Friday, July 23, 2010


Electrical Wiring in the Home
Subject:switching to GFI outlets
Question:I want to switch some outlets in my kitchen and bath to GFI outlets. When I pulled out the old outlet it has a ground, a red wire attached to the top right side, a black wire attached to the bottom right side and only one white wire attached to the top left side. The white wire is tied into a connector that has two other white wires in it. The instructions for the GFI tell me what to do if there are two wires (one black, one white) and if there are four wires. (two black, two white). What do I do with three wires, one red, one black and one white (other than the ground)? Thanks
Answer: Hi Dennis,

First off it is a very good idea to up date your old outlet to GFCIs in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Your white wires are your neutrals and they attach to the silver screws on the side you your GFCI marked "LINE"

The Red and Black wire are hot wires. Was this 1/2 outlet switched? Normally the Red wire is controlled by a switch and the black wire is hot 100% of the time. On outlets there is a small break away piece of metal between the screws that allows you to control the top and bottom individually.

On a GFCI outlet you will not have that option so you will have to chose to either switch the whole GFCI or have the GFCI hot 100% of the time. This is a job a home owner can do but there is nothing wrong with calling in a pro. Better safe then sorry.

Bill Lutz
Generation 3 Electric, Inc.

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