5 Reasons Your Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Outlets Keeps Tripping
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are designed for your safety. Circuit Interrupters, or "trips" as they are commonly referred to, are intended to reduce the risk of fire or electrocution. If they trip, it's an indication there is a problem and you'll need an electrician you can trust.
What Causes Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter to Trip?
Here are five reasons your GFCI outlet keeps tripping and what you should do.
1. Ground Fault Occurrence
Ground faults occur when the hot wire or live wire comes into contact with the ground wire or the grounded area of an appliance. Usually, GFCIs function by detecting when the current is flowing along an unintended path (e.g. through water or a person).
The instant GFCI detects there is even the slightest of current leakage as low as 0.005 Amps, it trips right away.
How do you determine if the current is leaking? Unplug everything on that circuit and make sure all the switches are off. Check for any wear that may have occurred to the equipment. Any slight damage means the electrical part is no longer protected from the contact.
2. Moisture in the Receptacle Box
The accumulation of moisture is another major cause of GFCI tripping. Outdoor installations are the most vulnerable and rain is the most common culprit. However, due to the tropical climate of Florida, high humidity can also cause moisture buildup and make it harder for any water trapped in a receptacle box to evaporate.
Start your search by inspecting the receptacle box. Be sure to turn off the breaker before opening the box containing the receptacle. The box must be dry before you attempt to reset the GFCI. It is possible to speed up this drying process using a simple tool such as blow dryer, but that part is best left to a professional.
If the installation is outdoors or located in high humidity areas, such as the bathroom or kitchen, make sure the box is weatherproof and locked even when the receptor is in use. The presence of moisture can expose you to the risk of accidental electric shock.
3. Overloaded Circuit
Circuit overload occurs when more amperage flows through an electric wire or circuit than it can handle. This may happen if you connect malfunctioning or defective appliances. Loose, corroded wires or connections may also be to blame. Once the GFCI outlet senses an overload, it trips or "breaks" the circuit.
If you want to determine if overloading is really the problem, follow these steps in order.
- Unplug all the appliances connected to the circuit in question
- Reset the circuit on your fuse box
- Wait several minutes
- Plug an appliance back in and turn it on
- Check to see that your circuit has not tripped
- Plug in the next appliance, turn it on, check the breaker and so on
You may find you'll need to replace the items causing the problem.
If the problem keeps reoccurring, you may need a new dedicated circuit and outlet that can handle the amperage required by the appliances.
4. Electrical Fault
If your GFCI outlet trips consistently, it could be an electric fault resulting from faulty structural wiring. An electrical outlet connected to the same circuit could also be the source of the problem, especially if it was not part of the original wiring of your home. In the case of an electrical fault, you will need a professional electrician to fix the problem.
5. Faulty GFCI Outlet
If you've tried all else and the GFCI outlet reset doesn't solve the problem, that means outlet itself is defective. GFCI have highly responsive internal circuitry to detect whenever there's a flaw in the electric system. With time, the sensitive circuitry wears out, rendering the outlet dysfunctional. In this case, the outlet will need repairing or even replacing and should be done by a qualified electrician.
Find an Electrician You Trust
David Gray Electrical Services offers a range of commercial and electric services. We have highly-trained, licensed and equipped technicians. If you're experiencing GFCI outlet tipping issues, contact us to schedule an appointment.