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I recently purchased a new outlet tester and was randomly going around the house happy that all outlets were showing GREEN (correct).

Then I came to one of the outlets in my kitchen.

I have three outlets that are wired in series. To my knowledge these are the last three outlets in the run from the panel.

Scenario One:

Outlet #1 - GFCI Outlet - Tester = GREEN (correct) The rest of the outlets are fed from the load terminals correctly

Outlet #2 - Normal Outlet - Tester = YELLOW/GREEN (open neutral) When tested the yellow/green lights come on and the GFCI trips immediately.

Outlet #3 - Normal Outlet - Test = GREEN (correct)

Scenario Two:

Outlet #1 - GFCI Outlet -Tester = GREEN (correct) The rest of the outlets are fed from the load terminals correctly

Outlet #2 - Normal Outlet - Tester = YELLOW/RED (hot/neutral reversed) When tested the yellow/red lights come on and after a second or two the GFCI trips.

Outlet #3 - Outlet three (the last outlet in the run) is removed and no outlet is connecting the hot and neutral wires (they are wire nutted off separately). I did this as a method of removing one point at a time to try and narrow things down. I did not expect this to alter outlet #2.


I am utter baffled at how the above scenarios can change and what exactly that means and what the best course of action is to correct the situation.

I am not sure how removing outlet #3 from the equation alters the "issue" that outlet #2 is having.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

  • The GFCI is tripping just when you plug the tester in, not when you push any sort of "GFCI TEST" button on the tester, right? – ThreePhaseEel Aug 9 '17 at 1:51
  • That is correct, for the "bad" outlets. When you plug it in. No need to push the button. For the "good" outlets, you must press the test button to trip the GFCI. – Mark Aug 9 '17 at 12:41
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My first impression, if I wanted to trust what the tester says, is you have a neutral that is damaged/skinned/possibly partially broken.

However, never trust gadgetry. That is only for possible diagnosis, not actuality.

Open up the offending receptacle and visually confirm what the gadgetry says. You may find a simple issue.

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    I ended up completely disassembling and installing a brand new outlet in place of the offending outlet. Someone before me had wired two hot and two neutral wires to the original outlet. I corrected this by joining the wires in a wire nut with a pigtail that then went to the hot and neutral sides of the brand new outlet. I also wire nutted all the ground together with a pigtail to the new outlet. After all this, all three outlets in series now show green on my outlet tester. Thank you! – Mark Aug 9 '17 at 22:15
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The GFCI tells all here

The fact the GFCI is tripping under the slight load of the tester and not when unloaded tells us that not only we have a ground fault somewhere between receptacles 1 and 2, we have a grounded neutral fault in there somewhere.

Checking the wiring of the second receptacle would be my first step. If that checked out, I'd then replace the cable between the two.

  • As stated in my comment above, I completely rewired the second outlet and all three are good now and the GFCI no longer trips. – Mark Aug 10 '17 at 13:59
  • @Mark -- yeah, the second outlet was the culprit then :) – ThreePhaseEel Aug 10 '17 at 22:32

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