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Old 03-06-2011, 10:38 PM   #1
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


Bought a 25 year old'ish house. In the kitchen I have 3 outlets along the backsplash which are basic outlets. I also looked at the panel and do not see breakers which appear to be GFI breakers. So my question, is there a way for me to tell if these outlets, by chance, are connected to another GFI outlet somewhere else in the house. I know the obvious answer will be for me to hit the test button on GFI outlets throughout the house and see if these kitchen outlets still work. Although this makes sense, it is a big house (5500sqft) with alot of rooms and crawl space - I really do not want to hunt down every GFI outlet in the house in the even I miss out that may, by chance, be wired to these kitchen outlets.

So is there any easy way to tell if an outlet is GFI protected?? BTW, I was at Rona today and talked to the electrical 'expert'. He said one way to tell is to plug a light and extension cord into the outlet and then put the other end of the extension cord into a bucket of water, and if the light stays on then the outlet is not GFI protected (obviously he said to be careful not to put hand in water when extension cord in there). So I thought that sounded like an easy way, and I tried it. The light did not turn off, so I replaced with a GFI outlet and then thought to try the same test. Even with a GFI outlet, the light still stayed on. Read that a GFI only trips when power fluctuates to ground, so I guess the Rona test is invalid, so I'm back to the start wanting to know if maybe my outlets were already GFI protected.

Thanks

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Old 03-06-2011, 10:48 PM   #2
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


pust the test on the gfi that you think controles the outlet and see if it still works. then pust the reset to turn it back on

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Old 03-06-2011, 10:50 PM   #3
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


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So is there any easy way to tell if an outlet is GFI protected?? BTW, I was at Rona today and talked to the electrical 'expert'. He said one way to tell is to plug a light and extension cord into the outlet and then put the other end of the extension cord into a bucket of water, and if the light stays on then the outlet is not GFI protected (obviously he said to be careful not to put hand in water when extension cord in there). Thanks

Did he really tell you to do this. If so I would be makeing a call to the store manager first thing in the morning and asking that the employee be fired for almost killing you. If by chance your in Winnipeg maybe I will call the store myself and give them s^&t.

Since you mention Rona I assume you are in Canada. The chances of those plugs being GFI are very unlikely. It has only been in the last few years that we in Canada have been required to have GFI in the kitchen. If you open one, with power off, you should have a red black and white on the plug with the brass tab broken off. If this is the case you have a split plug and it will not be GFI. With this setup you can not GFI those plugs with out rewireing the plug.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:55 PM   #4
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


Are your outlets properly grounded? If they are properly grounded and wired to the LOAD terminals of a GFCI an outlet tester that supports GFCI should cause the GFCI to trip although I haven't tested this myself as I prefer to use an independent GFCI at every outlet where I need it.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:55 PM   #5
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


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BTW, I was at Rona today and talked to the electrical 'expert'. He said one way to tell is to plug a light and extension cord into the outlet and then put the other end of the extension cord into a bucket of water, and if the light stays on then the outlet is not GFI protected (obviously he said to be careful not to put hand in water when extension cord in there). So I thought that sounded like an easy way, and I tried it. The light did not turn off, so I replaced with a GFI outlet and then thought to try the same test. Even with a GFI outlet, the light still stayed on. Read that a GFI only trips when power fluctuates to ground, so I guess the Rona test is invalid, so I'm back to the start wanting to know if maybe my outlets were already GFI protected.
That 'rona' test gave me quite a chuckle....... Please do not do that test anymore.

Go to the big box or hardware and get a receptacle tester with gfci test button .... like below .... plug into one of the kitchen receptacles. Push the test button on the tester, if the receptacles are gfci protected the gfci will trip where ever it is located and the kitchen receptacles will lose power.



Gfci protection for kitchen countertop receptacles was likely not required when your home was built.

http://www.mikeholt.com/documents/ne...ment_page2.pdf
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Old 03-06-2011, 11:27 PM   #6
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


Darren, yes that is what he told me. I thought it sounded dumb, but he really talked about many other electrical stuff like he was quite experienced. At the same time, based on his s0-called knowledge, and me knowing that the danger was only in the bucket of water when extension cord in there, I thought I'd try it and be careful not to put my hand in there.

