I am replacing my kitchen outlets with GFCI. The inspector told me I just needed to install one at the first outlet in the circuit. I looked at the outlets on either side of my kitchen; at one end both black and white were connected to the LOAD nodes (and no wires connected to LINE), and the outlet at the other end of the kitchen had one wire connected to LINE, and one connected to LOAD, but neither LINE nor LOAD had both a black and white connected.

What does this mean? Which side is the first in the circuit? Was this even wired properly? How should I connect my new outlets?

5 Answers 5


Line is the side of the device where the wires from the panel (or other equipment feeding the device) are connected. Load is where any devices that are to be protected by the GFCI device are connected.

Most "newer" GFCI devices will not reset if they are not connected probably.

GFCI devices use a current transformer (CT), to detect any current differences between the "hot" and "neutral" conductors. The LINE terminals are on one side of the CT, while the LOAD terminals (and the receptacles on the device) are on the other.

  • Right-- sorry I don't really know how to phrase my question well. The previous outlet that was there, had the white wire going into the silver load terminal-- while the black wire was going into the brass line terminal. There was only 2 wires connected. I was worried that I needed to mimic this setup in my new installation
    – A O
    Sep 29, 2014 at 22:06

If you only have two wires one white and one black the white connects to the silver LINE terminal and the black connects to the brass LINE terminal the LOAD terminals are only needed for protecting other outlets downstream from that one . If you have a green or bare wire it needs to connect to the green screw and the box if it is metal.


If you have both brass colored and silver toned screws on the device being installed then you need both hot (commonly black, red and blue depending on if you are wiring a 120 or 240 volt circuit black is most often used for 120v and red is most common for the second hot leg of a 240v) and neutral wires (most often white). Current travels down the hot leg(s) and returns on the white leg. The green or (most often) bare wire is your ground and sends the current to the ground via a series of connections that ends at a rod that is driven deep into the ground by your meter or the place where power enters the home or business. It can also be grounded to galvanized cold water pipes or metal electrical boxes mounted to the framing of the building. The "hot" wire(s) connect to the brass screw, neutral to the silver and bare or green wire to the green ground screw. Power enters a GFCI from the panel on the side (don't get confused here, by "side" they are referring to either the top or bottom set of screws since the circuit interrupted is located in the middle where the test and reset buttons are located) labeled "line" and the current exits the GFCI from the side labeled "load". This basically installs a switch (similar to a light switch that makes a break in the circuit should an appliance or device short circuit or overload and backfired down your wiring toward the panel. Rather than damaging your panel or causing an electrical fire the backfired electricity simply trips the switch in the GFCI opening the circuit and preventing the power from traveling any further. So you only need to repair/replace the device that caused the short, and possibly the outlet that supplied power to the short circuited device.

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    Welcome to StackExchange. You may want to use tge "edit" button below the answer to restructure that for clarity, and please add paragraphs. If you're on mobile, it's easier on a PC. May 24, 2018 at 15:14

Line is the source, and load is what is being fed from the receptacle in question. The easiest way to test this is to bare and spread all of the wires. Once they are all spread (make sure nothing is touching this is important) , kick the breaker on and place one lead of a multimeter on a black wire (hot) and touch the other to a white wire (neutral). If you get any reading at all, you'll know that your hot is correct. It should read around 120 for your line neutral and around 20 for your load neutral. Separate them and wire accordingly.


I Think Line means the side FROM which power is coming as opposed to LOAD being the terminal on the power receiving side. You have a power Line coming out of wall junction. You have a load terminal on whatever device being wired. Basically means opposite ends of same circuit. Is th

  • 3
    The end of the post looks like you got cut off in the middle of a thought: "Is th"... What is the rest of that sentence supposed to be?
    – Niall C.
    Jul 25, 2016 at 2:20

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