusual problem.

  • 1
    This is a great and thorough answer. – Ramrod Dec 26 '16 at 21:52
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    It's a great answer, except I disagree with refrigerators not being behind a GFCI. Do you have a source with that? Possible culinary disasters should have no bearing on how your electrical wiring is done. – Mast Dec 27 '16 at 9:12
  • Electrical safety is not the ONLY safety, and an electrician should not follow his craft so blindly that it creates hazard for other crafts. You arm-wave it, but food poisoning is real, and it kills. The use-case for kitchen GFCI protection is not really applicable to an installed, grounded fridge which is not regularly unplugged. The only exception I can think of is where a fridge is plugged into a duplex outlet positioned where the other outlet could be easily used by the consumer for things that need GFCI - replace with a simplex outlet. – Harper Dec 27 '16 at 16:24
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    There is nothing inherent in GCFI that creates a specific food spoilage hazard that does not exist anyway. The food spoilage scenario could arise with someone finding an unplugged cord and plugging it back in, or with a power outage while you're away for the weekend. Most food poisoning is from cross contamination or improper cooling. If the fridge is off long enough for spoilage to set in, it will be noticeable to the cook. – barbecue Dec 27 '16 at 16:45
  • @Mast Anyway, there's a cloud of opinions out there, but the overwhelming majority on a google "should a refrigerator be GFCI" query say this: despite NFPA's full-court press for GFCIs in most places, they always allow refrigerator outlets to be non-GFCI, even in basements and garages where they're otherwise 100% required. They don't make exceptions lightly, so there is clearly a vocal contingent very concerned with this. Here is one of many such links. answers.angieslist.com/… – Harper Dec 27 '16 at 16:45

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