Do your bathroom electrical receptacles no longer work? Did they used to work previously? Then one day, something happened and now you plug in your hair dryer or electric shaver or charge your cordless toothbrush and NOTHING!
I may have a solution! If your home was built between 1972 and approximately the late 1990’s, it may be the garage ground-fault circuit interrupter device (GFCI).
When GFCI devices first came out and began to be required in residential construction, they were first required to protect the receptacle that was found in the garage as well as all the bathroom outlets. Because GFCI devices were and still are relatively expensive, the builders wanted to use as few devices as possible to protect the required circuits. Because GFCI devices can protect the circuits that are “downstream” from them, a single GFCI receptacle or circuit breaker could be installed in the garage and if the wiring for the bathroom receptacles was supplied by this garage GFCI, they would be protected too!
When I’m inspecting homes built from the 70’s to the 90’s, I generally find that there is only one GFCI receptacle in the home (unless it has been updated); the garage GFCI. When I go to test for GFCI protection at the bathroom receptacles, this will typically trip the garage GFCI and I have to go reset it.
So, if you don’t have electricity at your bathroom receptacles, there may be a GFCI device buried behind storage or in your circuit breaker panel that needs to be reset. Check here first and if this doesn’t solve your problem, contact a qualified electrician to troubleshoot what to do next.
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Home Inspector Kyle D. Scott
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