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  1. #1
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    Default Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    I often find GFCI receptacles that trip off properly with their test button and with a GFCI tester (theoretically functioning as intended) but the reset button does not pop out as it should-I call these out as defective since the home owner has no clue if the outlet is tripped or not. What do you guys report with something like this?

    Thanks

    JP

    F.I.R.E. Services

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by JP Lomeo View Post
    I often find GFCI receptacles that trip off properly with their test button and with a GFCI tester (theoretically functioning as intended) but the reset button does not pop out as it should-I call these out as defective since the home owner has no clue if the outlet is tripped or not. What do you guys report with something like this?

    Thanks

    JP
    If you are referring to newer GFCI receptacles, the button typically does not pop out, but an indicator light shows that it has tripped. On older GFCI receptacles this often happens when they have been painted. Then they will not reset. I have carefully cut through the paint at the gaps around the button to get it to reset so I did not have to get the call that I broke their GFCI (which is not supposed to be painted).


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Hi Mark,
    No these have no indicator lights -they trip OK and power is off but none of the buttons pop out as they should.
    JP


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    If the GFCI resets when you push the reset button the device is OK as there is no rule that the button needs to pop out. In fact, many buttons that do move when the device is tripped move so little it is hard to tell unless you were there to see it when it tripped.

    In my opinion, and that of several AHJs I work with, painted receptacles of any kind, but especially a GFCI, are a problem because their listing does not include being painted. These AHJs require replacement of painted receptacles (and switches) before they will sign off on an inspection

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Hi JP,
    I'm sure someone will correct me with this line of thinking but, if you trip a GFCI (That is not painted over) and it does not reset by "normal" means (pushing the reset button), than by definition, it is not working as intended and should be reported as defective. I would recommend repair/replacement. Just my five cents.

    George Hallaron: Owner primary inspector
    Bienvenue Home Inspections LLC
    www.bienvenuehomeinspections.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Hallaron View Post
    Hi JP,
    I'm sure someone will correct me with this line of thinking but, if you trip a GFCI (That is not painted over) and it does not reset by "normal" means (pushing the reset button), than by definition, it is not working as intended and should be reported as defective. I would recommend repair/replacement. Just my five cents.
    I'm assuming the the OP meant that these GFCIs do reset. If they reset I don't see the concern. As someone else mentioned, it is not always easy to see if they are tripped.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Hallaron View Post
    Hi JP,
    I'm sure someone will correct me with this line of thinking but, if you trip a GFCI (That is not painted over) and it does not reset by "normal" means (pushing the reset button), than by definition, it is not working as intended and should be reported as defective. I would recommend repair/replacement. Just my five cents.
    Different JP here, but ... this is the first time you said they did not reset ... previously you only said that the reset button did not pop out - big difference between 'button not popping out' and 'not resetting'.

    If the GFCI does not reset - yes, they are bad ... does not matter why, they are bad because they would not reset - okay 'does not matter why' needs to be clarified ... if they do not reset because there is a ground fault on the circuit then they are not bad, but you will be able to tell that when you press the reset button and here it pop back off - if you press the reset button and nothing happens, then the GFCI itself is not resetting.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8

    Smile Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Different JP here, but ... this is the first time you said they did not reset ... previously you only said that the reset button did not pop out - big difference between 'button not popping out' and 'not resetting'.

    If the GFCI does not reset - yes, they are bad ... does not matter why, they are bad because they would not reset - okay 'does not matter why' needs to be clarified ... if they do not reset because there is a ground fault on the circuit then they are not bad, but you will be able to tell that when you press the reset button and here it pop back off - if you press the reset button and nothing happens, then the GFCI itself is not resetting.
    Good point Jerry, I just assumed that the OP meant that the devices would not reset when he said "the reset button does not pop out as it should". It would be great if the OP could clarify. That being said, If there was a ground fault on the circuit and the device was not bad or faulty, it would already be tripped when the OP inspected the device. Hence, he would not have been able to "trip them off properly with their test button and with a GFCI tester" in the first place.Am I understanding correctly?

    George Hallaron: Owner primary inspector
    Bienvenue Home Inspections LLC
    www.bienvenuehomeinspections.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    This has happen to me when two GFICs were wired in series. For example two bathrooms back to back on the same circuit and both have GFCIs. The same thing has happen with kitchen counter top outlets with multiple GFCIs on the same circuit. If you test a GFIC down stream from another GFCI the up stream GFCI also trips, which cuts the power to the GFIC you just tested, so resetting is impossible without power. This made me scratch my head when I first encountered this issue.

