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!
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.
Neutral Wire Problem with a GFCI Outlet in the Kitchen
This electrical wiring project is about an Electrical Problem with a GFCI Outlet that is located in a Kitchen.
Overloaded Neutral Causes Burnt Electrical Wiring
- Kevin, from the information you have provided, the neutral wires of this circuit have been burnt due to a fault at the GFCI outlet.
- This condition may be caused in part due to cooking appliances that use a high amount of electricity, and high energy consuming devices such as a space heater or a vacuum cleaner used in the dining room area.
- Thanks Dave for quick response and confirm my suspicions. Quick question, if you don’t mind, should I be looking at replacing breaker seeing it never tripped, on a 20 amp breaker, though I never personally looked at panel, I have to take my friend’s word that it’s 20 amp, should I install AFCI breaker for added protection? Codes do not require them here – except for new construction. I would gladly purchase and install at no cost simply for my own peace of mind. Thanks again for info and quick response, Kevin.
- Hi Kevin, great questions!
Most likely the circuit breaker is fine but it should be checked to make sure. Replacing it with an AFCI or AFCI/GFCI combo would be a good idea if you wish. Keep in mind that an AFCI will only work on a 2-wire circuit (with ground), but will not work with a multi-wire circuit because of the shared neutral.
- You should seriously consider separating the feed that goes to the living room and install a new feed for that area or connect with other outlets in that area. Also, the frig should not be on that circuit either, typically a frig is on its own dedicated circuit.
- The wiring in the panel should also be checked because the neutral wire of this circuit may also be burnt there as well.
- NOTE: The burnt or damaged portions of the electrical wiring should be repaired or replaced as needed.
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