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

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
  • Bad GFCI
  • Wrong connection
  • Tripped breaker.

However, if the GFCI 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.

GFCI plays a safety 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 surges and ground faults. That is why we install them in places like the kitchens and bathrooms where current leakage is common.

Note: GFCI doesn’t protect circuits and appliances, the standard type of circuit breaker does that.

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 devices or appliances, GFCI protects human beings.

The outlet has an internal switch that turns OFF power when the input and output current varies. 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.

If your GFCI doesn’t work, it may mean there is a problem along the branch circuit.

Reasons your GFCI 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 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 those 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 current.

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

3. Wrong or loose connections

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.

Troubleshooting a gfci that is not resetting

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

1. 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 main electrical panel.

Reset your gfci outlet

reset circuit breaker

You will see your main 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 circuit. If it is OFF, turn it on. If not, move on to nearby outlets.

Test and reset the GFCI outlets

testing the receptacle with a multimeter

Press the test button on the outlet, and test it using a multimeter tool. If your outlet is good, it will read on the tester. Otherwise, loosen out the outlet and check if there is a wrong connection. If everything is fine after checking, including the trip switch and wiring system, and there is no current leak, remove the outlet. 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 that you did not push the button enough to reach the unit.

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

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. When 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 an outflow of currents 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 I established this blog to share my seven years of work experience in electrical installations and repairs.