how to reset gfci circuit breaker


Resetting a GFCI Circuit Breaker


Electrical safety is paramount in every household and workplace. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) circuit breakers play a crucial role in protecting us from electrical hazards, such as shocks and fires. However, occasionally these breakers can trip, cutting off power supply. Resetting a GFCI circuit breaker is a simple and important technique that can easily be done without any technical expertise. In this article, we will guide you through the process of resetting a GFCI circuit breaker step by step, ensuring your electrical system remains stable and safe.

What is a GFCI Circuit Breaker?

A GFCI circuit breaker is an electrical device that monitors the flow of electrical current in a circuit. It is designed to rapidly interrupt the flow of current when it detects any imbalance or variation. This protective device primarily exists to safeguard human lives from electric shocks while also preventing electrical fires. GFCI breakers are typically found in areas where contact with water is likely, such as kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoor outlets.

Understanding the Tripped State

When a GFCI breaker senses an imbalance or variation of electrical current, it tripps, cutting off the power supply. An indicator on the breaker or receptacle will alert you when it has tripped. There are several reasons why a GFCI breaker may trip, including a ground fault, a short circuit, or a defective appliance. Power surges can also cause the breaker to trip momentarily. When a GFCI breaker trips, the electrical circuit protecting your appliances and devices is disabled, preventing any potential hazard.

If you experience a power outage, one of the first things to check is whether a GFCI breaker has tripped and needs to be reset.

Locating the Tripped GFCI Breaker

In most homes and buildings, GFCI circuit breakers are usually integrated into the electrical panel or distribution board. The panel is usually located in a basement or utility room, but it can also be found in garages or other dedicated electrical rooms.

To locate a tripped GFCI breaker, you need to open the electrical panel cover. However, it is crucial to proceed with caution and take necessary safety measures. Make sure to turn off all the appliances or equipment that were connected to the circuit before opening the panel. It is also recommended to wear protective equipment, such as insulated gloves, to avoid direct contact with any live wires.

Once you have opened the electrical panel cover, visually inspect the breakers. A tripped GFCI breaker will have its toggle switch in a position between "on" and "off." It may display a red or orange indicator, indicating the tripped state.

Disconnecting Faulty Appliances

Before proceeding to reset the GFCI breaker, it is crucial to identify and disconnect any faulty appliances or devices that may have caused the trip. Faulty appliances can create a ground fault or short circuit, which leads to a GFCI breaker being triggered. Unplug all devices on the affected circuit, starting with the most recently connected appliances.

If there are any outdoor electrical outlets connected to the GFCI breaker, make sure to check them as well. Outdoor outlets are exposed to harsh elements like rain, snow, and extreme temperatures, which can lead to tripping. Inspect for any damaged cords or water intrusion into the outlets.

If the GFCI breaker doesn't trip when the faulty appliances are disconnected, it indicates that one of the devices is causing the electrical imbalance. Inspect the appliances for any visual damage or signs of malfunction, such as frayed wires, burned marks, or strange odors. Appliances showing signs of damage should be repaired or replaced to prevent further complications.

Resetting a GFCI Circuit Breaker

Resetting a GFCI circuit breaker involves a few simple steps:

1. Locate the tripped GFCI breaker in the electrical panel.

2. Once identified, carefully push the switch to the fully "off" position.

3. After switching it off, wait for a few seconds to allow any residual charge to dissipate.

4. Push the switch to the "on" position firmly until you hear a click or feel the resistance.

5. Once the GFCI breaker has been reset, check the indicator to ensure it has activated properly.

If the GFCI breaker doesn't reset or immediately trips again after being reset, it indicates a more serious underlying fault. In such cases, it is essential to contact a qualified electrician to diagnose and repair the problem.

Testing the Reset GFCI Circuit Breaker

After resetting the GFCI breaker, it is important to test whether it functions correctly. Testing helps ensure the breaker will trip if an imbalance or variation of electrical current occurs again.

To test a reset GFCI circuit breaker, follow these steps:

1. Plug a working electrical device, such as a lamp, into the GFCI-protected outlet.

2. Turn the lamp on and ensure it is receiving power.

3. Press the "test" button on the GFCI outlet. This button simulates a ground fault event and should immediately cut off the power supply.

4. The "reset" button should automatically pop out, indicating the proper functioning of the GFCI breaker.

5. Press the "reset" button to restore power to the outlet. The lamp should turn on again.

If the GFCI breaker does not trip during the test or fails to restore the power supply after pressing the "reset" button, it may be a sign of a malfunctioning breaker. In such cases, it is vital to replace the faulty breaker or consult a qualified electrician for further investigation.


Resetting a GFCI circuit breaker is a straightforward process that ensures the safety and functionality of your electrical system. By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this article, you can easily identify and reset a tripped GFCI breaker in your home or workplace.

Remember to prioritize safety when working with electricity. Take necessary precautions such as turning off appliances, wearing protective gear, and seeking professional help if needed. Regularly testing your GFCI circuit breakers will help maintain electrical safety and promptly address any potential hazards.

Electrical safety is everyone's responsibility. By becoming knowledgeable about GFCI circuit breakers and their proper resetting procedure, you contribute to creating a secure environment for yourself and those around you. Stay safe and always prioritize electrical safety!


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