GFI outlet not working

10 yo gfi outlet in bathroom does not work any longer.  Reset button does not reset.  It has not been used frequently.  Circuit breaker isn't tripped. Do you think it needs replacing?


mrmaplewood said:

10 yo gfi outlet in bathroom does not work any longer.  Reset button does not reset.  It has not been used frequently.  Circuit breaker isn't tripped. Do you think it needs replacing?

Yes. Hopefully that's all it is. Any other work of any kind done recently? Is it supplied by older cable?


One other option to check is if there is another GFI on the same line that is tripped and needs to be reset.

That said, I had a similar issue as my bathroom GFI just stopping working one day, and replacement solved it.


How old is your house?


Pretty sure it is the end of circuit.  Was installed with bathroom redo 10 years ago.  The rest of the circuit is working.  No other gfis installed.  House is usual Maplewood build.


Just turn off the breaker and replace the GFI. 


See if the new GFI trips when powered up. 

If it does, *then* you call the electrician.


You could have old wiring along the way somewhere.


Just as a note: A person should be VERY confident about replacing a breaker. -Relatively easy yes, but one mistake touching the naughty bits and you are dead.


steel said:

Just as a note: A person should be VERY confident about replacing a breaker. -Relatively easy yes, but one mistake touching the naughty bits and you are dead.

 Oh come now. If someone has a defibrillator handy you'll be fine with just some nasty third degree burns.


No one is suggesting replacing a breaker.  The ony suggestion was to turn off the breaker and swap the receptacle.  That is sound advice.  All I would add is that is would be nice to have a meter available to check the wires in the box after the breaker is off to make sure you got the right breaker.


FilmCarp said:

No one is suggesting replacing a breaker.  The ony suggestion was to turn off the breaker and swap the receptacle.  That is sound advice.  All I would add is that is would be nice to have a meter available to check the wires in the box after the breaker is off to make sure you got the right breaker.

Plug a speaker into the outlet and turn up the volume.  When it goes quiet, you've got the right breaker.


Steve said:

Plug a speaker into the outlet and turn up the volume.  When it goes quiet, you've got the right breaker.

 Except the outlet doesn't work...

cool cheese


mrincredible said:

 Except the outlet doesn't work...

cool cheese

 Exactly.  Bad/borderline dangerous advice.


Right.  Forgot about that part.   Works if you're just replacing the outlet.  In any event, it would have been obvious to the person doing it that it wouldn't work as there would have been nothing to "go quiet."


Install a receptacle tester into the new receptacle only AFTER doing the following:

1.)  shutting off the appropriate breaker (testing with a voltmeter that wires connected to the receptacle are also NOT hot);

2.) Removing and replacing GFI receptacle with a new GFI recptacle; and

3.)  turning back on the breaker.

Link to receptacle tester:  https://www.homedepot.com/p/Gardner-Bender-120-VAC-Outlet-Tester-GRT-3500/202867894

Cost is somewhere between $6 and $10 (depending on brand and model).


filmcarp, -I was responding to jimmurphy's post above which seemed to be suggesting replacing the breaker. I think perhaps I read his intention wrongly?

Meanwhile, sometimes breakers do go bad or seem not to have tripped when in fact they have (I have sometimes clicked the suspect back and forth and found that it indeed had tripped).

Also, the receptacle tester that proeasdf posted above is very useful. I used one that indicated that I had an "open ground" and discovered that the ground wire had come loose in a far-faraway connection box in the basement. 

I have also found one of these inexpensive "pen" voltage testers to be extremely useful if you don't need to measure the current but only need to learn where not to put your paws, -heh. They really just tell you whether a wire is hot or not. 

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Klein-Tools-Non-Contact-Voltage-Tester-NCVT-1SEN/100661787


steel said:

Just as a note: A person should be VERY confident about replacing a breaker. -Relatively easy yes, but one mistake touching the naughty bits and you are dead.

 Completely agree. My post was unclear. By “replace it”, I meant replace the GFI, not the circuit breaker.


You can use the voltage tester on the wires going to the outlet. Flip breaker off before exposing the wires for safety.


GFI's do fail over time. It is common. The newer ones are built to self-test and when they detect a failure it cannot be reset. 


Days late, but maybe worth mentioning: if you're ever really unsure about a breaker situation, as you might be in a case where the outlet in question isn't working, you can always just turn off the MAIN breaker, shutting down power to the whole house before you replace the outlet. Obviously you'll need some light source to see what you're doing, but it's not the worst idea. 


kenboy said:

Days late, but maybe worth mentioning: if you're ever really unsure about a breaker situation, as you might be in a case where the outlet in question isn't working, you can always just turn off the MAIN breaker, shutting down power to the whole house before you replace the outlet. Obviously you'll need some light source to see what you're doing, but it's not the worst idea. 

 I actually did replace the outlet myself.  But the new one isn't working either.  Suspect that something has changed in the circuitry.  Probably need an electrician.  Anyone have a recommendation for this seemingly small repair?


If you don't have an outlet tester, you can get one at Home Depot for $10 (see pic). Plug it in to the outlet and it will tell you which wire is not working. I suspect that perhaps a ground wire has come loose somewhere between your outlet and the breaker box. -Perhaps in a connection box somewhere. I had this exact scenario when an outlet stopped working in the kitchen and I discovered that a ground wire had come loose within a connection box all the way downstairs in the basement ceiling. Good hunting!


I am always happy to trust a professional when something - plumbing or electric - is inside a wall and potentially hazardous. Have been happy electric-wise with Superior Wirework, 973-713-5345. 


For the record: Most electrical problems can be fixed via visible access points. -By code, all connection boxes and of course switches and outlets must be visible.  -In a perfect world.




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