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Electrical Wire and Cable

How to Repair a GFI Outlet Circuit

How can I fix a problem with my GFCI outlet circuit? How to Troubleshoot and Repair GFI Outlet Circuit Wiring.

Electrical Video #1

Generator Automatic Transfer Switch
and Electric Circuit Sub Panel

NOTE: A List of All my Helpful Videos
Will Display at the End of This Video
So Keep Watching So I Can Help You Wire it Right!

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Steps for Testing a GFCI Outlet Circuit
Electrical Question #1: How can I fix a problem with my GFCI circuit?
I have a problem with the GFCI circuits in my home.

Thank you for your advice.

This electrical wiring question came from: Jerry, in NY, New York.

Electrical Question #2:

This electrical wiring question came from Ray in Sulphur, Louisiana

Electrical Question #3:

This electrical wiring question came from Rick, a Homeowner in Eagan, Minnesota.

Dave’s Reply:
Thank you for your electrical wiring questions.

Troubleshoot and Repair GFCI Outlet Circuit Wiring

electrical troubleshooting GFCI outlet

How to Test a GFI Circuit

When the GFI circuit seems to be partially working or not working at all here are some things to double check to get the GFCI working again.

  1. Check for Loose Wires
    Make sure there are no loose wires within the circuit, especially the white neutral wire.
  2. Incoming Power Source: The LINE
    Make sure the incoming power source to the GFCI outlet are attached to the LINE side as indicated on the back of the receptacle.
  3. Outgoing Power Source: The Load
    Make sure the outgoing circuit wiring is connected to the LOAD side of the GFCI Outlet.
  4. LINE and LOAD Wiring
    Both the black and white wires must be connected separately into the appropriate terminals of the LINE and the LOAD side of the GFCI Outlet or GFI Receptacle.
  5. A Bad GFI
    If the wiring connections are correct and the circuit voltage is normal then the GFCI outlet may be faulty and should be replaced.
  6. Checking the Circuit Polarity
    The integrity of the GFI circuit wiring may be tested for voltage by temporarily removing the GFCI outlet and splicing the wires through and then testing the voltage and polarity at each receptacle outlet of the same circuit. If the voltage readings and polarity test is normal then the GFCI is faulty or the connections to the GFCI were incorrect.
  7. Plug-In Circuit Analyzer
    A plug in circuit analyzer will be helpful to determine the correct wiring of the circuit and help detect circuit faults.

Important Note about Ground Fault Circuit Interruption:
Both GFI and GFCI are basically the same and both provide protection against ground faults by interrupting the electrical circuit by sensing voltage that passes to a ground source.

See More about Electrical Wiring for a GFCI Outlet

The following may also be helpful for you:

Electrical Video #2

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet

without a Ground Wire

NOTE: A List of All my Helpful Videos
Will Display at the End of This Video
Keep Watching So I Can Help You Wire it Right!

Check out my YouTube Channel:
» AskTheElectrician «
and Subscribe!

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

More articles about Electrical Repair and Home Electrical Wiring:
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Electrical Troubleshooting Lost Outlet Power Is it Safe to Replace Circuit Breakers in a Breaker Box?

FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

6 Responses to “How to Repair a GFI Outlet Circuit”
  1. Stan says:

    Just purchased a home and it was inspected with all outlets working. Sometime during the past few weeks all 5 exterior outlets have stopped working. I have checked every outlet and switch in the house. The only ones not working are these 5. I None of these outlets are breakered and I cannot figure out which circuit breaker on the main panel feeds them. Any idea of what to do next?

  2. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Stan,
    I would search for a GFCI outlet that has tripped OFF. Begin looking on the porches, laundry room or the garage and I’ll bet you will find a GFCI outlet. If you locate a GFI outlet that is not tripped then make sure to press the TEST button to manually test it, and if it does not trip then the GFI outlet is at fault and needs to be replaced, and this will most likely solve the problem with the other outlets that are not working.

  3. Ed Drager says:

    I have a new home and the two GFI on the exterior of the home has always worked. One of the GFI’s has the test buttons on it and the other one does not. I have tried replacing the test receptacle and it will not work either. I have a load to the test receptacle and I can not trip either test buttons. I even replaced the other receptacle and that did not work. I am thinking that I might have gotten a bad GFI to replace the old one.

  4. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Ed,
    Try replacing the GFI just in case you have a defective one. If that does not help then I suspect there is a problem within the circuit wiring which will need to be tracked down. Start by turning off the circuit power and inspecting all of the other outlet boxes, remove the outlets or devices, and look for anything that may cause moisture or a path between circuit components and the ground system. With situations like this I have even found that insects that nest into these areas which in some cases is enough to cause nuisance tripping of the GFI.

  5. Tom Williams says:

    I was trimming my hedges when I inadvertently cut the extension cord with the hedge trimmer. This shorted out the outlet where the extension cord was plugged in. However the outlet is a GFCI type. I disconnected the three wires attached to the receptacle and tested the hot and neutral with my tester but there was no voltage. The other outside receptacles have no power either. Does this mean I have to replace the circuit breaker connected to the three GFCI outlets?

  6. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Tom,
    From what you have described here is the process that I would take: Make sure the damaged hedge trimmer cord is unplugged. Reconnect any wiring and reinstall any receptacles and cover plates that have been opened. Then go to the electrical panel and look for the circuit breaker for the outside receptacles, switch the breaker all the way into the Off position, and then back into the On position. This will reset the circuit breaker and should restore power to the outdoor receptacle circuit. Double check and test the GFCI receptacle to make sure it is functioning correctly.
    I hope this helps,