GFCI will not reset.

Old 11-08-14, 06:45 PM
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Lightbulb GFCI will not reset.

The way I've always noticed a problem with this GFCI, is when I go to take a shower in our master bathroom and the exhaust fan/light in the shower does not work. It took me weeks after buying our home (now 10 years old) to figure out that the GFCI switch controlling this fixture is located in the very back of my garage (about as far away as you can get from the master bathroom).

My home was originally purchased by an investor during the real estate boom, and then sat empty until it foreclosed and we became the new owners. Nothing has been modified from what was done by the builder since the home was built.

After the initial problem with the GFCI after we moved in, we really have not had any issues with it since except for one time that I overloaded one of the outdoor receptacles and that tripped the circuit.

So, just recently, the morning before our vacation, the fan/light in the master bathroom would not work. I tried to reset the GFCI in the garage, but it would not reset (kept tripping). Time was limited to get out of the house for vacation, so I left it until we returned. Now that we are back home, taking a shower and shaving the dark are not my favorite, so I've tried troubleshooting to see what was going on.

This is what I've done, although not completely in this order.

The GFCI in the garage will reset fine with the LOAD wires removed. So, the GFCI is fine. However, after nothing was working I did replace the GFCI out of desperation. The new GFCI also resets fine with the LEAD wires removed.

I believe the order of the receptacles goes like this: 1) GFCI, 2) exterior outlet garage side of home, 3) outlet inside garage, 4) exterior outlet by front door, 5) switches for bathroom fan/light (each switched separately in one location next to vanity), and 6) the actual fan/light combo fixture.

I've removed and re-tightened all wires/screws in all receptacles/fixtures. I could not find any bare wires or signs of overheating or anything else that looked abnormal.

Through lots of trial and error I've discovered that if I have the exterior outlet by the front door disconnected, that #s 1, 2, and 3 function fine. I replaced the exterior outlet by the front door, that did not resolve the problem. The problem does seem to be somewhere after the outlet inside the garage.

That's where my troubleshooting ran into a brick wall. I did not replace the switches in the bathroom, because the GFCI trips with the switches in both on and off positions, and also with the wire to the switches removed.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by donrull; 11-08-14 at 07:24 PM. Reason: typo
Old 11-08-14, 07:07 PM
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It sounds like the wires in the bathroom switch box, or at least a good place to check.
Check all wires behind switches. Check for any nicks in wire or loose wire nuts. Remove any wire nuts, inspect connections, and replace with new wire nuts.
Old 11-08-14, 07:12 PM
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In addition to what Brian said, my vote will go to the exterior receptacles and their possible lack of code worthy bubble covers to keep water from entering them. The old flap type covers do nothing if you have something like Christmas lights plugged in to them. Incidentally they are called LOAD, not lead terminals, but who is counting, right??
Old 11-08-14, 07:24 PM
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Yes, LOAD...someone's counting...

Thanks. I'll check these again tomorrow. I did do this at least once already. I'll have my magnifying glass with me in the morning.
Old 11-08-14, 09:41 PM
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GFCI receptacles DO occasionally fail so if you cannot find the problem try replacing the GFCI receptacle.
Old 11-09-14, 05:23 AM
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Outlet by front door are the wires pigtailed or both sides used to run wires? If pigtailed that apart an see if GFCI trips that way.
Old 11-09-14, 08:15 AM
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I would pigtail the wires at the garage GFCI receptacle and wire them to the LINE terminals, allowing the feed-thru wires to be non-GFCI protected. I'd then replace the existing outside duplex receptacles with 15 amp GFCI receptacles/bubble covers with all being wired to LINE terminals ony to allow non-GFCI protected power to go to the bath fan/light. I think this will get the fan/light working and also expose the GFCI related problem.
Old 11-10-14, 12:18 PM
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Hey, I recently traced down a few GFCI tripping problems myself and would like to share some info, for what it is worth..

A neutral wire touching an earth ground will also cause the GFCI to trip.
I would first isolate if you have a hot or neutral causing the problem.
I would hook the hot up at the exterior outlet by the front door and leave the neutral disconnected.
If that resets, then I would think it would trip when you touch that neutral back to that outlet.
Then you would know you are chasing down a neutral.
Vice versa, you would know it is the hot.
It should be easier to proceed once you know that.
I also would try:
Disconnect the fan, disconnect the light, try them one at a time etc...

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