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How To Test A GFCI Outlet

By February 25, 2023Electrical
GFCI outlet with test and reset buttons.

When it comes to buying a home or a building, it can be rather stressful. There are many areas to be concerned about with regard to the structure and makeup of the home or building. In many cases, getting a clear understanding of the electrical system is key. If you have multiple GFCI outlets on your circuit set up you will need to know a few things. Have you ever wondered how to test a GFCI outlet? Push the reset button on the GFCI to reset the breaker. Also, pushing the test button will verify if it is working.

Let’s take a look below at some more details regarding a GFCI outlet.

What Is A GFCI Outlet?

Understanding what a GFCI outlet is will help you in determining the best way to test one. GFCI stands for ground-fault circuit interrupter. The purpose of a GFCI is to eliminate power to the circuit when something isn’t working properly. A GFCI is a safety device built into the electrical outlet to protect you from shock or electrocution. Additionally, they will protect your appliances that are plugged into them from getting a circuit overload that can damage their working parts.

A ground fault occurs when the following things happen:

  • Equipment is used in an area where there is water.
  • You have damaged wiring or electrical cords. For example, frayed wires.
  • Using tools or appliances that have faulty wiring.
GFCI handheld testers can test your entire electrical system.

How Can I Test One?

Believe it or not, it is fairly simple to test your GFCI outlet. Let’s take a look below at what the best way to do this is.

  1. Locate the test button that is located on the face of the outlet. You will notice the word “Test” on the button itself. The test button and reset button are nestled between any electrical cords that you have plugged in. Once you push the test button you will hear a snapping sound and notice the breaker has tripped. This means that the power to that outlet is no longer occurring and the GFCI outlet is working.
  2. Check that the outlet has stopped working by plugging in a lamp or some device that utilizes power. If the device does not function then you know the power is off. You can also check the circuit breaker in the garage to see if it tripped.
  3. To turn the power back on to the GFCI outlet, push the reset button and power should be restored to the outlet. Plug your device back in and verify that you have power.

Another way to test your GFCI is by using a handheld GFCI tester. The GFCI tester is great at identifying any problems with your electrical wiring. Not only do they identify open ground, open hot or neutral, and reversed hot and ground, but they can also determine if you have reversed polarity. Additionally, the GFCI tester has a test button that can safely trip your GFCI outlet to determine its safety functionality.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you understand how to test a GFCI outlet, this would be a good time to consider installing more tamper-resistant outlets. Since not all of your outlets can be GFCI outlets, it is a great idea to install tamper-resistant outlets for your remaining outlets.

Next, have your local licensed electrician or home inspection team check the wiring in your home. It is important that your electrical wires are copper and not aluminum. In some cases, aluminum wiring was used for electrical wiring. Getting this changed is important for keeping your home safe.

Lastly, if you happen to have a circuit breaker box that is labeled as a challenger GFCI circuit breaker box, there was a recall of this type of breaker box. As a homeowner, you should always know your systems and what has been installed. This way you can troubleshoot any issues down the road.

Push the test button to determine if the GFCI is working properly.

When Do I Call A Professional?

Worrying about your electrical system can keep you up at night. It is a great idea to call on your local licensed electrician. They can look at your GFCI outlets and ensure that they are working properly to trip your circuit breaker when an emergency arises. Additionally, call on your local home inspection team. They can conduct a full electrical system inspection during your full home inspection. Also, they can refer you to a reputable licensed electrician.


GFCIs are an important part of keeping you and your family safe from accidental electrocution. Having GFCI outlets in the right places in your home is key. Make sure that you test your GFCI outlets about once a month to ensure that they are still working properly. Reach out to Atkinson Inspection Services can inspect your electrical system when performing a home inspection in Orlando, Clermont, and the Villages.