Now what do I do???


My bathroom has two outlets and neither work. One is the kind that has to be reset if there's a short circuit. If I push the test button on that one it should stay in and a red light should come on until I reset it with the other button. The other outlets in the house work like that. But this one - the test doesn't stay in and the light doesn't come on. A breaker for this bathroom (in the box in the garage) won't stay on. I don't see any loose connections when I look at these outlets. I have no money for an electrician - what can I look at? Thanks, Marcy
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Marcy,
There's usually a few things that can be wrong:
1. Your GFI outlet (the one with the built in breaker), is bad and is shorting out, thus tripping the breaker.
2. The breaker switch at the breaker box is bad and keeps tripping, or:
3. There's another outlet that is connected to the same circuit that has something either wrong with it or has something plugged into it that is drawing too much current.
I don't personally know of any GFI switch that glows red when it's *not tripped*. Usually, they're set up so that the red light comes on *when* it's tripped.
Secondly, some homes have any exterior (like out in your patio), outlets connected on the same circuit as your bathroom GFI switch.
Do you have anything outside that's plugged into an outside outlet?
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I think that's what she said, except she said should instead of did. She pushes the test button and the red light should come on.
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graced this newsgroup with:

No, she said when it's not tripped, it was red. Reread her followup.
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When I posted my answer, I didn't notice that I was replying to the same person I had been bickering with in an earlier thread**. If I had, I would have put the same answer somewhere else in this thread instead. I'm not looking to bicker.
**Attribution lines are another thing I don't look at unless there is a reason. They are usually just where they should be. (Although personally, I wish more people would set up the attribution line to display the date and time also and not display the msg-id. This is a desire not a complaint. I've never complained about it, and only bring it up now because it seems related. I'm also not sure every newsreader can do this.)

I read her follow-up and I saw that she acknowledged being wrong. "I got it reversed about the red light thing."
That is half the reason I posted, for her sake, because I suspect she was convinced she was wrong when she wasn't, or that she had written it wrong when she hadn't. I also figure that her acknowledgement might have been out of politeness or the notion that one gets more with honey that vinegar, or a common trait -- which I'm told by women, not by men, is more common in women -- to acquiesce rather than argue.
So I'm going by her first post only, which I go over again in another reply to it.
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somewhere in your circuit the hot wire is in contact with the ground or neutral. it could be directly in your switch if it is bad. disconnect one & see if the other works. do you have a voltage meter or light?
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Bathroom outlet circuits have been wired in a variety of ways depending upon the age of the house and what code was in affect at that time. What Max has replied is right on the money, and if you let us know the age of the house, it would be helpful in narrowing down the possibilities

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I got it reversed about the red light thing.
The house is 3 years old and is in TX. I've since found out that the other bathroom outlets are also dead. Nothing is plugged into any of them. Nothing EVER is plugged in except a hair dryer. Is the a fuse INSIDE the breaker think in my garage? Do I dismantle that to get inside? If not, where might my fuse be? Thanks for all the help guys. ;)

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The other posters likely nailed it- on a house that young, one or more of the outside outlets is probably downstream of the bathroom GFCI. A device has failed or was mis-installed. Contractor-grade GFCIs are cheap. I'd start with replacing that with a fresh one. Also buy a pigtail current tester, to verify the incoming wires are cold- only a few bucks, and something every homeowner should own anyway.
Standard note- if you are at all uncomfortable working on wiring, you should not do this yourself. It ain't rocket science, but the potential for electric shock is real, and serious injury or death can result. If you have never done this before, spend the 20 bucks at the big-box, and buy a DIY book.
aem sends....
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In a three year old house, if properly wired, there are two ways bathrooms can be wired. The method used in your house is that the bathroom outlets and no other outlets but bathroom outlets, are on a dedicated 20 amp circuit. The circuit breaker feeding this string of bathroom outlets has tripped and won't reset. This means that there is a short in that circuit. Since each bathroom outlet is a GFCI type, they are not using the load terminals of any outlet. What I would do is open the outlet box nearest the breaker panel and check for ground wires touching any terminals of the outlet, other than the ground terminal. With the outlet pulled out and cleared, try resetting the breaker. If it doesn't reset, try the next outlet and do the same thing. If the bathroom outlets are in multigang boxes along with switches, be very careful, as the power for the switches is NOT on the same circuit as the outlets

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RBM wrote:

Look, she (?) doesn't even know for sure where the breaker panel is and here you're telling her to pull out an outlet without first telling her to find and turn off the breaker feeding that circuit, or better yet the main breaker.
Don't you think that's expecting too much from someone who can't even properly report the state of the red light on a GFCI outlet.
I wouldn't wan't the lady's death on my hands, would you?
Sorry mam, if you want to get that kind of problem fixed quickly you really need help beyond what you can get by asking here.
No offense intended, just concern for your safety,
Jeff

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Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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Marcy wrote:

1. Entice a neighborly fellow with fresh cookies. 2. Use an extension cord.
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I'm a diabetic so cookies aren't good for me but heels and a short skirt will work.
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Srgnt Billko wrote:

You should first establish whether Marcy's gender is appropriate for you...<G>
There are plenty of MEN named Marcy. The most famous I can think of was the New York politician Marcy "Boss" Tweed.
http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9073934/William-Marcy-Tweed
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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As we all know, I think, she means it has to be reset when there is a ground fault. But it didn't seem worth mentioning this until now.

The test button creates or simulates a ground fault, and the button remains in after being pressed.

So she's saying the red light should come on after the test button has been pressed, but before it has been reset. That is when it is tripped, not when it is not tripped. Which is how Max said they work.
So I don't think she got it reversed.

If the test button doesn't stay in, and as she says below, the breaker won't stay on, I think that means either that the test button doesn't function so the outlet has not been tripped at all, or that there is no power to the outlet to begin with and so she is unable to trip the outlet by pushing the test button. Regardless, the red light isn't going to come on if the breaker is tripped. And regardless to the second degree, she's describing what is happening, as she observed it. She's not commenting on the design or how it works in other circumstances.
So I still don't think she got it reversed.

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