As your friendly neighborhood electrician, we’ve listed some common reasons why a GFCI won’t reset and how homeowners like you can troubleshoot a dead outlet while still being safe and cautious.
What Are GFCI Outlets?
A GFCI, or a ground fault circuit interrupter, is an excellent tool that protects you and your loved ones from nasty electrical shocks. The GFCIs’ purpose is to sense any leaks into the electrical current and shut down the circuit before you have an accident.
However, when they stop working, it can be challenging to understand what went wrong. When the outlet’s breaker trips, you must reset it to restore electrical current to the outlet. If your GFCI breaker does not reset, this could mean a more resounding problem for your outlet.
6 Reasons Your GFCI Outlet Won’t Reset
1. Bad Connection/Loose Parts
Sometimes if your GFCI won’t reset, the problem may be as simple as some loose parts not establishing a good connection.
Parts that could be loose are often:
- Terminal screws
- Stab-in connections
- Wires at wire connectors
To figure out if this is an issue, you must remove the outlet from the box and search for loose connections. Make sure to wear rubber shoes and gloves and use rubber tools when working with anything electric.
However, if you remove the outlet and see loose wires beyond repair, you may need to install a new outlet altogether.
2. No Power Supply to Receptacle
If there is no power supply to the receptacle, then power can not reach your GFCI outlets. What does this mean? Even if you hit the reset button on your outlet, it still will not work.
In these cases, you may have reversed line and load. In rare cases, the circuit interrupter may be defective. A good way to tell if this is the problem is by seeing that the reset button has popped out, but other plugged-in devices still work.
To fix this, turn the main breaker on and off again. If that doesn’t work, you may want to call an electrician to troubleshoot the problem.
3. GFCI Outlet Has Gone Bad
Everything has a lifespan, including GFCI outlets. Usually, GFCI outlets last between ten and fifteen years. If you find no other tripped GFCIs and the outlet is past ten years old, you may need to replace that one GFCI outlet altogether.
When this happens, purchase a new outlet and have it professionally installed.
4. Power Turned off by Circuit Breaker
If you test and reset your GFCI outlet, but it still won’t stay reset, a good idea is to check the breaker box to make sure the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped. Try resetting the outlet.
Once you reset the outlet and it still doesn’t reset, moisture buildup in the wiring or outlet may be the culprit. Dry the outlet out with a hairdryer. When it has dried, you can try resetting the button.
5. GFCI Outlet Incorrectly Installed
A likely reason for your outlet not resetting is because the entire outlet was incorrectly wired. During the 1980s, GFCI-receptacles were far more expensive than they are today, and as a result, builders would only place one GFCI-receptacle in the home to protect all of the downstream receptacles. As a result, many receptacles have inefficient, improper wiring.
If you live in an old home, your GFCI may have been installed incorrectly. Luckily, it’s easy enough to reinstall the correct one.
- Turn off power to your circuit breaker or fuse.
- Verify the power is off using a voltage tester. (It’s important to always wear rubber shoes and use tools with rubber handles when working with anything electrical).
- Remove existing outlet.
- Disconnect wires from the existing outlet. Remove insulation so that 3/4-inch of the copper conductor is showing.
- Identify line wires and connect new wires.
- Place the GFCI into the wall box.
- Cover with the wall plate.
6. Ground Fault Wiring Issue
Sometimes ground faults are the reason why your outlet won’t reset. If the GFCI trips every time you reset it, there could be a ground fault along the branch circuit.
In these cases, you can call a qualified electrician for troubleshooting and repairs. They can also check out your electrical panel, breaker, and electrical code to ensure no additional issues.
It’s a common problem to have GFCI outlets break. However, as an integral piece to the safety of your home, you must fix the problem right away when you notice a malfunctioning GFCI outlet.
Contact Electric City For A FREE Electrical Inspection!
To save time and money, you can try to troubleshoot the problem on your own. However, some jobs are so complex that it’s worth calling a professional. If you feel like the problem is out of your hands, reach out to the professional team at Electric City.