Have an odd situation and a hard time troubleshooting. Last week my wife was using the hair dryer in the bathroom and the GFCI tripped. Reset the GFCI and all was normal. A week later the same thing happened. Went to reset it and it wouldn't. So the first thought was maybe the GFCI was bad. Replaced the GFCI and it wouldn't reset.

Next step was to check voltage. Sure enough no voltage coming from hot. So my thought now was that maybe there is/was something upstream, maybe another GFCI that tripped that I can not find, but checking continuity on ground and neutral resulted in a positive test...

All other outlets in the bathroom work fine. No breakers are tripped at the pannel either.

So now I'm really scratching my head. Any recommendations on next steps??

  • If it's preventing power from getting TO the GFCI, it's "upstream" - things "downstream" would be on the load terminals, and you indicate nothing on the load terminals in a comment elsewhere here.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 16:26

2 Answers 2

  • Line vs. Load

If there is anything connected to the Load side of the GFCI, disconnect it. If that solves the problem, the problem is downstream - possibly an actual ground fault - fix it. If that does not solve the problem, look upstream.

  • What is on this circuit?

Turn off the breaker. A bathroom circuit should be only bathrooms, so see what lights and/or receptacles in this bathroom or other bathrooms stop working when the breaker is off. If you can't find anything then double-check all nearby rooms - sometimes, especially in older houses, there are other lights and/or receptacles sharing the bathroom circuit. Anything in the path between the breaker and the problem GFCI can affect power getting to the GFCI. Backstab connections gone bad - e.g., backstabs for "line" and screw terminals for "load" (or vice versa) in another receptacle on the circuit before the GFCI - can prevent power from getting to this GFCI. But loose wire nuts and screws can cause similar problems.

  • To clarify, I should have mentioned nothing is connected to the load terminals. This seems to be the last item in the chain. So I guess upstream? The GFCI is in a box with a light switch for the vanity, but the GFCI is on it's own romex. At the panel there is a single breaker for the bathroom, I think the GFCI is on this circuit but not 100% sure since there is no voltage even when the breaker is on.
    – awvickers
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 2:45
  • Ideally receptacles for each bathroom are a separate circuit. Code allows all receptacles for all bathrooms can be on one circuit, or lights & receptacles for each bathroom can be on a circuit. In practice, there are sometimes non-bathroom devices on the same circuit. You need to figure out what else is "off" when the breaker is off, and then check all wiring at those devices. Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 2:58
  • 1
    Check the garage etc for sneaky gfci outlets. I've worked in a few places where that was the cheapskate solution to providing gfci for bathrooms -- it wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to think that somebody came afterward and retrofitted a real gfci in the actual bathroom. Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 3:24
  • Sounds stupid but did your the breaker ack on? Don't ask how many have I got call on this. Otherwise try a new GFCI and see if that fixes it Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 6:26

Regarding the main part of the question: "Replaced the GFCI and it wouldn't reset. Next step was to check voltage. Sure enough no voltage coming from hot."

GFCI receptacles will not reset if there is no potential from hot to neutral. If you found "no voltage" then both the old and new receptacles are working normally.

I'm uncertain about your "checking continuity on ground and neutral". If you think the ground wire is not properly grounded then come back to that issue after finding out what's wrong with the hot wire.

  • I was checking continuity to rule out another GFCI that may have tripped upstream.
    – awvickers
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 20:06
  • We don't know what "checking continuity" means in this specific scenario. That's just too vague and doesn't help explain why the hot wire isn't working. If it were my bathroom, I would uncover all other outlets on that circuit and see what's really going on in there. Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 20:36

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