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I am replacing an old receptacle with a new GFI unit. There are a total of three outlets and a light fixture on this circuit. Everything was working beforehand, but I am putting a small refridgerator in the garage and since this outlet is pretty old, I thought I would replace it; with a GFI outlet.

When I connect the line wires to the outlet it has power. I reset the outlet from the package and it works fine. I pressed the test button and it shuts off the power. I then pressed the reset and it restored power. Everything ok.

I then connected the load wires to the outlet to feed the rest of the circuit. Everything gets power. Ok

To test again, I pressed the test button and power was cut off. Ok.

Now I pressed the reset button to restore the circuit but the reset button will not reset. If I disconnect the load wires, the outlet works fine.

I pulled the other two outlets and they seemn to be wired correctly. All was working before I pulled this receptacle. The new GFI seems to be functioning correctly.

What else could be causing this GFI to refuse to reset when connected inline with the other outlets?

  • You mention a refrigerator. Is that plugged into one of the receptacles? If so, try reseting the GFCI with the fridge unplugged. – Tester101 Dec 2 '14 at 10:24
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There must be a fault in the down stream load wires someplace. This fault is causing an imbalance detection by the GFI between the current in the LINE and NEUTRAL load wires.

Things you can try:

Disconnect the wires that feed the down stream outlets at those outlets and the wires to the lamp circuit. This should include unplugging anything that may be attached to those outlets. If this allows the GFI to reset then you know that the fault is in one of those down stream wires or circuits. You could then proceed to reconnect one load at a time in attempt to locate the wire or outlet that causes the GFI to freeze in the fault position.

If, in the initial test above, the GFI still persists in staying reset then you know that there is a fault someplace between the load wire connection of the GFI and the end of that wire (which should not be connected to any loads if you had properly disconnected every load).

The fault on the circuits could be a bad outlet, bad lamp connection, bad lamp fixture or bad device plugged into one of the downstream outlets. It is also possible that the fault could be caused by a nail or screw someplace that has penetrated one of the wiring cables or the wire insulation someplace has been cut or punctured by the sharp edge of a metal electrical box.

Yes...it is possible that the fault that is causing this problem may have existed in the prior situation before you brought the new GFI into the picture.

There is also the remote possibility that the new GFI outlet itself is bad although this seems unlikely due to the tests that you have already performed.

  • GFIs do NOT trip on a short circuit, especially between line and neutral. GFIs trip on an imbalance of current between line and neutral. This is why touching neutral and ground will instantly trip a GFI. This is a full imbalance. – Speedy Petey Dec 2 '14 at 12:17
  • I'll edit my answer to remove the reference of short. – Michael Karas Dec 2 '14 at 12:34
  • My bad. Careless use of the word short -- I do understand how GFI's work. :^) – Michael Karas Dec 2 '14 at 12:41

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