How to Repair a Tripping GFCI Outlet
GFI and GFCI Questions: The GFCI Does Not Always Trip, Lost Power to Other Plugs and Light, The GFI to my Bathroom Quit Working. How to Fix Common Problems with GFCI Outlets, Guide to Troubleshoot and Repair a GFCI Outlet Problem.
Guide to Troubleshoot and Repair a GFCI Outlet Problem
GFCI Electrical Questions: What is causing a GFCI outlet to trip off?
GFCI Problem #1: The GFCI Does Not Always Trip
- I need help with a GFCI receptacle problem. I have a 120 VAC circuit in our basement that was installed when the house was built. As it was in an unfinished basement, it was terminated to a GFCI receptacle. While finishing the basement it would trip from time to time when we had multiple work lights and an air compressor plugged in. Once we started finishing this area we connected about 3 additional outlets to the GFCI circuit as well as 2 can lights, 2 down bar lights and a fan and light. While testing the lights, turning off the 3 way light it tripped. Was able to reset with the GFCI button. The GFI doesn’t always trip, just like it originally did when only the GFCI receptacle was on the dedicated circuit. Putting a tester in the GFCI outlet shows solid/good connections. Could it be the GFCI outlet or the 15A breaker in the electrical panel? This is a 14/2 cable.
This electrical wiring question came from: Jim, from Montrose, Colorado.
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GFCI Problem #2: Lost Power to Other Plugs and Light
- I have a circuit with four GFCI outlets on it and light above kitchen sink. All of a sudden I still have power at the first two GFCI outlets but no power going to the other two or the light above the sink. What could have happened?
This electrical wiring question came from Russell, in Crandon, Wisconsin.
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GFCI Problem #3: The GFI to my Bathroom Quit Working
- The GFI to my bathroom quit working. Testing showed power to the outlet but it would not reset. I replaced the GFI with a new one from Lowe’s, but it still would not reset and still had power to the load side. The circuit breaker in the garage is 20amp and seems to be working as I used it to turn off the power while i was working on it.The circuit breaker is a square D. Could it be bad and the GFI kicks out before the breaker?
This does control another outlet in the other bathroom. The home is 7 years old.
This electrical wiring question came from Bill, a Homeowner in Titusville, Florida.
Dave’s Reply to these GFCI Questions:
Thanks for your electric wiring question Jim and Russell.
How to Repair GFCI Outlets
Application: GFCI Outlet Repair.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and the number of outlets that will be replaced.
Precaution: Identify the GFCI outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional basement electrical wiring should be done with a permit and be inspected.
Troubleshooting Checklist for GFCI Outlet Problems
- It is rare that a circuit breaker would make a GFCI Outlet trip off, so I would not suspect the circuit breaker.
GFCI Wiring Problem
- The electrical wiring of the GFCI outlet should be checked to make sure the LINE and LOAD terminations are correct.
Faulty GFCI Test Button
- If the GFCI outlet cannot be tripped using the TEST Button, or the GFI Outlet RESET Button will not restore the power to the outlet and the wiring is correct then GFCI Outlet should be replaced.
New GFCI Outlet Problem
- If the GFCI Outlet has been replaced and the GFI Outlet tripping persists, then the Electrical Circuit may have a fault and will require testing, beginning with a Polarity Test.
How to Test a GFCI Outlet and GFCI Circuit
Testing a GFCI Protected Circuit
- GFCI Circuit Breakers and GFCI Outlets may go bad over time, so it is best to Test these devices periodically using the Test AND reset BUTTONS.
Testing a GFCI Receptacle Outlet
- If the circuit power is ON to the GFCI outlet and the wiring is correct and it does not trip OFF or RESET when tested then the GFCI outlet should be replaced.
Replacing a GFCI Circuit Breaker
- Special attention must be given for connecting the neutral wire of the GFI Protected Circuit inside the electric panel which is connected to the Neutral Terminal of the GFI Breaker.
- The white neutral wire that comes with the breaker is attached to the neutral terminal bar located in the electric service panel.
- IMPORTANT: Replacing a GFCI Circuit Breaker is best performed by a licensed electrician.
More about GFI Outlet Electric Wiring
Wiring GFI Outlets
GFCI and GFI Wiring Diagrams
- The features and benefits of GFCI outlets and receptacles will give you a clear understanding of the importance why these safety devices are required by code to help protect you and your family against accidental electrical shock hazards.
- This list of articles will help you learn about the features and benefits provided by GFI and GFCI Receptacles and how they are wired.
Wiring Electric Outlets for the Home
- Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home.
- How to wire electric outlets for the home.
Home Electrical Circuit Breakers
- A guide to home electrical circuit breakers and how they work to protect your electrical wiring.
- When properly installed, your home electrical wiring is protected by a circuit protection device.
Understanding Electrical Testers
- When working on home electrical wiring using voltage testers can play an important part in electrical safety.
- Electrical testers enable you to identify electrical circuits and help prevent the possibility of accidental electrical shock.
- Types of Electrical Testers
- GFCI Electrical Codes
- Home Electrical Codes for GFCI
- Electrical Code Directory covering electrical codes for GFCI outlets.
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.