Bathroom light switch and a fan switch and GFI test/reset outlet are located together under one wall cover plate. Hairdryer trips circuit breaker and we have to reset from main breaker panel. Shouldn't we be able to reset from GFI outlet in bathroom?

Somehow the wall cover plate broke and light switch became loose causing a safety hazard. I want to replace the GFI test and reset outlet too, what kind should I get?

  • 3
    Circuit breakers prevent overloading i.e. how much electricity can flow on the circuit. GFCI prevent ground faults i.e. leaks of electricity that can shock you — two different safety issues. Fire vs electrocution. (There are however GFCI circuit breakers that provide both types of protection)
    – Tyson
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 15:41
  • Does the GFCI trip when you push its TEST button? Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 15:50
  • 1
    Also, how big is the breaker for the bathroom circuit, and are there other loads on the circuit? Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 15:51
  • That circuit breaker that you find yourself annoyingly having to reset all the time. Does the breaker have a TEST button on it? Also when that breaker trips, does it knock out power anywhere other than the bathroom? Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 16:23
  • 1
    Yes, it has a test button on it AND yes it knocks out power in other rooms.
    – Ann Hutton
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 18:14

1 Answer 1

  • First replace your GFCI outlet. It is definitely malfunctioning. (As a side, I would also recommend that you replace both switches, especially if they are more than 10 years old.
  • Check to see if your hair dryer still causes the breaker to fail. If not, then you are good to go. If the breaker does fail then a) it is overloaded or b) it needs to be replaced.
  • Determine all the "loads," i.e. things plugged in or turned on that are controlled by the breaker. You do this by adding all the watt ratings and dividing the sum by the voltage in the circuit. (If you don't understand what I'm saying here, then you should really call an electrician.)
  • If your load answer is greater than the rating of the breaker, then you have too many things connected to that breaker's circuit. See if you can plug some of those items into outlets on another circuit breaker. If not, can you turn some off while you use your hair dryer?
  • If the load is less than the breaker rating then you need to replace the breaker. This may be something you would want a professional to do.
  • Disclaimer: I am a home repair specialist with an engineering degree. I have a good amount of experience with home electrical systems. However, I am not a licensed electrician and do not claim to be.

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