    Randy Mayo, P.E.
    Residential Engineering & Inspection Services
    http://www.rlmengineers.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Hallaron View Post
    If there was a ground fault on the circuit and the device was not bad or faulty, it would already be tripped when the OP inspected the device. Hence, he would not have been able to "trip them off properly with their test button and with a GFCI tester" in the first place.Am I understanding correctly?
    If the ground fault was borderline at the GFCI trip level, it is possible that the GFCI would not have tripped, but would not reset set once tripped.

    I've had a couple of GFCIs which were 'good' (would trip and reset), then when replaced due to being dirty or painted over, the new GFCI would trip and not reset - there was a ground fault on the circuit which was about 4-5 ma. The GFCI which tripped at 6 ma (which is allowed) would not trip off at all, but the replacement GFCI which tripped at 4 ma (also allowed) would trip off.

    Found the problem (forgot what it was, too long ago), then the GFCI stopped tripping.

    Rare, but it can (and has) happened.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Mayo View Post
    This has happen to me when two GFICs were wired in series. For example two bathrooms back to back on the same circuit and both have GFCIs. The same thing has happen with kitchen counter top outlets with multiple GFCIs on the same circuit. If you test a GFIC down stream from another GFCI the up stream GFCI also trips, which cuts the power to the GFIC you just tested, so resetting is impossible without power. This made me scratch my head when I first encountered this issue.
    That is a good point. It has happened to me many times. Maybe that is what the OP is referring to.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    That is a good point. It has happened to me many times. Maybe that is what the OP is referring to.
    When two GFCI's are daisy-chained, the downstream one will trip and reset to the button test OK. But when you insert your tester and try that, that is when the GFCI upstream will often trip first. Then the downstream one will trip and not reset. Vewy fwustwating.

    Frozen buttons, especially outdoor units, I call them out as faulty. People don't test them regularly and they get sticky.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    When two GFCI's are daisy-chained, the downstream one will trip and reset to the button test OK. But when you insert your tester and try that, that is when the GFCI upstream will often trip first. Then the downstream one will trip and not reset. Vewy fwustwating.
    Unless the two GFCIs are basically tripping at the same time, when the upstream GFCI trips ... there is no power to the downstream GFCI, it can't trip as it no longer has power and thus no longer has a ground fault created by the tester. Had this happen many, many times.

    Had both trip only a few times, the GFCIs would have basically the same trip level of ground fault.

    Had the GFCI I was testing trip many times too, many, many times. As I typed this I began to wonder ... were they also daisy-chained and the receptacle which was downstream and seemed to trip properly actually only had a lower ground fault trip level? Interesting thought ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    You are correct, Jerry. I should have said the downstream GFCI appears to be tripped, but it is de-energized, and the reset button has no effect.

    I learned about this early in my HI career when I tripped the downstairs GFCI with my tester and lost power in a new construction inspection. The reset button did nothing. In the course of the inspection, I found another GFCI upstairs and naturally it was tripped so I reset that one and it tested good. Bumped into the electrician up there. Told him he had a faulty GFCI downstairs. We go down there and it works perfectly. "You're just not pushing the button right" he says with a smirk. That pushed my button alright. But this is how we learn new stuff sometimes.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    If you are referring to newer GFCI receptacles, the button typically does not pop out, but an indicator light shows that it has tripped. On older GFCI receptacles this often happens when they have been painted. Then they will not reset. I have carefully cut through the paint at the gaps around the button to get it to reset so I did not have to get the call that I broke their GFCI (which is not supposed to be painted).
    Regarding painted receptacles:

    I asked the following of question to technical support at Legrand/Pass & Seymour/Slater
    - I have attached 3 photos of painted faces of electrical receptacle outlets, obviously not what you would normally think of when someone says 'receptacle outlets are painted over' - my questions are: a) does this type of painting violate the listing of the receptacles; b) does this type of painting create a hazard; should these receptacle outlets be replaced because the faces 'have been painted'?
    - I sent them the two attached photos showing the 'painting' I was referring to.

    Their response was as follows: (short, simple, and all inclusive - if they had allowed the ones I showed they would have to create requirements for 'allowed paint/painting')
    - Painting a receptacle in the field voids any UL listing on a device. We would have no control on type of paint, thickness, carbon tracking, TR shutters, etc...

