Electrical Wiring in the Home/gfi question

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QUESTION: Hi,

The GFI in a bathroom was tripped and would not reset.  I checked the electrical box and reset the breaker that had tripped connected to that GFI.  I then  tried to reset the GFI again, saw a blue spark, and it tripped again.  Same thing happened when I went through the process a 2nd time.

Any ideas?  Thanks!

ANSWER: Hi.

If the breaker is tripped in the panel, it is more than a ground fault.  It's a short circuit. You will need to check the wiring and find out where it is.  It could be a wire that is pinched, a hot wire touching a ground, etc. The GFCI will not reset until it has power.

There is a small chance that resetting the breaker without fixing the problem could cause a fire, so be sure not to reset it until you find the problem.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your help.   Where should I look for the short circuit?

Answer
Do you know what else is on the circuit?  Frequently outside outlets are on the same circuit so that one GFCI can do all of the outlets that need GFCI's (except the kitchen which must be separate.) Other outlets could be in the garage, basement or crawl space.

With the cold and snowy weather we've gotten here in the Mid Atlantic, it could easily be an outside outlet.  Look in all of the outlets for wires touching, pinched wires, black marks, etc.  You can disconnect some of the outlets, to rule out areas.  For example, if you disconnect the load side of the GFCI, and the breaker doesn't trip, it is something down stream.  It will also get your bathroom outlet working without having to work outside until it gets warmer.
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Bob Sponaugle

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Just about any home wiring question. (not appliance repair) I have done all kinds of home wiring for myself, including adding a new breaker box, etc. Please, questions from North America only. Please be specific with details.

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