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.
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
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.
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.
Jeff Wisnia wrote:
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
On 4 Mar 2006 09:41:57 -0800, " email@example.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
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.
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.
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.
On 4 Mar 2006 08:47:53 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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.
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
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