Can GFCI Outlets Go Bad?

When it comes to electrical setups in your home, you should be aware of how many GFCI outlets you have on your circuit. After the home inspection is completed you should have an idea of how many are in your home. Also, you can just walk around the home and count them. Additionally, making sure that you have the correct number of GFCI outlets on your electrical system is important for keeping you and your family safe from accidental electrocution. GFCI outlets are installed to trip your circuit breaker if there is a ground fault. Can GFCI outlets go bad? Yes, if they are not installed properly, overused, or about 10 years old they can wear down and go bad.

Let’s take a look below at what all of this means about a bad GFCI outlet.

What Is A GFCI Outlet?

Getting to know your GFCI outlet is a great start to understanding how they work and when they might go bad. Ground-fault circuit interrupters are meant to keep your family from getting electrocuted or shocked. The national electric code (NEC) now requires almost every outlet in your home to be a GFCI. Also, this ensures that your appliances and family are safe from any ground fault that might occur. Let’s take a look below at what might cause a ground fault to occur.

  • Appliances that have faulty wiring or tools that have faulty wiring
  • When using equipment near an area with water
  • Damaged or frayed electrical cords or wiring
GFCI outlets can go bad under certain conditions.

What Makes Them Go Bad?

Believe it or not, there are a few reasons why a GFCI outlet could go bad. Like all electrical items, a GFCI outlet can get exposed to the elements and cause a major disruption. Let’s take a look below at some of the factors that can cause a GFCI outlet to go bad.

  • Outdoor Elements – A GFCI outlet that is outdoors can get exposed to moisture from rain or a sprinkler system. The constant water intrusion will cause rust on the contacts and weaken the GFCI.
  • Lifespan – If the GFCI outlet is over 10 years old, it will begin to break down. At this point, you will want to test all of your GFCI outlets to ensure that they are still working properly.
  • Overloading – If you plug in too many appliances on a certain electrical circuit, they can wear down your GFCI as it is constantly being used to protect your system from arcing and overheating. Damage from overuse can occur on any electrical outlet and not just GFCIs.

How Do I Know If A GFCI Is Bad?

The easiest way to determine if your GFCI is bad is the number of times it trips your circuit breaker. If your GFCI is constantly tripping the circuit breaker and cutting off power to your appliances that are plugged in, there is likely an issue. If you attempt to reset the GFCI and it does not reset, it is likely the wiring or something has gone bad. Also, if the circuit loses power, it could be a short circuit or an overloaded circuit. Using a GFCI tester will help you determine if the GFCI is bad, or just on a bad circuit.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you understand why a GFCI outlet could go bad, you can look into how many GFCI outlets you can have on one circuit. This ensures that all of your electrical circuits are protected from unexpected electrical overload.

Next, if you happen to have smart bulbs installed and have no idea how to reset them, you can have your licensed electrician assist. They might be able to reset your smart bulbs after they have replaced your GFCI outlets.

Lastly, look into using tamper-resistant outlets. Newer GFCI outlets will also have a tamper-resistant part to them. This is great as you get added safety and protection from accidental electrocution.

Use a GFCI outlet tester to determine if your outlet is bad.

When Do I Call A Professional?

When you have a concern about your electrical system, you will want to call a professionally licensed electrician. They can test all of your GFCI outlets and check the circuit breaker box to ensure that everything is working properly. Additionally, they can replace any bad GFCI outlets. Also, be sure to call on your local home inspection team. They can inspect the entire electrical system. Also, they can refer a local reputable licensed electrician.


If you are worried about your GFCI outlets going bad, calling on your local licensed electrician is a great idea. They can swap out your bad GFCI outlets and ensure your home is safe from electrical shock or electrocution. Also, call on your local home inspection team to get your GFCI outlets tested and your entire electrical system. Reach out to Heartland Inspections services in the greater Minneapolis St. Paul and surrounding areas.