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Tag: Testing and Replacing a GFCI Electrical Receptacle

Three very old GFCI electrical receptacle outlets

Replace GFCI Electrical Receptacle

Dear Mr. Electrician: How do I replace a GFCI electrical receptacle?  I push the "Test" button on my bathroom GFCI (Ground fault circuit interrupter) receptacle occasionally, but nothing seems to happen.  How do I know if the GFCI receptacle is working properly? TESTING A GFCI ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE Answer: By pushing the "Test" button a simulated ground fault of approximately 5 milliamperes is shorted across the internal conductors and should cause the GFCI (Ground fault circuit interrupter) receptacle to stop working immediately.  Normally you would hear a mild click sound and the "Reset" button might pop out a little.  NOTE: Some text links below go to applicable products on Ebay and Amazon. If the GFCI is not deactivated after pushing the "Test" button, the GFCI receptacle should be replaced as soon as possible because you are no longer protected against an electric shock or electrocution. Pushing in the "Reset" button should reactivate the GFCI receptacle.  I have found that some "Reset" buttons need to be pushed in firmly using a blunt tool such as a screwdriver. Another method that I also use to test a ground fault circuit interrupter receptacle is with my Ideal Voltage Tester.  I put one prong from the voltage tester into the ground pin opening and the other prong into the neutral side of the receptacle which should always be the larger slot.  That usually trips the GFCI if it is working properly.  If it doesn't trip, replacement is called for. Tamper resistant receptacles prevent me from testing this way, so instead I use my plug-in tester on TR type receptacles.   GFCI Testers on Ebay REPLACING A GFCI ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE To replace the ground fault interrupter receptacle you should begin by shutting off the power to that particular circuit at the main circuit breaker panel or main fuse panel. Test the receptacle with a lamp, radio, or an electrical tester to make sure that the GFCI receptacle is without power.  This may not be totally effective as it is possible that a non-working GFCI receptacle may not have power available regardless. Therefore you should proceed to the next step with caution and test the actual wires at the screw terminals of the GFCI receptacle using a voltage tester with wire leads, a voltmeter or a pigtail light socket with a lightbulb. Remove the GFCI receptacle cover by unscrewing (Counterclockwise) the upper and lower screws on the cover plate.  Next unscrew the upper and lower screws that secure the receptacle to the wall mounted electrical box.  Carefully pull the GFCI receptacle straight out of the box as far as it will go.  Take note of the wires connected to it. Look at the new Tamper Resistant GFCI Receptacle that you will be using to replace the old one.  On the back you will see some words stamped into it.  "LINE" and "LOAD" are what you need to take notice of.  Look at the back of the existing GFCI receptacle and take notice of which wires are on the "LINE" and "LOAD" terminals. In the photo below the LOAD terminals...