Please help, this outlet is giving me hell and I know nothing about electrics really. I can replace a receptacle but that’s about it.enter image description here

  • 6
    What does it do/not doing?
    – crip659
    Dec 10, 2022 at 1:44
  • 1
    I'ts a GFCI, not a normal receptacle. Sometimes, they fail and need to be replaced.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 10, 2022 at 1:55
  • Does it appear wired correctly? Thanks for the help. Dec 10, 2022 at 2:02
  • It reads open hot Dec 10, 2022 at 2:02
  • 3
    Assuming you've tried to reset it and it won't reset -- GFCIs do seem to have a lifespan after which they need to be replaced. (If you haven't tried resetting it, be aware that many need to be powered when the reset button is pushed.)
    – keshlam
    Dec 10, 2022 at 3:23

5 Answers 5


Unless you have reason to do otherwise, which would imply more knowledge about the house wiring than you claim to have, replace exactly as wired. GFCIs do seem to expire, typical lifetimes I have seen for inside ones are 10-15 years, but some may only make it 5 or so, and some might go 20 years.

The wiring as shown is correct and complete. Whatever is downstream does not have GFCI protection from this receptacle, and probably does not need it. If you are going to start changing that, you'll need to figure out more than you know now to be sure that's what you want.

  • 1
    To the OP, this is good advice, and hopefully a wakeup call to learning more about electrics before you dig in further. My only micro-comment is that you probably don't want to see as much bare wire as the lower white is showing in your picture -- strip according to the gauge on the receptacle. Dec 10, 2022 at 16:54
  • Looks like could be problematic back-stab connections on the existing outlet. OP should get a replacement outlet that allows for two back-wiring connections per terminal (either side of the screw).
    – Armand
    Dec 10, 2022 at 18:26
  • I tried that, just got a new one and nothing! Dec 10, 2022 at 20:01
  • 1
    @Armand Virtually all GFCI backwires are screw-and clamp, not backstab. If no power on new GFCI after installing it, restoring power to the circuit, and resetting the new GFCI (yes, that normally has to be done) then the problem may be upstream (at some previous connection between here and the supply.) Quick and dirty test is to wire in a regular outlet for testing purposes - if it has no power, power is not getting to this point, nothing o do with GFCIs particularly. Bad connection at a previous device.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 10, 2022 at 22:40
  • @Ecnerwal Yes, but I have looked up some old Leviton GFCIs for example that had backstab, not backwiring in addition to the screws. A photo of the side of the old GFCI here would clear up this issue.
    – Armand
    Dec 11, 2022 at 8:12

Leave the warning tape on the LOAD terminals.

It's very confusing. Because it simply naturally is that you have a supply cable coming in from the power source, and zero or more onward cables taking power to other points of use. That is a fact.

However, "Load" has nothing to do with that. Load is something else altogether - it allows this GFCI device to protect other outlets as well. There are good reasons to not always do that. If you do it, you must mark the downline outlets (which means you must know what they are).

The problem may be loose wires, or a problem elsewhere

I don't like how one wire seems to be too far out. Those "screw-and-clamp" connections are excellent when done properly, however per NEC 110.14 you must torque the screws to spec, and the torque is quite a lot more than people are used to.

It's also possible the power simply is not arriving at this receptacle location due to a problem on the other end of the supply cable.


Your wires appear to all be in "backstab" connections. Not 100% clear, as they could be side-clamps, but assuming they are backstabs, that is very likely the problem. If so, if the existing GFCI/receptacle is still functional, pull the wires out of the backstabs, add a short wire (pigtail) to each pair of wires (matching the colors, 14 AWG or 12 AWG if it is a 15A circuit, 12 AWG if it is a 20A circuit) with a wire nut and then screw the other end of each pigtail to the appropriate screw on the side of the GFCI/receptacle. If that does not solve the "open hot" or other problems then:

Replace with a new GFCI/receptacle. Look for one with "screw-to-clamp" (may have another name) and either use pigtails (as described above) or if it is screw-to-clamp that allows two wires per screw (many do, but not all) attach both wires of each pair to the screws appropriately.


What you need to do is find out which black wire is the hot in coming line. that wire and the corresponding white from the same cable goes on the line screws. The remaining black and white go to the load side. (pull off the yellow tape) If the outlet still shows a problem, double check your work. If the issue persists, change out the unit.

  • Downstream protection is not always wanted, (for instance, this might be feeding a hardwired light that does not need GFCI protection and changing it would provide a blackout when the GFCI tripped, which is often not helpful) and this is really more of a comment than an answer.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 10, 2022 at 14:11
  • my bad....I was thinking of a bath or kitchen with outlets and lights on different circuits, but this could be different. I was trying to get the OP to a process to check if the GFI was the problem. ( reads "open hot')
    – RMDman
    Dec 10, 2022 at 15:02
  • Other typical cases would be "the downstream thing is another GFCI" - sure, one could protect both locations, but it can be useful to have the GFCI you are plugged into be the one that trips, rather than mysteriously losing power and having to hunt for the GFCI after finding the breaker not tripped. That gets even more confusing if the GFCI is load on an upstream GFCI, so properly done, it's not.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 10, 2022 at 15:11
  • No, the Load side should not automatically be used everytime blindly. "Load" is not a synonym for "onward". In fact Load should never be used unless you understand what it's doing, actually do want to do that, and are willing to mark the downline outlets in compliance with NEC/instructions 8(C). "Not wanting ugly stickers" is itself good reason to not use Load. Dec 10, 2022 at 20:01

Wired in this configuration, the outlets downstream of the GFCI are not protected. Only the GFCI itself gives you protection from a ground fault.

  • I believe this is the last outlet, it’s also the further from the breaker on the far side of the house Dec 10, 2022 at 3:19
  • 3
    If it was the last outlet, it should have only one black and one white. Something is attached downstream, and is NOT attached in such a way that the GFCI protects it. (To get protection, the downstream device would be powered from the other two terminals of the GFCI.)
    – keshlam
    Dec 10, 2022 at 3:25
  • I don’t know which black wire is the line and load, if there were flip flopped down there for some reason would that affect the functionality? Dec 10, 2022 at 12:17
  • I just noticed the incoming wires have the white wire from on line on the bottom and the black wire from the same line on the top of the other side. Would the affect function? Dec 10, 2022 at 12:58
  • 1
    the wires are both serviced from the same screw. So top or bottom hole would not matter.
    – RMDman
    Dec 10, 2022 at 13:45

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