I have an espresso maker that has started popping the kitchen counter GFCI outlet intermittently. It seems to me that it could either be an issue with the GFCI (I seem to remember they go bad occasionally) or with the espresso maker. I am in a rental unit and I am pretty sure if I call maintenance they are going to say it is my appliance rather than replace the GFCI. I am happy to send the espresso maker to the manufacturer for repair but I would like to be sure first. Is there a way for me to test the appliance so I can be insistent with maintenance or the manufacturer? I have a multimeter.

  • 1
    Try and make a coffee in the bathroom?
    – CactusCake
    Aug 22, 2017 at 16:03
  • This seems to happen and then not for a while. But yes that is going to be my next step. Aug 22, 2017 at 16:09
  • Do you have any other regularly used appliances you could plug into the same outlet?
    – brhans
    Aug 22, 2017 at 16:31
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    Look at the plug face itself. You see how the spades have a tall spade and a shorter spade? Is the taller spade shaped like a sideways "T", or just a simple "I"? If it's an "I", you have a 15amp plug there. Chances are, your coffee machine drew a good 13amps when new. Now that it's getting broke in, it might be drawing another amp. That's close enough to the indiscretionary tolerances of a GFCI plug to trip it, on occasion, as you said. I'd swap out that GFCI.
    – NPM
    Aug 22, 2017 at 20:45
  • @NPM - You seem to be implying that a GFCI is an over current trip device. That is not the case.
    – Michael Karas
    Aug 23, 2017 at 10:23

2 Answers 2


@CactusCake has the right idea but you don't have to go to the bathroom. Per the NEC all dwellings built in the US have to have at least 2 small appliance circuits in the Kitchen/Dining/Breakfast Nook areas and they will all be GFCI protected in the kitchen. So try the other circuit and see if you get a trip.

I will say that some GFCI's do go bad, usually due to over tripping. The bad news is that it is usually not the case.

Good luck and stay safe.

  • You jokin, right? The only 15 year old GFCI's you'll ever find are ones that aren't used. GFCI's are junk. I'll lay money it's the GFCI.
    – NPM
    Aug 22, 2017 at 20:37

There are three ways to check to see if an appliance is having ground fault troubles:

  1. Test it on a known good (use the TEST button and a simple load such as a nightlight) GFCI circuit to see if it trips the known-good GFCI.
  2. Use a sensitive (1mA resolution) clampmeter or current clamp around hot and neutral to check for leakage current during operation -- this effectively allows you to see what the GFCI's "current adding machine" sees. Only a few clamps/clampmeters work for this, though, sadly.
  3. Use an insulation resistance tester to perform a hi-pot test of the appliance -- this requires knowledge of how its constructed internally to perform safely, otherwise there's a good risk you'll damage the appliance internally. (With the appliance unplugged, a test from Hot and Neutral combined to Ground or exposed metal should be safe for many appliances, but I can think of cases where that's not the case.)

Given all that, I'd start with testing it on a known good GFCI circuit if you have such a thing.

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