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We have GFCI plugs in our kitchen and the other day we blew a breaker when we had an electric kettle and an air fryer going at the same time on the same circuit. I reset the breaker but the two different plugs did not work after that. I tried to reset the GFCI switch on the plugs but they would not reset. Thinking that I may have fried the plugs, I got two replacements to install. Reading the instruction, it seems that they should either be installed as stand-alone (with two wires) or in a series (with four wires). But both of these plugs seem to be wire with four wires paired up (i.e. two whites connected to the same terminal, and two blacks connected to the same terminal). This is different than the two pictures in the installation instructions. Is this a normal way to wire GFCI plugs?

Standard Leviton plug

Both white wires connect to the terminal on the left

Both black wires connect to the terminal on the right

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  • If you want picky/OCD then there is too much copper showing(or too short wires), but that is workmanship than being wrong wiring
    – crip659
    Jan 24 at 22:14

2 Answers 2

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That is an entirely normal way to wire them, albeit more costly than using the load terminals and regular receptacles connected to the load terminals.

Line in, and Line on to the next device.

It has the advantage of the thing that tripped the GFCI being plugged into the GFCI that tripped, rather than

  1. "power goes out"
  2. it's not the breaker,
  3. "what mysterious thing do I need to look for?"

A secondary "benefit" is that you don't need to figure out which cable is line, and which cable is load (not that hard, but plenty of people seem to find it difficult despite that.)

If using the load terminals, you would only use a GFCI at the first device on the circuit, if you were sensible. Some folks are not sensible, so you get GFCIs fed from Load terminals on another GFCI, and which GFCI trips on a fault is utterly random.

Downstream receptacles are supposed to be labeled GFCI-Protected (you'll likely find a packet of cheap stickers that will fall off with your new GFCIs) but often are not, or the cheap stickers fall off, and if the labeling doesn't tell you where the GFCI protecting them is, it's still a bit of an Easter-Egg hunt to find it.

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  • Guess I've had better luck - I have at least one of those stickers which has been on a plate since the 80s.
    – KMJ
    Jan 24 at 17:06
  • @KMJ Someone made good stickers! We might need a time machine to get more of those, though...based on the ones I've met, anyway.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 24 at 17:09
  • ah - makes sense. Odd that the instructions didn't show this as an option. They indicate that if there are 4 wires, you are necessarily going to wire it in series to another plug, and only have a stand-alone one if there are only 2 (well, 3 with ground) wires in the receptacle.
    – Doug
    Jan 24 at 17:47
  • "Some folks are not sensible, so you get GFCIs fed from Load terminals on another GFCI, and which GFCI trips on a fault is utterly random" -- true and annoying, although it does give them the redundancy in the case first GFCIs becomes faulty (in "never triggers" way. Yes, I know one should test them regularly...) Jan 25 at 4:10
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The instructions "encourage" you to use the GFCI receptacle to provide GFCI protection to the rest of the circuit. However, the instructions also clearly tell you to apply the "GFCI Protected" stickers to the other receptacles you did protect that way. A lot of nitwits do the first part blindly without thinking, and then, don't bother doing the second part. This creates a code violation of receptacle that are GFCI protected but not identified as such.

The labels are important a) to pass inspection and b) to tell the user when the outlet goes dead "There is a GFCI somewhere else that you should check to see if it's tripped". That saves a pointless electrician call. It is legal to make that "GFCI Protected" label any way which is not hand-written, and you're welcome to use a P-touch or Brother label maker to have it say "GFCI Protected / Reset at ____"

However, and I am a super-fan of this, it's just as good to simply not piss around with the Load terminals at all, and just connect everything to Line and simply place GFCI receptacles everywhere you want one. Then, one thing tripping doesn't knock out an innocent appliance (looking at you, fridge) and you always know where the reset is. It appears your installer did exactly that. Send them a gift basket as thanks for not sending you on a GFCI bug-hunt.

we blew a breaker when we had an electric kettle and an air fryer going at the same time on the same circuit. I reset the breaker but the two different plugs did not work after that

It's fairly likely that the overload not only took out the breaker, but also a wire splice somewhere. The biggest Achilles' heel of the lovely "screw-and-clamp" back wire method used there, is that you need to tighten them very tightly, and failure to do so can cause arcing or a circuit open.

Actually, if the receptacle states a screw torque, you must use a torque screwdriver per NEC 110.3(B) (and in 2014, repeated in 110.14(D) since nobody was following 110.3). Note that torques are in INCH pounds, which are 1/12 of a foot-pound, don't crank it to 10 foot-pounds LOL.

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