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  1. #1
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    Default Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    I have a Sure Test Circuit Analyzer I was using to test some GFCI circuit breakers that had recently been installed in an older home that has two conductor wiring with no ground. The 2 prong receptacles have all been replaced with 3 prong receptacles. Isn't it required to label each of these as an ungrounded receptacle?

    The circuit breakers tested properly with the test button on the panel. They did not test properly at the receptacles when using the Sure Test in the GFCI mode. Now that I think about it they probably shouldn't have with no grounding conductor for the Sure Test to use for the fault to ground.

    Should I have been using the EPD mode at the receptacles to test the GFCI circuit breakers in the panel? Can someone explain to me how this EPD mode test is conducted ? It only states in the manual that if a ground fault of greater then 30mA is detected the breaker should trip.

    Thanks.

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    Last edited by Robert Foster; 04-10-2011 at 02:30 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    Yes, the receptacles should be labeled as no equipment ground AND as GFCI protected.

    No GFCI tester will trip from a non-grounded receptacle outlet, you test those by testing them first, then pushing the GFCI test button on the breaker or the first GFCI device, then re-test the other receptacles to make sure they no longer have power.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    Thank you Jerry.

    I also found the detailed description of the EPD test mode and answered that part of my question.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    To test an ungrounded GFCI receptacle you can use a three prong to two prong adapter with a ground pigtail. Run a wire to a known grounded point, be it a water pipe or at the service panel and attach it to the pigtail coming from the adapter. That provides the path the tester needs to shunt electricity to rather than allowing the electricity to return on the neutral. The only required test is the test button but I have encountered GFCI outlets that trip at 2mA and others that tripped above 5mA. With the test button as the only test, you really don't know what level of protection is provided. I wouldn't think that an HI inspection requires any more than the test button function test. I just happen to have a tester with a dial.

    A GFCI device for protection of personnel should trip between 3mA and 5mA as opposed to the 30mA that you mentioned. 30mA is the threshold for protection of equipment .

    Last edited by David Bertrams; 04-11-2011 at 06:21 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bertrams View Post
    A GFCI device for protection of personnel should trip between 3mA and 5mA as opposed to the 30mA that you mentioned. 30mA is the threshold for protection of equipment .
    Thank you David, that fills in another hole that I was unable to figure out from the Sure Test manual.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bertrams View Post
    To test an ungrounded GFCI receptacle you can use a three prong to two prong adapter with a ground pigtail. Run a wire to a known grounded point, be it a water pipe or at the service panel and attach it to the pigtail coming from the adapter.
    Why do that when you can push the test button on the GFCI device and that test button will actually test the GFCI function of the device?

    And how do you really know 'how well grounded' that 'ground point' is?

    A GFCI device for protection of personnel should trip between 3mA and 5mA ...
    The GFCI device trip level for personnel protection is 5 mA +/- 1 mA, or 4 mA to 6 mA.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    The only recognized method for testing GFCI devices is with the test button on the device.
    Every thing else is just considered an Indicator not a tester


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    Quote Originally Posted by ken horak View Post
    The only recognized method for testing GFCI devices is with the test button on the device.
    We have a winner!

    The same with testing AFCI breakers.

    Albeit that GFCIs can be "tested" remotely with GFCI "testers" ... provided that the GFCI device is properly grounded, but, Ken DID say "recognized" and the "recognized" method is with ... and only with ... the test button on the GFCI device.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    We have a winner!

    The same with testing AFCI breakers.

    Albeit that GFCIs can be "tested" remotely with GFCI "testers" ... provided that the GFCI device is properly grounded, but, Ken DID say "recognized" and the "recognized" method is with ... and only with ... the test button on the GFCI device.
    If all you do is push the test button on a GFCI receptacle, the GFCI will trip whether the device is wired correctly or not. The integral receptacle can remain live even though the downstream receptacles are dead. The correct method is to push the button and then verify that all receptacles are dead, including the one with the button.

    The testers that I am familiar with have settings at 3,5,7,10,and 30 mA. The GFCI manufactures set them to trip above 3ma and below 5mA. The listing states between 4 and 6mA but to mass produce at exactly 4 and 6mA is too expensive, hence the lower threshold will allow them some leeway and testers follow suit.

    A variable setting tester will tell you if the GFCI will trip at 3mA which can indicate that the sensor is preloaded "A GFCI will add up all the harmless leakage currents and capacitive leakages. Under extreme circumstances, this could "preload" the GFCI and make it appear overly sensitive or, worst case, result in nuisance tripping."


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bertrams View Post
    If all you do is push the test button on a GFCI receptacle, the GFCI will trip whether the device is wired correctly or not. The integral receptacle can remain live even though the downstream receptacles are dead.
    Not the newer GFCI receptacles. The newer GFCI receptacles will not reset from their default tripped position if miswired.

    The correct method is to push the button and then verify that all receptacles are dead, including the one with the button.
    Seems someone already said that in the second post to this thread, however ... as Ken said, the "recognized" way to test a GFCI device is to press the TEST button, there is no other "recognized" way to test it.

    There are other ways to test GFCI devices, which were already addressed in the second post.

    The testers that I am familiar with have settings at 3,5,7,10,and 30 mA. The GFCI manufactures set them to trip above 3ma and below 5mA. The listing states between 4 and 6mA but to mass produce at exactly 4 and 6mA is too expensive, hence the lower threshold will allow them some leeway and testers follow suit.
    If a GFCI trips at 3 mA then it DOES NOT trip at the required setting and should be listed as a failure ... just like you would do if it tripped at 7 mA and did not trip at 6 mA.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Not the newer GFCI receptacles. The newer GFCI receptacles will not reset from their default tripped position if miswired.
    Problemo uno, we don't know the vintage of the GFCI. We just want to know if it will safely protect the user.

    I see many GFCI's that will trip for the test button, giving an illusion of safety, but either still be live at the receptacle (old one wired wrong) or will not trip for the tester tool (faulty ground or no ground).

    That is why the test button alone is not an adequate test, In My Opinion.

    Sometimes the older unit will make a machine gun sound but not trip, stuck reset button.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Testing GFCI circuit breakers with a Sure Test

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Problemo uno, we don't know the vintage of the GFCI. We just want to know if it will safely protect the user.

    I see many GFCI's that will trip for the test button, giving an illusion of safety, but either still be live at the receptacle (old one wired wrong) or will not trip for the tester tool (faulty ground or no ground).

    That is why the test button alone is not an adequate test, In My Opinion.
    The test button is still the best test to test THAT GFCI for function.

    What you are referring to is mis-wiring and other testing procedures, but NOTHING beats testing the test button on the GFCI for testing the function of that GFCI.

    Combine that test button with checking downstream receptacles and you will also find the other problems you are referring to. If you were to test the downstream receptacles with a GFCI tester you would still be making all the same actions (plugging into downstream receptacles as well as the GFCI device itself) - there is no shortcut, just substitutions.

    Yes, I use a GFCI tester downstream too, but that does not alter the fact that the best way to test a GFCI, no matter its age, is its test button, and then to test downstream receptacles too. No shortcuts, just substitute actions.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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