Is This A Common GFCI Malfunction? - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum


Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Electrical

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-02-2014, 01:51 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 3,130
Rewards Points: 2,460
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Had a hard time figuring out a GFCI issue in a house recently. There were no GFCI outlets in any of the 3 bathrooms, or the kitchen. When testing with a GFCI tripper in the 3 bathrooms, they all tripped. Same for an outlet outside. None tripped in the kitchen. There was a GFCI outlet in the garage, but it didn't work. The GFCI tester would not trip it, nor would the TEST button on it. Therefore I assumed this could not be the GFCI outlet the others were using.

Turns out I was wrong. All 3 bathrooms and the outside outlet (but not the kitchen outlets) were connected to the LOAD of this GFCI outlet. How can it be that a GFCI outlet won't work for "itself", but still works for the downstream receptacles? Does this happen commonly?

What a weird way to wire a house, I thought.

Advertisement

jeffnc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2014, 02:32 PM   #2
Electrical Contractor
 
jbfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Newnan GA
Posts: 5,955
Rewards Points: 2,306
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffnc View Post
Had a hard time figuring out a GFCI issue in a house recently. There were no GFCI outlets in any of the 3 bathrooms, or the kitchen. When testing with a GFCI tripper in the 3 bathrooms, they all tripped. Same for an outlet outside. None tripped in the kitchen. There was a GFCI outlet in the garage, but it didn't work. The GFCI tester would not trip it, nor would the TEST button on it. Therefore I assumed this could not be the GFCI outlet the others were using.

Turns out I was wrong. All 3 bathrooms and the outside outlet (but not the kitchen outlets) were connected to the LOAD of this GFCI outlet. How can it be that a GFCI outlet won't work for "itself", but still works for the downstream receptacles? Does this happen commonly?

What a weird way to wire a house, I thought.
Very old gfci!

Advertisement

__________________
Yes I am a Pirate, 200 years too late. "Jimmy Buffett"
jbfan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2014, 06:45 PM   #3
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cairns Australia
Posts: 2,703
Rewards Points: 2,366
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Does the GFCI have a good sound earth ?
Sime will not work with out a good earth.
dmxtothemax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2014, 06:56 PM   #4
Member
 
jproffer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Chester, IL
Posts: 1,321
Rewards Points: 548
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


??

GFIs monitor the current from hot to neutral and if they are off by more than 6mA, they trip.

They will operate with a bad ground, or NO ground.




Unless "earth" isn't ground.

Elec terms vary around the world, I've found.
jproffer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2014, 07:07 PM   #5
JOATMON
 
ddawg16's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: S. California
Posts: 7,650
Rewards Points: 2,614
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Those 'testers' depend on the ground being connected on the GFCI.

So when you push the Test button, it does not trip because there is no path to ground.

The reason they work on the down stream outlets is because you most likely have those grounded...so when the test button is pushed...it has a ground to go to.

There is a way to test it at the GFCI....

On your tester, take a piece of wire and wrap it around the ground lug....run it over to a known ground....say a piece of plumbing? Then plug it into the GFCI and push the test button.
__________________
Even if you are on the right track, you will still get run over if you just sit there.

My 2-Story Addition Build in Progress Link ... My Garage Build Link and My Jeep Build Link
ddawg16 is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to ddawg16 For This Useful Post:
micromind (08-03-2014)
Old 08-02-2014, 07:18 PM   #6
Member
 
jproffer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Chester, IL
Posts: 1,321
Rewards Points: 548
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Or push the test button on the receptacle. Isn't that the method recommended by most of the manufacturers.
jproffer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2014, 07:29 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 3,130
Rewards Points: 2,460
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Yes of course jproffer, but that is the point. The TEST button didn't work, as I said.

GFCI receptacle had ground wire attached, and when I replaced it with a new one all worked fine. Never heard of a malfunction where it worked for the LOAD terminals but not itself.
jeffnc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2014, 07:36 PM   #8
Member
 
jproffer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Chester, IL
Posts: 1,321
Rewards Points: 548
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffnc View Post
Yes of course jproffer, but that is the point. The TEST button didn't work, as I said.

GFCI receptacle had ground wire attached, and when I replaced it with a new one all worked fine. Never heard of a malfunction where it worked for the LOAD terminals but not itself.
I guess I missed that part. Sorry
jproffer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2014, 07:52 PM   #9
Member
 
Oso954's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Northern Calif.
Posts: 1,796
Rewards Points: 1,472
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


If the test button on the GFCI will not trip it, the GFCI is considered defective. Replace it.
Oso954 is online now   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Oso954 For This Useful Post:
Jim Port (08-06-2014)
Old 08-02-2014, 07:55 PM   #10
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 3,130
Rewards Points: 2,460
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Uh, yeah, already got that Oso. Was looking for feedback on the original question....
jeffnc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2014, 08:19 PM   #11
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cairns Australia
Posts: 2,703
Rewards Points: 2,366
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


But will the test feature work with out an earth ?
Some will not ?
Although the gfci would still function.

