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We overloaded our back lanai outlet (used 20amp doggy hair dryer on a 15amp breaker oops prior house handled it so didn't think to check) and melted the GFCI outlet in the garage that protects the circuit. Changed out the GFCI outlet (Leviton 20a dual pole just like the old one), stripped the melted line wire back well, get a green light so load and line are correct (switched them just to make sure and got a red light) and the load wire has power but the line wire does not. Confused that there is no power in the line wire that feeds the outlet but there is in the load that feeds the circuit. Replaced the jumper section in the line wire (with 10g stranded just to see if the joint was bad) and still no power to the line wire, load has power still. Tested the breakers and all show power but the one that powers this one was a tad bit weaker. Not sure if breaker related now or the outlet and I could spend all weekend getting nothing done if there is something deeper in the circuit wrong. Checked other outlets on the circuit and they seem to be ok, no burnt wire or melted outlet, the screws are a bit rusty from being outside outlets but wire looks ok. No idea where to go from here. Really confused that the line wire has no power but the load does. Any thoughts?

Nevermind, figured it out. Guess you have to post for the answer to come to mind. I kept questioning why the GFCI would not reset and hubby kept demanding he got the load and line correct - the same way it came off. I dug the old outlet out of the garbage and said the load connector is melted not line. The wires are backwards. Blah blah I did it right....a lot of eye rolls and huffing later...it was backwards. Working fine now.

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  • The load wire must be powered by some breaker. Find that breaker by selective switching off. Disconnect the load wires and see if it is still powered. If so, it must be powered in parallel to the wire you think is the line to the GFCI. This is not correct. I wonder if a GFCI receptacle will accept a 2nd line on the load connections (on the same leg as a line connected to the line connections). May 7 '21 at 22:59
  • Can you include the actual ratings on the doggy dryer? A picture of the sticker would be good. You should use a multimeter to confirm your line and neutral are wired correctly.
    – K H
    May 8 '21 at 3:26
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    The trick with GFCIs is start by hooking up the Line side ONLY. Do not move forward until the GFCI is fully working in all respects with only Line connected. Once that is stable, leave those wires on Line and add any additional wires to Line also... or to Load if you are trying to GFCI-protect that downline. May 8 '21 at 5:03
  • I think you reversed the terms 'load' and 'line'? "Line" is what comes from the breaker, supplies power to your outlet. In general the best way to get credit when you answer your own question (Good job, by the way!!) is to post it as an answer, I'm told. Also there is NO problem putting a 20A receptacle on a 15A circuit. You prob had a 20A circuit before, fwiw.
    – VWFeature
    May 8 '21 at 6:36
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    now that your problem has been resolved you should post that resolution as an answer, or accept one of the existing answers
    – Jasen
    May 8 '21 at 10:35
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Hard to say exactly what the problem is. Pictures would help. But here are a couple of thoughts:

Overloads can cause multiple problems

It is possible that an overload at one receptacle can damage that receptacle and also damage wires in other locations. In particular, if you have a string of receptacles, something like:

  • Breaker
  • Receptacle - Living Room
  • Receptacle - Bedroom
  • Receptacle w/GFCI - Lanai

then an overload at the GFCI could cause problems in the living room or bedroom receptacles. This is especially likely if those receptacles are functioning as part of a chain - power in on left and out on right (or vice versa) and the connections are done with backstabs rather than screw terminals. If you had a weak connection before, an overload may have made it weaker.

Breaker Mismatch

"15amp breaker" plus "Leviton 20a dual pole" is against the rules and a Really Bad Idea. The other way around is OK - 15A duplex receptacle on a 20A circuit.

The problem is that when there is a 15A breaker, it is there to protect wire (normally 14 AWG) that is rated for no more than 15A. By installing a 20A receptacle, you are encouraging use of larger appliances (as was the case here). While the breaker should provide enough protection, using a smaller breaker than the receptacle can lead to nuisance trips and a temptation to swap the breaker (without making sure all the wire is 12 AWG or larger), as well as other problems. This should be a 15A dual receptacle, not a 20A dual receptacle.

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  • This answer is INCORRECT!! The advice is backwards. A higher capacity wire or receptacle MAY ALWAYS be used on a lower amperage circuit, eg 12 ga wire rated for 20A on a 15A breaker. Similarly a 20A receptacle may be used on a 15 or 20A circuit. A LOWER rated outlet can't be used. The confusion is from the GFCI being rated for 20A. It's a receptacle, not a breaker. It pops if there's a 5 mA leak to ground.
    – VWFeature
    May 8 '21 at 6:45
  • @VWFeature Not quite. Wire can always be upsized - e.g., 14AWG is minimum for 15A but you can use 12 or 10. 12AWG is minimum for 20A but you can use 10 or 8, etc. But when it comes to receptacles they normally need to be matched. There are certain very specific exceptions - particularly multiple 15A (and a duplex counts as 2) on a 20A circuit. And there are certain oddball situations in the 40A/50A range. But you shouldn't have 20A receptacles on a 15A circuit. May 9 '21 at 1:29
  • @VWFeature Found confirmation in many places that NEC 210.21(B)(3) spells out 15A for 15A circuits, 15A or 20A for 20A circuits. flylib.com/books/en/2.419.1/article_210_branch_circuits.html May 9 '21 at 1:38
  • In the reference YOU give, "210.21 Outlet Devices Outlet devices must be rated at least that of the load. (B) Receptacles. A single receptacle on an individual branch circuit can have a rating only equal to or larger than the rating of the individual branch circuit it is on except when installed in accordance with Section 430.81(C). ...(2). The ratings of receptacles where there is more than one on a circuit are shown in Table 210.21(B)(3). I
    – VWFeature
    May 10 '21 at 19:31
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If the load has power and the line doesn't, the GFCI outlet is connected backwards.
You figured that out, congrats.

The way it was connected, it didn't give you any GFCI protection. When you use the test button, the outlet should go dead.

You also mention

"the screws are a bit rusty from being outside outlets"

Are those outlets exposed to weather? If so they may need to be in more weather proof boxes, and possibly using UF wire, not NM. The NEC makes a lot of distinctions about 'damp' and 'wet' environments.

To settle some discussion about 20A outlets on 15A circuits:

"210.21 Outlet Devices

Outlet devices must be rated at least that of the load. (B) Receptacles. A single receptacle on an individual branch circuit can have a rating only equal to or larger than the rating of the individual branch circuit it is on except when installed in accordance with Section 430.81(C). ...(2). The ratings of receptacles where there is more than one on a circuit are shown in Table 210.21(B)(3)."

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  • Note that a GFCI/receptacle is a duplex receptacle, and thus 2 receptacles by Code May 10 '21 at 23:26

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