So, you mention this could have killed me. How could that be the case. Are you assuming if I put my hand in the water? Or could I have gotten shocked from just holding the cord?
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Old 03-06-2011, 11:45 PM   #7
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Darren / Stubbie, so if GFI protectioin for kitchen outlets was not code when the house was built, can I assume that I am not required to upgrade ever, even if I want to replace the old style plugs with modern decora style?

Thanks
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Old 03-07-2011, 12:14 AM   #8
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


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Darren / Stubbie, so if GFI protectioin for kitchen outlets was not code when the house was built, can I assume that I am not required to upgrade ever, even if I want to replace the old style plugs with modern decora style?

Thanks
Your not required to update if you just replacing receptacles. Gfci is a good idea. If you know how the circuit runs and which of the receptacles is down stream from the others replace that one with a gfci and connect the wiring to the other receptacles to the load terminals of the gfci. This will protect them and anything else up stream of the gfci. The gfci will be located in a convenient place if it ever trips.

Only thing to caution you would be if the circuit is a multiwire branch circuit sharing a neutral. If you see a red wire and black wire in the boxes with the receptacles post back this changes things a bit.
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Old 03-07-2011, 05:56 AM   #9
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


Code or not, just put them in. And test them. Save a life.
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Old 03-07-2011, 06:25 AM   #10
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


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Code or not, just put them in. And test them......
The 'Test' button on the GFCI is the primary way to test them.

Older houses with GFCI's that do not have grounding at the outlet will not trip when tested with a plug-in tester (ref the red GFCI Tester pic)

The GFCI will still protect you whether or not the outlet is grounded as long a that GFCI receptacle Test button works.
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Old 03-07-2011, 07:03 AM   #11
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


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Your not required to update if you just replacing receptacles. Gfci is a good idea. If you know how the circuit runs and which of the receptacles is down stream from the others replace that one with a gfci and connect the wiring to the other receptacles to the load terminals of the gfci. This will protect them and anything else up stream of the gfci. The gfci will be located in a convenient place if it ever trips.

Only thing to caution you would be if the circuit is a multiwire branch circuit sharing a neutral. If you see a red wire and black wire in the boxes with the receptacles post back this changes things a bit.
Under the NEC replacing receptacles in areas which require GFI protection would require the protection to be installed if a receptacle were to be replaced.
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:19 AM   #12
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


In Canada
Depending on how old your house is, the receptacles might be split wired. You can not put GFCI receptcles in them. You will need a GFCI double pole breaker if you want GFCI.

House 25 years old probably does have split wired 15 amp receptacles in the kitchen. That was code then.
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:55 AM   #13
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


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Under the NEC replacing receptacles in areas which require GFI protection would require the protection to be installed if a receptacle were to be replaced.
Jim

Thank you ... your correct .. if the area is required under current code to have gfci then a replacement for a non- gfci receptacle must be updated to a gfci or you could install a gfci breaker if you want to protect those kitchen receptacles.

Sometimes I forget the simplest of things these days.
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Old 03-07-2011, 04:17 PM   #14
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


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The 'Test' button on the GFCI is the primary way to test them.

Older houses with GFCI's that do not have grounding at the outlet will not trip when tested with a plug-in tester (ref the red GFCI Tester pic)

The GFCI will still protect you whether or not the outlet is grounded as long a that GFCI receptacle Test button works.
.
Thank you for your answer even though it wasn't needed to me I have all the testers, etc etc. I was just telling the op to put them in because he kept asking questions to put in decora outlets in the kitchen. I pro ably was not clear. Once more I was telling him to quit fiddling around and just put the GFCIs in the kitchen and make sure he tests them with the proper equipment or the reset button. To save everybody's life . No buckets of water.
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Old 03-07-2011, 04:23 PM   #15
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how to know/test if an outlet is GFI protected (water test doesn't work)?


The water test will be hit and miss because the ground, hot and neutral is submerged so chances are there that all current just goes straight to the neutral and not through the ground.

If you do not have a GFCI tester just get a light socket with 2 wires and try to put one in ground and one in hot. It should immediately trip. This is a good test to simulate a real life situation and is safer to do then the water test. The test button on the socket is great and all, but sometimes if you REALLY want to be sure, then you can just do a test like that. This is especially good for plugs that are protected by an upstream GFCI as without checking the wiring, you don't know if it may have been wired wrong.

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