Having a GFCI outlet allows you to use appliances without harm. GFCI outlets are used in some regions of your house. But, it is often confusing to understand why a GFCI outlet lacks power.
A GFCI outlet will stop working for several reasons like faulty ground connection, loose wiring, dead outlets, a tripped circuit breaker, or blown fuses. To fix the issue, replace the blown fuses, reset the outlet, Check if the breaker is tripped, or replace the outlet if needed.
This guide will take you through the common causes behind the GFCI outlets not working so that you can identify the real cause and understand where to start while fixing the issue.
What is a GFCI, and how does it work?
Before you know why GFCI outlets fail, let’s learn about the GFCI outlets.
The term GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet.
A GFCI outlet is a set of outlets that comes with reset and test buttons.
The reset buttons are usually red, seen beside the test buttons that come in black.
This outlet is useful for some areas of your house where the electrical appliances take too much power and have risks of short circuits.
Kitchens and bathrooms are such places.
GFCI outlets save you and your house from deadly electrical shocks.
The outlets can detect the leaks in the current and start tripping off.
GFCI outlets are mainly used for bathrooms, kitchens, garages, and basements.
There is some problem when a GFCI outlet does not function well, has any power, or resets.
You need to identify the main cause and fix it soon.
Why does my GFCI outlet have no power?
GFCI will lose power due to various reasons.
When you find out that the outlet is not functioning well, you need to check out certain things about the outlet, like:
- Dead outlets
- Tripped circuit breaker
- Tripped GFCI outlet
- Fuse blow
- Loose connections
Sometimes, the GFCI will not reset or stop working despite having the green light.
When such problems occur, you need to re-examine the outlet and its connections to discover the real problem behind the lost power in the GFCI.
If you find that your GFCI outlet has lost power and stopped working, try checking the circuit breaker.
Also, check for the other outlets, appliances, and switches.
Use a voltage tester to verify if electricity flows in other outlets, circuits, and appliances.
Switch on the lights.
If any appliances are plugged into dead outlets, unplug them immediately.
It will prevent overloading.
To troubleshoot a dead outlet, you can follow some steps:
- Find out which GFCI outlet is dead and open, and check the circuit breaker of the particular outlet.
- The most common fixation of a dead outlet is to reset the outlet. The GFCI outlets come with testing and resetting buttons. Press the reset button from the outlet. You will sometimes have to press the reset and test buttons if only the reset button doesn’t work.
If you have a dead GFCI outlet, you can always buy a good quality GFCI outlet from Amazon. I really liked these ones because they are weather resistant and of good quality.
Tripped circuit breaker
Check the circuit breaker to see whether it has tripped or not.
The circuit becomes overloaded and immediately trips off to prevent the circuit from having extra electricity and causing a fire hazard.
If your circuit breaker has tripped off, you can understand it by flipping it to the off position.
Sometimes, you cannot identify it because the breaker will remain normal, and the green light will be on.
But, the breaker will be slightly out of position, which is difficult to notice.
One simple solution to fixing the issue is by resetting the breaker.
However, it might not always work.
In other cases like short-circuit, the circuit breaker would not reset to save you and your devices from serious damage.
In such cases, Fix the main problem and then reset the breaker.
Tripped GFCI outlet
If you find that the GFCI outlets are also not working, the outlet must have tripped off.
When a GFCi outlet pops, it also takes out the other outlets in the same circuit.
If you test and reset your outlet and it still doesn’t work, the reason is a tripped outlet.
However, if you find that your GFCI outlet leaks current every time you reset it, you must call an electrician.
A blown-up fuse will make the outlet lose power.
Check for identification, like charred glass or broken filament, if your fuse has blown up.
You must replace the burnt-out and blown-up fuse with a new one.
Bad or loose connections
If the problem is not one of the above, it is surely a bad or loose connection.
Before you check for loose connections, turn off the circuit.
After that, remove the cover and inspect for loose connections inside the electrical boxes.
Check if the wires are broken or loose by bending the wires at the screw terminal.
If the wires are loose, the screw will move, or the wire will turn under the screw.
Along with broken wires, check for corroded or burned wires.
Loose stab-in connections
Sometimes, the electricians wire the outlets by putting the stripped wires into the holes present behind the outlets.
It saves time.
Though the method is fine, the wires can become loose over time.
Pull the wires to check for loose stab-in connections to confirm the issue.
If you find such things, instead of re-inserting the wires, cut and strip the wire end and fix it with the screw terminal of the outlet present sideways.
You can also cut and strip the wires to connect them with a new outlet.
Loose wires at the connectors
Tug the wires together to see if the wires are loose at the wire connectors.
If they are loose, that is the reason behind outlets not having any power.
Remove the connector, cut and strip the wires to reveal ½ to ¾ inches of the copper/aluminum.
Reinstall the connector by lining up the wires and twisting them clockwise to the new connector.
Sometimes the outlet not giving power to the plugged-in appliance could be due to a fault in the appliance and not in the outlet.
Before trying to fix the GFCI outlet because it is not powering the appliance, consider checking it.
If the present outlet is not switching on the appliance, try the other outlets or plug in other appliances.
If the appliance is not working in any other outlets, the problem may be in the appliance.
To confirm more, consider plugging some other appliance in the same outlet.
If the appliance is on, your previous appliance had some faults.
Why my GFCI outlet won’t reset?
Sometimes, if the GFCI outlet doesn’t have any power, it won’t reset.
There could be several reasons behind a GFCI not resetting.
Some reasons also apply for GFCI outlets not having any power.
