Outlets on GFCI circuit show "Open Ground"

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  #1  
Old 02-17-06, 01:12 AM
randersontt
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Outlets on GFCI circuit show "Open Ground"

When I plug my circuit tester into four outlets only the middle light goes on, which indicates "Open Ground".

They are the only things (as near as I can tell) on a 15-amp circuit with a GFCI breaker on it in the circuit panel. Three of the outlets are in bathrooms and one is outdoors. (I have no other bathroom outlets or outdoor outlets).

Each of these outlets are standard dual outlets (i.e. they are not GFCI outlets) and I have verified that each is installed correctly and has the ground wire connected. The circuit tester indicates that outlets on other circuits are wired correctly (i.e. the right two lights go on).

Q1: Is it normal for outlets on a GFCI circuit to show open ground?

Q2: If it is not normal, since these outlets work, does this condition represent a safety issue? ie. Will my GFCI breaker at the panel do what it's supposed to do when the time comes?

Q3: Am i correct in assuming that since I have a GFCI breaker in the circuit panel then the outlets themselves need not be GFCI outlets in order to provide protection at these locations?

Thanks.
 
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Old 02-17-06, 03:08 AM
bolide's Avatar
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Q1: Is it normal for outlets on a GFCI circuit to show open ground?
No.


Q2: Does this condition represent a safety issue?
Yes.


Will my GFCI breaker at the panel do what it's supposed to do when the time comes?
Yes and no. Yes it will trip if you are electrocuted.
No, without the ground you could be shocked where you would not be with the ground.


Q3: Am i correct in assuming that since I have a GFCI breaker in the circuit panel then the outlets themselves need not be GFCI outlets in order to provide protection at these locations?
Yes.

You have what I consider to be a serious wiring error: failure to properly bond the EGC at every point.

You need to trace the circuit and correct this error.
 
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Old 02-17-06, 05:31 AM
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If the cable wiring these receptacles includes a ground wire, then that ground wire is broken somewhere. By broken I mean not connected. Check your connections at the panel and at the first receptacle.
 
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Old 02-17-06, 05:31 AM
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It would appear that the ground wire is not connected at some point. Since all 4 receptacles appear to be without a ground start at the one closest to the panel and check for connection problems. It's possible the ground may have a connection problem in the panel as well.

Having a ground wire is no guarantee you won't get shocked. The purpose of the ground is to prevent a metal housing from becoming charged and presenting a shock hazzard. This is only applicable on items equipped with 3 wire cords and, obviously, a metal covering. The ground will cause the breaker to trip if the housing becomes hot on items so equipped. The function of the GFCI is to measure the current on both the neutral and hot wires and shut off if the difference is more than 5 milliamps. The assumption is that more difference than this indicates an alternate return path has been found by the circuit, probably through you. This device will shut off the circuit if you happened to drop a device of some type in a sink full of water, or you have wet hands that drip on internal parts while you touch something that grounds you.

The NEC (the code folks) allow the use of a GFCI on a circuit with no ground to allow protected receptacles to be of the grounding type. This is because the GFCI will trip if an alternate return path, such as you getting shocked, is found by the circuit. The trip level for a GFCI is specifically set to prevent electrocution, which is defined as getting killed by electricity. You may feel a shock before the device trips, but the length of time involved will be far below the thresholds recognized for being lethal.

The ground needs to be repaired to provide the additional protection it can provide but the GFCI doesn't need it to do it's job of protecting you from injury.

UNK
 
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