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Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

A GFCI will have two buttons, one marked TEST and the other RESET, and the buttons may be red and black, or the same color as the receptacle. Here’s a list of places you might find the GFCI:

  1. 1)If the home was built in the 1990s, there is probably a single GFCI-receptacle in the garage that protects garage, exterior, and bathroom receptacles. The spa tub may be on that circuit, so check it. If the garage GFCI is tripped, the TEST button will be popped forward. But that is not always easy to determine, so press the RESET button. If it clicks when you push it and the TEST button pops out, then you have found the problem and re-energized the circuit.

  2. 2)Some spa tubs are protected by a GFCI wall receptacle in the same bathroom as the tub. Or it may be in one of the other bathrooms in your home. Check them using the same procedure as outlined above.

  3. 3)No? Then the search gets more interesting. You may have what is called a “dead front GFCI,” and it might be located near the tub in the bathroom or on the wall next to your electric panel.  We even once found one in an adjacent laundry room. There’s two examples below. One was on the wall next to the electric panel, and the other was paired with a GFCI-receptacle at a bathroom sink.

  4. 4)Still nothing? Then the GFCI is probably at the receptacle in the spa tub compartment. Find the access panel, which can be located in one of the walls shared with the side of the tub, such as in the toilet compartment or an adjacent closet. Or it could be in the side of a cabinet that abuts the tub, a front panel of the tub, or at an outside wall. Remove the panel and push the reset button.

  5. 5)Okay, here’s the worst case scenario: the builder put your GFCI protection at a receptacle in the spa tub compartment, but never provided an access panel. You will have to cut an opening at the perimeter of the tub on the side where the pump is located to reset the GFCI, and then fit an access panel to the opening. Because GFCI devices sometimes trip due to a minor electrical anomaly that rarely happens, you may be finding out that you have an inaccessible spa tub compartment after owning the house for years.

    If you have found the GFCI-device protecting your spa tub and it is not tripped, then you have a failure of the spa tub pump and need to have it serviced. Or there is one last possibility: some spa tubs have both a wall switch and an on/off button at the tub. If you ordinarily only use the controls at the tub, the wall switch may have been inadvertently turned off, and that’s your problem.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection


More blogs about electrical service and distribution:

  1. Is the electric panel big enough for this house?

  2. How do the new tamper-resistant electric receptacles work?

  3. The electric panel is marked “Trilliant” and it’s all grey plastic. Is it alright?

  4. Why do you pay so much attention to electrical safety?

  5. What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker?

  6. How dangerous is old electrical wiring?

  7. What is the right electric wire size for a home?

  8. Why does the electric company want my house electric system inspected before turning the power back on?

  9. What is a double tap at a circuit breaker?

  10. Why does that wall plug have push-buttons in the middle?

  11. Does this place have one of those “bad” electric panels I’ve heard about?

  12. My bathroom electric receptacle/outlet is dead, and there is no tripped breaker in the electric panel. What’s wrong?

  13. What is the switch on the wall with only two pushbuttons for?

  14. What are those strange looking wall switches in houses from the 1950s and 1960s?

  15. What is a lock device on a circuit breaker for?

  16. Can multiple neutral or ground wires be secured under the same terminal in an electric panel?

  17. Why are Zinsco and Sylvania-Zinsco electric panels a problem?

  18. Can wiremold be used at an exterior location?

  19. What is the life expectancy of electrical wiring in a house?

  20. How can adding wood paneling or a wainscot create an electrical safety hazard?

  21. What are the most common electrical defects found in a home inspection?

  22. Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?

  23. What does it mean when a wire is “overstripped” at a circuit breaker?

  24. What is the difference between “grounded” and “grounding” electrical conductors?

  25. What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?

  26. How can I tell if a receptacle/outlet is tamper resistant?

  27. What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)?

  28. Will a GFCI receptacle that is not grounded still function properly?

  29. Does a home inspector remove the electric panel cover plate and examine the inside of the panel?

  30. Can an electric panel be located over stairs?

  31. What are the code requirements for NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable or Romex®) in an attic?

  32. How do I trace and identify each circuit breaker in my electric panel to make a circuit directory?

  33. Why are extension cords dangerous?

  34. What problems does having too many electrical outlets on a single circuit cause?

  35. How can I find out the size of the electric service to a house?

  36. What happens when you press the “TEST” button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

  37. How many electric receptacles (outlets) are required in a hallway?

  38. Why does painting an electric receptacle (outlet) make it unsafe?

  39. Why are old electrical systems not always “grandfathered” as acceptable by home inspectors?

  40. Why do the lights dim when the air conditioner turns on?

  41. Where are GFCI receptacle outlets required?

  42. When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?

  43. What is the height requirement for an electric receptacle outlet?

  44. Why are some electric receptacle outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?

  45. What is a “backstab” receptacle outlet?

  46. What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit interrupter NOT protect against?

  47. What does “listed” and “labeled” mean for an electrical component?

  48. Can an NM-cable be used to make a cord and plug to connect an appliance?

  49. What is three phase electric service?

  50. What is the difference between a UL rating for dry, damp, and wet locations?