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GFCI questions...


blazenut
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1) If you wire a GFCI without a ground wire and test it with a GFCI tester will it trip the outlet?

2) What does it mean when you plug an outlet tester into a GFCI outlet and it shows that it is wired correctly, but when you test the GFCI (with the button on the tester) it shows that it has reversed polarity?

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1) If you wire a GFCI without a ground wire and test it with a GFCI tester will it trip the outlet?

No. Your handheld tester works by shunting a small amount of current to ground -- in effect causing a ground fault. If there's no ground, the tester can't create a ground fault and the GFCI won't know that it's supposed to trip.

2) What does it mean when you plug an outlet tester into a GFCI outlet and it shows that it is wired correctly, but when you test the GFCI (with the button on the tester) it shows that it has reversed polarity?

I don't know. I've had that happen as well and when I've tested the receptacle with my multimeter, it checked out just fine. Then I opened the box and everything inside looked fine as well. I've never been able to figure out that one.

If anyone has any theories, post them here. I'll mock them up and give them a try.

I just tried Scott's line/load revere theory and it didn't produce the desired result.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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2) What does it mean when you plug an outlet tester into a GFCI outlet and it shows that it is wired correctly, but when you test the GFCI (with the button on the tester) it shows that it has reversed polarity?

I've noticed that before on GFCI's that won't trip with my tester, but will trip by pushing the button. I'm not smart enough to tell you why.

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If anyone has any theories, post them here. I'll mock them up and give them a try.

I just tried Scott's line/load revere theory and it didn't produce the desired result.

Try a line/load reversal of the neutrals only. I don't know if it would or could do it but my thinking is that once power to the hot side is cut when the receptacle is tripped the tester may be sensing current on the still connected neutral. Even if that is a possibility (???) I would suspect the results would depend on what else was on that circuit, upstream.

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