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Having to replace an old outdoor convenience outlet w/ a GFI outlet thanks to a pool install (it's well far away from water, but 19ft is one foot short of the 20' required by the city to not have to deal with this :)

So - upon opening up the thing, I found three white wires and one black:

old

So, on my GFI (same type as pictured below)

new

I took the solitary white and black and wired them up:

Black on the top left White on the top right

And then I took the remaining two white wires and pigtailed them onto the lower right white screw (in the picture, this screw is covered by the yellow tape...which I'm not sure if this setup, as stated on the sticker also screws up the fault protection)

Alas...the outlet doesn't work. Resetting the button doesn't effect any change, but the breaker isn't popping so that's good news?

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    Can you post photos looking into the back of the junction box please? Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 2:49

2 Answers 2

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The big unknown is why there are a different number of white/neutral from hot/black wires.

Take a look in the box: Is the black wire connected to 2 or 3 other black wires? If so, add another short white wire and wire nut it to all three white wires and connect that to the GFCI on the top right.

There are some other possibilities. But with GFCI you always have wires on both sides of "LINE" (the top in this situation) and either both sides of "LOAD" (the bottom in this situation) or nothing in "LOAD" at all. There is a reason for the tape - to prevent you from blindly "connecting wires wherever they fit". With regular receptacles, the 2nd pair of side screws can be used as a convenience for extending to another location or for splitting top vs. bottom receptacles (e.g., for MWBC or a switched receptacle). With GFCI the top vs. bottom means "LINE" vs. "LOAD" and has to be handled properly or it just won't work.

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The short version of the text on the yellow tape is "Do Not Use. For Wizards Only." You can install GFCIs all day long, but only if you don't peel that tape and don't use those terminals.

The way to solve the problem you had is to leave the warning tape alone, then pigtail the white wires to a single wire that goes to the neutral "Line" terminal. Note that the black wires are already pigtailed, so you can see what was done there and replicate it. You would need a short length of white #12 copper wire, a wire stripper, and a large tan or red wire nut.

And a quick skill-up on proper use of wire-nuts. (i.e. don't bother pre-twisting them, the nut will do that pretty definitely... but twist the living daylights out of them so there's no question of a good connection).


If you wanted to enter the wizarding world, you could also learn how a GFCI device is able to protect other devices which it feeds power to, and then very smartly/selectively choose certain black-white pairs and place them on the "Load" terminals. However this also requires correctly labeling the then-protected outlets.

Come to it, there's a possibility this outlet was already GFCI protected from elsewhere, and the last guy failed to install the labels saying so.

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