Does it have a good workimg earth.
And yes the gfci could be faulty
dmxtothemax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2014, 07:23 AM   #12
E2 Electrician
 
stickboy1375's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Litchfield, CT
Posts: 5,161
Rewards Points: 2,114
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Quote:
Originally Posted by dmxtothemax
But will the test feature work with out an earth ? Some will not ? Although the gfci would still function. Does it have a good workimg earth. And yes the gfci could be faulty

GFCI's do not require a ground(earth) to function, and the only recognized test method is using the test/reset on the device itself.
stickboy1375 is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to stickboy1375 For This Useful Post:
Jim Port (08-03-2014)
Old 08-03-2014, 07:41 AM   #13
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Nashua, NH, USA
Posts: 6,976
Rewards Points: 2,048
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Reviewing the bidding:
1. The ground fault circuit interrupter does not need a ground to provide its near perfect electrocution protection to persons.
2. The test button will not work if there is no ground connection.
3. If the circuit is live but the test button does not work then it is customary, normal, and proper for an inspector to jump to conclusions that the GFCI unit is defective and write his report accordingly.

Which begs the question:
4. It is proper to install a GFCI on a non-grounded circuit including a knob and tube wired circuit.
5. While a ground fault test on one of the protected downstream receptacles (by necessity using a makeshift tester that includes a long wire to a known ground) will pass, testing the GFCI receptacle using the test button rather than said makeshift tester will, on the surface, fail.

Meanwhile it is not correct to install additional GFCI units downstream fed by the load terminals on a GFCI unit. Installing such additional GFCI units fed by the original feed connected to the line terminals of each GFCI is correct and no more than one GFCI unit should trip during any test or ground fault.
__________________
Forget super sized fries. The Washington Redskins could promote healthy eating with First Lady Obama by choosing a (red skinned) turnip for a mascot.

Last edited by AllanJ; 08-03-2014 at 07:59 AM.
AllanJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2014, 07:52 AM   #14
E2 Electrician
 
stickboy1375's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Litchfield, CT
Posts: 5,161
Rewards Points: 2,114
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Let's review one more time....... you do not need a earth or ground for a gfci to function, and the test button will still function, it will not work with an external tester though, this is why ONLY the test button on the device itself is the only way to test a gfci.




How the Test Button Works on a GFCI Receptacle Q. Mike, I spoken to a rep from ______, and he has told me that the TEST button on most GFCI receptacles does not actually test the protective circuit. Rather, it merely exercises the mechanical trip mechanism. If this is the case, then pushing the test button does not assure adequate GFCI protection. I was told that one good way to test the GFCI protective circuit is with one of those plug-in testers with the GFCI tester built into them. Apparently, they actually cause an imbalance between the grounded and ungrounded conductors, thus verifying true GFCI protection. I though you might like to pass this along to your readers. Great job on the emails and the website. Many thanks! Michael Hofkin, President IAEI, Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter Stan, Mike,



A. From Leviton Mfg. Co., Inc. Mike, I hope the following explanation helps clear things up: On all traditional GFCI receptacles, when you press the test button you are creating an actual imbalance within the current transformers in the GFCI, exactly the same as if there was a ground fault present. This is done by connecting the load side hot terminal to the line side neutral terminal through a resistor calibrated to conduct a small amount of current at 120V (approx. 8-10 ma). When you press the test button you complete the circuit through the resistor; the GFCI detects the imbalance and trips. An external tester cannot do what is described above because both the hot and neutral blades of a plug-in tester make contact with the load side contacts of a GFCI. The imbalance is created by dumping the small amount of current from hot to ground. This is why an external tester will not work on an ungrounded circuit but the GFCI's internal test button will still work. The only exception to the above is Leviton's SmartLock GFCI. In this case, the test button mechanically trips the GFCI by simply pushing the latch which holds the contacts closed. We satisfy the UL requirements for testing the electronics when you press the reset button. When you press the reset button the test circuit described above is invoked and creates the current imbalance. If the GFCI is operating properly, it will sense this and fire the solenoid used to trip the GFCI. We use the firing of the solenoid to move shutters blocking the latching mechanism for the contacts. The result is, if the GFCI does not sense the ground fault and fire the solenoid correctly, you will not be able to reset the GFCI - no power without protection. An added benefit is that the SmartLock GFCI will also block the reset button if the GFCI is wired incorrectly. Let me know if you need any additional info.

Regards, Bill Grande Product Manager, Safety Products Leviton Mfg. Co., Inc. 59-25 Little Neck Pkwy Little Neck, NY 11362 ph: (718)281-6605 fax: (718)281-6136

Last edited by stickboy1375; 08-03-2014 at 08:03 AM.
stickboy1375 is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to stickboy1375 For This Useful Post:
jeffnc (08-03-2014), Nailbags (08-05-2014), Run and find ou (08-03-2014), Stubbie (08-06-2014)
Old 08-03-2014, 08:45 AM   #15
Member
 
jproffer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Chester, IL
Posts: 1,321
Rewards Points: 548
Default

Is this a common GFCI malfunction?


Saving and printing for the next time the "city inspector" plugs in his cute little $8 tester and declares that "this GFI is bad and has to be replaced"


Advertisement

jproffer is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
2 Similar GFCI, but one tests open ground crescere Electrical 40 08-28-2012 10:19 PM
Replacing kitchen gfci with gfci breakers-something's not right Fpbaum Electrical 14 05-01-2012 09:43 AM
Landscape wiring question: GFCI and Breaker Amp MikeInDetroit Electrical 0 11-02-2011 10:43 AM
Pond pumps tripping GFCI lendosky Electrical 23 12-23-2010 04:22 PM
new gfci on new circuit pops rtoni Electrical 39 11-15-2008 11:18 AM




Top of Page | View New Posts