How To Replace A Gfci Outlet


If you have a faulty or damaged residual current device (GFCI), you may be wondering how to replace a gfci outlet. As with all electrical problems, it is never advisable to attempt to replace the GFCI without the proper expertise, as it could put you and your family at significant risk.

This article covers everything you need to know about how to safely replace a GFCI. Keep reading!

What is a GFCI outlet?

You may have noticed that some outlets in your home look different than others. These sockets, which is called GFCI outlet, usually equipped with test and reset buttons and generally found in bathrooms or kitchens, play a fundamental role in the electrical system of your home.

A GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupter, is an outlet that constantly tests the amount of current flowing through it. If the amount of current coming out of the outlet differs from the amount of current coming into the outlet, this device can turn off, essentially breaking the circuit.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires home and building owners to install these outlets in damp or wet areas, such as the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom. to protect against shock if a device falls into water.

Electricity can flow through water, and as soon as it comes into contact with the water, you can be electrocuted, which can sometimes be fatal. To prevent this, the GFCI outlet turns off power when it detects a change in current.

Can GFCI replace a circuit breaker?

It is important to note that GFCI outlets are not used as a replacement for a circuit breaker and do not provide overload and short circuit protection.

How does a residual current circuit breaker work?

The GFCI outlet contains three holes. Two holes are for the hot and neutral wires and one in the middle is for the ground wire. It shuts off current flow immediately when it detects a change in current flow in the circuit.

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For example, if you are using a hair roller and it falls into a sink full of water, the GFCI outlet will detect an interruption in the current flow and immediately cut off the power to ensure that the current flow in the water does not harm you.

How to know if you need to replace a GFCI

When installed correctly, FI plugs can last between 15 and 25 years, depending on the frequency of use.

Constant testing and rebooting

Use the GFCI test and reset buttons to restore power if it trips. If you find yourself repeatedly testing and resetting your GFCI, it’s a sign that it’s malfunctioning and needs to be replaced.

visible damage

The presence of visible damage to the GFCI socket that exposes the bare wire is a sure sign that it needs to be replaced. A circuit breaker in your panel that keeps tripping due to a GFI plug could also be a sure indicator that it needs to be replaced.

Other signs that your GFCI plug needs to be replaced

Another sign that you need to install a new GFCI outlet is when your devices no longer stay plugged into the outlet. If you hit the reset button and it no longer restores power to the circuit, there is no question, you should replace it as soon as possible.

Tips to safely replace your GFCI outlets at home

Installing a new RCD plug is not a job to be done by an untrained person. It is highly recommended that you call a licensed electrician if you are having problems with your GFCI outlet.

Understanding how GFCIs work can help homeowners understand what to do to manage this important safety feature.

Remove the older outlet from the outlet box

Before you begin the RCD replacement process, you must first ensure that the power to the existing outlet has been turned off. To do this, connect a socket tester and turn off the power supply at the control cabinet. The socket tester lights up to show if the socket still has power.

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Use a screwdriver to remove the mounting screws and carefully pull on the GFI socket to expose the electrical wiring. You should notice a series of terminal screws and terminals and line and load wires.

If there are more than three wires connected to the outlet, including multiple ground wires or just black and white wires, you should have an experienced, qualified electrician have the outlet removed.

However, if there are only three wires, you can remove them by first removing the black hot wire that connects to a brass screw terminal on the side of the plug.

Next, remove the neutral wire from the white wire, which connects to a silver screw terminal, before disconnecting the green wire, which connects to the green ground screw.

Install a GFCI to replace the old one

First, connect the black wire to the marked line with a brass screw and secure the terminal screw with a screwdriver. Then connect the white wire to the marked line with the silver screw and secure the terminal. You can connect the green wire to the green screw by inserting the bare copper ground wire into the hole and tightening the clamp with a screwdriver.

The next step is to push the wires into the wall and fix the plug with screws. Insert and secure the RCD in the junction box.

Important security measures

The National Electrical Code dictates that no untrained person should attempt any electrical work as it is easy to get confused with lines and load lines.

Always consult a professional if your GFI plug needs to be replaced, and always wear rubber-soled shoes when inspecting damaged electrical equipment, especially in damp locations.


Terminology like “load marked with brass terminal,” “load marked with silver terminal,” and “lead wires” can confuse and frustrate you. Therefore, put away your electrical tape and power tool kit and instead consult a qualified electrician for help when it come to taking care of the replacement.

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