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    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Regarding painted receptacles:

    I asked the following of question to technical support at Legrand/Pass & Seymour/Slater
    - I have attached 3 photos of painted faces of electrical receptacle outlets, obviously not what you would normally think of when someone says 'receptacle outlets are painted over' - my questions are: a) does this type of painting violate the listing of the receptacles; b) does this type of painting create a hazard; should these receptacle outlets be replaced because the faces 'have been painted'?
    - I sent them the two attached photos showing the 'painting' I was referring to.

    Their response was as follows: (short, simple, and all inclusive - if they had allowed the ones I showed they would have to create requirements for 'allowed paint/painting')
    - Painting a receptacle in the field voids any UL listing on a device. We would have no control on type of paint, thickness, carbon tracking, TR shutters, etc...
    Jerry,
    It has been a while since I have read the instructions that come with GFCI receptacles, but I believe the typical instructions also state: "Do not paint".


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    Jerry,
    It has been a while since I have read the instructions that come with GFCI receptacles, but I believe the typical instructions also state: "Do not paint".
    When one has enough money to pay to have switch and receptacle plates and the switches and receptacles painted like THAT ... one does not care what any installation instructions may state about anything ...

    I am not sure which house those were in, may have been the one with 3 Ferrari Testarossas in it ... a yellow one, a black one, and a red one - I guess it depended on what mood he was in on which color he picked to drive.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by JP Lomeo View Post
    I often find GFCI receptacles that trip off properly with their test button and with a GFCI tester (theoretically functioning as intended) but the reset button does not pop out as it should-I call these out as defective since the home owner has no clue if the outlet is tripped or not. What do you guys report with something like this?

    Thanks

    JP
    Lot's of good info on the thread but your original question got a bit lost. Assuming it is functioning properly, just because the button doesn't move in an out does not mean it is defective. The homeowner will know it's "tripped" when there is no power (and when they are alive to wonder why )

    Reading your post made me realize just how many different GFI types there are and how differently they all behave. Some are a total drag for my fat fingers to reset (the ones with the small buttons side-by-side). Some have lights that are on when the outlet is tripped, some the lights are on when the outlet has power. Some have no lights at all. Some "pop" with no visible movement while some (the traditional red/black button type) the button moves outward.

    Be carful calling something wrong and defective just because you have never seen it before. It's an easy way to make enemies of your buyers, sellers and agents by brining needless stress and confusion to a transaction.

    After 13 years openly admit I learn something new on every inspection. Rather than calling it wrong I come to Inspection News to figure it out.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Gfci trips on test but reset button is frozen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Lot's of good info on the thread but your original question got a bit lost. Assuming it is functioning properly, just because the button doesn't move in an out does not mean it is defective. The homeowner will know it's "tripped" when there is no power (and when they are alive to wonder why )

    Reading your post made me realize just how many different GFI types there are and how differently they all behave. Some are a total drag for my fat fingers to reset (the ones with the small buttons side-by-side). Some have lights that are on when the outlet is tripped, some the lights are on when the outlet has power. Some have no lights at all. Some "pop" with no visible movement while some (the traditional red/black button type) the button moves outward.

    Be carful calling something wrong and defective just because you have never seen it before. It's an easy way to make enemies of your buyers, sellers and agents by brining needless stress and confusion to a transaction.

    After 13 years openly admit I learn something new on every inspection. Rather than calling it wrong I come to Inspection News to figure it out.
    Great answer Matt F.!!!

    I would like to add that there are some GFCI receptacles, which when tripped by an event (either caused by using a GFCI tester, or an unintentional occurance) will not fully reset (that satisfying click) unless one first presses the TEST button then engages the reset button (not unlike a circuit breaker that when tripped doesn't necessarily move the arm so as to engage the spring completely unless one first cyles the switch to the complete OFF position then to ON, and its not a bad idea to cycle it completely again to OFF then back to ON before closing the door and walking away -- unless you don't mind the exercise).
    This was an engineered design prior to the last two cycles of significant changes to GFCIs, the most recent being during the last decade (if I'm recalling correctly it may have been Cooper, L&S who continued with that quirk/feature even when having a lighted indication green or red LED when face powered...also may have been non-lit indicating Levitron, I recall two or three mfg which had the quirk for at least one if not twoor three Standard edition cycles, even when having first added an "indicating" LED, and I recall for a bit one lit red when face powered, one lit red when tripped and one lit green when face powered, two for sure in the contractor/(fed references WS, etc.)specification grade).


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