My bathroom has two outlets and neither work. One is the kind that has to be
reset if there's a short circuit. If I push the test button on that one it
should stay in and a red light should come on until I reset it with the
other button. The other outlets in the house work like that. But this one -
the test doesn't stay in and the light doesn't come on. A breaker for this
bathroom (in the box in the garage) won't stay on. I don't see any loose
connections when I look at these outlets. I have no money for an
electrician - what can I look at?
There's usually a few things that can be wrong:
1. Your GFI outlet (the one with the built in breaker), is bad and is
shorting out, thus tripping the breaker.
2. The breaker switch at the breaker box is bad and keeps tripping,
3. There's another outlet that is connected to the same circuit
that has something either wrong with it or has something plugged
into it that is drawing too much current.
I don't personally know of any GFI switch that glows red when it's
*not tripped*. Usually, they're set up so that the red light comes on
*when* it's tripped.
Secondly, some homes have any exterior (like out in your patio),
outlets connected on the same circuit as your bathroom GFI switch.
Do you have anything outside that's plugged into an outside outlet?
When I posted my answer, I didn't notice that I was replying to the
same person I had been bickering with in an earlier thread**. If I
had, I would have put the same answer somewhere else in this thread
instead. I'm not looking to bicker.
**Attribution lines are another thing I don't look at unless there is
a reason. They are usually just where they should be. (Although
personally, I wish more people would set up the attribution line to
display the date and time also and not display the msg-id. This is a
desire not a complaint. I've never complained about it, and only bring
it up now because it seems related. I'm also not sure every
newsreader can do this.)
I read her follow-up and I saw that she acknowledged being wrong. "I
got it reversed about the red light thing."
That is half the reason I posted, for her sake, because I suspect she
was convinced she was wrong when she wasn't, or that she had written
it wrong when she hadn't. I also figure that her acknowledgement
might have been out of politeness or the notion that one gets more
with honey that vinegar, or a common trait -- which I'm told by women,
not by men, is more common in women -- to acquiesce rather than argue.
So I'm going by her first post only, which I go over again in another
reply to it.
somewhere in your circuit the hot wire is in contact with the ground or
neutral. it could be directly in your switch if it is bad. disconnect one &
see if the other works. do you have a voltage meter or light?
Bathroom outlet circuits have been wired in a variety of ways depending upon
the age of the house and what code was in affect at that time. What Max has
replied is right on the money, and if you let us know the age of the house,
it would be helpful in narrowing down the possibilities
I got it reversed about the red light thing.
The house is 3 years old and is in TX. I've since found out that the other
bathroom outlets are also dead. Nothing is plugged into any of them.
Nothing EVER is plugged in except a hair dryer. Is the a fuse INSIDE the
breaker think in my garage? Do I dismantle that to get inside? If not,
where might my fuse be? Thanks for all the help guys.
The other posters likely nailed it- on a house that young, one or more of
the outside outlets is probably downstream of the bathroom GFCI. A device
has failed or was mis-installed. Contractor-grade GFCIs are cheap. I'd start
with replacing that with a fresh one. Also buy a pigtail current tester, to
verify the incoming wires are cold- only a few bucks, and something every
homeowner should own anyway.
Standard note- if you are at all uncomfortable working on wiring, you should
not do this yourself. It ain't rocket science, but the potential for
electric shock is real, and serious injury or death can result. If you have
never done this before, spend the 20 bucks at the big-box, and buy a DIY
In a three year old house, if properly wired, there are two ways bathrooms
can be wired. The method used in your house is that the bathroom outlets and
no other outlets but bathroom outlets, are on a dedicated 20 amp circuit.
The circuit breaker feeding this string of bathroom outlets has tripped and
won't reset. This means that there is a short in that circuit. Since each
bathroom outlet is a GFCI type, they are not using the load terminals of any
outlet. What I would do is open the outlet box nearest the breaker panel and
check for ground wires touching any terminals of the outlet, other than the
ground terminal. With the outlet pulled out and cleared, try resetting the
breaker. If it doesn't reset, try the next outlet and do the same thing. If
the bathroom outlets are in multigang boxes along with switches, be very
careful, as the power for the switches is NOT on the same circuit as the
Look, she (?) doesn't even know for sure where the breaker panel is and
here you're telling her to pull out an outlet without first telling her
to find and turn off the breaker feeding that circuit, or better yet the
Don't you think that's expecting too much from someone who can't even
properly report the state of the red light on a GFCI outlet.
I wouldn't wan't the lady's death on my hands, would you?
Sorry mam, if you want to get that kind of problem fixed quickly you
really need help beyond what you can get by asking here.
No offense intended, just concern for your safety,
You should first establish whether Marcy's gender is appropriate for
There are plenty of MEN named Marcy. The most famous I can think of was
the New York politician Marcy "Boss" Tweed.
As we all know, I think, she means it has to be reset when there is a
ground fault. But it didn't seem worth mentioning this until now.
The test button creates or simulates a ground fault, and the button
remains in after being pressed.
So she's saying the red light should come on after the test button has
been pressed, but before it has been reset. That is when it is
tripped, not when it is not tripped. Which is how Max said they work.
So I don't think she got it reversed.
If the test button doesn't stay in, and as she says below, the breaker
won't stay on, I think that means either that the test button doesn't
function so the outlet has not been tripped at all, or that there is
no power to the outlet to begin with and so she is unable to trip the
outlet by pushing the test button. Regardless, the red light isn't
going to come on if the breaker is tripped. And regardless to the
second degree, she's describing what is happening, as she observed it.
She's not commenting on the design or how it works in other
So I still don't think she got it reversed.
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