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GFCI Outlet Keeps Tripping

Category Electrical
Determining the cause of a malfunctioning GFCI outlet may require some sleuthing. This is a guide about GFCI outlet keeps tripping.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
December 8, 2015

I put my outdoor Xmas lights up the day after Thanksgiving. I have them connected to the GFCI plate we've used every year. The first connection is a solar sensor and then thru an extension with multiple plug-ins. It is the same setup as years past. Last evening they stopped working. Today I tried removing 2 strings of lights, which were attached end to end from the main extension cord. I also have four other strings connected end to end from the main extension cord. Removing the first two I mentioned worked, for about 4 or five hours before the GFCI outlet went out again. The power to the outlet is still there, but it won't stop tripping. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

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December 9, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

Electricity works on a loop. Current flows out on the hot and back on the neutral. A standard breaker trips when the flow in the loop is too great. A GFCI trips when the current flowing out exceeds the current flow returning by 4 to 6 milliamps (.004 to .006 amps). It is assumed this small current could be flowing through a person so the GFCI trips.

The current that is leaking is taking an alternate path back to the ground in your panel. Often this is caused by wet locations. The closer you are to the ground of your panel and what it is bonded to (typically a water pipe), the easier it is to trip a GFCI. So if your lights are wrapped around your water spigot, it would be easy to trip the GFCI.

Lighting strings do not typically have a ground pin, so the current flow from the hot back to your panel would have to be through the neutral (desirable) or the earth (maybe to a water pipe) (undesirable).

Another concern is your sensor. If it has a ground pin and is plugged in outside, and moisture getting in the unit could be providing a path between the hot and ground pin which would trip the GFCI. Make sure the sensor is rated for outdoor use and is in good condition.

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0 found this helpful
January 16, 2011

I moved into a house built in 1995. There is a GFCI outlet in the bathroom that will not stay on. When you press the reset button, the outlet stays on for about 5 seconds and then the breaker trips. I've replaced the GFCI outlet with the same results. Any advice would be appreciated. It's a 15 amp outlet.

By Lisa

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January 19, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

I know a family that got annoyed because the power surge protector kept tripping so they bypassed it and their house burned down. Be careful something like that is not going on with your house. Have you consulted an electrician? Somethings need expert advice and I think electrical problems is probably one of these.

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January 16, 20110 found this helpful

Sounds like there is another recptical in that series with the bathroom and it is bad. Possible the wiring, sorry it is not an easy fix and there is some investigating your way.

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Anonymous
January 18, 20110 found this helpful

You mention it's a 15 amp outlet but what is the amp of the breaker and how many other recepticles, lights or fans are on that breaker? I can't remember for sure but I think the load limit of a 15 amp breaker is 1800 watts total. How many light bulbs are there and what are their watts. What are the watts used for your blow dryer and curling iron or things like electric toothbrush charger or a radio. If you add them up altogether and they're around 1800 watts then perhaps you should consider replacing the breaker for a higher amp one.

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January 18, 20110 found this helpful

It's the guest bathroom and there is nothing plugged into the outlet. The breaker runs the bathroom as well as the 2 spare rooms. So the only things plugged in are 2 TVs and a clock. I'm thinking that the load and line wires may be mixed up. We hooked up the new outlet just like the old one and the same thing is happening.

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Anonymous
January 18, 20110 found this helpful

Fluffsmom, I say again that you are probably overloading the breaker and especially since there are outlets and lights etc for the guest bathroom and now knowing also for two other rooms :-o You say you have two TV's (how many watts do those two TV's pull) attached to that breaker but you also have lights and possibly a clock, a radio and maybe even some nite lights or anything else plugged in for all three rooms. What are the watts of all of those items you are using combined? And even if those are not turned on they are using watts. It is most likely as simple as just having a higher amp breaker put in to replace the current one. Be sure to get the right amount of amperage breaker installed to cover all three rooms and be thankful that the GFI outlet has alerted you of an overload because otherwise you could have had (and still can have) an electrical fire because of probably not enough general breaker amp protection. Whatever the problem might be it would be wise of you to hire a professional licensed electrician at this point to give you help and advice.

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March 16, 20150 found this helpful

My microwave trips the GFI. It never did this before. I changed the GFI, but it still does it.

By George

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January 16, 20110 found this helpful

I have a toaster oven plugged into one of several GFIC outlets in my kitchen. Yesterday we noticed the oven was not working and the GFIC reset button had tripped. Every time I reset the GFIC and plug in the oven it trips. If I plug the oven in a non GFIC outlet in the kitchen it works fine. I have had the toaster oven for 6 months with no problems. Is the GFIC bad? Any suggestions. Thank you.

By Rodney from NJ

Answers:

GFCI Outlet Keeps Tripping

Have you tried unplugging and/or not using whatever else might be plugged in to the GFI outlet when using the toaster oven? You might simply be overloading the outlet. The beauty of the GFI's is that they know to shut down when overloaded to prevent an electrical fire (and to keep you from getting an electrical shock near water). Have you tried plugging it in to a different GFI outlet (including the bathroom GFI)? If the same thing happens in other GFI's then it's a defective toaster. If it only happens in that one particular GFI then it is the outlet that's bad. (12/09/2010)

By Deeli

GFCI Outlet Keeps Tripping

I exchanged the toaster and it works. So the toaster was bad. Thank you. (12/10/2010)

By rodney361

GFCI Outlet Keeps Tripping

Thank you so much, Rodney, for posting it was the toaster! So many people don't bother to let us know the outcome. Glad to know yours was simple and all is well now :-) (12/13/2010)

By Deeli

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