I'm not sure what to do next, and I'm fairly inexperienced with troubleshooting home electrical issues. My investigation started with the GFCI receptacle on the kitchen counter receptacles tripping and not resetting. I replaced all the load receptacles to make sure wiring was good. I replaced and double checked the GFCI receptacle. Still tripping, even when the load was not even connected to the GFCI receptacle.

I eventually looked upstream from the GFCI and discovered that the receptacle just upstream from the GFCI was dead. I disconnected the receptacle to test the incoming voltage from the breaker. When I test the incoming line hot-to-ground I get a nice 123v, but when I test hot-to-neutral I get 109v. When I connect a receptacle to the line (not connecting the downstream load), the receptacle tester shows properly wired, but when I plug in a lamp to it, it flips to show "hot ground reversed". I've seen online that this really probably means "open neutral".

In posted two videos showing what I'm dealing with: https://photos.app.goo.gl/VGvCLDJdxsoww2sS9

So what next? Am I on to something? Does this mean that my neutral line is compromised somewhere in the walls and losing voltage? There are several wall receptacles upstream that are all still working fine. I appreciate any thoughts.


  • 1
    Check the wiring on the last upstream receptacle that works and the first one that doesn't work (unless that is the GFCI you're already dealing with). One of those likely has a bad/loose/flaky connection. One possibility: if there are any "backstabs" instead of screw connections, switch them to the screws. Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 6:27
  • That makes sense to keep testing upstream. Is there an easy way to figure out what the next upstream receptacle is? I've got four or five to choose from in the next room over on the circuit upstream. Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 6:35
  • Hard to guess. Logically it should be based on what path would result in the least amount of wire needed. But that is not always the case. Pick one. Disconnect/cap the wires. See if any other receptacles go out. Map as you go. Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 6:38
  • The circuit breaker for this circuit, is it a double pole or single pole. A double pole for a multi wire branch circuit could be the problem and a loose wire up stream is the cause.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 16:48
  • @EdBeal I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it's a single 20a switch in the breaker box (as opposed to some of them that are doubled up), labeled "Dining room + kitchen GFCI". The dining room outlets and one in the kitchen wall to be upstream of the kitchen GFCI. The regular one in the kitchen wall is the one that is not working. Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


Solved! I kept moving further upstream from the GFCI once I detected the open neutral or lower voltage neutral, and I found the culprit receptacle. A working receptacle had clearly burned a bit on one of the neutral wires. I replaced it with a new receptacle and all the downstream voltages were now steady and equal on hot and neutral. The original GFCI receptacle worked and I'm all good now and the GFCI tests and resets properly!

It felt like I walked to the breaker panel in the garage 100 times while I was troubleshooting, so I got my steps in and learned a bit more about electrical work. Thanks for all the help from those who commented.enter image description here

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