Here are some common reasons behind GFCI outlets not resetting:
Ground fault in the circuit
If your GFCI is not resetting and loses power, it may be due to some ground fault in the circuit.
It happens when the current flows through some unintended paths through the ground.
It could be due to wrong wiring or damaged wires.
When the ground fault happens, the current will start flowing through any wire nearby.
A human body touching the wire will get electrocuted.
Ground faults happen the most in wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens.
The use of water is always higher in these regions.
Ground fault trips the circuit breaker, for which it loses power and fails to reset.
No power supply
The circuit sometimes trips off the branch circuit during an extreme power surge to avoid overheating and fire hazards.
To reset the GFCI outlet again, someone has to switch on the breaker before resetting and bringing back its power.
Maybe the connection is wrong, for which the outlets fail to reset.
Since 2002, the GFCI outlets have introduced special features that don’t let the outlet reset until it is installed and connected properly.
Poor receptacle outlet
Most of the reasons behind GFCI not having power or not resetting could be poor connections or ground faults.
But, some point also goes to the poor receptacle.
Some best GFCI outlets have a lifespan ranging from 15-25 years.
Others last for 5 years. If your outlet is that old, it is better to get a new one.
If you figure out that your receptacle is of bad quality or has become very old, you should replace it with a new one.
Some signs of a bad outlet are:
- No more tripping after pressing the test button.
- The trip button stays outside and not resetting.
- The button is tripping out, but the outlet is on.
Should the GFCI light be off or on?
The GFCI outlets have a light.
When it remains on, it means the outlet is fine. But if it is off, it indicates outlet tripping.
However, if the green light is on but the outlet has no power, there are some issues that I have already discussed previously.
The light of a good GFCI should be on.
However, the color of the light depends on the outlet status.
To determine whether the GFCI is functioning well, you should look at the receptacles, sockets, and color-coded lights.
The common colors found in GFCI outlets are:
- Red – indicating a fault that you must attend to.
- Green – GFCI is functioning properly and has the power to supply inside and outside the receptacle.
- Orange, Amber, or Yellow – indicates that the outlet has tripped off. Reset your outlet to bring it back from tripping.
Sometimes, the red light flashing in the GFCI outlet indicates that the outlet had a self-test or failed the test.
The red light either flashes for a long time or becomes steady after flashing for some time.
Red light can also indicate that the outlet has some wiring issues, like overload, or the outlet has been damaged and needs replacement.
Signs your GFCI outlet is having some issues.
GFCI not having power could be due to the faulty outlet, tripped circuit, or loose connections.
But sometimes, it is not the outlet’s fault, but the appliance’s.
Before you start fixing the outlet in the first place, try checking some symptoms to confirm that the problem is in the outlet.
Here are the signs:
The reset button is not popping out.
While hitting the test button, if the reset button of your GFCI outlet doesn’t pop out, there are two situations to suspect here:
- You have not pushed the button properly.
- Your GFCI is defective.
In the former situation, you don’t need to worry.
Push the button properly again.
But, if it’s the second one, you have something to bother.
The reset button popped out.
The opposite can also be a matter of concern.
If your reset button pops out while you turn on something else, the wires in the GFCI are not wired properly.
Another reason could be the downstream ground fault.
Reset button not staying in place
If the reset button of your GFCI outlet is not in place, it means the device was not wired well.
Or, maybe the downstream ground fault is the culprit.
The reset button is out.
When the devices remain in place, but the reset button is out, there might be an inverted line and load.
Sometimes, it can be due to defective GFCI.
The reset button is inside.
If the device you have plugged in the outlet is not working and the reset button is also inside, it means the GFCI has some defects.
Either the GFCI is not receiving the current, or it is not wired properly.
Should I fix it myself or hire an electrician?
In some areas, the authorities do not allow laypersons to fix electricity-related problems.
However, if your local codes allow you, you can do it yourself.
The above causes are some of the common causes behind GFCI outlets not having power or not functioning well.
But, if the GFCI still doesn’t respond after trying the above fixations, you must call an electrician to find out the real cause.
You are limited to one point, but an electrician is not.
Besides, the person will have all equipment, facilities, and permission to try every possible way and fixations.
For example, if you cannot find the wiring faults, the electrician can find and fix them.
GFCI recommendations by forum users:
GFCI outlets not having power can have a lot of reasons – dead outlet, blown-up fuse, tripped circuit or outlet, loose connections of the wires, stab-ins, and in the connectors.
GFCI will also not reset if there is no power. However, other reasons include ground fault, no power supply, wrong connections, or poor outlet. These can also apply to GFCI not having power.
To find out the real problems, you should look for signs like the reset button popping out or not, the reset button staying inside or outside when it should not be, etc.
Identifying the problems through the signs can be confusing. Call an electrician if you cannot understand what is happening in your outlet.
Is GFCI not resetting after rain?
If your GFCI outlet doesn’t reset after heavy rain, there might have been some ground fault in your circuit.
Call a professional to fix the problem.
How can I fix an outlet that is not resetting?
The circuit breaker controls the outlet.
The breaker will trip if it gets overloaded.
To reset the outlet, turn on the breaker and then reset the outlet.
If it doesn’t work, check for other reasons from the article above.
How much will it cost to hire an electrician for the GFCI outlet?
Generally, an electrician will take $50 to $100 per.
To fix a GFCI outlet, the electrician will take more than 2 hours.
In that case, you can expect the range to be between $100 and $200.
Reference: Residual-current device, Electrical circuit.