In the US, it is estimated that about 9 out of 10 homes have a GFCI outlet installed. This is a very important safety feature for your home and family’s protection.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter
A GFCI will automatically shut off power if there is an electrical short or ground fault in order to prevent electrocution accidents from occurring.
GFCI is there to help give you protection from things like electrical shock hazards.
The only problem with these devices is that they can wear out over time and need to be replaced.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether or not GFCI outlets wear out over time with use. We’ll also provide tips on how you find out if your GFCI is no longer working correctly.
It is very important that you know when it’s time to replace your GFCI outlets because they are very sensitive.
If you leave your GFCI outlet broken, it could lead to many home fires and electrocution accidents for you and your family.
Do GFCI Outlets Wear Out Over Time
It’s a common misconception that ground fault circuit interrupters outlets don’t wear out over time with use.
In truth, GFCI outlets will last about 10 to 25 years before starting to go bad or failing.
Ground fault circuit interrupters can fail by not tripping when the test button is pushed and the outlet stays hot or dead.
The second way it can fail is by not restoring the electricity flow after pressing the “Reset” button.
The third way it can fail is by not cutting off power despite being tripped.
GFCI devices are very sensitive and it’s very important for you to know when it’s time to replace them so you can avoid home fires and electrocution accidents.
How long does a GFCI outlet last?
The life expectancy for a GFCI outlet is about 15-25 years, and the breaker can last up to 30. However, there are certain conditions that reduce this time span significantly, as seen in some cases where it breaks after just 5 or 10 years!
Signs of a faulty GFCI outlet
To do the job it’s supposed to do, a GFCI outlet must be able to trip off when there is a ground fault.
It must also be able to reset and restore power flow when the problem has been corrected.
GFCI outlets will last about 10 to 25 years before starting to go bad or failing, but it may take only one small mistake for your GFCI to fail and stop working correctly.
Unless you have a self-testing receptacle, you should periodically test your GFCI outlets to determine if they are still working.
Self-testing outlets have an LED on the lower part of the receptacle; when power is running to the device correctly, the LED will be green.
If there is a problem with wiring or a short, however, the LED will turn red and you’ll have to use another outlet.
The outlet requires to be replaced if this light turns red.
What Causes a GFCI Outlet to Go Bad?
A faulty GFCI outlet may be the result of a variety of things.
Given these factors, you can anticipate how long your GFCI outlet will endure.
- The Environment
The lifespan of the outlets will be determined in large part by where they are put.
For every 125-volt 15 to 20 amps single phase outlet, GFCI protected receptacles are required by the National Electrical Code (NEC). Every receptacle within 6 feet of any kitchens, showers, and baths is also included.
They are required in these places:
- Laundry and other utility rooms.
- Outdoor locations.
- Unfinished basements and crawl spaces.
- Pools and spas.
GFCI outlets are commonly placed in locations and rooms where a ground fault is most likely.
Many of these can put the GFCI outlet in a location that receives a lot of water, humidity, dampness, intense sunlight exposure, and so on.
The amount of wear and tear brought about by these factors varies based on the item. Each of these is likely to have an effect on the outlet’s natural wear and tear in some way. The GFCI outlets will not survive as long as anticipated and will break down sooner as a result of this.
The other major aspect in determining how long a GFCI outlet will last is the issues it has faced and dealt with. This would include:
- When too many things are plugged into an outlet, it can cause an electrical circuit to overload
- Voltage spikes – electric surges
- Poor electrical wiring
- Replacement of the receptacle in different locations
- Loose connections can occur in outlets if you are constantly plugging and unplugging appliances and electrical devices
All of these factors will accelerate the outlet’s breakdown. As a result, it might fail sooner than expected.
Furthermore, if there are any damaged components in the outlet, it will have an impact on its longevity.
How to Find out If the GFCI Outlet Has Gone Bad
It is recommended to regularly test the GFCI outlets you have installed in your home.
Manufacturers are recommending that GFCI outlets be tested at least once every month.
When considering the safety of a building or a home, GFCI outlets are a must-have, they protect from shock hazards and electrical fires in the home and this is why they are required in so many areas nowadays by the NEC.
And this is why it is recommended that we test them so often. Although they may work for many years, they may fail without giving us any signs before that. In some cases, they can even fail and not be able to trip in the presence of electrical faults or overcurrents.
Following the troubleshooting recommendations, we can make sure they are working as intended.
How to Troubleshoot a GFCI Outlet
To troubleshoot your outlet, all you have to do is conduct a very easy test:
To start, unplug any electrical equipment that is connected to the circuit you will be testing.
If you have plugged in anything more delicate than that, such as computers, cellphones, or laptops, this is especially important.
- Pressing the “Test” button on an outlet will cause it to trip and cut off the power.
