ABC Blog

Why Does My GFCI Keep Tripping?

A GFCI outlet

If you want to make your home as safe as possible for everyone, installing GFCIs or ground fault circuit interrupters in your outlets will bring you closer to that goal. Areas like the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom, are at higher risk for electrical mishaps, but these quick-acting safety devices can significantly reduce the dangers.

But as with any device, GFCIs can malfunction. They typically last 10 to 15 years, but some can start failing when they hit the 5-year mark. If your GFCI keeps tripping, it’s a sign that something is wrong. While you can try troubleshooting it yourself, it’s always best to let a licensed electrician handle electrical issues.

What’s Causing Your GFCI to Keep Tripping?

It is good when your GFCI occasionally trips because it’s a sign that it is doing its job. But, if it’s tripping constantly, there is an underlying problem you need to look into. Here are some possible reasons your GFCI keeps tripping and what you can do about it. If these solutions don’t work, it’s time to let a professional take over.

Moisture Accumulation in Receptacle Box 

Moisture is another common reason why GFCIs trip. Outdoor outlets are the most susceptible to this issue as they don’t have much protection against rain. Outlets in the bathroom also tend to have this problem because it’s a high-humidity area. If you believe moisture may be the issue, contact a professional. They have the skills and training necessary to determine if this is the problem and safely resolve it.

Faulty Wiring

Another possible reason your GFCI keeps tripping is that you have defective structural wiring. If you have an electrical outlet that wasn’t part of the house’s original wiring, it might be the one that’s causing the issues. It is best to leave electrical faults to licensed electricians.

Faulty or Worn Out GFCI Outlet

Your GFCI outlet might be faulty if it’s over a decade old. GFCIs are highly sensitive devices designed to act fast when there is an error in the electrical system. But that sensitivity can wear out over time, leaving the outlet useless. Like with all devices, GFCIs don’t last forever. They are durable, but the time will come when you have to replace yours. A professional electrician can help you if your GFCI outlet is not working.

If your GFCI keeps tripping and you can’t figure out the root of the problem, you can try resetting the outlet. All of them come with a test and reset button. Look for the latter, which is usually red, and press it. But before you do, unplug all appliances from the circuit. If that doesn’t solve the issue, it is time to contact a licensed electrician.

A GFCI outlet

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet

GFCIs are there to protect you and your family from shocks and electrocution. But they can’t do their job if they aren’t installed properly. If you’re having an issue with your GFCI outlet, contact an electrician. They have the experience and knowledge to install these outlets safely.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how electricians wire GFCI outlets:

  • First, they turn off the circuit’s power.
  • Remove the cover plate, unscrew the original outlet from the box, mark line and load conductors and disconnect the wires.
  • Turn the GFCI outlet over and locate the load and line screw terminals.
  • They will connect the line conductors to the line terminals and load conductors to the load terminals. White wires go on the silver screws, and black wires go on the gold or brass screws. Your electrician will make sure to put line and load conductors on the correct terminals to ensure proper operation.
  • Locate the grounding screw at the bottom of the GFCI outlet and connect the usually bare copper grounding conductor to the green screw on the device.
  • Tuck the wires inside the box, screw in the outlet and put on the cover plate.

Again, you should leave wiring GFCI outlets to the professionals. GFCI outlets must be wired perfectly to work, and safety risks can come with any electricity-related job. A licensed electrician will know how to wire your GFCI outlet, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not your outlet is working correctly.

a GFCI outlet flashing red

Why Is My GFCI Blinking Red?

Newer GFCI models will self-monitor themselves, so there are three light indicators; a green light, a red light or no light. It can be alarming to notice that your GFCI outlet is blinking red. Typically, when you notice that your GFCI is blinking red or has a solid red light, something needs your attention. The most common causes of a blinking red light coming from your GFCI include the following:

  • A ground fault
  • A defective GFCI outlet
  • The GFCI outlet has reached the end of its lifespan

In many cases, a simple reset on your GFCI will cause it to return to normal and maintain a green light. First, unplug anything from the GFCI circuit and make sure that the breaker for the outlet hasn’t been tripped. Then, press the reset button on the outlet. If the light turns green, you have fixed the problem. However, if the GFCI is still blinking red, it’s time to contact a professional electrician. They can diagnose the issue and repair or replace your GFCI outlet.

The Bottom Line

If you are experiencing GFCI or other electrical problems at home, let a licensed electrician take care of it. The pro will inspect the situation thoroughly, provide a solution and address all your concerns. The electrician will have everything running smoothly and efficiently again.

ABC Can Get Your GFCI Outlets Working Again

Don’t take any risks when it comes to your home’s electrical system. Let the professional electricians at ABC Home & Commercial Services use their tools and training to diagnose the issue and quickly get to work on making any needed repairs. Our licensed pros can even take on larger projects, such as replacing bad electrical panels.

Tom Riggs

Tom Riggs is the Division Manager for Mechanical Services, overseeing sales and operations for HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Appliance Repair and Water Quality for all ABC Austin branches. He joined ABC in 2014. Before ABC, he was an HVAC Service Technician, HVAC Comfort Advisor/Sales and Operations Manager. Tom attended Universal Technical Institute. He's an avid outdoorsman and enjoys country living with his wife and two sons.

Learn More

Comments are closed.