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Why Does My Outlet Keep Tripping?

residential electrical wiring components

Ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets are essential electrical safety devices commonly found in kitchens, bathrooms, outdoor areas, and other locations where moisture is present. These outlets are designed to protect against electrical shocks and potential hazards by quickly detecting any imbalance in electrical current.

However, it's not uncommon for GFCI outlets to trip or stop working, causing inconvenience and potential safety risks.

Understanding GFCI Outlets

GFCI outlets are outlets equipped with built-in circuitry that continuously monitors the flow of electricity. They work by detecting imbalances in the electrical current between the hot and neutral wires. When a fault occurs, such as a ground fault or excessive current leakage, the GFCI outlet quickly interrupts the circuit, cutting off the electricity flow to prevent electrical shock.

Common Reasons for Tripping

There are several potential reasons why your GFCI outlet could start tripping unexpectedly. These include:

  • Ground faults: The primary purpose of GFCI outlets is to protect against ground faults, which occur when an electrical current travels through an unintended path, such as through water or a person. When a ground fault is detected, the GFCI outlet will trip to prevent potential electrocution.
  • Overloaded circuits: Overloading a circuit by connecting too many devices or appliances can cause the GFCI outlet to trip. The excessive electrical current flowing through the outlet triggers the protective mechanism.
  • Faulty appliances: A malfunctioning or damaged appliance can cause a GFCI outlet to trip. Appliances with damaged cords or internal faults can create ground faults or excessive current leakage, triggering the GFCI’s protection mechanism.
  • Moisture & water exposure: GFCI outlets are commonly installed in areas where water is present, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Water contact or excessive moisture can cause the GFCI outlet to trip to prevent electrical shocks.

Troubleshooting GFCI Outlets

If your GFCI outlet keeps tripping or appears to be malfunctioning, there are several steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue. Here’s what you can do:

  • Reset the outlet: Start by pressing the “Reset” button located on the face of the GFCI outlet. This may restore normal functionality and resolve temporary issues.
  • Check for moisture: Inspect the outlet and its surroundings for any signs of moisture or water exposure. Ensure that all electrical devices and cords are kept away from water sources.
  • Disconnect appliances: Unplug all appliances connected to the GFCI outlet and then attempt to reset them. If the outlet resets without tripping, one of the appliances may be faulty. You can reconnect the devices one by one to identify the problematic appliance.
  • Inspect wiring connections: Loose or damaged wiring can cause GFCI outlets to trip. If you are experienced in working with electrical components, you can turn off the power and inspect the wiring connections. Ensure they are secure and free from damage.

When To Call a Licensed Electrician

While some GFCI outlet issues can be resolved through basic troubleshooting, certain situations require professional assistance. Consider contacting a master electrician for:

  • Frequent tripping: If your GFCI outlet trips repeatedly, even after attempting to reset it and removing potential causes, there may be an underlying electrical problem. A licensed electrician can identify the root cause and provide a safe and effective solution.
  • Damaged outlets: If you notice visible damage, scorch marks, or signs of wear on the GFCI outlet itself, it’s crucial to call an electrician. Damaged outlets pose a serious safety risk and should be addressed immediately.
  • Electrical expertise: If you are unsure about dealing with electrical components, it's always recommended to seek help from a licensed electrician. They have the expertise to diagnose complex issues and ensure that repairs or replacements are done safely and in compliance with electrical codes.

Trust Campbell & Company With Your Outlet Service Needs!

Campbell service vans parked outside of the Campbell & Company building.

When your GFCI outlets are frequently tripping, Campbell & Company has the electrical expertise you need to restore full functionality in no time. With 24/7 emergency electrical service availability, an award-winning team of technicians, and 100% satisfaction guaranteed, there’s no better company to trust with your outlet service needs.

Schedule GFCI outlet repair services with Campbell & Company by calling 509-545-9848 today!

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