GFCI Outlet Blinking Red Light: Causes and Solutions

A blinking or solid red light is not a scenario that comes to sight once in a blue moon. If you are seeing it for the first time, take it easy and calm down. Mostly, it indicates an internal glitch in the DFCI outlet, and simply resetting might solve the problem. 
GFCI outlet troubleshooting: Causes and solutions for a blinking red light.

However, it can also give hints that the DFCI is not up and running at all. Whatever it is, we will discuss the reasons for it and provide you with all the solutions to the problem.

What is GFCI and How It Works?

GFCI, which stands for ground fault circuit interrupter, is an electrical safety device that is installed in a power cord to prevent people from getting shocked or electrocuted caused by ground electricity. GFCI’s duty is to constantly monitor the current flow through the circuit and balance the flow whenever it gets disrupted.  

In a properly functioning circuit, the amount of current flowing through the hot wire should be the same as the amount flowing through the neutral wire. This is called a balanced electrical current. 

Whenever GFCI detects any imbalance in current flowing through both wires, it immediately interrupts the flow of electricity by opening its internal circuitry. This action happens is called tripping, and it is done incredibly fast, within milliseconds. It can even detect tiny imbalances as little as five milliamps. 

But why does it go into a tripping state upon detecting even a minimum fault current?

The reason is simple. When there’s a disparity in electrical current between two wires (hot wire and neutral wire), it indicates that those missing current or electric leakage must have found some unintended path, which could be a person or a conductive object not connected to the circuit. 

As a result, the person or object may get an electrical shock, which, even at low levels, can be harmful or fatal. GFCIs are especially important in areas where water and electricity may come into contact, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor outlets, as the users may come into contact with electric shock through water. 

What Are the Potential Reasons for GFCI Blinking Red?

The potential reasons for a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) blinking red light can include:

The Device Itself at Fault

A blinking red light is a warning signal from GFCI that the device has some internal problem and may be unreliable in detecting the ground fault and preventing electric shock. In this case, one should replace the GFCI outlet if the test and rest method can’t resolve the issue. 

Ground Fault 

If the electricity is flowing to the ground instead of through the intended circuit, then the GFCI can display a blinking red light, too. Why does electricity flow to the ground instead of wire? It could be for faulty wiring, malfunctioning electrical appliances, damaged cords, or other issues in the electrical circuit.


If the circuit is overloaded with excessive electrical current, it can cause the GFCI to trip and display a blinking red light. This is a safety feature to protect against overheating and potential electrical hazards.

Moisture or Water Intrusion 

Moisture or water penetration in the electrical circuit can also cause a ground fault and compel the GFCI to display a blinking red light. We water is a very good conductor, and it can distract the normal flow of electricity, allowing it to flow to the ground.

What Does the Flashing Red Light Indicate on GFCI Outlet and How to Solve it?

Most of the current GFCI outlets have an automatic testing feature that allows them to test their own condition and functionality at regular intervals, such as every 10-15 minutes. There is no need for manual intervention for this self-test as the device does it by itself. The purpose of the self-test is to ensure that the GFCI is working correctly and providing the necessary protection against electric shocks.

If the GFCI outlet conducts the self-test successfully, it lights up in green on the LED to indicate that it’s operating correctly and has the ability to keep users safe from unintended accidents. 

However, if the auto-monitoring feature detects some problems, such as a faulty circuit or internal fault, the LED turns a solid red or blinking red. With this red visual cue, the outlet seeks the attention of the homeowner to alert about the potential problem with the device.  

A Quick Fix

Every GFCI has a dedicated test and reset button. To solve the issue of the red blinking light, press the test button forest, and then press the reset button. By doing this, your GFCI outlet will undergo a reset, and that should fix the issue. If resetting can make the red light disappear, it is typically safe to continue using the GFCI device.

What if the LED is still blinking red?

Sometimes, one of the appliances currently connected to the circuit may cause the GFCI outlets to trip and allow it to show a blinking red light. So, unplug all of the connected devices to that circuit. After disconnecting all of them, check if the blinking red light on the GFCI outlet has stopped.

If the red light keeps blinking despite your reset and complete disconnection of devices from the circuit, then the GFCI outlet should be replaced.

Why is the GFCI Indicator Light Off?

If the GFCI outlet is not displaying any illumination, such as green, red, or amber lights, it indicates that the power is currently off and the GFCI outlet is in a tripped state. The primary function of a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) is to disconnect power when it detects an imbalance in electrical current or a ground fault.

When you observe no illumination on the GFCI, it is highly likely that the GFCI has automatically cut off power to the outlet. This action is taken to prevent potential electrical shocks or hazards.

You need to simply type the reset button to restore the GFCI to operation, and after that, the power will be restored to the outlet. 

Overall, red light or yellow light blinking is also common in other devices as well.  In most cases, a simple reset is all it takes to solve the problem.


Why is My GFCI Outlet Red and Won’t Reset?

Ans: If your GFCI is not resetting and showing a red light, first make sure the power supply is on. Unplug all the devices from this entire circuit. If it is still not resetting, then you need to replace the GFCI.

Are GFCI and a Circuit Breaker the Same Thing?

Ans: No, a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) is not the same thing as a circuit breaker. GFCI prevents electrical ground faults or electrical leakage for the purpose of saving a person from getting an electrical shock. 

GFCIs are commonly used in areas where there is a higher chance of water and electricity coming into contact, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor outlets. On the other hand, a circuit breaker provides a different type of protection. It protects the circuit from overload and prevents electrical fire. 

What Can Damage a GFCI?

Ans: Physical damage, voltage surges, worn-out internal components, exposure to water and moisture, etc. can damage a GFCI.


In a nutshell, GFCI outlets displays flashing red light to attract your attention and indicate that something is wrong with it. At that moment, it primarily asks you to simply reset the device. If resetting is unable to fix the problem, then the outlets may be inoperative. 

However, before considering it as defective, you can get help from an electrician or other troubleshooting methods discussed in the article. 
Similarly, know the potential causes and solution of red light in Vicks Humidifier, if it helps.

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