Can a GFI go bad?

thebes11March 28, 2007

We have a gfi that kept tripping during the day. When we got home we'd have to reset it and it'd be fine until the next day. Then it started tripping at night too, and now it won't reset. Do I have a major problem, or can a gfi go bad?

We havent' changed anything in our house in over a year, but the problem did start after my wife accidentally left her hair iron plugged into for three days on one of the outlets down the line from the gfi in question. Coincidence? Please help.

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They do fail from time to time. If it is bad, probably the use of the hair iron had nothing to do with it. It's just really dangerous to leave appliances like that operating unattended - but you know that.

The GFI may in fact be indicating a ground fault. I would run some tests. Even a neon tester can be used. But thanks to your friendly neighborhood Chinese sweatshop, GFIs are cheap enough these days that you could try replacing it just to see what happens.

If that doesn't cure the problem it's time to go poking through the downstream boxes. Could be some moisture in there. I've even heard of little critters making their way into boxes and dying. (If they don't manage to electrocute themselves, they seem to forget how to get out and starve to death.)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 11:45PM
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What other circuits does this GFCI control? Any motorized appliances such as a ceiling fan? Fluorescent lights?

I've came across faulty motors and ballasts leaking current to ground which caused intermittent GFCI tripping.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 2:16AM
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Plugged in is one thing, but was the hair iron actually turned on and hot for three days? YIKES!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 3:03AM
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Is there anything else on the GFCI circuit? Have you pulled out the GFCI for inspection? Hair dryers and curling irons pull as much as 1800 watts which is a lot of heat over 3 days. New GFCIs are around $12..

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 8:23AM
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I have a spider box and one of the gfi's keeps tripping. Can I buy a replacement for it at a local retailer?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 5:07PM
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GFI's absolutely do go bad, and we are seeing that in this community where homes are not about 6 years old. Several have complained about GFIs popping off for no apparent reason, and replacing the GFI's solved the problem. Since they are mandated by law, and since they apparently have a limited life span, looks like it's going to be a costly proposition for many.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 11:57AM
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