I had a kitchen remodel that went a bit bad with a contractor and his minions. The house was build in 1934 so has a two wire system with a 100A panel. As we remodel we are replacing 2 wire system with 3 wire.

New lights and switches were installed during the remodel of the kitchen and it appears the contractors electrician tied the kitchen lights to a 20A GFCI breaker than also has the living room outlets tied to it. With the breaker not tripped, the outlets in the living room work, turn on any of the lights in the kitchen and the breaker trips, the lights continue working but the outlets are dead.

I purchased a replacement breaker thinking it was bad, installed, and the same thing happens. When installing the breaker I noticed that when the white neutral is connected to the neutral busbar the neutral arches when it is connected to the breakers WITHOUT the breaker being connected to the positive busbar.

There is a lawsuit with the contractor at the moment and the electrician refuses to answer his phone. Anyone have an idea what may be going on here?

  • City inspector came, plugged a tester in to each GFI outlet in the kitchen, signed off on the project when they worked, and walked out. All kitchen outlets and small appliances are tied into their own circuit. The overhead lights are where the issue lies. At the time this happened I was unaware of the issue in the utility room with the living room outlets so I never mentioned it. This only came to light when we moved in. Ideas where the problem may lie other than the contractor and his minions sucking?
    – josh
    Feb 13, 2015 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


If the lights stay on while the breaker is tripped, they must be getting power from another circuit. That means the electrician has mixed wiring between two different circuits. A GFCI breaker trips if there's any imbalance between the hot and neutral wires connected to it; if the lights are sharing the GFCI circuit's neutral wire while also drawing some power from a different circuit's hot, the breaker should definitely trip. The arcing you mention further reinforces that the wiring for the lights has used a hot from a different circuit while using the GFCI's neutral.

What you need to do now is figure out what the second circuit powering the lights is, figure out where it's tied in to the lights, and either disconnect it from the lights, or make sure the lights only use the neutral for that circuit.

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