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    GFI Add-on

    Asked Jun 9, 2005, 02:41 PM 8 Answers
    I added an outlet in the garage, that is wired back to a GFI outlet in the basement (recently added to old house that just had central AC installed).

    The outlet works (both the one I installed, and the power-supplying GFI). However, I have one of those "testers", and I get one yellow light when I test the newly installed outlet. The descriptor reas as: "Open Neutral". I'm not exactly sure what this means, since everything works, and there are no loose wires (screws were tight when I was done). But, I can't rest until I get a fix on this thing. And this: I am not certain my tester (yellow gadget with three prongs and three lights - - two yellow and one red) is appropriate for use with a GFI circuit. As I said, I am getting one yellow light -- "Open Neutral". I hope someone can explain this to me.

    Thanks,

    Gary
    NW New Jersey

    Last edited by HoneyDoGuy; Jun 9, 2005 at 02:56 PM.
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    tkrussell's Avatar
    tkrussell Posts: 9,638, Reputation: 722
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    #2

    Jun 9, 2005, 05:35 PM
    Open neutral means the white wire is not connected somewhere in the circuit, however, you state the outlet works. What is the maker and model number of the tester you have? Some brands may not work properly on GFI circuits. There are specific testers for GFI.

    What concerns me is the outlets works. If you truly have an open neutral, what is it connected to?

    One thing to check is that the both the white and black wire at the basement outlet is connected to the load side of the GFI, and not for example the white on the load and the black on the line.

    I really need more info to help more. Post the maker and md # as I asked before, and exactly which terminals the new circuit is connected to.

    Have you tried to use the tester on other outlets to see if the tester reads OK on existing outlets?
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    HoneyDoGuy's Avatar
    HoneyDoGuy Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #3

    Jun 9, 2005, 06:12 PM
    GFI Add-on
    Thank you for the quick-turn reply. Upon inspection of the tester, I see it is made by A.W. Sperry Instruments, Inc. Further, in tiny print on the back side, it states as follows: "Circuit & GFI Tester" Model GFI - 302A. And, in my ignorance, this does confirm why there is a black button on the front (duh!) My apologies for overlooking the fine print and not giving the button anymore than a quick, passing thought. As for how I wired into the GFI, and I think this is my downfall.. . I wired into the "other side" (I'd have to take it apart to read you the actual wording.. . And if you say so, I will). "Other side" meaning, not the side that was already wired. Now, I did see where I could add wire to the existing lugs (the ones in use).. . But contrary to what my mind was telling me at the time, I went to the other side (no wires attached there). Looking back, this has been a total brain fart for me. I don't recall taking on a job, where I was clueless as to what I was doing. But, this GFI thing is new to me. Thanks for your help.
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    tkrussell's Avatar
    tkrussell Posts: 9,638, Reputation: 722
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    #4

    Jun 9, 2005, 07:04 PM
    OK so have you cleared the "Open Neutral" condition? On the GFI the terminals "other side" should be the load side, or the terminals to protect other devices with that GFI. If you connect the new wires to the terminals that already have wires, that is the line side, and the downstream device will have power, but will not be GFI protected.



    If you are all set,great. If not get back to me.
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    HoneyDoGuy's Avatar
    HoneyDoGuy Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #5

    Jun 9, 2005, 07:56 PM
    Add-on to GFI
    No, I haven't cleared the "Open Neutral" problem as of yet. It is late here and I spent a good part of the day behind a tiller in 90 degree heat. I took on the electrical job because, for the most part, I was in the cool basement. Toward that end, and as I understand it, I wired the GFI incorrectly, and should have used the same side that was already in use; there was an option for securing another circuit on that side. Since it is obvious I need GFI protection in that garage outlet (electrical tools used in various places around the yard/house) you can be sure that will be my first job in the morning. I'll let you know how it went. Thanks again for all your help. I really appreciate it very much.

    Gary
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    HoneyDoGuy's Avatar
    HoneyDoGuy Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #6

    Jun 10, 2005, 11:30 AM
    Add-on to GFI
    All done, and everything works correctly. Two things: (1) When I opened the outlet box (GFI) in the cellar, I noticed the green wire had slipped out of the wire nut. Unless told otherwise, I'm thinking that was the cause for my "Open Neutral" error. However, I thank you very much for explaining to me the correct way to wire the GFI for adding-on to it. (2) Something came to mind as I was taking it apart this morning: Yesterday, the screw securing the wires the GFI outlet were so &*^%%# tight, that the screw driver would cam-out and was buggering up the slots. THAT was the main reason I went for the otherside of the outlet. Today, I used a power driver, and with a firm and steady grip, I was able to remove those offending screws. Bottom line: Circuit tester reports all is correct, at both outlets. Thanks again for your help.

    Gary
    NW New Jersey
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    tkrussell's Avatar
    tkrussell Posts: 9,638, Reputation: 722
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    #7

    Jun 10, 2005, 11:54 AM
    OK but now you have me more concerned. The green wire not being connected should not have caused an open neutral fault. What was/is the green wire spliced to? Reconnecting the green to the proper location should have had no effect on the tester and the open neutral still should be there.

    I hate to belabor this issue, but something is still not right, even thou you are satified the error appears to be gone.
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    HoneyDoGuy's Avatar
    HoneyDoGuy Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #8

    Jun 10, 2005, 01:01 PM
    I appreciate your continued interest. The green wire, normally just plain copper in a 12/3 setup, was secured to the back of the box that contained the GFI outlet. When the electricians installed a new panel on the other side of the basement, to support the new AC installation, they came out of the bottom of the add-on service panel, with a short length of conduit into a four inch box (GIF). Coming into the outlet box from the service panel, just above, was three wires: Black, White, and Copper. That plain copper wire had a different connection that I had seen before. It when "through" a wire nut.. . The wire nut has a hole in the "pointy end". As it passed through the wire nut, it was attached to the outlet itself. Now this: From inside the box, there was a short length of green insulated wire, that went into the "business end" of the wire nut, securing them both together. Now, when I bought the wiring, I bought separate strands, of black, white and green, to run through a conduit.. . To get from basement into the garage. The green wire took the place of the plain copper had I used Romex.

    My apologies for any confusion. These things sometimes take on an air of simplicity to non-professional. I'd worked with Romex many times, but thought it would be neat to use metal conduit for the run, and use separte strands inside it. Adding to that, I had heard somewhere that Romex isn't pulled through conduit. Thanks again. Gary
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    tkrussell's Avatar
    tkrussell Posts: 9,638, Reputation: 722
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    #9

    Jun 10, 2005, 03:27 PM
    Well OK I sure hope everything is fine. Just want to be sure the installation is done correctly, electricity is very unforgiving and unprejudiced. It does not matter who it kills or burns.

    Be sure to test the GFI monthly as stated in the instructions that should be with each GFI device. Since the GFI was already existing, the instructions are probably long gone. The full instructions can be found at the makers website, if your interested.
    By the way, Nonmetallic cable, otherwise known as "Romex' can be installed in conduit.
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