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GFCI Trips After A Few Seconds? (Reasons and Solutions)

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A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is very efficient for preventing the negative effects of overloading.

Some of these could be shock or electrocution. Despite how efficient your GFCI may be, it can still trip off for specific reasons.

A GFCI trips after a few seconds in response to a sudden electrical surge. When there is a surge, the circuit tends to supply more power than is required, which could damage connected appliances. Tripping of the GFCI, though, briefly serves to shut off the power supply temporarily during a power surge, however minor. A ground fault could also cause a GFCI to trip but for longer.

What Could Cause a GFCI to Keep Tripping?

Your GFCI could be tripping due to a ground fault error. Also, when there is moisture on the receptacle box, your GFCI might start tripping.

In addition, another reason a GFCI trips off is when the circuit is overloaded, when there is an electrical fault, or GFCI outlet is faulty.

Consider these reasons in a more detailed light.

#1. Ground Fault

A ground fault is one of the most common causes of a GFCI tripping. It happens whenever the hot or live wire touches the ground wire.

Also, it could be because the hot wire or live wire is in contact with the ground area of a connected appliance.

Generally, a GFCI works by detecting the path through which there is a current flow. It shows when the current flows through a way that isn’t intended.

Usually, this path could be either a person or water. Once your GFCI detects current leakage, even the smallest quantity (for example, 0.005 amperes) trips.

Nevertheless, you should know that it’s often a good thing when your GFCI trips because of a ground fault. 

This is because when the GFCI trips, it prevents electrical shocks.

Determining a leaking current is very easy, and if that is the reason for your GFCI tripping, don’t panic.

All you need to do is unplug everything plugged into the circuit and turn off every switch. Inspect the cables also if you can find wear and tear.

The slightest damage implies that there isn’t protection from contact for the electrical part any longer.

#2. A Damp Receptacle Box

Another reason your GFCI could be tripping is when there is moisture in the receptacle box. But, again, this is most common with outdoor installations.

Moisture is accumulated in the receptacle box. With natural conditions like rain and dew, it is almost unavoidable.

Even high humidity contributes to the accumulation of moisture in the receptacle box.

When moisture builds up, it makes it difficult for any water held inside the receptacle compartment to find its way out. 

To check for this issue, you need to inspect the inside of the box. Ensure you switch off the receptacle breaker first before opening the receptacle box.

Dry the box, and then try resetting it. There are certain things you can use to help speed up the drying.

Simple heating tools like a hairdryer can be very effective in this situation. Nevertheless, you can call a professional for a much more effective job.

To prevent having any form of moisture in the receptacle box, you can place the box in a waterproof and lock it to avoid excessive moisture build-up, even when it is in use.

Remember, the slightest amount of water in the receptacle box puts you at risk of electrocution.

#3. Overloaded Circuit

Having an overloaded circuit can cause your GFCI to trip.

A circuit is overloaded when more amperes flow through a  circuit than the electrical circuit can control.

Mainly, A circuit overload happens when you connect faulty appliances or appliances with more capacity than the GFCI can handle.

Another cause of an overloaded circuit is loose cables. Immediately the outlets of the GFCI detect any current overload, it will trip.

Here is a short step to follow to help determine whether or not the problem is overloading.

  • Remove all connected appliances on the circuit.
  • The circuit inside the fuse box should be resetted.
  • Plug any one appliance back into the circuit and switch it on.
  • Make sure you observe keenly for tripping.
  • Plug in another appliance and switch it on. Observe the breaker for tripping.
  • You should know the problem If it doesn’t trip when just one appliance is plugged in.

If the problem persists by chance, you will have to get a new outlet capable of handling the amperage that the appliances require to function.

#4. Electrical Fault

Another possible reason for the constant tripping of the GFCI outlet in your home is an electrical fault.

This occurred when the house was not wired correctly from scratch. However, it is never too late for this problem to be fixed.

When you notice an electrical fault, the next best move is to call a professional electrician to fix the problem.

#5. Faulty Or Bad  GFCI Outlets

When you’ve tried everything possible, and you can’t figure out the problem, the GFCI outlet itself has an issue.

GFCIs have internal circuitry that detects a problem in their electric circuit.

As time goes on, the sensitivity of the circuitry grows weaker, thus making the outlet less effective.

In this situation, repairing or replacing the outlet is the best option. However, I recommend that a professional do this.

Will a Loose Wire Trip a GFCI?

Yes, a loose wire causes a GFCI to trip. In this case, the flexible cable leads to an overloaded circuit.

And, to protect you, the GFCI trips to shut off the power supply. 

Check your cable for wear or tear and proper connection. Replace it when required.

What are the Signs of a Bad GFCI Outlet?

A tripping GFCI is not necessarily a bad one. Nevertheless, these conditions are misunderstood by many. Here are some ways you can tell if your GFCI is terrible or not.

#1. It won’t reset

The reset button is also used as a power switch. It helps to restore power to the GFCI outlet.

If you’re unable to reset the breaker with the reset button, this means that power wasn’t restored, and thus, it is terrible.

#2. Test button effect

Push the test button on the GFCI breaker for this test and let it trip afterward. If the GFCI breaker is in good shape, the controller will move and shut off all electricity happening inside the outlet.

#3. Power situation

Using a voltage tester, check if there’s current on the outlet you are testing.

If the voltage tester lights up, there is a flowing current in the GFCI circuit.

Contrastingly, if you reset the GFCI and it doesn’t trip (I.e., the tester doesn’t go off), this means you have a bad outlet.

How Do You Fix a GFCI that Keeps Tripping?

After testing your GFCI, work on that problem. There’s not one general solution for GFCIs that is tripping. If there is water in the receptacle, take out the water. If there’s a loose wire, fix it.

However, generally, when you can’t seem to figure out the fault, call a professional in that field.

Conclusion

A GFCI is installed in homes to protect us from ground faults and circuit overloads resulting in a fire.

Thus for a GFCI trip is expected. However, you can stop it preferably after resolving the issue that tripped the GFCI.

Doing this will improve safety with your electrical connections.

Having a GFCI in your home is very important. If it is faulty, be sure to fix it or replace it.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/

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