It’s not uncommon for GFCI outlets to trip, as that’s what they’re made to do. But what causes them to trip constantly? Here are a few common causes for GFCI outlets to keep tripping and how to solve them.
First – What is This Type of Outlet, and How Does it Work?
GFCI Stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. A GFCI monitors the balance of electrical current moving through a circuit. If the power goes where it shouldn’t, the outlet immediately cuts off electricity. For example, if you are using a hair dryer and it slips into a sink filled with water, the outlet will immediately sense the interruption and cut the power to ensure electrical safety.
GFCI outlets are important, especially when the outlet is positioned close to water. That’s why you’ll notice them in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. The National Electrical Code dictates that all homes must be equipped with GFCI protection to keep everyone safe.
Reasons Why Yours Keeps Tripping
If your GFCI is tripping, that’s great, as it’s designed to trip if there’s a fault in the circuit. However, if your outlet is constantly tripping or tripping for no reason, there could be a bigger problem. Here are a few reasons your GFCI keeps tripping.
If there are too many things plugged into the outlet and drawing too much current, the breaker will trip to protect it from overheating. In this case, the outlet is doing its job.
Lots of things can overload a circuit. Electric motors, fluorescent lights, using a fan continually, and even electrical lines longer than 100 feet can cause your GFCI to keep tripping. Another culprit could be a defective appliance drawing too much current.
To test, unplug all appliances and reset the circuit on your electrical panel. Wait a few minutes and begin to plug appliances one by one and turn them on. If one appliance is causing the problems, looks like that item will need to be replaced. If the tripping occurs while plugging in other appliances, you may need a dedicated circuit that can handle the amperage required by the appliances.
Ground faults are when the hot or live wire touches the ground wire or something grounded. These can be caused by several different things, including:
- Worn-out insulation – the older your electrical wiring is, the more likely you have worn-out wiring insulation. When the insulation wears down, the hot wire can reach the ground wire and cause a ground fault.
- Dust or debris – Dust and debris can collect in the outlet box, become an electrical conductor, and leak electricity from the hot wire to the ground.
- Loose connections – When a hot or neutral wire connection becomes loose, short circuits occur, which can trip the GFCI.
- Corroded or pinched wires
Testing the leakage will tell you if this is the problem. Calling in an electrician means they not only can test for the leakage but they’ll be able to find the source of the issue and repair it quickly as well.
Moisture in the Receptacle Box
The accumulation of moisture is another major cause of tripping. If your GFCI is outside, it’s very vulnerable as rain is a common culprit. However, high humidity (like in a bathroom) can cause moisture buildup and make it harder for any water trapped in a receptacle box to evaporate.
To see if this is the case, you can start your search by inspecting the receptacle box. Make sure you turn off the breaker before opening the box containing the receptacle. If you find moisture, the box needs to be completely dry before attempting to reset the GFCI. If you want to speed up the process, this part is best left to a professional.
It’s Worn Out
Plain and simple, these outlets don’t last forever. In fact, they usually only last about 10 years before they stop providing optimal protection. Most people don’t replace their GFCI outlets after 10 years, so there’s a good chance an older outlet is the culprit and may not provide you the protection you need. The easiest way to fix this problem is by simply replacing your outlet.
Speck Family Electric is Here to Help
While a tripping ground fault circuit interrupter outlet is inconvenient, it’s usually meant as a safety measure. If you still can’t figure out why it’s tripping, give Speck Family Electric a call. We will get to the bottom of the tripping and help repair or replace your outlet. Our experienced team takes pride in performing reliable services and getting each job done safely and efficiently. We service those in Sparta, Chattanooga, Cookeville, Crossville, Gallatin, Lebanon, McMinnville, Mount Juliet, Murfreesboro, and Smithville.