My GFCI in my bathroom trips when I plug anything into another standard outlet across the room. They are on separate breakers. If I turn off the breaker that powers the GFCI, the other outlet works fine. If I turn off the breaker that powers the outlet, I get 12 volts between hot and neutral.


2 Answers 2


The neutral on the other circuit is somehow cross-connected to this neutral. Possibly via bootlegging grounds. Possibly via a miswired light or fan.

All this miswiring is related to the LOAD terminals on the GFCI. Those are shipped with a piece of tape on them that says "Do Not Use. For Wizards Only." But lots of people don't read the tape. Especially selling homeowners trying to pass inspection with GFCIs in all the right places.

The usual mistake is replacing a plain receptacle (which has 4 screws, meant for splicing) with a GFCI (2 screws, plus 2 special Load screws not for splicing). They just force it, and it causes things like this.

So the answer is:

  • search all boxes in the bathroom and remove any bootlegged grounds. If they are GFCI protected they are allowed to be 3-prong sockets and have no ground, but they need a sticker that says "No Equipment Ground".
  • remove all the wires from the GFCI Load terminals, and place them on the GFCI Line terminals. Use any splicing method that is legal, e.g. wire nuts and pigtails.
  • understand your wiring. If you know of any particular loads that you want GFCI protected, move their hot and neutral to the Load terminals. Do this symmetrically, don't move hot while you get neutral from somewhere else.

Sounds like you have a problem with a loose neutral connection and/or neutrals from two different circuits connected. Less likely is the hots wrongly connected.

First thing I would do is to use a plug-in 3-prong circuit tester and test both outlets, but I suspect this test will not reveal wrongly connected neutrals. A long shot guess is that there is a wall box in which wires for these two circuits are wrongly connected together.

There is a way to reveal the presence of crossed neutrals by testing in the panel with the dead front removed, but there is risk of injury or death if one is not experienced.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.