GFCI outlet will not reset

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Old 01-11-08, 06:58 AM
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GFCI outlet will not reset

Hello

I'm having a problem with my GFCI outlet in my bathroom, it will not reset. There are 2 outlets connected to this GFCI, and neither are working now.

I've tried reseting the switch as well as resetting all of the breakers on my breaker box, but neither action has resolved my problem. When I push the reset button on my GFCI, it immediately pops back out. The test button also does nothing for me.

We had a small storm last night, but our power did not go out or even flicker and none of the other outlets are having this problem (including the GFCI in my kitchen and the GFCI in my other bathroom), so I doubt it's that.

This is just a basic GFCI with no light to indicate if it has been tripped, but nothing will work when I have it plugged into either outlet.

I know next to nothing about GFCI's and even less about electrical wiring in my home, so I guess this is my opportunity to learn just a little bit about it.

Do GFCI's wear out over time? If so, are they very difficult to replace?

Do they have fuses in them? Could this be as simple of a fix that I just need to replace a fuse?

I'm not sure what other information you'll need to help me resolve my problem, so if there's something else you need to know, ask away. Any and all information is greatly appreciated!

Luke_
 
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Old 01-11-08, 07:22 AM
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GFCIs do not have a fuse in them. They do wear out, but this sounds too much of a coincidence for that to tbe the issue.

More likely potential problems are that there is a GFCI earlier in the circuit that has tripped OR there is a true ground fault after the GFCI OR a wire has become disconnected.

What else is on this circuit. depending on the age of the house there could be receptacles in the garage, basement, or outside the house. (You should know what is on the circuit.) Do any of these receptacles not work? Are any of these receptacles GFCI?

Is power getting to the GFCI? If so, will the GFCI reset when the LOAD wires are removed?
 
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Old 01-11-08, 07:54 AM
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Thanks for your quick reply!

I may be wrong on this, but the receptacle would be considered the box, the outlet would be where things are plugged in (2 per receptacle), and the circuit is what they are connected to, right?

If so, then there are 2 receptacles on this circuit, and neither of them will work now. There actually may be 3 receptacles on the circuit, but I'm not certain about that. You mentioned something about a receptacle outside, and there's one located right outside near where this GFCI is in my bathroom. I had an extension chord plugged into the outside receptacle, but there's no power going to it now that I'm having problems with the GFCI in my bathroom.

Everything is unplugged from all 3 receptacles and it still will not reset. I have an electric toothbrush that has a light that comes on when it is charging. If I plug it in and try to reset it and sort of let the reset button come out slowly, I get the slightest flicker of the light that indicates that it's charging.

So I dont think it's a device that is causing it not to reset, I think it's one or more of the receptacles, or the GFCI itself.

Hopefully that answers the questions you asked, and hopefully I'm right about what the names are for each part.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 01-11-08, 08:01 AM
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You should know everything on every circuit in your house. You should have taken the time after you moved in to completely and thoroughly map out what each and every circuit breaker controls.

Since you apparently did not do this when you moved in, do so now. The information is invaluable when you have a problem and more importantly it could save your life some day.

The receptacle is proper term for what you are calling an outlet. Outlet actually means something else, and is an ambiguous term.

The junction boxes are the boxes in (or on) the wall that hold the receptacles (and switches, etc.).

The circuit is the wires, junction boxes, receptacles, switches, etc. that are all connected to and controlled by a circuit breaker.

From your description, the outside receptacle is on this circuit, and is causing the problem. Unplug the extension cord. If the GFCI still will not reset, then the likely cause is water in the outside junction box. Allow the box to dry out. Use a hair dryer if you want to speed up the process. To test that this is indeed the problem, remove the outside receptacle from the circuit by disconnecting the wires at the GFCI itself (the LOAD wires) or at the outside receptacle.
 
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Old 01-11-08, 08:19 AM
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Well, my breaker box is labeled -- it's just not very thorough on what all circuits are controlled by each switch. I'll go through and make sure it is labeled thoroughly. Thanks for the tip.

And thanks for clearing up my confusion on what everything is called.

I unplugged the extension cord when I went out to check to see if it would work and it still wouldnt reset. You mentioning that water had gotten into the outside box makes perfect sense because we did get quite a bit of rain last night and the cover for the outlets was open because the extension cord was plugged in. I'll allow it time to dry out while I'm asleep today (I'm on 3rd shift) and see if that corrects the problem that I'm having.

It's sunny outside today with no rain in the forecast, so should I prop the cover for the outlets to allow it to dry more efficiently or should I just leave the cover closed?

If this doesnt solve my problem, I will disconnect the wires at the outside receptacle to see if it is indeed the one out there that is causing the issue.

Thanks again for your help.
 
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Old 01-11-08, 08:28 AM
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Yes, prop the cover, especially if it's windy/breezy. It may take several days to dry. That is why you might want to use a hair dryer. Of course you don;t have power there, so you need an exyension cord for the hair dryer...

You might want to consider an in-use cover. In-use covers are now required for outdoor receptacles in most locations, and they prevent water from entering even when something is plugged in. They do, however, stick out which is why some people do not like them.

Most electrical panels are not completely marked. Even if they are marked, it is usually ambiguous. Often there is insufficient space for more than a word or two.

I recommend using your computer to create a list in Eord or Excel (or both) and then posting that chart on or near the panel.

I have three charts. I have a Word listing by breaker. I then have two Excel listings. They are very thorough and have columns for breaker number, location, description, and more. One line per item (an item being a receptacle or an appliance or a built in light or device). I print that document twice, once sorted by breaker and the other sorted by location.
 
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Old 01-11-08, 08:35 AM
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Ok, I'l prop it open and look into buying an in-use cover. I dont really mind what it looks like, it's on the backside of my house.

And since this is a GFCI circuit, I shouldnt worry about any potential fire hazard caused by water in the outside box, should I?

If it's creating a fire hazard, I'll just disconnect the box and replace it with a new one and not worry about drying this one out.
 
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Old 01-11-08, 02:57 PM
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With water, your main concern should be avoiding getting shocked. The GFCI's primary function is protecting you from a deadly shock. It may or may not protect from fire, depending on the fault.
 
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Old 01-11-08, 02:59 PM
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Bob, I go one step further, and write the breaker number on the cover plates. Now, unless some numbnut comes in and scrambles up the cover plates I can have a pretty good idea where the proper breaker is. Good idea on the Excel sheet, too.
 
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Old 01-11-08, 04:35 PM
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Just a little update.

I left the cover propped up on the outside outlet today while I slept and that was good enough. The outlet dried out and my GFCI will reset and it works fine now.

Thanks again for your help!
 
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Old 01-11-08, 05:27 PM
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I'd still replace it since you mentioned it has no indicator lamp. The new GFCIs have alot of handy features built into them no .
 
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Old 01-28-13, 09:50 PM
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Thank you

I tried to diagnose my problem, including tracing all that was plugged into the circuit, but I failed. I read your post and it is right on the mark of my failure. An outlet outside of the house was sprayed with water by my wife today. I'm sure that it is the problem and will dry it out tomorrow. Thanks very much!
 
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Old 01-28-13, 10:54 PM
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Welcome to the forums! Glad the information helped you.

I'm closing this 5-year-old thread now, so that it can continue to be read, but not added to.
 
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