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Why Can’t I Reset My GFCI Outlet?

A ground fault circuit interrupter, otherwise known as a GFCI or GFI, rarely fails. Since it’s designed to cut power to the circuit if there’s a ground fault and prevent shock, this can be dangerous. If a GFCI outlet doesn’t work, here are some of the possible reasons:

  • It may not have been reset after its last trip.
  • The GFCI outlet is not getting power.
  • An upstream GFCI has tripped.
  • The outlet isn’t properly connected.
  • A ground fault is still occurring downstream of the unit.

How Can I Tell If a GFCI Is Bad?

If the reset button doesn’t pop out when you press the test button, the GFCI may be defective. This can also mean the unit isn’t receiving 120 volts. If the reset button is out but plugged-in devices are working, the outlet may be defective (or the line and load may be reversed). When nothing works and the reset button is in, the GFI may be defective, miswired, or not receiving power.

How Do I Troubleshoot a GFCI?

The symptoms can help you determine the source of the problem. The easiest way to troubleshoot the unit is to push the reset button. If the GFCI still won’t click, there is likely a downstream ground fault. However, the GFCI may be miswired. 

A newer device may have reversed line and load or it may need more current. Also, make sure you push the button far enough. Check how your GFCIs are connected as well; if you originally installed one in the garage, it can trip one you later added in the bathroom. If the GFCI is connected to several outlets, the trip can come from any one of them.

How Do You Fix a GFCI That Won’t Reset?

If the reset button won’t work, toggle the test and reset buttons. The best way to do this is to unplug all the appliances on that circuit. Then press the reset button; it should click and all appliances and devices should work once you plug them back in. If the reset doesn’t work: 

  • Check the circuit breaker to see if there’s a trip.
  • Unplug one device at a time to correct an overload.
  • Have an electrician check the GFCI for issues.

What Causes GFCI Outlets to Fail?

You can get 15 to 25 years out of a GFCI outlet. However, GFIs do wear out. Some may last only 5 years before having to be replaced. Repeated exposure to moisture, water, high heat, or UV light can cause the unit to fail. Plugging in too many appliances, internal corrosion, and mechanical wear can shorten the outlet’s life as well.

What If all GFCI Outlets Are Not Working?

Check the main electrical panel to see if a circuit breaker has tripped. After turning the breaker back on, try resetting the outlets. If this doesn’t work, there may be a wiring problem, a loose connection, or multiple GFCIs have gone bad.

When Should I Call an Electrician?

If you can’t resolve a faulty GFCI outlet, multiple GFIs fail, or resetting a circuit breaker doesn’t correct the problem, there may be an electrical issue, for which there’s no DIY fix. It’s time to call in an electrician. A professional can troubleshoot and repair the issue and avoid dangers such as personal injury or property damage.

When you can’t reset a GFCI outlet, contact Express Electrical Services. Our electricians can arrive at your Los Angeles or Southern California home in 60 to 90 minutes. Call 323-727-7799 to request service.