Whether you’re renting or own a home, it’s good to have some basic knowledge on how to troubleshoot simple things around the house. It alleviates the pressure of calling your landlord or missing work to meet a professional and pay them for easy-to-fix issues.
Now, there are plenty of instances when you do need a skilled technician to take care of things, such as the air conditioner or any other big-ticket item. However, smaller elements may have quick fixes. Such is the case with GFCI outlets.
What is a GFCI Outlet?
GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. It’s a type of outlet that closes off electricity when there’s too much current going through it. The purpose is to protect your devices from receiving too much power, and to protect your home from a fire. They also protect from electric shock if a cord comes in contact with moisture.
It works by keeping track of the electrical current flowing through it. If there is any fluctuation, it immediately cuts off power.
They are easy to distinguish from other outlets because they have a black test button and a red reset button. They are most likely installed where there is water, such as a bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and outdoor spaces.
What Causes a GFCI Outlet to Trip?
In addition to a sudden fluctuation in energy, a GFCI outlet could trip if a cord comes into contact with water (such as that of a flat iron or blender cord falling into a sink), these outlets can also trip due to an accumulation of dust, poor insulation, or faulty wires.
3 Signs of a Bad GFCI Outlet
- It trips regularly. While you can reset it when it trips every now and then, if it happens too often, you’ll need help from a certified technician.
- When you push in the black test button, the red reset button should pop out. If it doesn’t, the outlet is not working properly.
- When tested with a circuit tester (available at hardware stores), power is not restored after pushing the reset button on the tester. [Side note: If your GFCI is less than 10 years old, you won’t need a circuit tester.]
How to Test a GFCI Outlet
Testing GFCI outlets is relatively simple and be done in just a few steps.
Step 1. Press the button labeled “Test”. If you hear a snapping sound, the outlet has tripped.
Step 2. Plug in any appliance or tool to verify that it’s still tripped (aka, not providing electricity). If it is tripped, the appliance will remain unpowered.
Step 3. Press the reset button while the appliance is still plugged in and turn it on. If the outlet is working properly, it will power the appliance.
Step 4. If there’s no electrical current after resetting, unplug the appliance, turn off power to the outlet at the circuit breaker, and unscrew the cover plate from the wall. Verify that the upper wires are connected to an input labeled “Line”, and the lower wires are connected to an input labeled “Load”. If they are reversed, switch them to their proper terminals. If they are connected properly and the outlet is still not working, it’s time to call an electrician.
Climate Design Can Help
At Climate Design, we provide HVAC and electrical services all over Tampa Bay: Clearwater, Largo, Palm Harbor, South Tampa, St. Pete Beach, Eastlake, Tarpon Springs, Safety Harbor, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto, and New Port Richey.
If you’re having electrical or HVAC issues, we can help! Call us 24/7.
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