The Electrical Outlet That Has Two buttons

chuehJuly 9, 2010

It happened once or twice before that the electricity was cut off by itself on the outlet. I had to push either one or both of the buttons (Reset on top & Test on bottom). Then, the electricity came back.

Because of tiling, I took the outlet plate cover off. I did not touch anything in the outlet. Once I put the plate cover back on, the outlet literally stopped working. I kept pushing the buttons, sometimes just the Reset button, sometimes just the Test button, sometimes both of them. However, the electricity never came back. The breaker is never off, so I am not sure why the outlet is not working anymore. Is there a trick to push the buttons? I checked a self-repairing book, but it only tells me that this type of outlet works in a circle. Once it's interrupted, the electricity is cut off automatically, because it acts as a ground device. That's all the answer I got. The book does not tell me HOW to fix the problem.

HOW do I fix the problem and not interrupt the circuit? thanks

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This is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, GFCI. You will have two or three wires feeding this receptacle, black which is sending the electricity. White which is returning the electricity to the main circuit panel and probably a ground wire which is only for problems.

The black and white have to balance or the GFCI will trip and cut the electricity before someone gets hurt.

Now, unplug everything on this receptacle and any other receptacles that this one may feed, then hit reset. If it will reset plug everything back in one at a time and run each device as you plug it in. If it trips on any device then that device should be replaced.

If it will not reset at all turn off the breaker and remove the GFCI from the box and see if any of the wires could be touching someplace where they should not.

If nothing looks wrong then a new GFCI could be in order.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 3:02PM
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This is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacle. Its internal circuitry compares the current (amperage) in the 'hot' wire to the current in the 'neutral' wire. A miniscule difference will cause the GFCI to 'trip' because that means the current has taken a wrong path, or else the GFCI receptacle itself is faulty and needs to be replaced.
I'd first take off the coverplate and ensure the receptacle box has no moisture or foreign material in it, especially anything in contact with the receptacle itself.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 3:04PM
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Thanks. Will try it

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 5:04PM
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Prepare to replace the whole GFCI. Considering your symptoms, I cannot think of anything other than an internal problem that would cause the GFCI to trip.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 7:42PM
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I'm with Tim, the GFI is simply bad.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 7:30AM
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