GFI - can't figure out how to reset

LinelleJune 28, 2012

Two days ago I plugged an upright freezer in the garage into a GFI outlet. It's 10 years old, but hadn't been plugged in for about 7 years. It started and ran and ran. I decided to turn it down a bit before loading it with anything. Over the past 24 hours, it seemed nice and quiet. Hmmmmmm.

This morning I plugged in my hairdryer to the GFI outlet in my bathroom. Nothing. Hit reset. Nothing. Tried it in my other bathroom, also GFI. Nothing. Figured I had a bad hairdryer and got out my spare. Same thing. It had worked for me 24 hours earlier.

Thought about the quiet freezer. No power there either (gratefully empty). It's now unplugged. There is also a GFI by the side door of the garage (near the freezer). It doesn't work, nor does the outside light switch on the same wall.

The two outlets in the bathrooms have no reset buttons, nor does the one the freezer was plugged into. I reset the GFI in the kitchen. Tried to reset the GFI in the garage.

As you've probably already figured out, I'm a total know-nothing when it comes to electrical. I checked the circuit box outside and nothing was in the off position. Still, I switched everything off and back on again. This seems to be one circuit (or line or whatever it's called) that includes one corner of the garage and my two bathroom outlets. Everything else, in the house and garage works fine.

Short of calling an electrician, I have no clue what to do. Obviously I don't want to mess with anything electrical beyond simply flicking a switch. I just wonder if there's a simple solution I haven't thought of.

Whatever happens, I plan on getting rid of the freezer and getting a new, Energy Star model.

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The overcurrent protective device (circuit breaker?, fuse?) for that circuit could be tripped. Check for that possibility.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 5:11PM
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bus_driver, where would I find that? I'm sorry to be so uninformed, but I'm probably mixing up terminology. Following is a photo of my circuit box. Everything is in the ON position and has been since I checked it this morning. I also manually switched everything off and on again. Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 5:33PM
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I had my neighbor over to take a look. All our houses have basically the same wiring. He noticed that one of the GFI reset switches in the garage (nearest the freezer) won't reset, the buttons don't do anything. I decided to just bite the bullet and call an electrician today and get it fixed. I have a very healthy fear of electricity and would gladly pay someone else to futz with it.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 10:16AM
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It sounds to me that all of the GFCIs are on the same circuit. Also, a tripped GFCI will not trip the circuit breaker.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 2:19PM
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Electrician just left. He found the incoming GFI outlet that my neighbor and I had overlooked and which reset everything that was off. He explained to me how the line came in, where it split and went to different outlets. Bottom line is, I need to have the freezer on a different outlet, despite the fact that it ran okay there for 3 years at one time. I have some other options in my garage, but I think I'll live without an extra freezer for the time being.

Guy was a wealth of info, showed me all my options, and only charged me $50. He wasn't going to charge me anything for the visit (30 minutes, at least), but I insisted.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 6:05PM
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Don't feel bad about missing that tripped GFCI. I once spent all day because I had a circuit out and was looking for a bad connection because thought I had found all the GFCI's in my new house, but had missed one. Sounds like you called the right guy, and not someone who could have talked you into a lot of unneeded re-wiring.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 3:38PM
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kudzu9, it was right under my nose! It's where my drip irrigation control box is plugged in and the plug block obscured the fact that it was a GFCI. I also didn't notice that my drip didn't run yesterday (odd day watering). I love it when there's a logical explanation. And yes, I'm very thankful I called this guy.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 4:34PM
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I have a 240V 60A disconnect for my hot tube. When I connect the load neutral to the GFI the GFI trips. The GFI neutral pigtail is connected to the neutral bar along with the incoming neutral. When I take the load neutral off the GFI and put it on the neutral bar the GFI does not trip and the hottub works. When you push the test button it does trip. Is the hottub still protected and what would cause the problem. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 1:53PM
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vadenis, a new separate thread is suggested and probably will bring the most responses for your specific situation.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 5:35PM
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Do not lose that guys number. He was very helpful and very reasonable on his charges.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 12:04AM
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countryboymo, you got that right! He's a keeper.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 12:39AM
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> When you push the test button it does trip.

Does not matter. That only says the GFCI is working. Says nothing about protection. If I read it correctly, you said the load neutral does not pass through the GFCI. That means the GFCI is not protecting anything. You have simply defeated the protection. Among the many possible reasons why are load wires connected to wrong GFCI screws.

Older GFCIs would completely fail. And still provide power. Only newer ones refuse to reset when the GFCI is defective. Apparently the failed GFCI was a newer version.

Powering a freezer from a non-GFCI circuit is considered important to human safety. In particular, to avoid food poisoning.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 5:59PM
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