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Electrical  /  April 24, 2023

Kelowna Electrician: Common Problems That Occur With GFCI Outlets

Common problems with GFCI outlets

Ground fault circuit interrupter outlets make homes safer, which is why their installation is required in new homes. However, these outlets can still have problems, necessitating the help of Kelowna electricians. Faulty parts, improper wiring and tripped circuits can all render a GFCI outlet unusable. Fortunately, knowing the signs and causes of each issue can help you resolve them more quickly.

Faulty Outlet

GFCI outlets have the unique ability to cut off electrical currents in certain circumstances. These outlets are equipped with sensors that detect electrical flow, allowing them to recognize when currents reach dangerous levels. The automatic shutoff can prevent electrocution, an experience that can produce devastating effects:

  • Respiratory arrest
  • Seizure
  • Burns
  • Weakness and numbness
  • Tingling and pain

In the worst cases, victims can suffer cardiac arrest.

Building codes make electricity safer to use, but there’s still the chance of occasional surges, as electricity naturally seeks the ground. These occurrences are called ground faults, which GFCI outlets “interrupt.” Unfortunately, a defective outlet may not respond to a surge, putting the user in danger.

Testing a GFCI outlet is relatively straightforward. New models even self-test and indicate status with a green (good) or red (bad) LED light. If your outlets aren’t self-testing, they’ll have a black “test” button below the red “reset” button. An electrician can use the test button to verify the outlet is cutting off electricity correctly.

If it doesn’t perform properly, you’ll need to repair it immediately. Sometimes, the issue is faulty wiring, but it’s also possible the sensor no longer works. This issue may result from a factory defect, improper installation or age. GCFI outlets last a maximum of 10 years, though some may fail after 5.

Incorrect Wiring

Incorrect or damaged wiring can cause GCFI outlets to malfunction. One hint that wiring may be the issue is a failure to reset.

When the GCFI cuts off the current, the red reset button should pop out. Pushing it will reconnect the electrical flow, allowing you to safely use the outlet again. If there’s something wrong with the wiring, the reset button will not stay pressed; this means the outlet is still not receiving electricity.

If you suspect wiring is the problem, you should call a professional to take a look. Electricians have the necessary training to recognize building code violations as well as simple repairs, allowing them to pinpoint the issue quickly. They also know safety protocols to prevent accidents.

Since the electrical system is hidden inside the walls, it’s impossible to see exactly what’s going on without the proper tools. There are several potential causes of wire damage:

  • Rodents chewing the wires
  • Leaks exposing wire insulation to moisture
  • Too many appliances are plugged into a single outlet, overloading the system
  • Excessive heat causing sheath and insulation degradation

Tripped Circuit

Sometimes the issue isn’t necessarily the GFCI outlet. If you’re having trouble with several outlets not providing power, the problem may be a tripped circuit.

All houses have a circuit breaker box containing a series of switches or “breakers” that control the flow of electricity through various circuits. For example, your fridge, stove and kitchen outlets may be on one circuit while the bathroom lights and outlet are on another.

These breakers can “trip,” stopping power to one part of the house. A surge can cause tripping, which you can undo by resetting the breaker.

However, frequent tripping indicates something wrong with the electrical system. A professional should take a look as soon as possible, as wiring problems are fire hazards.If you’re having trouble with your GFCI outlets, Handmany Connection can help. Our electrical repair and maintenance services in Kelowna ensure your system is in top shape and safe to use. To learn more, give us a call or contact us online.

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