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How to Fix a GFCI Outlet that Keeps Tripping

Posted by: Cooper MechanicalTuesday, February 18, 2020

GFCI outlet keeps tripping

The GFCI Outlet that Keeps Tripping

First you hear a pop. Now the coffee maker isn't working. It could be your outlet. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters are safety tools that quickly shuts off power to an outlet to prevent an electrical ground fault. GFCI outlets are usually found in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas prone to moisture that pose electrical hazards. The outlet that keeps "tripping," is a safety feature to prevent electrical shock.

GFCI receptacles have centrally located "test" and reset" buttons (and sometimes a notifying light) to let you know when an outlet has been tripped and to manually reset it so its operable again. 

Why Do GFCI Outlets Trip?

As we mentioned before, GFCI outlets trip to prevent electrical shock and fire hazards. There are 5 reasons why your GFCI is tripping:

  • Moisture or Water in the Receptacle
  • Conductive Dust or Debris
  • Wire Deterioration
  • Ground Fault in the Circuit
  • Faulty or Old Outlet

If your outlet trips occasionally, it could be from moisture or water that splashed from a nearby sink, or from some dust bunnies carrying an electrical charge. You can usually reset the receptacle by pushing the reset button, and you're good to go. But if your GFCI outlet keeps tripping, you'll want to investigate.

Fixing a GFCI Outlet that Keeps Tripping

First, if you are not a licensed electrician, you should probably call one. Cooper Mechanical Services and Cooper Electrical Services can cover nearly all home and commercial electrical issues. If you feel comfortable investigating further, here's what to look for:

Worn or Missing Insulation: Gaps or missing insulation in the wall allows moisture, dust, and debris to leak in and trip the outlet. Make sure housing is sealed tightly against the wall.

Power Overload: If there are too many appliances plugged in, you may be overloading the outlet and causing it to trip. Disconnect some and see if this helps. If so, look at having a professional install additional GFCI outlets nearby. A leakage current clamp meter is a handy tool to measure leakage.

Faulty Receptacle or Deteriorated Wiring: GFCIs won't last forever. The average lifespan is 15-20 years, so if it is an older receptacle, simply replacing it may fix the problem. However, if the issue stems from bad electrical wiring, the solution is a bit more complex and a professional electrician is required.

Call Cooper for Myrtle Beach Electrical Services

Cooper Mechanical Services has been serving the electrical and mechanical needs of the Grand Strand since 1989. Our professional electricians are knowledgable, dependable, and qualified to do electrical design, installation, and repair that meets all building code standards. If you have an issue with a GFCI outlet, or even something larger, call a family-owned and operated company you can trust. Call Cooper.