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So my GFCI recently stopped working. I bought an outlet tester and fixed some outlets that were incorrectly wired. My old GFCI had power but wouldn't reset and test button couldn't be pressed. When I did press reset, it would automatically trip but power was still there. I replaced the gfci thinking it was faulty. I wired it one wire at a time, making sure it was correct. Now I have no power to GFCI but all outlets downstream work. The only outlet that doesn't work is the gfci. I tried switching wires and still not power. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance

  • My suggestion is to explain how the outlets were "incorrectly wired" and how your GFCI outlet is wired. Don't leave us to guess at it all. – isherwood Apr 5 at 15:44
  • It sounds like you connected the new GFCI to LOAD instead of LINE. But that is just a guess. Can you post pictures of the new GFCI and all the wires connecting to it? – manassehkatz Apr 5 at 15:44
  • This outlet had 3 set of wires. I figured out 2 of them were hot. I believe the problem was because one pair was wired on the load side and one pair was wired to line side causing the trip. Problem is that even though the GFCI was tripped and off, the other outlets had power down stream. I ended up just capping other wires and GFCI doesn't have the problem anymore – Jr619 Apr 5 at 18:45
  • Thanks for the update, but that's alarming. If power is coming into a GFCI box from two directions at once (or any box), that needs very careful handling. I would investigate further. Which breakers turn the power off? More than one breaker, a double breaker or a single? – Harper Apr 5 at 19:36
  • Very alarming. I'm pretty sure it's been like this since house was built. One breaker only – Jr619 Apr 5 at 20:18
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The GFCI isn't broken. It is correctly detecting a ground fault or wiring problem, and tripping instantly. That's its job. The test button can't be pressed because it's tripped.

It's easy to get misguided by 2 nasty forces:

  • "Doing this makes it work" -- There are lots of setups that work that will kill you. "Trying things" will only lead to one of those. Stop and find out what to do. We're here to help.

  • "3-light testers" -- I call those a "magic 8-ball tester". The lights are fine, but the written legends tend to be misleading in old work. They are for pass-fail testing brand new construction, not bona-fide troubleshooting. Also, it's an easy tester that makes a novice think the electrical world is full of easy problems. Nope; the last guy had a 3-light tester also. The problems he leaves you tend to be hard and complicated. So doing easy fixes because the tester told you to is probably counterproductive.

I think the GFCI you removed was telling you the truth -- that one of your fixes created a ground fault. I would put the old GFCI back in, very carefully exactly as you found it. It was correctly wired; this new one is miswired, I think.

"Carefully moving wire over 1 wire at a time" fails because you are relying on physical position on the device. Different models put things in different physical positions (especially 3-way switches!). Instead, rely on screw color, markings, or other evidence.

  • Green, green/yellow or bare are reserved for safety ground. Always and only. Worldwide, so even on Euro or Chinese stuff, these are ground.
  • Grounds are always joined together.
  • Ground always go on a screw. A ground in a backstab is always wrong.

  • On a socket, the taller slot is neutral. Receptacles have silver screws for the neutral side. Neutral is always the white wire (white isn't always neutral).

  • Neutral is not ground. The two are never tied together for any reason.
  • Neutrals are NOT all joined to each other. If there are 2 circuits present, there should be 2 groups of neutral separated.
  • Hot is the brass screws. Hots can be any color but green. Receptacles need neutral, so usually the white is neutral and hot is the other color.

Anything that deviates from the above is wrong.

It will be a step in the right direction if the

  • The old GFCI was tripped but was still working, that is why I changed it. When reset button was pressed it would reset but still power on When I switched over the new GFCI I did it one wire at a time, not relying on position but looking at what wires came from line/load from old GFCI and connecting accordingly to new GFCI. Either way GFCI seems to be working now after I capped one set of hot wires and using only one. – Jr619 Apr 5 at 19:20
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I believe you have mis wired the GFCI. The hot and neutral from your panel go to the line terminals the neutral your white wire on the silver or white screw, the hot black goes on the brass screw marked line. The downstream outlets you want to protect go on the load terminals with the same color coding. Each outlet should be wired the same way with respect to the colors on the correct screws. If any ground wires usually a bare copper make sure they are all connected and also attach to the green screw on the outlet.

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