Leah Cutter – Writer/Traveler

Video fried slug

As some of you may remember, I did the majority of the electrical work in the tiny house. I had a professional help me initially set up the breaker box, as well as wire in the tankless water heater. But I did the rest of the work.

I’ve been having problems recently with one of the GFCI outlets tripping.

Outside the tiny house are two pine trees. I have lights strung across them that are on a timer, so they turn on at dusk every evening. It’s quite delightful.

The timer is connected to an extension cord that has room for three plugs in it. It’s made for outdoors, for plugging in Christmas tree lights. The extension cord is plugged into the troublesome GFCI.

When I took the box holding the GFCI apart, I did see some water damage. So I figured the outlet had been exposed to water and had possibly shorted out. I replaced it with a new outlet.

However, I couldn’t get the circuit to work.

So I started checking everything else.

Guess what I found in one of the plug holes of the extension cord?

Half of a crispy fried slug.

No wonder that GFCI outlet had been tripping! So I think I found the initial cause of my problems. Hadn’t figured out everything though.

I have six outlets on that circuit/fuse. When I flipped the power on, the first outlet still showed as live, with power running through it. (I have a voltage detector for outlets.) The second outlet did not have any power running through it.


So I took that outlet apart.

Because there are six outlets, I have wires coming in as well as going out of the outlet (line and load). This also means two ground wires. But there’s only the one green ground screw on an outlet. And it’s a pain in the ass to try to connect both wires to the single green ground screw.

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Instead, I “pigtail” the ground wires together, generally using a wire nut. Basically, I connect the line and the load wires together with a third short wire, called the pigtail wire. You use an electric wing nut to twist the three wires together. Then you connect the singular pigtail wire to the green ground screw on the outlet.

Seemed that current had run up the ground wire from the faulty GFCI outlet and fried the pigtail wire in the wing nut. This is a good thing. Much better to fry that then to fry the outlet. Or the house.

So I replaced the pigtail wire and wing nut, reconnected the outlet, and ta dah! The circuit works and I have power again on that side of the tiny house.

I have also now covered up the extra plug holes on the extension cord with duct tape. No more crispy fried slug!

Electrical work always takes longer than I think it will. But I’m quite pleased that I can do it and figure this stuff out.

What have you done recently that was complicated, but worth the effort?