GFCI Tripped - Cannot Reset

perrisquirrelNovember 18, 2007

Hello All! I hope you can help me.

I went to plug in my outside XMas lights today for the first time - one of the exterior outlets (with GCFI test/reset buttons) is tripped and does not work. The test button does not push in, the reset button does, but does not pop the outlet back on.

I have gone thru my whole house with a fine toothed comb pushing every RESET button I have. Now, instead of just the one outlet outside not working, none of them work. They were all working fine until I started pushing buttons.

This house was just built 3 years ago, so it is not like there is old wiring. I have no idea how long the first outlet has not been working - we only use it at XMas. Worked fine last year.

Is it possible the outlet has gone bad and needs to be replaced? If so, is it something a DIY type person can do?

Any other suggestions?


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I have found that some GFCIs are hard to reset. You reset with the red button and you need to hear it click. Also, have you checked breakers? GFCIs do not trip from an overload but rather a ground fault. Breakers trip from an overload.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 8:10AM
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Could be there is water or bugs in the receptacle box.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 8:19AM
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Yes, I checked the breakers - all fine. There was nothing plugged in to overload the breakers. We discovered the outlet was not working with the first thing to be plugged in. The RESET button goes all the way in like it should, it just does not click and reset.

I'll try opening up the receptacle box today. Hopefully that is the problem.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 8:25AM
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Florida has lots of lightning surges - that can screw up elecronic things and grounds too. Might check for voltage to ground to see if you still have a connected ground.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 9:24AM
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FYI, it is often thought that when breakers trip that they go all the way to the off position. Many only back off slightly from the full on position resulting in the false assumption that the breaker is not tripped. A GFCI will not reset is the breaker is tripped.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 2:11PM
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Forgot to mention, turn the breaker to the complete off position to reset to the on position. Pardon me if you allready know this.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 9:38AM
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Dunno if this thread is still alive or not, but a little bit of methodical troubleshooting might help to narrow down the possibilities.

First, can you put a cheap circuit tester (or an expensive one for that matter) to determine for sure that the GFCI outlet is getting power? If wired correctly, the test light should go on (or the voltage meter should register) when you test the two "line" terminal screws. If there's no power to the outlet, we can work backwards towards the power panel.

[It might not be a bad idea to test the hot & ground combination as suggested above. A GFCI outlet will usually work fine without a ground. In fact, they are sometimes installed intentionally in ungrounded circuits under certain circumstances. This test might, however, point toward the diagnosis of a bad neutral.]

Also test for power at the two load terminals. If there's power at the load and no power from the line, something is miswired, and we can go from there.

If the receptacle is getting power, a next step might be to disconnect, temporarily, any wires attached on the "load" side (i.e., the feed to other outlets downstream). TURN THE BREAKER OFF WHILE YOU PULL OUT THE RECEPTACLE AND UNHOOK THE WIRES, RIGHT?

If the GFCI outlet resets and works when no load is connected, the problem is probably a ground fault downstream. If, however, the GFCI still won't reset and work, replace it.

Else, come back with test results.

Cheers and good luck.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 11:35PM
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