- Test if there is any electricity flowing by inserting a small device, such as a night lamp, into an outlet. It should not turn on. Then remove the light from the socket.
- Now press the button called “Reset”. This will make the power come back on. Plugin the lamp again, like you did before. The lamp should turn on this time.
If the GFCI does not pass this test, it may be bad. It needs to be replaced.
How to Troubleshoot a Self-Tester GFCI?
The newer GFCI outlets, usually those made since 2015 will most likely be self-testing.
They include a light that displays whether the outlet is functioning properly.
- If the outlet is in good working order, it will be lit green.
- A flashing (or solid) red light on the outlet indicates that it has been damaged in a specific manner.
The reset button and the test button will still be on the outlet, so you can always manually test it if you need to.
What Causes the GFCI Outlet to Trip Continually?
Tripping GFCI outlets are a problem. They can keep tripping and it is annoying. Never ignore them because they might cause a fire.
These devices are installed for protection. If they trip, you need to investigate the reason why.
There are reasons why a GFCI outlet might keep tripping:
- Ground Fault
If there is a ground fault occurring somewhere along the electrical circuit, the GFCI will immediately detect it and trip.
- Overloaded Electrical Circuit
Usually, the electrical circuits in our homes are between 15 to 20 amperage.
If we plug in one too many electrical appliances into one circuit, it might cause a breaker to trip. The GFCI breaker does that so that the circuit doesn’t overheat and create a fire.
If you have a faulty or malfunctioning electrical appliance, it could cause an overload.
- A GFCI Outlet That Is Bad
We can expect our GFCI outlets to work for a long time. But the amount of time they last are not set in stone.
The environment surges in electricity, and other things can cause a GFCI outlet to go bad.
This is why it’s critical to keep an eye on the outlets in our homes at all times.
A GFCI outlet may trip or be tripped in an open position where the electrical current continues to flow.
- The GFCI is constantly exposed to moisture
GFCI receptacles are used in places that might be wet. For example, kitchens and outside areas.
Moisture can cause different types of electrical faults. The outlets will trip to prevent any electrical hazards.
- Poor wiring
The receptacles can also trip too frequently as a result of bad wiring.
GFCI outlets have been known to trip frequently in the presence of certain electrical equipment, including freezers and refrigerators.
Common signs that it’s time to replace your electrical outlets
There are a few signs you can look for if you think your GFCI outlet is no longer working correctly
The first sign is that when you push the test button, the outlet will either stay hot or dead even after you release the button.
The second sign is that when you press “Reset” or “Test” it won’t restore power.
The third possible sign of a faulty GFCI outlet is that the GFCI device doesn’t trip and cuts off power despite being tripped.
Tips for replacing your GFCI outlets
It is very important that you know when it’s time to replace your GFCI outlets because they are very sensitive.
If you leave your GFCI outlet broken, it could lead to home fires and electrocution accidents for you and your family.
It’s also important to know where to install the GFCI receptacle.
When you are replacing your old outlets with new ones, be sure that you install the GFCI receptacle in the right place.
GFCI’s should be installed near appliances that use water such as washers, dryers, and dishwashers.
Can you install a GFCI outlet yourself or do you need to get an electrician to help with the installation?
The quick answer is yes, you may install a GFCI outlet at home by yourself as long as you know how to properly wire it.
But if you ain’t sure what you’re doing, it is better to leave the installation of a GFCI outlet up to a qualified electrician because they will make sure that your wiring and outlets are properly connected.
Keep in mind that working with electrical wiring yourself might be extremely hazardous and could cause you or someone else to get hurt if you don’t know what you’re doing.
How to Have Your GFCI Outlet Last Longer
There are several simple measures you may take to ensure that your outlet lasts as long as possible.
- Do not tug on the cable if you want to remove it from the socket since this may detach the outlet from the wall.
- Create a habit of turning off non-essential devices.
- Avoid overloading a GFCI receptacle by plugging in electrical appliances that draw a lot of power or using power strips.
- In order to verify that the wiring is in accordance with code and that no hazardous wiring techniques have been employed, have it inspected.
- Avoid exposing the receptacle to water, chemicals, or UV radiation.
Do GFCI outlets wear out over time? Do you need to replace your GFCIs every year or so? The answer is no. They will last about 10-25 years before needing replacement.
There are some signs that you can look for though to check if your GFCI outlets are working properly. Do they trip when the test button is pressed? Do they reset after resetting them? Do they cut out power all of a sudden?
If you think it’s time for new ones, install them yourself or call an electrician. Do not attempt to do this yourself if you are not experienced with electricity. A GFCI receptacle should be installed near appliances that use water, such as dishwashers and washing machines.
We hope this article helped answer your questions about whether they wear out over time or not. Thanks for reading!