I have 1 light switch and 1 outlet in a 2 gang box in the kitchen. The old gfci outlet stopped working so I replaced it with another but it still doesn't work. The new outlet is gfci too and I can't get it to reset, nothing happens, no light comes on. I have a multi-meter with a non-contact voltage detector that I ran over the non-working gfci outlet and it lights up showing that there is voltage present. I swapped the white and black wires to outlet to see if they did it backwards, as they did elsewhere in the house, but it still won't work. What could be going on here? What are my options?

The light switch works so I was thinking of piggy backing from the light switch to the outlet or taking the wires from the light switch and putting them in the outlet and piggy backing to the switch. Does it matter which is first?

Also, what is going on with the grounding here? They didn't ground the light switch and they tied both grounds together to the outlet?

Lastly, how can I tell if the black wire is actually hot and white is neutral as it seems that they wired it backwards elsewhere in the house.


2 gang box

  • 1
    Did you connect the wires to the terminals labeled LINE?
    – Tester101
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 20:21
  • Yes, I did. The load was covered with a sticker that I did not remove.
    – E. Help
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 20:44
  • The non-contact tester will tell you which of the wires is hot, it should only light up on the black wire. And a plug-in tester will confirm that you haven't reversed these. How did you try to reset the gfci? Newer models require you to hold the button longer than the older mechanical styles you may be familiar with.
    – BMitch
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 21:20
  • If you really distrust whether hots and neutrals are reversed around the house, you can authenticate that rather easily. Disconnect your main and take the cover off the service panel (breaker box) remembering things in there can kill you even with the mains off. You'll soon see if they've attached any white wires to breakers or black/colored wires to the neutral bus. P.S. Attaching white wires to GFCI breakers is normal, but that can be reversed by mistake. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 21:24
  • 1
    If the service panel is ok, then any reversed hots are neutrals reversed at the outlet, or spliced wrong (which is rather blatant, a white spliced with blacks or vice versa), a 3-light outlet tester is well suited to test for this. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


First thing to check, as @Tester101 points out, is that you've connected the wires to the LINE terminals on the GFCI receptacle. It will also have LOAD terminals, which would go any other outlets you'd want fed from (and protected by) this GFCI. But it doesn't appear that you have any of those.

Next you should carefully use the contact terminals of your multi-meter to measure voltage on the lines:

  • If you measure around 120V between the black and white wires leading to the GFCI, and those wires go into the LINE terminals of the receptacle, the receptacle should be test/reset-able and should show 120V when you test between the plug-in slots on the front. If you have 120V at the LINE terminals and not at the front, the receptacle is defective.

  • If you don't have 120V between the black and white wires, your circuit is switched off or damaged. You'll need to investigate the wiring to determine what's wrong. Your non-contact tester may have given you a misleading indication; the contact tester is more authoritative here.

  • To identify the "true" neutral, measure voltage between an insulated wire and the bare ground wire. Neutral and safety-ground should have zero voltage, because they are bonded in your main electrical panel. So you should have 120V between black and white; 120V between black and ground; and 0V between white and ground. If you have 120V between white & black but 0V on black/ground and 0V on white/ground, then your ground wire is not properly connected.

Finally, you should run a small length of bare wire between the ground bundle in this box and the ground screw on your switch, so that the switch's metal components are grounded.

  • Ok, thanks for this. I will try what you said.
    – E. Help
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 21:20

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