Why is my GFCI outlet not working?

Ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs, can cut power to the entire outlet in certain circumstances. They are most often in locations like hallways, bedrooms, and kitchens.

GFCIs monitor the level of electricity traveling through a circuit. If too much power comes through, the GFCI shuts the circuit off. They are designed to respond to quick, high-voltage surges. Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters, inversely, respond to sustained, low-voltage surges. 

GFCIs are often placed in kitchens and bathrooms. These are places with lots of water. An electrical surge may occur if water comes into contact with an outlet.

Therefore, these outlets are critical. GFCIs can prevent fatal electrical shocks and dangerous electrical fires.

This is why it is vital to have fully-functional GFCI outlets.

However, they are not perfect and can sometimes stop working.

There are several reasons why this might happen. Here at Mister Sparky Electrician, we’ve identified a few ways your GFCI can stop working and some remedies that may get it back in working order.


Why are electrical outlets not working?

A common reason outlets stop working is that they are exposed to a power surge and are switched off by a circuit breaker. In the case of a GFCI outlet, they are switched off at the source.

This is an easy problem to fix.

First, identify the outlet or area of outlets that are not working. If a surge happens in a kitchen, all outlets may be tripped. If a surge happens outside, some interior outlets may be tripped as well. It might take some searching to find the dead outlet in your home.

Once you’ve found the dead outlet, take a closer look at it. On a GFCI outlet, there will be a reset button which is usually red. If it is sticking out, then it is tripped.

To turn your outlet back on, simply press the reset button until you hear a click sound. Your outlet should then be working like normal! Test it out by plugging in an appliance or other electrical device.

Hand pressing reset button on GFCI outlet not working.

What causes a GFCI not to reset?

So, you’re GFCI still won’t work after resetting and testing it? Don’t worry. It will require a bit more looking around to determine what’s wrong.

GFCIs are surprisingly advanced little pieces of technology. They can detect electrical surges and respond in milliseconds. But, they can also detect things that may lead to a surge, like water.

If there is water in your GFCI plug, it will not reset. You have a couple of options when this happens.

First, you can wait to let the water naturally evaporate. This is a good option if you have time since this could take a few hours.

If you need to use the outlet immediately, switch off the breaker box to ensure no power will flow to the outlet. Take something like a box fan or a blow dryer and point it into the outlet. It’s important to note that even though power is cut off, you should still never physically touch the outlet if it has water. It is better to be safe than sorry!

If the problem persists, this could be an indication of a bigger problem. We recommend you call an electrician from Mister Sparky OKC. The outlet might need to be removed to dry it, requiring special tools and expertise.

A GFCI outlet can also detect an abundance of moisture. There might not be water in the outlet, but enough moisture in the air, like a steaming kitchen or shower, could trip the outlet. Simply airing out the room will likely fix this problem and allow you to click the outlet back on.

Why do my GFCI outlets keep failing?

If your GFCI outlets seem to keep failing, then you might have wire connector issues.

Failed internal socket connections are fairly common in older outlets. For example, have you ever noticed how your phone charger easily slips out of an outlet? That often signifies a loose wire or a failing internal socket connection.

You could fix this by cutting off power at the breaker box, opening the outlet, and fastening the connections.

But if the outlet has this problem, it will eventually loosen up again. We at Mister Sparky OKC recommend calling an electrician and ordering new parts for an outlet. As we’ve said, a fully-functioning GFCI outlet is the first line of defense to protect your family and home from electrical fire and shocks. This isn’t something to skimp out on.

In conclusion…

Here at Mister Sparky Electrician OKC, we hope to have answered some of your pressing questions about why you have a GFCI outlet not working in your home.

If you have a GFCI outlet not working today, there are some remedies you can do yourself to fix it.

But, when more serious issues arise, call a professional at Mister Sparky OKC. Our electricians have the equipment and expertise to diagnose, repair, and maintain the GFCI outlet not working in your home.

Mister Sparky Electrician DFW, America’s On-Time Electrician, serves Dallas and Irving and others with a team of certified electricians. In addition to emergency electrical repairs, some of the electrician services provided by the company include electrical outlet/switch repair, ceiling fan installation, lighting installation, wiring repair, landscape lighting installation and home electrical inspections. Call us today at 214-613-0481.

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