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Replacing an Outlet with a GFI Receptacle

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Replace an Outlet with a GFI Outlet or GFCI Receptacle: Identifying Wires for GFI Connections.

Wiring Outlets and GFI Receptacles

Electrical Question: I want to replace my current outdoor outlet receptacle with a GFCI receptacle.

  • I understand the Line and Load principle and the black wire to brass screw and white wire to silver screw.
  • I’m confused by the fact that of the four wires coming from the box, THREE are white and only ONE is black?

Any assistance is appreciated. Regards,

This electrical question came from: John, from Everett, Massachusetts.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question John.

How to Replace an Outlet with a GFCI Receptacle

Application: Replacing Outlets with GFCI Outlets.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate – Best if wired by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and the number of GFI outlets that will be installed.
Precaution: Identify the affected outlet circuits at the electric panel, turn them OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the outlet wiring.
Materials: Make sure to use materials of the same amperage and voltage rating as the electrical circuit.
Notice: Installing additional GFCI Outlet Wiring should be done according to local and national electrical GFCI Codes with a permit and be inspected.

Identifying Wires for GFI Connections

  • Typical Outlet Wiring Example
    • John, it would be good to know what the orientation or wiring connections are for the original outlet, however in most cases there are a set of wires from each cable such as Black, White and Bare or Green, Power, Neutral and Ground respectively.
  • Identify Odd Wires
    • The odd white wire which you have described requires identifying exactly what it’s purpose is in order to make the proper connection.
  • GFCI Line and Load Connections
    • When the GFCI receptacle supplies power to other outlets then they will be wired to the LOAD terminal connections of the GFCI receptacle. The LINE area is designated for the incoming power of the circuit.

More about Wiring GFI Outlets

GFI Outlets and Receptacles
Step by Step Pictures with Easy Wiring Diagrams and Installation Guide for wiring GFI Outlets.

Wiring GFI Outlets

GFCI and GFI Wiring Diagrams

The features and benefits of GFCI outlets and receptacles will give you a clear understanding of the importance why these safety devices are required by code to help protect you and your family against accidental electrical shock hazards.

GFCI Wiring
GFCI Wiring
This list of articles will help you learn about the features and benefits provided by GFI and GFCI Receptacles and how they are wired.

Learn How to Wire it Right with my
Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring
Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
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120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.

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