GFCI is put in place to help check electrical excesses like shock and fire outbreaks in your home. Your Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter tripping action is more of a safety mechanism and a warning sign. So when you notice your GFCI disconnecting on its own, then something needs to be fix.
Provided that GFCI in your garage might be serving some heavy energy-consuming appliances, it may trip due to overloading. It could also trip because of connecting a thick extension cord to it, which could also add to its load. Additionally, having an outside outlet on your GFCI would also make it trip.
Why Does My GFCI In the Garage Keep Tripping?
When the GFCI in your garage keeps tripping, it is either because of an actual ground fault, a bad or worn out insulator, dirt or particles of sand, water, electric wiring breakdown, and an overloaded circuit. A continuous trip may likely lead to an issue that would require the attention of an electrician.
Let me now show how these reasons cause your GFCI to trip constantly.
1. An Actual Ground Fault
A GFCI is designed to react to an unintentional connection between a conductor and the ground, the reaction to this is referred to as “tripping”.
This leakage may result from a conductor coming in contact with your electrical device. It might also occur when it touches the ground somewhere around your circuitry.
2. Bad or Worn Out Insulator
An insulator helps in preventing the flow of current from an electrical outlet to the earth. It helps to control shock by acting as a barrier between the device and the floor of your house. For this reason, GFCIs are always placed some meters high on your wall.
In a case where your insulation wears off or breaks, it could make your GFCI trip. The insulation inside the wall is supposed to assist in preventing such leaks from occurring. So if your insulation is worn out or bad, it may result in additional leaks.
3. Dirt or Particles of Sand
The presence of dirt or sand in a circuit impedes the protective capacity of your GFCI. Therefore, when dirt or particles of sand accumulate in your circuit, it could cause your GFCI to trip off.
Water is not to be found around any electrical device, not even a GFCI. When water comes in contact with a GFCI, it will surely trip off your GFCI. Water is a prominent factor that leads to tripping specifically for outlets situated outside.
So when you live in areas of a high downpour of rainfall and you do not shield your GFCI, you will certainly run into problems with the device.
5. Electric Wiring Break Down
Electric wires have diminishing returns; thus, they can wear out over time. The way you treat your wires will surely help in making them last longer.
During installation, tying the wires too strongly can make them break at those stress points. When they do, they will surely cause your GFCI to trip.
6. An Overloaded Circuit
People sometimes feel they can connect whatever they want to their GFCI. They do this without considering the recommended load for their device. Though the device offers protection, there is a limit to how much load it can handle.
GFCI outlets are made to handle about 15 to 20 amps of load. So, whatever you must connect on your GFCI, ensure the combined current is within this range.
If you go beyond this specification and place more than 20 amps of load on your GFCI, it will react to this by making your breaker trip to protect it from causing damage. This action should be taken as a warning and adhered to save your appliances.
A wired method of connection stands the highest chance of tripping your GFCI. When you wire in heavy electrical devices that draw a lot of currents, it can keep your GFCI tripping.
An appliance with a defect like rusting or less standard connection usually draws too much current than normal, which would lead to tripping.
Can a Refrigerator Cause a GFCI to Trip?
Yes, a refrigerator can cause your refrigerator to trip. However, refrigerators are not compatible with a GFCI circuit mostly because refrigerators do not buy the idea of dedicated circuitry. If you must use a GFCI, then it must be shared with other outlets. But this does not mean it would stop tripping it entirely as some other issues would make it trip.
When the defrost circuit in your refrigerator develops an issue, the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter quickly detects the issue and begins to trip.
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) may also cause your GFCI to trip due to you switching off the inductive load. When you notice a trip caused by a refrigerator, you should quickly get it fixed as it might result in receiving shocks.
How can you tell if a GFCI Outlet is Bad?
If a GFCI outlet is no longer generating current to appliances, then it has probably gone bad. You can tell this by simply examining the power situation, testing the button efficiency, and restoring power with the reset button.
Here are the details of how you can do these
1. Examining the Power Situation
You do this by using a voltage tester to see if there is a current on your outlet. If the tester lights up, then the outlet has current, but if you reset it, the tester stays on and does not light up; this means you have a bad outlet.
2. Testing Button Efficiency
You can test the efficiency of your button by pushing the test button on the breaker itself and letting it trip. If the button of the GFCI breaker does not move and shut off the electricity inside the outlet, then it isn’t good.
3. Restoring Power With Reset Button
The reset button is positioned as a button to restore power in your GFCI outlet. So you should be able to reset the breaker and restore power, but when you can not do this, it means you have a faulty outlet.
How Do You Fix a GFCI that Keeps Tripping?
Fixing a GFCI that trips depend on the level of the fault that it has. When it is a major issue, it should be left for an electrician; however, anyone can handle minor problems. Before you can resolve the issue of tripping, you should know the particular issue causing your GFCI to trip.
You can fix an actual ground fault by covering any leakage in the wall around your GFCI. Once all holes are covered properly, there is no way your wires will make contact with the ground. Plus, this will help prevent dirt from entering it.
If the tripping results from water, make sure to shield the opening with an airtight or water-resistant cover. But before then, trip the breaker and use a blow dryer to dry out the box field. Once the outlet is dry, reset the GFCI.
The easiest case to handle is the issue of overloading. All you need to do is unplug the entire outlet from the opening and notice if the GFCI stops tripping.
Plug the whole thing again one after the other to determine which appliance is making the breaker trip. In this way, you will be able to solve the problem of your GFCI tripping.
You can also look at the leakage with a modern-day tester. If you come across a leakage, then you should repair the appliance.
The tripping of GFCI, as you should have already known, may result from worn-out insulators or wires. What you should do is replace them with new ones.
It is best if you find a convenient spot void of water to mount your GFCI. With that, you are sure to have tackled about 60 percent of the issues that might cause your device to trip.
You should also keep track of the current requirements of your electrical devices so as not to overload your GFCI.