A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) trips when there is leakage of current.
If your GFCI won’t reset after tripping, it could be because:
- There is no power supply to the receptacle
- GFCI has gone bad
- Wrong connection
- Power turned off by the circuit breaker.
GFCI plays a vital role, and the law (National Electrical Code) requires every homeowner to have it. It protects us from the electric shock that may arise from power surge and ground fault. That is why we install them in places like the kitchens and bathrooms where ground faults are common.
Note: GFCI doesn’t protect circuits and appliances, standard types of circuit breakers do that.
How the GFCI outlet works
GFCI does the same work with circuit breaker and fuse. But unlike breakers that protect devices and appliances, GFCI protects human beings.
The outlet has an internal breaker that turns OFF power when the input and output current varies. Once the outlet is OFF, it will need resetting to restore power. If the GFCI won’t reset, it may mean there is no power source to the outlet, or that the receptacle has gone bad.
Troubleshooting a GFCI outlet that fails to reset
If your outlet cannot reset when you press the reset button, follow these steps to find out the cause.
1. Unplug any appliance plugged into 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 unplugging the cord, reset the GFCI again. If the problem continues, move on to the electrical panel.
Reset your circuit breaker
You will see your circuit breaker inside the main 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, etc.
Once you locate the panel, look for the breaker that controls the circuit. If it is OFF, reset it. If not, move on to the outlets.
Test the GFCI outlets on the circuit
Press the test button on the outlet, and test it using a multimeter. If your outlet is good, it will read on the tester. But if otherwise, loosen out the GFCI and check if there is a wrong connection. If everything is fine after checking, including the circuit breaker, wiring system and there is no ground fault, change the receptacle, it has gone bad.
Sometimes, your outlet will be good, but the reset button doesn’t pop out when you press the ‘test’ button, such may mean the button was not pushed in enough to reach the unit.
You can buy a new GFCI here on Amazon if yours has gone bad.
Frequently Asked Questions on GFCI
What happens when a GFCI won’t reset?
If your GFCI outlet won’t reset, first check the breaker box to make sure the breaker of the circuit has not tripped off. Reset it if necessary. If it still won’t reset, it may have moisture in it. Dry it with a hairdryer. When it’s thoroughly dry, try resetting it again.
How do you fix a GFCI that won’t reset?
You can fix that by checking the circuit breaker that controls the outlet. The breaker trips at times if the outlet is overloaded. If the breaker has tripped, ON it again and reset the outlet.
Also check for 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 you have a ground fault along the circuit. Call a licensed electrician for troubleshooting and repairs.