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I have a standard 2 receptacle outlet in my house. I am trying to switch it to a GFCI. I realize GFCI has load and a line side. There is also a switch in my room that is tied into this outlet (and other outlets on the same circuit).

I have two sets of Romex coming into the outlet.

With the switch off:
- Romex 1 Black 120V
- Romex 1 White 0V
- Romex 2 Black 0V
- Romex 2 White 0V

With the switch on:
- Romex 1 Black 120V
- Romex 1 White 0V
- Romex 2 Black 120V
- Romex 2 White 120V

So I thought I should wire Romex 1 to the LINE side of the GFCI. I wired the black to the gold screw and the white to the silver screw. I did, and it lit up green. But when I wire Romex 2 to the LOAD side of the GFCI it trips, and it stays red no matter how many times I hit reset.

Does anyone know how I might wire this properly?

  • You didn't say how the original duplex receptacle was connected. It sounds like one cable (black always hot) went to one of the pair of receptacles and the other cable (switched hot) went to the other receptacle. If so, one receptacle would have been always on and the other receptacle would have been switched. Were the two receptacles separated from each other by having the connecting tabs broken off? – Jim Stewart Sep 16 '18 at 18:32
  • You cannot have hot wires connected to the load side of the GFCI receptacle. Do not connect the 2nd cable to the load side. With cable 1 connected to the line side you should have a functioning duplex receptacle. Cap off the black and the white of cable 2. – Jim Stewart Sep 16 '18 at 18:43
  • Is the white of cable 2 really 120 V to ground with the switch on? – Jim Stewart Sep 16 '18 at 18:45
  • @JimStewart The tabs were not broken off, so that both outlets were always on. On other receptacles on this circuit the tabs much be broken because the top receptacle is switched. If I don't connect the load side, then the next outlet on this circuit does not get power.....I need the power to continue on to the other outlets. And yes the white of cable 2 is really 120V to ground when the switch is on. – Brian Feeny Sep 16 '18 at 19:09
  • How was cable 2 connected to the original receptacle? Were the wires connected when you measured the voltages you gave above? I think you should get a plug-in circuit tester and check the functioning of other receptacles on this circuit. You might have to reinstall the old receptacle the way it was originally for testing of the circuit, but if you have a multi-meter, you could do useful testing with the wires in this box disconnected. – Jim Stewart Sep 16 '18 at 19:44
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Put the warning tape back on the LOAD terminals.

Since you are sure the tabs on the old receptacle were not broken off, they were simply splicing the two wires (on that same side) to each other, as well as serving the receptacle. Use a wire nut to join them instead, then use a pigtail to serve only the LINE terminals of the GFCI.

In this installation, LOAD will not be used.

I have a feeling there are technical errors on the downline wiring. Generally Code requires that currents be equal in any cable or conduit, and in a simple /2 Romex, there are only 2 wires so they must be equal, obviously. So who knows. Much as I'd like to help you spend days tearing apart the whole room in the dark disassembling everything and ringing out every cable on a great bug hunt for a triangled neutral or bootlegged ground or old dimmer, that is not what you asked for today.

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A GFCI receptacle will not function with line hot or switched hot wires on the load terminals. Do not connect the 2nd cable to the load side. With cable 1 connected properly to the line side you should have a functioning duplex receptacle that is always on.

The finding of switched 120 V (to ground?) on both the black and the white wires of cable 2 means you must examine the switch box to see what the connections are. Does this switch control multiple switched (and split) receptacles?

  • yes the switch controls multiple outlets. They are all in same bedroom. There is only one switch. – Brian Feeny Sep 16 '18 at 21:13
  • To my knowledge this arrangement of one wall switch controlling multiple receptacles is unusual. I thought that normally the switch would control only one receptacle of a duplex which would be spit with one receptacle always on and one switched. In our 1970 tract house the wall switches in the bedrooms were originally wired to control only one receptacle, which was *not * split!. I had one bedroom rewired so the switch controls an added central ceiling fixture and the receptacle is always on. – Jim Stewart Sep 16 '18 at 21:26
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    I am not sure that it actually controls more than one outlet, I only assumed based on the behavior I posted above where when the switch is ON, the black and white of the Romex 2 are both hot. There is at least one outlet where I can see it the switch controlling its top plug. – Brian Feeny Sep 16 '18 at 21:49
  • @JimStewart often you seem filled with wonderment that not every house is wired just like yours. It's so true, bored electricians + picky customers = almost every safe/legal combination that can be imagined, plus, a few not so much in the safe/legal! – Harper Sep 16 '18 at 22:18
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    @JimStewart It's all over the map. I've seen some receptacles split and switched, every receptacle split and switched, obviously I've seen the case where one is split. And some where they're switched but not split (often exacerbated by homeowner swapouts). It's insane, I thought the point was to be C.H.E.E.P, (cheaper than a ceiling light), but then they carry /3 cable all the way around a room and only split the farthest receptacle in the worst location. – Harper Sep 16 '18 at 23:33

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