GFCI Outlet Won’t reset, 7 Causes and How to Fix it.

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI outlet) trips when there is a current leakage or ground fault.

If your gfci won’t reset after rain or tripping, it could be because:

  • There is no power supply to the receptacle
  • Faulty electrical wiring
  • Tripped breaker.
  • Presence of moisture
  • Bad GFCI outlet

However, if the GFCI outlet trips every time you reset it, there may be a ground fault along the branch circuit.

This will require a qualified electrician for troubleshooting and repairs.

Related post: How to Install a GFCI Outlet in your Bathroom and Kitchen

How the GFCI outlet works

GFCI does the same work with circuit breakers and fuses. But unlike breakers that protect electrical devices or appliances, GFCI protects human beings.

The outlet has an internal switch that turns OFF power when the input and output current varies (ground fault). Once the outlet is OFF, it will need resetting to restore power.

When the current flowing through the hot wires differs from the one returning through the neutrals, the receptacle shuts down.

Once the circuit is off, it will need resetting to restore power.

Reasons your GFCI outlet won’t reset

There are some factors that may cause your GFI to not reset. They include:

1. Ground faults along the tripped circuit

This occurs when a current follows an unintended path to the ground. Common causes include ungrounded outlets, incorrect wiring and damaged cords.

When this leakage occurs, currents flow through any conductor around. If it is a human, electrocution occurs.

But since water is a good conductor of electricity, greater chances of ground faults occurring in wet areas such as the kitchen and bathroom are always higher.

Gfci breakers respond to all these faults by interrupting the circuit

A gfci outlet that is not resetting may be responding to leakage of currents along the downstream.

2. No power supply to the outlet

Most times, when there is a power surge, the circuit breaker shuts down power to prevent fire outbreaks and over heating.

Once the power is turned off, it will require someone to ON it again before it can supply the current.

The GFI that is not responding may not be receiving current.

3. Faulty electrical wiring

Since 2002, GFCIs come with special features that won’t let them reset if installed incorrectly.

An outlet that’s not working may be responding to a bad or loose connection.

4. Faulty or dead outlet

While 99% of outlets not resetting are because of leakage of current and wrong wire connection, a GFCI may be defective in rare cases.

if you discover that your outlet has gone bad, replacing the dead outlet is the only option.

How to fix a gfci outlet that won’t reset

If your outlet doesn’t come back to normal when you press the reset button, follow these steps to fix it.

1. Check for a tripped breaker

reset circuit breaker

You will see the circuit breaker inside the electrical panel, usually installed near the area where electrical wires enter the house. Other places to look for your service panel include the attics, basement, garage, and so forth.

Once you locate the panel, look for the breaker that controls the branch circuit. If it is OFF, turn it on. If not, move on to nearby outlets.

Note! Before touching the main breaker box, make sure you turn off the main switch and also wear your safety gloves

2. Test and reset the GFCI outlets

Go to the gfci outlet and press the “Test” button to trip the outlet.  When it trips, press the “Reset” button to reset the receptacle. If it doesn’t reset, proceed to the next steps

3. Unplug devices from each gfci outlet

unplug all appliances connected to the receptacle

Unplug the device or cord plugged into the outlet box. This is to rule out the chances of short circuits and overload, causing the problem.

After removing the cord, turn off and on the GFCI again. If the problem continues, move on to the next step.

4. Check if the outlet is in a wet environment

If the outlet is in a damp location like a bathroom or kitchen, moisture could be causing it not to reset. Use a dryer to dry the surrounding area and try resetting it again.

5. Check for Faulty Wiring

If you are comfortable with electrical work, check to see if the connection is right. Start by turning off the power on the breaker panel.

Use a voltage tester to confirm that the power is off. Remove the outlet cover and inspect the wiring for loose connection or wire damage. Repair or replace if anyone is damaged.

6. Replace the GFCI Outlet

If none of the above steps resolve the issue, the outlet itself may be bad and need replacement.

Turn off power at the main breaker box and install a new GFCI outlet..

You can also buy a new outlet here on Amazon if yours has gone bad.

Contact a qualified electrician from mariaelectricals fo inspection

If you have tried your best and the outlet didn’t reset or you are not comfortable working on the electrical field, call us for inspection.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when a GFCI cannot reset?

If your outlet cannot reset, first check the receptacle to make sure it has not switched off. Turn it off and on again. If it’s still not working, it may have moisture in it. Dry it with a hairdryer. Once it’s thoroughly dry, try resetting it again.

How do you fix an outlet that cannot reset?

You can fix it by checking the circuit breaker that controls the outlet. Breaker trips if overloaded. Once the breaker has tripped, ON it again and reset the outlet.

Also, check for the wrong connection to make sure it is ok.

Can a GFCI outlet go bad?

GFCI can go bad if

  • It no longer trips when you press the test button
  • The trip button stays outside and won’t reset
  • The button trips out, but the outlet remains ON.

GFCI won’t reset after rain. Why?

If your GFCI won’t reset after rain, it means there is ground faults along the circuit. Call an electrician to fix it.

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About mariaelectricals

Hi, I am Emmanuel Nwankwo, a commercial electrician and the founder of mariaelectricals.com. I established this blog to share my decades of work experience in electrical installations and repairs.