GFCI reset button keeps popping out

First noticed this morning, the GFCI button installed in a wall outlet in one of my bathrooms keeps popping out. This renders all the bathroom sockets inoperable.
Is this a serious problem and what would be the likely cause and solution? Thanks for info.
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Could be a short circuit or the GFCI outlet is toasted. Certianly bears further investigation.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Either the GFCI outlet is bad or else there is a ground fault either at that outlet or possibly at another outlet, light, etc that is downstream and protected by the same GFCI. First, I'd make sure nothing is plugged into any of the downstream outlets, if there are any. If it still trips, next, I'd pull the GFCI outlet out of the box and if it feeds anything downstream, which is likely I'd disconnect the feed to downstream, then see if it resets and holds. IF it does, you know the problem is downstream. If it still doesn't hold, then it's a bad GFCI.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Sure sounds like it's probably doing its job as intended.
If anything is plugged into any of the "inoperable" bathroom sockets with a three prong plug, try unpluging them one by one and see if the problem is related to one of them, in which case that item probably has internal leakage and needs to be repaired or tossed out. It's unlikely that anything with a two prong plug would cause the problem unless it's maybe a small appliance sitting in a puddle of water.
If the problem persists with nothing plugged into any of those outlets, then you might have a bad GFCI receptical OR condensed moisture is causing electrical leakage inside one of the recepticals or G-d forbid in a hard to get at junction box. If the GFCI outlet also feeds power to lights or an exhaust fan, there may be moisture causing leakage in one of those devices.
In that case, to find out where the leakage is, first try disconnecting the outgoing leads on the troubled GFCI receptical. (If you don't understand what I just said, find someone who does, or hire a professional.)
If it's OK without the outgoing leads connected to it you're going to have to hunt and peck at the other recepticals (and lights/fan if connected too.) until you figure out where the leakage is at.
If it still "pops" with no outgoing leads connected to it, and nothing plugged into it, replace that GFCI outlet, it must be bad.
HTH,
Jeff
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OK, thanks Jeff and others.
I pulled out all the devices plugged into all the appropriate sockets...and the reset button still keeps popping. So it's either condensed moisture or a bad GFCI. I guess I'll call an electrician as I'm not an expert in these matters.
Thanks again.
Jeff Wisnia wrote:

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Another possibility, along the line of what Trader said, depending upon when the house was built, it is possible that that GFCI is protecting outlets outside your house and in the garage. The outside location is a very likely place to have water entry

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On 4 Mar 2006 09:41:57 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

That might be best, but give this a try. Shut off the power to that GFI. Disconnect the two wires (white and black) connected to the side that says LOAD. Those go to all the downstream outlets (the ones it controls). Leave those wires off, and turn the power back on. If it dont pop, you have a bad connection in one of those other outlets, and you want to open each one and look for bare wires or something touching the screws. If it does pop, buy a new GFI for about $10 to $15, and replace it EXACTLY as the wires are now.
The wires that power the GFI go to the screws labelled LINE. The wires that feed the downstream outlets go to LOAD. The bare (or green) wire goes to the green screw on the GFI. It's really not that complicated. REMEMBER, white wires always go to SILVER screws, Black wires go to BRASS or GOLD colored screws, and the bare or green wire always goes to the GREEN screw.
I highly doubt its condensation. I wont say that 100%, but I run a farm and I have cords outside that go to animal water tanks that power tank heaters to keep the water from freezing. Those cords get buried in snow where the heaters plug into them, so the connection plug is under the snow, the snow melts some days, and I've had them under or embedded in ice a few times. They still dont trip the GFI, and I dont tape them (because sometimes the animals toss the heaters out of the tanks and I want them to unplug when the animals do this). However, if I take the garden hose and pour the water directly on the plug, I will hear the GFI pop in a split second. This is why I doubt the condensation. They can handle quite a bit before they pop.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

It may be moisture in an outside or garage outlet tripping it. Take a hair dryer connected to a HEAVY extension cord plugged into an inside outlet. Blow hot air from the hair dryer into ALL outside and garage outlets. Do the same with the bathroom and kitchen outlets. If that does not stop the tripping, call an electrician.
Stretch
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There is one more possibility in addition to the suggestions already posted. I came across a similar situation last month, an older GFCI just kept tripping with nothing on it. This occured after I had shut off the circuit breaker for awhile. Replacing the GFCI with a new one did no good. I finally traced it to a loose wire on the breaker that feeds that circuit. The hold-down screw had worked loose and the wire was barely touching, a bad situation.
Dennis
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On 4 Mar 2006 08:47:53 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Shouldn't the first diagnostic step be to buy a new GFI unit? Its a lot cheaper and less frustrating than spending a lot of time on guesswork troubleshooting.
Install that in place of your current GFI and see if that trips. If it does then you have a fault somewhere in your system. Diagnose the source by disconnecting one outlet at a time (just the righthand black wire will do) until the GFI no longer pops. Then reconnect the rest one by one and see if the GFI still pops. You should be able to figure out what's the likely problem. Beyond that call a electrician or someone who thinks he can fix the problem.
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FIRST I WOULD HAVE TO SAY AS AN ELECTRICIAN, THAT YOU SHOULD CALL IN A PROFESSIONAL TO REPLACE AND TROUBLESHOOT YOUR PROBLEM. THE GFCI CIRCUIT SHOULD NOT LEAVE THE BATHROOM IN THE FIRST PLACE SO THE PROBLEM SHOULD BE CONTAINED TO THE AREA THE GFCI IS FEEDING. THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO A GFCI RECEPTACLE...LINE SIDE AND LOAD SIDE (NORMALLY MARKED BY A YELLOW PIECE OF TAPE, THIS LOAD SIDE IS THE FEED OUT TO ALL RECEPTACLES/ LIGHTS ECT. IN THE BATH. THE LINE SIDE IS THE FEED IN TO THE WHOLE CIRCUIT. SHUT OFF THE BREAKER AT THE PANEL REMOVE THE EXISTING GFCI, REPLACE DEVICE WITH A NEW ONE, PREFERABLY WITH AN INDICATOR LIGHT THAT SIGNALS WHEN THE CIRCUIT IS TRIPPED. INSPECT THE REMAINING DEVICES FOR WEAR ANY DAMAGE TO THE GROUNDING PART OF THE RECEPTACLE , IT SHOULD ALSO BE REPLACED. HAVING DONE ALL THIS , NOW ENERGIZE THE CIRCUIT BACK AT THE PANEL . USE A $3.00 PLUG TESTER WITH GFCI TRIP CAPABILITY TO TEST OPERATION.
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