Haven't seen my exact question answered on here so forgive me if already has been.

Here's my issue - there are 3 outlets around my kitchen counter. The first is a GCFI outlet that I'm assuming has the other 2 chained two it. It works fine. The next one works fine too. The last one however does not.

I checked the wires on the middle one and everything seems to look good there. There is power coming to the outlet obviously (from the GCFI outlet). The white and black wire that should be going to the last outlet (that doesn't work) has power in it too.

When I check the wires out of the outlet that doesn't work for power, there's nothing. It's the oddest thing. I don't know where else the wire coming out of the middle outlet would go. All other outlets in the kitchen and even around the kitchen work fine. I guess I could check the outlet in the other room and see if it's somehow chained in the series. Not sure why it would be though.

Any ideas/things I could try? It's just odd.


It sounds like you have 2 outlets on one circuit (GFCI + 2nd on load terminals from GFCI) and 1 outlet that is on an entirely different circuit. So there are two issues:

  • Where does "outlet 2" chain to?

There are a few ways to figure this out. The simplest might be to push the TEST button on the GFCI. That should turn off the GFCI (obviously) and outlet 2. Assuming it does, then go around the house and see if you can find another outlet (or possibly even a light - that would be strange but nothing is impossible) that no longer works. You should find something, somewhere. Then RESET the GFCI to make sure you found the right "problem".

  • Where is "outlet 3" coming from?

First check the rest of the house (bathrooms, garage, circuit breaker panel) for any other GFCIs. If you find any, reset them and see if that solves the problem.

Also, obviously, check for any regular (as opposed to GFCI or AFCI) breakers that have tripped or fuses that have blown. If you find one, that is likely to be the source of the problem - and hopefully easy to fix.

If all else fails, then you may have a bad connection going to outlet 3 from someplace else, without anything else having failed. Then you have a few choices. You can either get wire tracing tools or just methodically check every outlet for backstabs or loose wires until you find the problem. Which may take a while.

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    So much good info. Thanks. I'll poke around and test all of the other GFCI's. No breakers are tripped. That was my first test that I did. Thanks for the tips! – Mike S Dec 10 '18 at 20:40

Code requires two 20A circuits for kitchen receptacles. The one circuit you discuss between outlets 1 and 2 would not suffice. I suspect your third outlet is on a different circuit.

Moreso, all kitchen countertop receptacles must be on GFCI protection. Since this dead receptacle does not have its own GFCI, I suspect it is downline of a GFCI device somewhere else. It's time for a GFCI hunt.

Kitchen countertop receptacles are allowed to be on the same circuit as certain other receptacle locations in other rooms, e.g. Dining room or breakfast nook. When chaining off a GFCI receptacle, the installer doesn't really have a choice about where to put the GFCI receptacle, so it could be somwehere goofy.

Also, your wiring may predate current Code requirements. So it could be anywhere.

  • Good info. It's a pretty fair estimate that my wiring probably predates current code requirements. – Mike S Dec 10 '18 at 20:36
  • When did the code change to the current requirement that a kitchen must have two 20 A receptacles on two separate breakers? – Jim Stewart Dec 10 '18 at 20:54
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    @JimStewart Actually, if I have been reading things right on DIY for the last several months - technically two 20 A circuits but the receptacles can (and typically are) 15 A. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Dec 10 '18 at 20:56
  • @manassehkatz can you provide a reference for that? A 20A circuit with a 15A receptacle sounds like a recipe for disaster. If you put a load on the receptacle that's over 15A but under 20A, you're exceeding the rating on the receptacle but not by enough to ensure tripping the circuit. – dwizum Dec 10 '18 at 21:48
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    @dwizum: The difference between 15A and 20A receptacles is that the former will only accept plugs for devices that are designed to draw 15 amps or less, while the latter will accept plugs for devices that will draw up to 20. Both kinds of receptacle are designed to be safe for use with a 20A breaker, and devices with 20A cords are rare enough I doubt most people would know why they have wonky plugs. – supercat Dec 10 '18 at 22:25

If back stabs were used (push in connectors on the outlets) this could be your problem, but with that said kitchen counter outlets should be 20 amp circuits and those don't have back stabs. I would check for another outlet behind the middle or last outlet on the other side of the wall and a broken wire or loose wire nut could be the cause.

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