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Installed a GFCI outlet


chrisfowler99

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Now I can turn on all the switches I want on my lights without popping the GFCI.

But man was that a pain...not that the actual work is difficult, Just that I was working through an 8" gap between my stand and my desk to reach the outlet. :D

Would have been trivial with direct access.

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You can just convert any existing wall outlet to a GFCI outlet? I'd like to do that in my living room for my tank upgrade.

Also, one of the two 3-prong outlets doesn't work. Is that an easy fix for an electrician (certainly not me)?

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You can just convert any existing wall outlet to a GFCI outlet? I'd like to do that in my living room for my tank upgrade.

Also, one of the two 3-prong outlets doesn't work. Is that an easy fix for an electrician (certainly not me)?

Yup. You just remove an existing outlet and replace it with a GFCI one. It will also protect all outlets "downstream" of the GFCI outlet.

For your bad outlet, if it's the outlet itself, it's an easy fix.

If it's a short in the line, not so easy.

Do all of the other outlets around it work? If so, it's probably just the outlet itself (unless it happens to be the last outlet in the chain).

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I just installed a couple GFCI outlets a few days ago. (By the way, as I understand it, they protect against grounding problems. They are not circuit breakers which trip when the circuit is overloaded. They are useful when water might be around, such as in the bathroom, or near aquariums, etc.)

I got them at Lowes, but I'm sure Home Depot and other hardware places carry them.

The package has minimal instructions. First, plug a lamp into the old outlet and turn it on. Then turn off your circuit breakers one at a time to find the one that makes your lamp go out. Mark this circuit breaker so you can find it easily. Leave the circuit breaker off, and unscrew the outlet cover, and outlet screws holding it in the metal box in the wall. Pull the outlet out of the wall so you can get to the screws holding the wires. Assuming it has two cables (each with two wires) and a separate ground wire, disconnect the two wires of one cable. Plug your lamp in and turn the circuit breaker on. If the lamp comes on, you have disconnected the load cable, which goes on to another outlet. If the lamp does not go on, you have disconnected the line cable, which provides electricity from the circuit breaker to the outlet.

The replacement GCFI outlet should be marked for line and load, and you just move the appropriate wires from the old outlet to the GFCI. Being alternating current, for a given cable, it doesn't really matter which is right or left. But do not mix the wires from the load cable with the line cable. (It just trips the main circuit breaker probably for the whole house. Be sure you know where this is, and it may be on the outside of the house separate from the breaker box for each local circuit. And don't do this at night unless you want extra fun.)

Finally, move the ground wire to the GFCI outlet.

If you only have one cable (two wires) and a ground, that one is easy - this is the end of the circuit and the cable is a line. Just move the wires from the old outlet to the appropriate match on the GFCI.

If your outlet has three cables (six wires) and the ground, it just means that one of the cables is wired in common with your line cable, and it goes off in another direction providing power to another outlet. My new GFCI outlet, for the line part, had four holes in the back (two for line in, two for line out, where you can place the bare wires and tighten with side screws to hold them). It also had holes in back and also side screws for the load cable.

If you make mistakes, be sure you have the circuit breaker off before you go moving wires around. You can test the circuit with the lamp to make sure the electricity is off before you touch any wires.

Follow the instructions that come with the GFCI box.

If you burn your house down or electrocute yourself, I didn't write this. A licensed electrician might be cheaper (and faster).

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PBNJ, are you positive that those outlets are not "lamp" outlets? IE: Controlled by switches on the wall? It was very common for homes to be built without lights on the ceiling in some rooms. These rooms have a tab broken off in the outlet and then that makes your 2 outlets work independently. One is live all the time and the top one is commonly wired to a switch on the wall. This is the outlet you would plug your lamp into. You leave the lamp in the "on" position and use the wall switch to turn the lights on and off as you enter/leave a room.

My tank is wired to one of those switches. It can be a pain sometimes when you are trying to find the right light switch in the dark and end up turning the tank off. But on the upside I have all my pumps connected to that switch and all my lights are on the live outlet. When I want to service the tank I only need to flip that switch to power down all the pumps for feeding or for water changes.

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PBNJ, are you positive that those outlets are not "lamp" outlets? IE: Controlled by switches on the wall? It was very common for homes to be built without lights on the ceiling in some rooms. These rooms have a tab broken off in the outlet and then that makes your 2 outlets work independently. One is live all the time and the top one is commonly wired to a switch on the wall. This is the outlet you would plug your lamp into. You leave the lamp in the "on" position and use the wall switch to turn the lights on and off as you enter/leave a room.

I don't know if you're a genius or if I'm just a total idiot, but you had it exactly right. Evevrything works now.....THANKS!

I'm sure glad I never listened to my wife and I'm such a procrastinator. I've been putting-off calling an electrician for months now. Maybe I'll tell my wife I did all the electrical work myself...HA!

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PBNJ, are you positive that those outlets are not "lamp" outlets? IE: Controlled by switches on the wall? It was very common for homes to be built without lights on the ceiling in some rooms. These rooms have a tab broken off in the outlet and then that makes your 2 outlets work independently. One is live all the time and the top one is commonly wired to a switch on the wall. This is the outlet you would plug your lamp into. You leave the lamp in the "on" position and use the wall switch to turn the lights on and off as you enter/leave a room.

My tank is wired to one of those switches. It can be a pain sometimes when you are trying to find the right light switch in the dark and end up turning the tank off. But on the upside I have all my pumps connected to that switch and all my lights are on the live outlet. When I want to service the tank I only need to flip that switch to power down all the pumps for feeding or for water changes.

Good call!

cool setup to turn your pumps off too. :D

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You can just convert any existing wall outlet to a GFCI outlet? I'd like to do that in my living room for my tank upgrade.

Also, one of the two 3-prong outlets doesn't work. Is that an easy fix for an electrician (certainly not me)?

Now - if you are planning to replace that split-outlet setup with a GFCI = you better get an electrician to do it, because:

the GFCI's do not split off like the regular outlets do. - they are designed to feed downstream off the other 2 screws.

However, - there's another option for you that will get both things done (GFCI) and also not need any electrician, and

also let you keep the switched outlet part (stay switched).

They sell "pigtail" GFCI's on short cords for use on construction site portable generators to protect construction workers.

You can find them at Home Depot or Lowes in the extension cords section.

They basically are a short, heavy duty extension cord (about 2 ft) with multiple outlets coming off a built-in GFCI.

You just plug them into the wall, then plug your equipment in to them.

They are not as cheap as a wall-permanent GFCI. BUT - by the time you add up the cost of an electrician, - they can actually be cheaper.

Plus - if you ever decide to move the tank - you can take the GFCI with it. (Portable).

downsides: - they are bright YELLOW.. or ORANGE so you might want to "paint" them to white or something so they don't

ruin the looks of things. -Or hide them behind a stand or something . :D

But - they are pretty handy, and usually enclosed in all-weather rubberized housing (designed for the great outdoors),

so they work fine around water sources.

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The huge drawback to the pig tail versions is that they tend to be very finicky. This is advice directly from someone that MUST use them all the time everyday at my chosen construction profession. So yes this is "professional" advice. We find that they tend to pop from turning on simple devices such as a task light or drill. I believe that Chris was saying that was the problem he was having with his "portable" GFCI before wiring up a permanent GFCI.

BTW, if anyone wants a high quality GFCI wall outlet I have several BIN commercial grade units that I would be willing to give away 1 per person, just send me a PM.

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