GFCI Outlet Won’t Reset? How To Find Out Why

May 15, 2021 | 0 comments

GFCI outlet

If your GFCI outlet has tripped and won’t reset when you tend to it, it could be a sign that the outlet has failed. It’s best to have a professional fix it, but here are several reasons why your GFCI outlet won’t reset.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCIs) outlets are receptacles designed to increase the safety of your home. Installed primarily in places where there is an increased risk of your electrical appliances and devices coming into contact with water (such as bathrooms, kitchens, garages, or basements), GFCI outlets keep homeowners safe from electrical shorting, decreasing the risk of shock where it tends to be the greatest.

In contrast to regular outlets, GFCI outlets have internal breakers that trip when it senses exposure to water or excess current threatening to overload the circuit, cutting off power from the supply. This protects you and your home from electrical hazards, which is why it’s usually required by law to be installed for safety reasons during building construction.

GFCI outlet

When the outlet’s breaker has tripped (indicated normally by the green light going out or turning red), it needs to be reset to restore power. This is usually as easy as pressing the ‘reset’ button on the outlet, but in cases where it won’t reset, there may be a bigger issue at hand.

Check that other outlets in your home are still working

If your GFCI outlet has stopped working and won’t reset, the first and probably the most important question to ask is whether your other outlets are out of commission as well. This includes checking that your plugged-in devices and appliances are still running, as well as checking for any affected lights.

For any additional outlets that have stopped working, unplug any appliances or devices that are connected. It’s also a good idea to mark the outlets with masking tape to remember which ones are having issues. If you find that your other outlets are working just fine, it could be a sign that your initial GFCI outlet has failed.

In the case of both scenarios, it’s best to have a licensed electrician resolve the issue.

Check your main electrical panel for tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses

Electrical panel

A tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse in your home’s electrical panel will prevent power from reaching the GFCI outlet. It’s important to first unplug your devices from the outlets that are experiencing issues before going to check your main electrical panel. Your electrical panel will usually be located where electrical wires enter the home and converge, normally in the basement, a laundry room, or the garage.

Overloaded circuit breakers working as intended are usually flipped in the ‘off’ position, but can sometimes end up moved slightly out of position or feel looser than normal. A breaker can trip (or a fuse can be blown) when too much power is being used at once. Although it can be annoying, it’s designed to stop any additional electrical flow that could cause damage your electrical system, your property, and your devices.

You can reset a tripped breaker by flipping it back on or replace the blown fuse. If it trips constantly or trips every time you reset it, this may be a sign that you’re going over capacity, or that there’s something wrong with the circuit. In both cases, the issue should be diagnosed by a licensed electrical contractor.

Check your other GFCI outlets

The ‘test’ button on GFCI outlets allows you to test that the outlet is working as intended. When pressed, the button will shut the outlet off as if the internal breaker has tripped. Pressing the ‘reset’ button will usually make the outlet active again. In addition to checking all of your regular outlets, you may want to test and reset the GFCI outlets around your home to ensure they are working properly.

If more than one will not reset, it may be a sign pointing to a bigger issue with wiring or electrical capacity.

A few common issues that homeowners have are the following:

1. The GFCI trips every time it’s reset
This could be a sign that there is excess current leaking through the circuit and should be addressed as soon as possible.

2. The GFCI trips when you turn something on
A few possibilities are that it is actually detecting moisture, the circuit is being overloaded, or the GFCI outlet was initially miswired.

3. Plugged-in devices still work, but the light is off or red
In this case, the circuit interrupter could very well be defective.

4. Plugged-in devices have stopped working, and the GFCI isn’t responding.
A dead GFCI outlet can be caused by several things, such as miswiring or not receiving current. The GFCI outlet could have also gone bad and may need a replacement.

It may be hard to diagnose the issue for sure, but if it requires electrical work to be done, it’s important to hire a licensed electrician to do the work rather than doing it yourself, as working with outlets requires knowledge of wiring and can be dangerous without the proper precautions. A hired licensed electrician will be able to look for loose or bad connections, as well as reinstalling any connectors as required.

Do you have a GFCI outlet that won’t reset? Do your GFCI outlets need to be fixed? Are you having difficulty with troubleshooting?

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Contact MADE ELECTRIC today! We are a trusted electrical contractor that operates in Toronto and the GTA, with a professional and fully licensed team. Whether you’re having problems with existing outlets or are looking to have more outlets installed, we are here to help.

We can be reached at any time through our contact page, and are also happy to receive your calls at +1 (833) 623-3247, or e-mails at

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