A common project for homeowners everywhere is GFCI outlet troubleshooting. A ground fault circuit interrupter outlet prevents electric shocks by sensing power surges and shutting down the flow of electricity to the plug accordingly. New homes have GFCI outlets installed in every room. Older houses may have none at all. In this case, it’s vital to your home and family’s safety that you at least replace the outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, basement, and outdoors with GFCI plugs.
But if you already have GFCI plugs, what should you do when one of them stops working correctly? How can you tell if the problem is in the plug, the appliance, the wiring inside your wall, or the circuit breaker box outside? It can be scary and confusing trying to figure out what’s really going on with an electrical receptacle.
Here’s a quick GFCI outlet troubleshooting guide to help you get to the bottom of things:
Problem: GFCI Outlet Frequently Trips
- Just like so many other devices around your home, GFCI outlets can wear out over time. So if your house is getting up there in years, you may simply have a worn-out plug that needs to be replaced.
- The problem could be within a device you have plugged into the outlet. Unplug everything, reset the outlet, and then plug each device into the outlet and see if it trips again.
- There are typically three wires connected to a GFCI plug: they are white, black, and a bare metal grounding wire. If the black wire touches bare metal, it can cause the outlet to trip almost constantly.
Problem: Tripped GFCI Outlet Will Not Reset
- The outlet may be worn out to the point where it no longer functions. If this is the case, replacement is the only option.
- The circuit breaker connected to the outlet may have tripped. If you notice other plugs, lights, and appliances in the area have lost power, go check out your breaker box to see if one of the switches needs to be reset.
- There could be a short in the lines somewhere between the outlet and the breaker box. This situation definitely calls for a qualified electrician.
- The GFCI outlet’s wires may have been installed incorrectly. This is another job for an electrician.
Problem: Device Plugs Fall Out of the Outlet
- Outlets rely on tension to keep plugs inside the socket and maintain connection between metal parts. If a plug falls out of a socket with no effort, the outlet is old and worn out. Time for a replacement.
Problem: GFCI Outlet is Singed, Buzzing, Smoking, or Smells Acrid
- All of these are additional symptoms that the GFCI outlet has failed for the last time. Turn off the circuit breaker corresponding to the affected outlet, and call an electrician to replace the receptacle. If the smoke or smell persists, call the fire department to make sure there isn’t something more going on inside the wall.
- Smoke or an acrid smell could also be caused by melting wire insulation. If you can remove the plug plate and take a look inside, examine the receptacle for melted wiring. If affected wire is white in color (as opposed to copper), it could be aluminum wire, which can create all sorts of problems for you. Call an electrician if you see white-colored wires (or their insulation) melting.
GFCI outlets were made to prevent electrocution, but they provide us with a measure of protection against a range of unfortunate events. You may not recognize how important these devices are to you and your home’s safety until you need a GFCI plug to swing into action.
Appliances can short out without warning, but a GFCI outlet will quickly protect you and your home from shock and damage. A GFCI plug will immediately recognize that excess current is flowing and stop it before serious damage can be done. GFCI outlets work around-the-clock to keep your home safer.
Do You Need Atlanta’s GFCI Experts?
Arc Angel Electric specializes in all residential electrical needs. From rewiring an existing home to replacing a single electrical outlet, our expert electricians have you covered. We only use the best materials and proven professional methods. This provides our satisfied customers with unmatched satisfaction and peace of mind.
We are proud to be in our 16th year of serving homeowners all over the Atlanta area. With our professional experience in the electrical industry and our knowledge of the local area, Arc Angel is the logical choice for your home improvement needs.
For your next GFCI outlet troubleshooting problem, call Arc Angel at 770.889.9243.