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Helpful Home Maintenance: Resetting a breaker and GFI outlet

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Have you ever plugged something in only to have the power in the room abruptly turn off? You may have even heard a "pop" when it happened. If so, you probably tripped a breaker or GFI outlet. Below is some advice for what to do, but first and most importantly, unplug any devices you are not actively using. Also, if you have a lot of devices plugged in, move some of them to other outlets and different rooms if possible. The reason you tripped a breaker is more than likely because you overloaded the circuit. Circuits can only accommodate so much power draw at a time before they become overloaded. As a safety measure, the breakers connected to them trip to prevent a fire.

Check all of the outlets in the room. If they are GFI or GFCI outlets they will look something like this:

Press the reset button on the outlet. This should restore it's power. According to this Seattle Property maintenance company if it immediately trips again check to make sure you've unplugged all devices in the immediate area. If it still trips again after trying to reset it call your landlord and let them know. They will need to know the specific location of the outlet that is tripping.

If there are no GFI/GFCI outlets and/or they are not tripped it will likely be an issue with a tripped breaker. You'll need to locate the electrical panel for your apartment or home. This is what they generally look like:

They are normally located in your basement, hallway, closet, or behind your door. They are most commonly found in the basement and this is the first location we recommend you check. If you live in a multi-unit apartment building be sure to check for any labeling on the panel that would indicate your apartment number. It's generally written on the door.

Once you've locate the panel you can open the door to reveal the circuit breakers. A tripped breaker will be facing the opposite direction of the others. Some breakers expose a helpful red strip to communicate to you that they are tripped. Simply flip them further in that direction and then back to the on position. They should provide a little resistance when doing so.

Here's a link to a helpful video tutorial on resetting a tripped breaker:

Following these steps can save you a lot of time in resolving your issue.

Please do not complete any of these tasks if you are not comfortable doing so.

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