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How to Reset a Power Outlet without a Reset Button (3 Steps)

You might be surprised to see no reset button on a power or GFCI outlet.

That’s because some of them don’t have one. Some don’t even have a socket or receptacle on them. They’re usually on a shared circuit, so locate the primary outlet with the reset button.

GFCI and AFCI outlets usually have a reset button, which you can use to reset the outlet if it trips. If a power outlet is connected to a GFCI outlet on the same circuit, you must locate and reset the main GFCI outlet instead. But if a power outlet is on a dedicated circuit and doesn’t have a reset button, either it’s an ordinary outlet or the breaker has tripped.

There are only three simple steps to reset a power outlet. You might be able to reset it, but if not, there might be a problem somewhere along the circuit, so you’ll need to address the cause first.

Do All GFCI Outlets Have a Reset Button?

Not all GFCI outlets have a reset button.

Some do, and some don’t. Those that do are usually either on a dedicated circuit or act as the main GFCI outlet on a shared circuit. Their function is to protect the main outlet and all other outlets connected to it.

Those that don’t are probably secondary GFCI outlets on a shared circuit.

Find the Main Outlet

If the latter is the case, i.e., a secondary GFCI outlet on a shared circuit, it probably won’t have a reset button.

So, you’ll have to find the primary GFCI outlet to which it is connected and reset that instead. In other words, you would need to trace the circuit to identify the main outlet first, which should have the reset button you want.

Assuming it is safe, pressing that reset button should restore power to the entire circuit.

If pressing the reset button doesn’t restore power, there might be a problem along the circuit. It might be with one of the other outlets, the wiring, or the circuit breaker. You would need to investigate further.


Resetting a Power Outlet

To reset a power outlet without a reset button, reset the primary GFCI outlet to which it is connected.

If you’re unsure where it is, it’s probably in the same room or another place at risk of moisture, such as a bathroom or exterior wall. It is most likely tripped if the other outlet doesn’t have power.

When found, press the reset button to restore the lost power.

So, to recap, here are the steps to resetting a power outlet that doesn’t have a reset button.

Step 1: Find the Primary GFCI Outlet

Find the primary GFCI outlet to which the power outlet is connected.

It’s probably in the same room or a moisture-prone area nearby. It should have the reset button you need to press.

The main areas to look into include the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry area, garage, swimming pool, and crawl area if you have one. Check your home’s wiring diagram or call an electrician if you can’t find it.

Step 2: Press the Primary Outlet’s Test Button

Press the “Test” button on the primary outlet.

Step 3: Press the Primary Outlet’s Reset Button

Now, press the reset button on the primary GFCI outlet.

Alternatively, if you can’t find the primary GFCI outlet, reset the breaker instead to restore the power.

In this case, unplug all the devices on the circuit, identify the tripped breaker, flip its switch to the “off” position (in case it isn’t already), then flip it back to the “on” position.

resetting the breaker
Video | VideoJoeShows

To confirm that the power has been restored, plug a device into one of the outlets on its circuit or use an electrical tester.


Faceless GFCIs

A faceless GFCI resembles a regular GFCI outlet without a receptacle or socket.

It is designed to only offer GFCI protection without allowing you to plug anything into it. It has test and reset buttons. It is offered as a cheaper alternative to buying a normal GFCI outlet but is also ideal for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms. A GFCI outlet like this might be near the main panel or in the basement instead.

So, if the power outlet doesn’t have a reset button, and you’re looking for the GFCI outlet with one, know that it might not have a socket.

a faceless GFCI outlet
A faceless GFCI outlet [Grainger]


What if the Reset Doesn’t Work?

Sometimes, simply pressing the reset button doesn’t work.

In this case, the cause has not been addressed, or it is unsafe to switch it on. You will have to deal with the issue first to ensure it is safe to reset the outlet.

The typical causes that would have to be addressed are:

  • Tripped circuit breaker – The main breaker may have tripped due to overload or other reasons.
  • Presence of moisture – There might be too much moisture inside. You will have to thoroughly dry it before using it. You can use a hairdryer if set to its lowest position but don’t bring it too close as it might melt a wire.
  • Loose wire – A loose wire inside will prevent the outlet from being reset. You will need to open it and secure the wire.
  • Damaged wire – Did something cause damage to the wiring? It could be due to general wearing or a rodent. The damaged wire must be replaced.
  • Broken outlet – If the outlet is broken from the inside, you will have to replace it.

It should work after you’ve done whatever was necessary to fix the cause and pressed the reset button. If it still doesn’t, then call an electrician for help.


FAQs

What is a GFCI outlet’s lifespan?

A GFCI outlet’s typical lifespan is around 15-25 years. So, if the resetting doesn’t work, and the outlet is nearing the end of its expected lifespan or over it, it might be too weak to operate normally. Replace it with a new one.

What shouldn’t be plugged into a GFCI outlet?

You shouldn’t plug certain appliances into a GFCI outlet. They include refrigerators, freezers, and sump pumps. If you do, that might be the reason for frequent tripping. Use a non-GFCI outlet for such appliances, preferably on a dedicated circuit.

What if I still can’t find the primary GFCI outlet?

If you can’t locate or identify the primary GFCI outlet, check your home’s wiring diagram or call an electrician.

Look in your home’s wiring diagram or call an electrician.

What if resetting the primary GFCI outlet doesn’t restore power?

See the section above on “What if the Reset Doesn’t Work?”




References

Faceless GFCI outlet. https://www.grainger.com/product/HUBBELL-WIRING-DEVICE-KELLEMS-GFCI-Receptacle-2KWP1

GFCI breaker. https://www.amazon.com/Eaton-Cutler-Hammer-CHFN120DF-CHFAFGF120-Connection/dp/B09H6BLK3B

Video References

Conquerall Electrical

VideoJoeShows

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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.

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