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Electricity is a critical element of our everyday lives, so we should regularly check and update our electrical systems. Electrical malfunctions can lead to expensive repairs or even deadly shocks.

A GFCI breaker is an essential component in some circuits that protects you from electrocution. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.

These breakers monitor current flow in and out of a circuit. If there is even a slight variance in electrical current, the GFCI will detect it and cut the power to that circuit. It serves as an extra line of protection that keeps your main breaker from tripping.

You’ll usually find GFCI outlets in rooms where water or moisture is present. You probably have one in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, or basement.

The most common type of GFCI looks like a wall outlet with one button for testing and one for resetting the breaker. GFCI breakers connect to a larger service panel, while GFCI outlets monitor smaller circuits. Follow the steps below to check if your GFCI outlet is bad.

Steps to Determine if a GFCI Outlet Is Bad

There are a few things you can do to determine if you have a faulty GFCI outlet. Some have a self-testing feature and display status lights. A red light indicates a problem with the connection or outlet.

If you don’t have a self-testing GFCI outlet, there are a few tests you can perform yourself. You can do the first test when the breaker trips. The reset button will pop out. Push it back in, and the current should return to the circuit.

Close up of somebody resetting a GFCI outlet

You can also take the outlet apart to check the wires:

  • Locate the outlets that belong to the same circuit and that are downstream of the GFCI breaker. Typically, the outlet closest to the breaker box is the first one in the circuit, and the others are downstream. Unplug appliances from the downstream outlets.
  • Turn the circuit breaker off and remove the cover plate with a screwdriver. Pull the GFCI outlet out of the electrical box.
  • You should have a neutral wire connected to your electrical panel. There should be a terminal labeled as “line” connected to the live circuit. The “load” terminal should go to the next outlet in the circuit. If these connections aren’t right, call an electrician to switch them.

You can perform a third test to see if you have a bad breaker. There is a black test button you can press to make the breaker trip. If the breaker works, the red button will pop out, and you won’t have any power in the outlet or the outlets located downstream from it. Press the red button to reset the breaker. You can check that you have power flowing through the outlet and the rest of the circuit by plugging in an appliance

Need to Fix a Bad GFCI Outlet? Call Us Now!

GFCI outlets are crucial because they protect you from electrocution. If there is a faulty GFCI breaker in your home, don’t take any risks. Contact U.S. Electric right away so our team of licensed Richmond electrical professionals can fix it!