Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Device Defective

Problem: When the test button is pushed, the device does not trip to indicate that it is working.

Background: A ground fault circuit interrupter, often referred to as a GFCI or a CR, is designed to interrupt the flow of electricity if a current leakage to ground occurs anywhere in the line. Circuits protected by such a device reduce the danger of current leakage and the possible shock hazard when some one touches an appliance or light fixture that is not properly grounded. The National Electrical Code and most local codes require that bathroom circuits, outdoor and underground wiring, especially swimming pool lighting, be CFCI protected. Several types are avail able that include GFCI receptacles and GFCI circuit breakers, which combine a ground fault interrupter and circuit breaker in one device.

What to do: When the test button is pushed, a similated ground fault is introduced into the sensing circuit. A properly installed device will trip and must be reset after the test but ton is pushed. If the device does not trip, make sure that the circuit is receiving power; the device must be energized to operate, even when testing. If it is receiving power and does not trip when tested, have an electrician check to see that all connections are properly made. If a properly wired and energized GFCI does not trip when tested, it should be replaced immediately because the protection has been lost.

Special advice: Receptacles with built-in ground fault protection are installed similarly to the way standard duplex receptacles are installed. Some models have “pigtails” for connections; others have normal screw connections. Feed-through models provide ground fault protection to other receptacles connected to the same cable “downstream” of the GFCI receptacle.

Helpful hint: Some GFCI receptacles require extra-deep electrical boxes, so check the instruction sheet provided for size before buying and attempting to install. Also note that GFCI circuit breakers are connected in the main panel differently than standard circuit breakers.