defective GFCI outletBefore the widespread use of ground fault current interrupting (GFCI) outlets, hundreds of people died of electrocution every year in the United States. Today, because we have adopted the GFCI outlet, the number of people who are electrocuted every year has significantly dropped.

A GFCI outlet trips when it detects an interruption in the current, such as if you drop a hair dryer into a sink full of water, and automatically stops the power.

GFCI outlets are required in kitchens, bathrooms, and other parts of the house where water is likely to be present. These outlets exist to protect us from electrical shock. But these outlets can only save us if they are functioning properly.

Here’s how you can check if a GFCI outlet is faulty:

Step 1

Check the circuit breaker that controls the circuit in which the GFCI is installed. If the red button is out, push the wire back. If it is tripped, reset it. Push the reset button on the GFCI outlet.

Step 2

Make sure that there are no appliances plugged into electrical outlets that are downstream of the GFCI outlet.

Step 3

Switch off the breaker to the circuit. Remove the cover plate from the GFCI outlet and then remove the GFCI outlet from the electrical box. Check the wire connections and see if the live circuit is connected to the terminals that are marked “Line” and that the wire going to the other outlets is attached to the terminals that are marked “Load.” If the connections are reversed, correct them.

Step 4

If the red button is already inside but there is still no power to the GFCI outlet or the outlets connected to it, push the black button. This should cause the red button to pop out. If the red button does not pop out, the GFCI outlet is defective.