Electricians Service Team
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Business Address: 11950 San Vicente Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90049

How to Troubleshoot, Reset, and Repair Your GFCI Outlet

GFCI Circuit Breaker Trips Repair in Orange County | Electrician Service Team
Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) play a vital role in our homes, providing protection from electrical shocks that could pose serious safety risks. These devices are not immune to faults and troubles, however, and there may come a time when you need to troubleshoot and fix your GFCI outlets. In this comprehensive guide from Electricians Service Team, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dealing with GFCI outlets, from how to fix an open ground outlet to the potential costs of GFCI outlet repair.

Understanding the Role of GFCI Outlets in Your Home

Often referred to as GFIs, ground fault circuit interrupters are designed to promptly interrupt the power flow when they detect a ground fault. A ground fault happens when there’s an unintended electrical path between a source of current and a grounded surface. When they detect this irregular flow of electricity, the GFCI outlets ‘trip,’ breaking the circuit and thus, protecting us from potential electric shocks. Due to their protective role, GFCI outlets are typically installed in areas where water and electricity might intersect, such as in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, garages, and outdoor settings. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial to GFCI troubleshooting and resetting.

Spotting and Troubleshooting Common GFCI Outlet Problems

So, how can you tell if your GFCI outlet needs some attention? The most common problem with GFCI outlets is that they stop working or ‘trip’ more often than they should. This could be due to a fault within the outlet itself or an issue elsewhere in the circuit that it’s designed to protect.

The Troubleshooting Process

Before you can reset or repair a GFCI outlet, you need to determine whether it’s working as intended or not.
  1. Locate the ‘TEST’ button on your GFCI outlet. This should be a small button often found next to the ‘RESET’ button.
  2. Plug a device, such as a lamp or radio, into the GFCI outlet and turn it on.
  3. Press the ‘TEST’ button on the outlet. The ‘RESET’ button should pop out, and the device you’ve plugged in should turn off. This indicates that the outlet has correctly detected a fault and interrupted the power supply as intended.
  4. If the ‘RESET’ button doesn’t pop out and the device remains on, your GFCI outlet isn’t working correctly and requires further investigation.

How to Reset a GFCI Outlet

If you’ve determined that your GFCI outlet is not at fault, or after you’ve addressed any problems, you’ll need to reset the outlet to restore power to the connected devices.

The Resetting Process

Resetting a GFCI outlet is a simple process that involves the following steps:
  1. First, ensure the power to the outlet is turned off. This is an essential safety step to prevent electric shock during the resetting process.
  2. Next, press the reset button on the outlet. This is usually colored differently than the test button for easy identification.
  3. Once you’ve pressed the reset button, turn the power back on at the breaker.
  4. Finally, test the outlet again to confirm it’s working correctly. You can do this by plugging a device back into the outlet and ensuring it operates as expected.

How to Fix an Open Ground Outlet

An ‘open ground’ is a situation where a three-prong outlet is not properly grounded, posing a safety risk. If you’ve determined that you have an open ground outlet, it’s essential to fix this to ensure the safety of your home and its occupants.

The Repair Process

Fixing an open ground outlet is a more complex process that involves re-establishing the ground connection in your electrical system. Here’s how to do it:
  1. Start by turning off the power to the outlet at your home’s electrical panel. This is an essential safety measure to prevent electric shock during the repair process.
  2. Next, remove the cover plate from the outlet using a screwdriver.
  3. Once the cover plate is removed, carefully unscrew the outlet from the wall. Pay attention not to pull too hard, as this could damage the wiring.
  4. Now, you’ll need to check the wiring. You’re looking for a loose or disconnected ground wire (typically colored green or bare copper). If you find such a wire, secure it to the green ground screw on the outlet.
  5. With the ground wire securely attached, reinstall the outlet and replace the cover plate.
  6. Finally, restore power to the outlet at the breaker and test the outlet to ensure it’s working correctly.

Understanding the Costs of GFCI Outlet Repair

As with any home repair task, the cost of fixing a GFCI outlet can vary depending on the complexity of the problem and whether you need to hire a professional. In some cases, a simple reset can resolve the issue at no cost, particularly if you’re comfortable doing this yourself. However, more complicated problems may require professional help. In such cases, the cost could rise significantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

GFCI outlets can show several signs of malfunctioning. These include refusing to reset, tripping frequently, failing to power connected devices, or not tripping when the ‘TEST’ button is pressed. If you notice any of these signs, it’s likely your outlet is faulty.

The cost to repair a GFCI outlet varies depending on the nature of the problem and the rates of the electrician you hire. For minor problems, you could fix the issue yourself at no cost. However, for significant problems or if you’re uncomfortable dealing with electricity, it’s best to hire a professional. Prices for professional electricians can range widely, so it’s a good idea to get multiple quotes.

While it is possible to fix an open ground outlet yourself, it requires a level of knowledge about electrical systems and the associated safety precautions. If you’re not confident in your abilities or if the problem seems complex, it’s best to hire a professional.

If your GFCI outlet keeps tripping, it’s an indication that it’s doing its job — detecting a ground fault and cutting off the power to prevent electrical shock. However, frequent tripping can suggest a persistent issue with your electrical system that needs to be addressed. It’s not inherently dangerous, but it’s definitely something that you should investigate to prevent further problems.


GFCI outlets play a critical role in ensuring the safety of our homes. While they may encounter problems from time to time, understanding how to troubleshoot and reset these outlets can help you maintain a safe and functional environment. In some cases, professional intervention may be necessary. In any case, always make sure to prioritize safety, especially when dealing with electrical systems. Stay safe and keep your home protected with GFCI outlets!

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