My bathroom electric receptacle/outlet is dead and there are no tripped breakers in the electric panel. What's wrong?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

It could be any one of a number of problems, but the most likely one is that a GFCI-receptacle has tripped at another location in the home. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter and a GFCI-receptacle has two push-buttons between the top and bottom plug, like in the photo below. The bottom one is a test button and trips the device, cutting of the circuit, while the top button is the reset.

    A GFCI is designed to trip when it recognizes that some the electricity leaving the receptacle is not returning back, and someone could be getting shocked or even electrocuted because of it. All receptacles in wet locations such as kitchens, bathrooms, garage, and exterior are required to be GFCI-protected. Because the first receptacle in a string of them running around the home will protect all the ones downstream if it is a GFCI, builders put a GFCI-receptacle in one bathroom, for example, and it protects receptacles in other bathrooms around the house that do not have the push-buttons. Sometimes a GFCI-receptacle in the garage will protect all the bathrooms in a home. So go around your home looking for GFCI-receptacles to see if the top button is popped out. If so, then push it in to reset the GFCI-device and open the circuit and you may—possibly, just possibly—have solved your dead bathroom receptacle mystery.

    Also, see our blog posts Are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) really necessary and worth the trouble? and What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) NOT protect against?

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  To learn more about electrical wiring, devices, and receptacles, see these other blog posts:

 • What is the difference between what trips a GFCI (ground fault) receptacle and a circuit breaker?

Why is an opening in the wall around the side of an electrical receptacle outlet a safety defect?  

When was GFCI-protection for kitchen dishwasher receptacle outlet first required? 

When should I replace electric receptacle outlets? 

What are "self-contained" electrical receptacle outlets and switches?

What is the difference between an electrical receptacle, an outlet, and a plug?

Does a washing machine receptacle outlet require GFCI protection?

What is the building code requirement for receptacle outlets at stairs and stair landings?

What is a "backstab" receptacle outlet? 

Why are some electric receptacle outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?   

What is the height requirement for an electric receptacle outlet? 

Where are GFCI receptacle outlets required?

 Does a home inspector remove receptacle outlet cover plates?

When was the current receptacle/outlet spacing of 12-feet first required? 

When was the three-slot (grounding) outlet/receptacle first required? 

Why does painting an electric receptacle (outlet) make it unsafe?

Why are electrical outlets and plugs polarized? 

How many electrical receptacles (outlets) are required in a hallway?  

How can I tell if the electric receptacle outlets are grounded? 

How far apart should the electrical receptacles be placed?

What are the most common problems/defects found with electric receptacle outlets during a home inspection?

    Visit our ELECTRICAL page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.


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