GFI, GFI, wherefore art thou GFI?

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by wayneh, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. wayneh

    Thread Starter Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    When a circuit under the protection of a GFI goes down, is there a way to tell that it is truly a GFI that has tripped - a GFI that cannot be found for direct examination - as opposed to some other fault?

    My friend was vacuuming in her garage when the circuit went dead. Two outlets in the garage are dead and two outside. I suspect there is a fifth somewhere we haven't looked yet. Can't imagine where. Another outlet in the garage has an obvious GFI and it's OK. We've checked all the breakers. They have little indicator lights to show when they have tripped. None are tripped and all are hard on. We even toggled them all to be sure none were in the squishy position.

    We spent this evening looking everywhere but cannot find the missing GFI outlet. I'm 90+% sure there must be one, since there are other ones in the garage, but it would be great to confirm that one is actually present before we devote still more time to searching for it.

    If I'm wrong and there is some other kind of fault, what should I look for?
     
  2. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Look for a GFI on an outside wall or in the garden perhaps.
    Check for GFI where ever there is water, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms.
     
  3. wayneh

    Thread Starter Expert

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    I found some great horror stories here. Some as bad as the GFCI behind drywall or in the attic so they'd be out of sight. Ugh. Apparently a missing GFCI is a common problem, and the odds on favorite is that there is one hiding behind a pile of junk in the garage.
     
  4. gerty

    AAC Fanatic!

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    If there is a garbage disposal, look under the kitchen sink. While not required, I have found them there.
     
  5. wayneh

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    Sooo, nothing to try except to continue the hunt?
     
  6. gerty

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    If you just want to trace the wire,disconnec the GFCI, then connect a signal generator of the Fox and Hound type. Then take the inductive pickup and try to follow the wires path. Works, but it's slow.
     
  7. wayneh

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    Wouldn't that require knowing where it is?
     
  8. gerty

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    DOH !! I was thinking GFCI breaker when I wrote that... Can you narrow the search down to a single breaker? If so, disconnect it and try the generator..
     
  9. gerty

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    Another overlooked one is for the electric garage door opener.
     
  10. mcgyvr

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    Oct 15, 2009
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    I assume you already checked to see if the breaker in the distribution box is a GFCI or AFCI type breaker for that circuit?
     
  11. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    Check a bathroom nearest the garage. Even if it is on the secon floor. Also check for an outlet on the outside of the house (it should be under a protective clear splash guard).

    After that, check all of the drywall in the garage with a 3 foot level (or any other straight edge) to look for a bulge in the drywall in case the GFCI outlet box was covered (unlikely because outlets would not normally be installed before drywall).
     
  12. wayneh

    Thread Starter Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    All good suggestions, but no joy yet. There are a few spots on the garage wall that are still be obscured by junk, so I can't go too crazy until that is fully ruled out. PITA. Glad my garage would never be such a mess. ;)
     
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