Learning, Outlet,

How Do You Know If a GFCI Outlet is Bad (Identifying Danger Signs)

GFCI outlets are common in many US households these days. Whether it’s your bathroom or kitchen, GFCI outlets play a major role in protecting your home. Because of that, I always ask my clients to check their GFCI outlets occasionally. With three simple tests, anyone can tell whether or not the GFCI outlet is bad.

To check your GFCI outlets, carry out three tests below.

  • Use a non-contact voltage tester.
  • Press the test button and check the reset capability of the GFCI outlet.
  • Use a digital multimeter and check the outlet’s voltage.

Read the below article for more details.

3 Tests to Check a GFCI Outlet Effortlessly

Faulty GFCI outlets can cause lots of issues for your home’s safety. That is why regular checkups are most needed for GFCI outlets. Below you can find three tests that can identify faulty GFCI outlets.

Test 1 – Use a Non-Contact Voltage Tester

This 1st test is quite straightforward, and you only need a non-contact voltage tester. During this test, you only have to check the power supply of the GFCI outlet.

A GFCI outlet illuminates a small green light when power is supplied to the outlet (ON position).

Take a non-contact voltage tester and check the active GFCI outlet. If the voltage tester lights up, the outlet is getting power.

This is a simple test to check GFCI outlets. However, this is not the best test out there. Follow this test before getting started with tests 2 and 3. If you can detect a faulty outlet using a voltage tester, you won’t need to use the other two tests.

Test 2 – Test and Reset Buttons

Every GFCI outlet comes with two buttons; reset and test buttons. In this test, I’ll explain how to use these two buttons to identify a faulty GFCI outlet.

Check the above image. The button located at the top of the outlet is the reset button. The bottom one is the test button.

Whenever you press the test button, the GFCI outlet will trip because of the short circuit situation.

And at the same time, the reset button will pop out. Check the above image for a better understanding.

As a result of the above actions, the GFCI outlet won’t get power anymore.

Take the voltage tester and confirm that. The voltage tester won’t light up when the outlet is not getting power.

If your GFCI outlet reacts the same way as mentioned above (after pressing the test button), the outlet is working properly.

Test 3 – Check the Outlet’s Voltage

For this test, you’ll need a digital multimeter. Grab your digital multimeter and follow these steps.

Step 1 – Set up the Multimeter

setting up the multimeter to AC volts settings
Video | S.E.R. Safety

First and foremost, set the multimeter to AC volts settings. Then, insert the blackjack into the COM port and the red jack into the VAΩ port.

Step 2 – Press the Reset Button

hand pressing the reset button of a GFCI outlet while holding down on his thumb the multimeter
Video | S.E.R. Safety

If you remember correctly, after test 2, the GFCI outlet’s reset button is active. That means the outlet is not getting power. Press the reset button to get power back to the GFCI outlet.

Step 3 – Check the Voltage of the Outlet

checking the voltage of a GFCI outlet with a multimeter
Video | S.E.R. Safety

Now turn on the multimeter and connect the red probe to the small outlet slot. Then connect the black probe to the large slot. Next, examine the multimeter reading. If the GFCI outlet works properly, the multimeter should display a reading between 110V and 120V.

pressing the outlet's button one more time and testing it again with multimeter
Video | S.E.R. Safety

After that, press the test button one more time. It will trip the outlet and disconnect the power supply from it. Now check the multimeter reading; you should get a reading of zero. If you get a reading other than zero, the GFCI outlet is faulty.

Can My GFCI Outlet Go Bad?

Usually, GFCI outlets are expected to last around 15 years. But these outlets can go bad for various reasons. Most of the time, overuse and improper use are causes of faulty GFCI outlets. For instance, a loose wire connection can cause the GFCI outlet to trip repeatedly.


Video References

The Electrical Guide

Eric’s Reviews

S.E.R. Safety

How helpful was this article?

Were Sorry This Was Not Helpful!

Let us improve this post!

Please Tell Us How We Can Improve This Article.

About Alex Robertson

AvatarCertifications: B.M.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Mechanical Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Hi, I’m Alex! I’m a co-founder, content strategist, and writer and a close friend of our co-owner, Sam Orlovsky. I received my Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (B.M.E.) degree from Denver, where we studied together. My passion for technical and creative writing has led me to help Sam with this project.

| Reach Me

Leave a Comment