GFI outdoor outlet won't reset

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by jaystanton, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. Oct 14, 2012 #1

    jaystanton

    jaystanton

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    Hi there,

    I have a GFI outdoor outlet on my deck that won't reset. Push the button, it pops right back out. I have also reset the dedicated circuit breaker for this outlet several times but it doesn't fix it, the outlet still won't reset. Any idea how I can troubleshoot this? This is a brand new home with new everything. All other exterior GFI outlets reset normally (usually needs to be done after it rains). This one also used to work fine but suddenly stopped.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Oct 15, 2012 #2

    notmrjohn

    notmrjohn

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    if a GFI won't reset it usually means you have a ground fault.
    I especially don't like the "(usually needs to be done after it rains)" part. You have a major problem somewhere.

    If you have to ask for advice on trouble shooting it may be beyond your experience level and could be quite dangerous. The simplest check would be to replace the GFI with a new one, making sure and doubly sure that the breaker for that outlet is off. You need to check the leads to outlet since outlet itself is off.

    Some of the tests are going to be in main breaker box, and some with power on, so without knowing your experience, I can't make any suggestions.

    I repeat that the need to reset GFI's after rain is extremly troubling, and indicates problems that add to danger in trouble shooting.
     
  3. Oct 15, 2012 #3

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    You can check the insulation resistance of your wet cabling up to several hundred megohms with almost any DVM and one or more 9v batteries.
    You're looking for 20 to 100 Kilo-ohms between the hot lead and the ground lead of the cable downstream of the GFCI if this is the reason your GFCI is tripping.

    No cable downstream? Sometimes no power or incorrect wiring to the GFCI has it refusing to stay latched.

    It is insensitive to leaky cables upstream of it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
  4. Oct 15, 2012 #4

    JoeD

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    Turn off the breaker for this receptacle and remove and inspect it. I have seen them full off bugs. Even if they are dead a bit of water will be enough to cause the GFCI to trip.
     
  5. Oct 15, 2012 #5

    notmrjohn

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    With breakers off swap the non-resetting GFI with one that is working on another circuit. If the swap resets, and first one does not work in new spot the original GFI is bad . If both now work original was improperly wired.
    If original works in new spot but swap out does not, there is wiring problem in that circuit.

    Once you get that GFI sorted out, find out why rain trips them. They or other outdoor outlets on circuits may not be protected from rain, they should all be in outdoor rated boxes with covers on unused outlets. They may just be too close to ground level, getting splashed on or receiving direct rain fall. If there is something you leave permanently plugged in, consider hardwiring it inside a weather proof box.
     
    TxBuilder likes this.
  6. Oct 15, 2012 #6

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Yes, there should be a gasket in the box that keeps out rain. Maybe it was left out of this one box.

    And with notmrjohn's swap method you don't have to gamble $15 for a new GFCI.
     
  7. Oct 17, 2012 #7

    Housedoctor57

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    If you still have the issue, turn the breaker off, disconnect the LOAD wires if they are present, these wires lead to any downstream connections. Turn power back on and try to reset the GFIC. If it resets the problem is not the GFIC normally (95%). The problem is with the circuit downstream (LOAD). If you have no LOAD wires connected and just the wires to the LINE you have a bad GFIC.
     
  8. Oct 17, 2012 #8

    jaystanton

    jaystanton

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    Excellent, thanks so much for your responses!
     
  9. Oct 23, 2012 #9

    Bjstottler

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    I've had this problem before, new houses go up very quickly these days. Go into your service panel and check all your grounds and neutrals are all TIGHT! , good time to even check all wire to each breaker. GFCI will not work without a gnd.
     
  10. Oct 23, 2012 #10

    nealtw

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    Bjstottler: Hey welcome to the site. GFCI do work with out ground.
     
  11. Oct 23, 2012 #11

    Wuzzat?

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    AFAIK, incorrect.
    The only thing the toroidal transformer inside the GFCI knows about is the difference between the hot line current and the neutral line current.

    But if there is some GFCI out there that depends on a ground for whatever reason, please post a link.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  12. Oct 23, 2012 #12

    JoeD

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    GFCI does not require a ground. It is in fact a code compliant replacement for two prong receptacles with no ground present.
     
  13. Oct 23, 2012 #13

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    And then you mark it "No Equipment Ground".

    Reading through the NEC and trying to abstract some basic principles, one of them is that you don't wire something so the people working on it later believe something is safer than it really is.
     
  14. Oct 24, 2012 #14

    notmrjohn

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    GFI basically "senses" a ground or completed circuit after the outlet, instead of one returning to the main service panel, thru neutral, or thru third wire ground. In many cases you could be part of that circuit.

    If repairing faulty ground wire connection corrects tripping GFI, there is also problem with neutral, or some miswiring some where.

    Third wire grounding mostly protects wiring in home and appliances. Though hopefully ground wire is better conductor to a ground than you are if, say toaster has a short and you are touching it and water faucet at same time. That's why GFI's are now required in kitchens and baths, they trip immediately if current is flowing thru hot but not neutral or ground.
     
  15. Oct 24, 2012 #15

    JoeD

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    A GFCI works by sensing the difference in current between the hot and the neutral. It doesn't care where it is going. If the current on the hot and neutral is more then 5mA different then the GFCI will trip.The "missing" current could be going to ground, through a person, through water, etc.
     
  16. Oct 24, 2012 #16

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Exactly, and if 20 mA is flowing it takes the thing less than 1 second to trip, with more current taking less time, just like a circuit breaker's trlp curve.
    http://www.interfire.org/features/gfi.asp
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012

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