Electrical Wiring in the Home/CGFI outlet behavior


QUESTION: Hi. I have two bathroom's with outlets that say they are protected outlets, but have no buttons. When I use a 800 watt space heater it shuts down, but no breaker trips. Neither outlet will properly charge low-draw appliances like shavers or electric toothbrushes, but will power a blow dryer. When I check the breaker box there is tape next to one identifying it as CFGI, but the breaker looks like very other 15 amp breaker in the box -- and it says nothing about being CFGI. (I haven't removed the panel yet.) If it is a CFGI breaker (or even if it is not), why would it not properly supply power to things like toothbrushes? Those same applies charge properly elsewhere in the house. Does this indicate that the CFGI is not working properly?


The buttons are probably in another bathroom, the garage, basement, or outside. One GFCI can protect many outlets if wired correctly.

The outlet should either work for any appliance, or not work at all.  If it was accidently in series with something, most likely the smaller appliances would work, but not the bigger ones.

The heater may have a ground fault.  Also, heating appliances, such as heaters and blow dryers use a lot of power.  If you use more than one at the same time on the same circuit, it would be overloaded.  The breaker should pop, put sometimes the wire overheats and burns loose. If your house was built in the 1970's, you could have aluminum wiring. This is a safety hazard if not constantly maintained, and could act erratic.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks, Bob. Sounds like I'll have to contact an electrician. There is no apparent button inside the house or near the breaker. The house was built in 1991. Wouldn't a CFGI breaker has something on it to identify it as one? As I mentioned it looks exactly like all the other 15 watt breakers in the box.

Most houses have a GFCI outlet that protects that outlets and others.  That costs around $10, the breakers cost around $35.  So, you are more likely to find a GFCI outlet than a GFCI breaker.  A GFCI breaker has a test button on it, so they are easy to spot.

If you don't see one in any of the bathrooms, check the other rooms.  It is likely that one in the basement or garage can get covered with clutter. All houses built in 1991 should have GFCIs in them  
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Bob Sponaugle


Just about any home wiring question. (not appliance repair) I have done all kinds of home wiring for myself, including adding a new breaker box, etc. Please, questions from North America only. Please be specific with details.

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