Underwater Pool/Spa Light GFCI Operation


Should any component of the pool lighting system fail, the main defense against potentially lethal shock is the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). This device senses when electric current is going through an unintended path (such as a person) and quickly shuts off power before fatal current can be delivered. To ensure safety, the GFCI must be tested periodically.

The GFCI protecting your pool light(s) is often located under the circuit breaker panel in the pool equipment room, or within the circuit breaker panel.


Most manufacturers recommend once a month. Always complete tests while no one is in the pool. Test the receptacle or faceplate type by pressing the button marked "Test." The button marked "Reset" should pop out, and the circuit de-energize. Verify that the lights will no longer operate. Push the "Reset" button until it locks down, and verify that the circuit has been restored.

If you have the circuit breaker type, push the test button on the breaker. The handle should move to the center (tripped) position. If so, verify that the lights will not operate. If so, push the handle the rest of the way to the off position. (You will usually feel it catch.) Then press it all the way to on. Verify that lights now operate.

If the above tests fail in any way, your GFCI may not be protecting the light circuit. Do not use the pool until the light system has been tested and repaired, if necessary, by a qualified electrician.

If the GFCI passes this test, it is operating properly.

Please document GFCI tests conducted in the "Remarks" column on your monthly log sheet.

GFCI Tripping

If the GFCI trips for any reason other than the above tests (check GFCI if you notice lights not operating when they usually do), vacate the pool immediately. A dangerous condition may exist. Do not use the pool until the light system has been tested and repaired, if necessary, by a qualified electrician.

GFCI’s do not last forever. Regular testing is required to assure that pool users are protected from shock.

Reprinted by permission of Risling Electric, Santa Rosa, California.

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