I was charging my electric golf cart off the GFCI on the side of the house. It tripped and would not reset. I found out I had a bad cord that was shorting it self out. This is were the puzzle begins.

I pulled the receptacle from the wall and this is how it was wired.

  • Two white wires pig tailed together; one of the white wires had black magic marker on it. These both ran to the brass screw on the outlet.
  • Two black wires pig tailed together wired to the silver screw
  • The ground wire was hooked up correctly to the green screw but also marked with black magic marker.

The receptacle had started to melt. I now have no power from that receptacle onward to the rest of the receptacles, the overhead light or fan which is controlled by a three way switch does not work either. The wires at the switch do not use a 3 wire cable as a feeder, they use black and white wires.

I do not now know what to do to correct the problem that this presents.

  • Have you checked the pigtail connections? The way it's wired the outlet should have no effect on the downstream devices.
    – isherwood
    May 8, 2019 at 15:07
  • 1
    It's possible the black magic marker only denoted which cable it was, though, marking white black is an improper marking for that purpose. Since you say "GFCI" I take it this is a GFCI+receptacle? (there are other kinds of GFCI) Is everything connected to the LINE side? (that's fine if so). May 8, 2019 at 15:15
  • the receptacle in question is before the GFHI.the pigtail connection was also marked with a black magic marker
    – bones
    May 8, 2019 at 15:22

3 Answers 3


Wait, you have white wires on the brass screws and black on the silver screws? Are you sure this is correct because black "hot" should be on the brass screw and white neutral should be on the silver screws. I did purchase a home in Ohio that was wired backwards 100% but I would be checking the wiring, did you check the circuit breaker? A short hot to neutral won't trip a GFCI, but will trip the breaker.


It sounds like the short caused the receptacle to melt and then tripped the breaker for the circuit. That would explain why you have no power to anything else despite everything being wired on the "Line" side of the receptacle instead of part on "Load".

Check your breaker panel for anything tripped. Keep in mind that with many breakers it is not really obvious when it has tripped. If you can't find anything tripped (and if you are not sure, just turn a breaker all the way Off and then back On), post a picture of the panel.

As far as why the receptacle melted rather than simply "tripped", a short in the cord would not be a ground fault (which would trip extremely quickly) but rather be a normal over-current situation. As long as hot == neutral, the GFCI won't trip and you are relying on the circuit breaker in the panel to protect you. That circuit breaker might be relatively slow to trip, depending on many factors. At the same time, the GFCI is going to be overly sensitive to an overcurrent situation because of the sensitive electronics included in it. It shouldn't melt, but that is not so surprising.

As far as the black markings on a white & ground wire, I suspect that was someone's way of trying to distinguish between the "in" and "out" sets of wires. The matching black wire might be marked with a black marker too, but that wouldn't be so obvious :-)

Based on additional information in comments, it appears that there are some receptacles on the circuit that are still working but nothing "after" the melted GFCI is working. Based on the description that the wires are pigtailed to the "Line" side rather than working off of "Load":

  • Disconnect the pigtails from the GFCI to eliminate that from having any effect (not sure how it would, but just in case - and that GFCI needs to be replaced anyway).
  • Check the last working receptacle. You may find that the wires heading to the melted GFCI show signs of melting/arcing/burning. If those wires are backstab connections then moving to screws may help. If not, try replacing that receptacle and see if that resolves the problem.
  • where the GFCI is located on the deck outside but still on the same circuit.it has two black wires and two white wires pigtailed to the upper screws on the GFCI
    – bones
    May 8, 2019 at 15:25
  • The circuit breaker never tripped
    – bones
    May 8, 2019 at 15:27
  • @bones I'm a little confused. Do you have two GFCI on one circuit? Something must have cut the power - or else the other stuff pigtailed would still be working. Are you 100% certain that no breakers in the panel tripped? May 8, 2019 at 15:28
  • there is only one gfci on that circuit and the breaker never tripped
    – bones
    May 8, 2019 at 15:32
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    Do you have power into the GFCI? If you don't, check the wiring from the last wiring outlet to the GFCI. If you do have power to the GFCI, check the wiring from the GFCI onward. Replace the melted receptacle. May 9, 2019 at 13:13

GFCI is a red herring here. Forget for a minute that the receptacle is a GFCI.

It's common for overloads to damage outlets

That's all that is happening here.

The upstream socket melted because it had a poor connection that was subject to spot overheating and/or series arcing. That is what melted it. This was a pre-existing wiring defect, which was exposed by the overload.

The GFCI became internally damaged due to the overcurrent, and that's why it won't hold.

GFCI's aren't overload detectors, nor are they arc-fault detectors nor any other kind of electrical oops detector. As long as the short did not include a ground fault, it won't trip.

  • Based on OP's description of the problem, it sounds like wires are only to one side of the GFCI receptacle, not Line + Load, and all downstream devices dead too. Which should mean that the GFCI has nothing to do with the problem - i.e., even if it is still tripping because of its damage (which is quite likely since it melted), that would not explain the downstream devices - i.e., therefore something upstream (previous receptacle) becomes the likely problem. May 9, 2019 at 14:04

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