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Electrical Problem with GFCI Outlet in Kitchen

Kevin, a General Contractor in New York asks: What would cause problems with outlets in the kitchen that would sporadically shut down and minutes later power would resume?

Problem with a GFCI Outlet
Electrical Question: What would cause problems with outlets in the kitchen that would sporadically shut down and minutes later power would resume?

A friend of mine called me, said he was having problems with 2 outlets in kitchen that would sporadically shut down and minutes later power would resume, one was supplying fridge the other supplied counter outlet ( coffee maker) I noticed GFCI near sink and asked if it protected the 2 outlets, he replied that though it was same circuit it did not feed the 2, he mentioned that he replaced the fridge outlet hoping to correct problem, I checked his work, all was fine and noticed this outlet was on the end of a run. I asked if he heard any buzzing noise like arcing of wires. No was the answer. Told him if I had wired the kitchen that the GFCI would be the starting point and we should look there, as soon as I put my screwdriver to the cover I could hear the arcing, shut power off, removed outlet and this is what I found. The damaged side is the neutral side, wires were not loose, no short on line or load, was wired properly and had been installed many yrs ago ( I?m told) . Also power continued to feed 4 outlets in living room and 1 overhead light. Am I looking at an overload on circuit or bad GFCI. Could it be that simple or am I possibly looking at something more complicated? Any help advice would be appreciated

This electrical wiring question came from Kevin, a General Contractor in Syracuse, New York.

Kevin, Thank You for Visiting Ask-the-Electrician!

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

Electric Circuit Problem with a GFCI Outlet

Application: Electrical Problem a GFCI Outlet.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced. This electrical wiring project is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Electrical Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, Voltage Tester, and appropriate Safety Gear.
Estimated Time: Depends on the personal level experience, ability to work with tools, install electrical circuit wiring, and the available access to the project area.
Electrical Safety: Identify the electrical power source to the GFCI Outlet, turn it OFF and Tag with a Note before working with the electrical wiring.
Electrical Wiring Parts and Materials: Electrical parts and materials for the GFCI Outlet should be approved for the specific project and compliant with local and national electrical codes.
Electrical Codes and Inspections: Installing or changing home electrical wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes as adopted in Syracuse, New York. A permit and inspections may also be required.

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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 Electric Wiring Projects.

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The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

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The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
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