How to Reset GFI Breakers

How to Reset GFI Breakers. A circuit breaker.

GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) breakers are essential safety devices designed to protect you from electrical shock by shutting off the power when they detect an imbalance in the electrical current. They are typically found in areas where water and electricity are in close proximity, such as bathrooms, kitchens, garages, and outdoor outlets.

Knowing how to reset GFI breakers can save you time and the inconvenience of losing power in essential areas of your Spokane home. This guide from VPC Electric will walk you through the steps to troubleshoot and reset your GFI breakers.

Understanding GFI Breakers

Before we dive into the reset process, it’s important to understand how GFI breakers work. Unlike regular circuit breakers, GFI breakers monitor the flow of electricity and can detect even the smallest leakage of current.

When they sense an imbalance, they trip to cut off the power, preventing electrical shocks and reducing the risk of electrical fires. Common reasons why GFI breakers trip include:

  • Moisture: Water can create a path for electricity to flow where it shouldn’t, triggering the GFI breaker.
  • Faulty Appliances: An appliance with a ground fault can cause the breaker to trip.
  • Worn Out Wiring: Aging or damaged wiring can also cause ground faults.
  • Overloaded Circuit: Too many devices plugged into the same circuit can overload it and cause the breaker to trip.

What is the Difference Between GFI and GCFI?

Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) serve similar functions but are often confused. Here’s a detailed look at the differences between the two:

GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter)

  • Terminology: GFI is a general term used to describe devices that protect against electrical shock by detecting ground faults.

  • Common Usage: GFI is often used interchangeably with GFCI, but technically, GFI can refer to any device that interrupts a ground fault, including outlets and breakers.

  • Application: GFIs come in various forms, including outlets (GFI outlets) and circuit breakers (GFI breakers).

GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)

  • Terminology: GFCI is a specific type of GFI designed to protect against electrical shock by shutting off the electric circuit when it detects current flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person.

  • Common Usage: GFCI is the more accurate and specific term used to describe devices, especially outlets and circuit breakers, designed to protect against ground faults.

  • Application: GFCIs are commonly found in places where electrical outlets are near water, such as bathrooms, kitchens, outdoor areas, and garages. GFCI circuit breakers protect an entire circuit and are installed in the electrical panel.

Steps to Reset a GFI Breaker

Should the current in your home be unbalanced and trip a breaker, shutting off power, you’ll need to reset it. Resetting a GFI breaker is relatively simple and should be your first step in troubleshooting when the power goes out in only part of your home.

  1. Unplug All Devices: Unplug all devices and appliances connected to the affected circuit before resetting the breaker. This ensures that any faulty device does not cause the breaker to trip again immediately after resetting it.
  • Identify the Tripped Breaker: Locate your electrical panel—it is usually found in the basement, garage, or utility room. Open the panel door and look for the breaker that is in the “off” position or halfway between “on” and “off.” Some GFI breakers have a small button, typically colored red or yellow, to indicate they have tripped.
  • Reset the Breaker: If the switch is half-way, push it to the “off” position. Wait a few seconds, then push it back to the “on” position. You may also need to press the “reset” button if your breaker has one.
  • Test the Circuit: After resetting the breaker, plug in and turn on each appliance or device one at a time. If the breaker trips again, the last device you plugged in is likely the culprit. Inspect the device and, if necessary, have it repaired or replaced.
  • Check for Persistent Issues: If the breaker continues to trip even after unplugging and resetting all devices, there could be an underlying issue with your wiring or the breaker itself. This situation calls for professional assistance.

Safety Tips and Precautions

  • Always ensure your hands are dry and you’re standing on a dry surface when working with electrical panels.
  • Do not attempt to reset the breaker if you see any visible damage or signs of burning around the panel.
  • If unsure about any step, contacting a professional is better than risking injury or further damage.

When to Call the Professionals

While resetting a GFI breaker is straightforward, persistent issues may indicate more serious problems, such as faulty wiring, damaged breakers, or hidden moisture. In these cases, it’s crucial to call experts to diagnose and fix the problem safely and effectively.

For Electrical Repair, Contact VPC Electric

Troubleshooting and resetting GFI breakers can be simple for homeowners and renters. However, electrical issues can sometimes be complex and dangerous. If you encounter persistent problems or are unsure about the process, don’t hesitate to contact VPC Electric.

Our team of licensed electricians is ready to assist you with any electrical issues you may face, ensuring your home remains safe and functional. Reach out to VPC Electric today for professional and reliable electrical services by calling 877-591-4376 or requesting service online.

Need Electrical Service?

Contact the experts at VPC Electric.

Call us at 877-591-HERO (4376)!

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