Why Does My GFCI Keep Tripping?

If your GFCI outlet is tripping repeatedly, the most likely issues include:

  • Moisture inside the receptacle
  • An appliance on the outlet’s circuit has a ground fault
  • The GFCI outlet is bad and needs to be replaced

Not sure which one is your issue? Don’t worry. We’ll walk you through some steps you can take to determine what the problem is and how to fix it.

Need a professional’s help? Just contact us, we’ll send over a licensed electrician to fix the problem quickly.

Step 1: Check your circuit breaker

First, check your electrical panel to make sure that the circuit breaker for that outlet hasn’t tripped. If the appliances on the circuit are drawing more power than the circuit is designed to handle, then you have an “overload” and your breaker will trip. 

If your circuit breaker trips, it’s a separate issue that doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with your GFCI outlet.

Note: If your breaker isn’t tripped, skip to step 2. 

If you find that the breaker has tripped, unplug all appliances on the circuit. Then, push the breaker back to the ON position. 

If the breaker automatically flips back, have an electrician inspect the circuit for the issue.

If the breaker stays in the ON position but trips again after the appliances are plugged in, consider removing some of the appliances from that circuit. Remember that several outlets can live on one circuit so you’ll need to be aware of how many appliances are drawing power from the same circuit. If you’ve removed appliances but the circuit breaker keeps tripping, have a professional inspect the circuit for the problem.

Want to learn more about what makes breakers trip? Check out our blog, “Here’s Why Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping”.

Step 2: Determine why your GFCI is tripping

If you’ve determined that the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped and an overload isn’t your issue, then you’ll need to figure out what’s causing your GFCI to trip. 

  • Moisture inside the GFCI receptacle is most likely your problem if your GFCI outlet is located near water (outlets in bathroom/kitchen), if it rained recently (for outdoor outlets) or if the outlet is prone to getting wet. If there’s water inside the receptacle box the outlet will also most likely trip and then not reset even if there are no appliances plugged in.
  • An appliance with a ground fault is most likely your problem if your GFCI resets after you unplug all the appliances but then trips again once you plug those appliances back in. A ground fault simply means that some electricity flowing through the circuit has found an alternate route and is “leaking.”
  • You most likely have a bad GFCI outlet that needs to be repaired or replaced if the outlet won’t reset even when nothing is plugged in. This could also mean that there’s an electrical issue within another outlet that’s sharing the same circuit.

If you’ve identified the issue that’s causing your GFCI to trip, continue on to step 3 for instructions on what you can do to fix the problem.

Step 3: Fix the problem

If moisture inside the GFCI receptacle is your problem, follow these steps for some DIY repairs before calling a professional:

1. Try resetting the outlet.

2. If the outlet appears dry but doesn’t reset, there may be moisture inside the receptacle that’s tripping the outlet. Try using a hair dryer set on low to speed up the drying process.

3. If the outlet is located outdoors, make sure that you install a protective GFCI outlet covering that is weatherproof, waterproof and labeled “In-Use” like this one. This covering is required by the National Electric Code and will prevent moisture from getting inside the outlet again in the future.

If you think you have an appliance that has a ground fault, try these troubleshooting steps to locate and repair the bad appliance:

  1. Unplug all appliances that are drawing power from the same circuit as the tripped GFCI.
  2. Reset the outlet by pressing in the red RESET button.
  3. When the outlet resets properly, plug in each appliance one by one until the GFCI trips again. Make sure you turn on each appliance after it’s been plugged in.
  4. The last appliance that you plugged in and turned on before the GFCI tripped most likely has a ground fault. You can retest the specific appliance by unplugging all appliances on the circuit, resetting the GFCI outlet and plugging in the “bad” appliance by itself. If it trips the GFCI outlet, it’s definitely the culprit.
  5. Repair or replace the appliance that has a ground fault.

If you think your GFCI outlet is bad and needs to be replaced or if you think there’s an electrical issue with another outlet that’s on the same circuit as your tripped GFCI, you’ll need a professional to inspect and repair/replace your system

Need professional help with your tripping GFCI outlet?

If you have a GFCI outlet that won’t stop tripping, we’re here to help.

Just contact us and we’ll send over a licensed electrician to fix the problem.

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