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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3195
Experience:  30 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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I have a california home built in the 80's and it has gfci's

Customer Question

i have a california home built in the 80's and it has gfci's in the kitchen that work fine, upstairs in the 2 baths the inspector noted that 2 in 2 baths did not kick with the 3 light tester but do show wired correctly and i have visually checked for correct wiring line and load side... this problem i confusing me, i have tried everything, it must be a bootleg ground before the gfci and i cannot find it...
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) Bootleg grounds are only commonly found on older wiring systems such as Knob & Tube or older Romex cables that did not contain a ground wire or metal conduit. Since the home was built in the 80's, I assume that the branch circuits contain an equipment ground? Home was either wired with modern Romex cables or EMT metal conduit?

2) FYI........GFCI's do not require an equipment grounding conductor to function.

3) Do the 2 baths reside on one dedicated circuit or do they reside on a multi-wired branch circuit.....ie........ better known as a shared neutral circuit?

4) Are the bathrooms wired to a GFCI breaker or to a GFCI receptacle?

If wired to a GFCI receptacle, have you temporarily disconnected the LOAD side on each GFCI and then confirm that the GFCI trip button and reset button works correctly?

5) Are the bathrooms wired to any exterior and/or garage receptacles? If so, unplug any loads on the exterior and/or garage receptacles and re-test.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
its 3 wire romex
i know they dont require a ground done that before
shared neutral circuit i am pretty sure
the home owner had a gfi receptacle in the 1st and 2nd bath i dis connected at the first gfi and still cant get the first one to work he did not know he did not need more than 1 gfi on the circuit
i have unplugged everything i am right over the panel, unless there is something hidden in the walls between the panel and this bath i dont know
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the replies.

1) Are you saying the circuit is a shared neutral? Please confirm?

2) Have you performed a visual inspection inside the panel? If a shared neutral circuit, the Romex cable should contain 1 black, 1 red, 1 white and 1 bare copper all within the same cable. Also if a shared neutral, the breaker should be a double pole breaker or 2 single poles with a common trip handle.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
its a shared neutral that is the exact set up in the panel that you described, double pole breaker
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

OK, very good.

1) Since a shared neutral circuit, the neutral cannot be wired to the LOAD side of a GFCI receptacle. Nothing can connect to the GFCI LOAD side, as it will trip every time.

2) Have you confirmed that nothing is wired to the LOAD sides?

Shown in the diagram below is the only way a shared neutral circuit will work correctly using 2 separate GFCI receptacles.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
that is good to know but the first bath has nothing connected to the load. i have tried different gfi's on the first stop and disconnected everything else downstream..
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the gfi is not kicking when you use the tester but the reset button works great shows wired correctly
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
this is a 15amp circuit its connected to 1 side of a dual 15 amp skinny breaker which can be switched off individually
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

OK, let's try this.

1) Perhaps the GFCI cube tester is not working correctly? If you have a voltmeter handy, you can intentionally test and trip a GFCI by inserting 1 meter probe to hot (short slot on GFCI) and the other probe to ground.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i have 2 and they work on the gfi's down in the kitchen
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the inspectors did the same
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i am not at the location now perhaps we can call it a night and try again tomorrow
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

OK, thanks for confirming. Just wanted to make sure the cube testers worked OK.

I will be logged on the web site tomorrow. Just reply back to me on this same question.

1) One item that I forgot to mention regarding GFCI 3 prong Cube testers as explained below:

Even though a GFCI receptacle does not require an equipment ground to work properly, a GFCI 3 prong cube tester requires an equipment ground in order to test and intentionally trip the GFCI receptacle. The GFCI cube tester works by connecting a 5 mA bleed resistor between the LINE and Ground. Therefore, I suspect that the GFCI's are unable to trip using the cube tester due to a faulty or open equipment ground within the branch circuit.

Hope this helps………If you have any additional questions, let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise,don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

The next timeyou have an electrical question, you can also request for me at: http://www.justanswer.com/home-improvement/expert-your-electrician ……….Thanks…………..Kevin!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
hey Kevin, i have tried a few more things still not working, you say "equipment ground" does that mean, a load plugged into the circuit? or the internal bonded ground? im thinking of running a new circuit from the panel to the 1st bath or would that not work
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) An equipment ground is the bare copper ground wire inside a NM Romex cable that is terminated to the panel neutral bus bar or to a separate ground bar inside the panel. EMT and Rigid metal conduit also acts as an equipment ground since it is bonded to the panel metal enclosure. All branch circuits installed from the mid 1960's are required to have some form of an equipment ground, depending upon the wiring scheme that was installed.

2) You shouldn't require a new circuit. If the GFCI test and reset buttons both work and the GFCI can be tripped using the test button and reset, then the GFCI is working properly. I would not install a new circuit just because a GFCI 3 prong cube tester is unable to test and trip a GFCI receptacle. The GFCI test and reset buttons are what matters. I have a few of those GFCI testers somewhere in my tool assortment and I never use them as they often provide false indications. Whenever I test a GFCI or checking a circuit if it's hot or dead, I always use my Wiggy solenoid tester. A Wiggy tester or a multi-meter can easily confirm and check for proper voltage/polarity and can also intentionally trip a GFCI device to test it.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Refer to the link shown below on GFCI testers:

http://www.thecircuitdetective.com/outlet_tester_readings.htm

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) As I previously mentioned and the link also discusses the same, the GFCI cube testers are very sensitive to a good ground.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise,don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks....................Kevin!

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