Open Ground after change to GFCI

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by paulsiu, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. paulsiu

    paulsiu New Member

    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    Itasca, IL
    Hi

    The home inspector indicated that all outlet used by the kitchen counters should be protected by a GFCI. Most of the outlets were, except for one. I decided to replace it with a GFCI. I even figure out which side was the load and which was the line. But I notice after the installaton of the GFCI, the ground was now opened.

    I thought it was weird that the outlet did not have a ground wire, but apparently the outlet is a self-gounding receptacle. Is there a self-grounding GFCI?

    Secondly, it appears that the outlet is hooked up upstream from the fridge. If the GFCI trips, the fridge will also shutdown. Is this bad? Do GFCI trip accidently often?

    Thanks.

    Paul
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2009
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,636
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    gfci

    1. Is it bad? YES.
    2. Do GFCI's phantom trip? YES, especially when motors are plugged into them.
    3. Will the GFCI trip at the most inconvenient time, such as while you are on vacation. YES! And they seem to enjoy doing so.
    4. Will everything in the refrigerator/freezer spoil if you do not know the GFCI has tripped so you can reset it. DEFINITELY.

    I had it happen to one customer. They had an extension cord from the house to the reefer in the garage because the outlet had "gone bad". I told them it was a tripped GFCI, and after a lengthy search found it under a bench in the bathroom. They had never even known it was there.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2009
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,013
    Location:
    New England
    This conversation comes up periodically. Not to fan the flames, but a correctly operating frig should not trip a gfci. If it does, it has a problem. Most manufacturers want their major appliance on a dedicated circuit, and if it was, it may not need a GFCI, but should work with one. If the frig is the only other thing on the line, you could probably connect that pair of wires to the line side, and that would bypass the gfci, leaving only that outlet protected. If there is more than one outlet beyond the gfci, then that will not work.
  4. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    I had a homeowner loose a freezer full of food in the garage because the GFCI he plugged it into tripped.

    Single phase motors use starting capacitors. Capacitors suck up power and don't immediately dump it back onto the neutral. A GFCI could detect this as a fault.

    Also GFCIs are NOT self grounding. You are probably in a house where metallic cable (BX) was used. Originally it probably had only 2 prong outlets. Someone before you came along, swapped out the outlets with grounded outlets and because the house was wired with metallic cable there was a patch from the box back to the breaker panel when the outlet was installed so it appeared to be grounded. Today this would only meet code if the metallic cable had a grounding strip (bare wire). It is nearly impossible to tell if this exists on older cables, however in most cases it does not.

    Interestingly it is legal to use a GFCI as your first outlet and have all the following outlets on the load side of the GFCI be grounded receptacles (even with no ground present) in a remodel situation such as yours. The GFCI will provide ground fault protection.

    -rick
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2009
  5. paulsiu

    paulsiu New Member

    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    Itasca, IL
    Hi

    The house was built in 1996, so it should not have older BX wiring. I am guessing that the box is probably correctly grounded, since the self-grounding outlet (with the wire around the screwhole) reads properly on the tester. All I need to do is probably to run a groundwire from the GFCI to the box.

    What I don't know is if the GFCI will trip with a fridge? This appears to be a matter of controversy. Obviously, if it trips it will result in spoiled food. However, various people have indicated that GFCI these days don't get false positive as often as they used to and an appliance tripping a gfci would indicate a problem.

    The irony is that NFC states that kitchen counter outlets must be GFCI protected, but the outlet is actually pretty far from the sink and in an area where we probably won't have water. However, there's no code for running the fridge on a dedicated circuit.

    Anyone know if must change the outlet? It came like that with the house. If I leave it the way it is, will it cause problems with insurance for example.

    Paul
  6. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    I reread your original post where you say all the kitchen outlets were GFCI protected except one. Whats the problem??? Just swap out that outlet with a GFCI an put all the wires on the line side. Then the fridge won't be on the GFCI then.

    Thats the code. Its written that way because 1) most fridges draw only about 6 amps. Not enough to warrant it own circuit and 2) just because the sink is across the kitchen doesn't mean you couldn't fill a mixing bowl with water and move it somewhere else.

    There are many many many houses with no GFCI protection anywhere because of their age. That said yours being a newer home it sounds like the outlet was an oversight by the electrician and inspector. I would recommend replacing it with a GFCI to meet code. Will it cause insurance problems? Maybe, but what do you think the odds are that someone will be seriously injured by a ground fault from THAT outlet not located near a sink? If it were to happen though unlike property damage claims insurance companies tend to investigate personal injury claims more closely because the dollar amount can be pretty substantial. Again for the cost of a GFCI I'd fix the problem and be done with it.

    -rick
  7. paulsiu

    paulsiu New Member

    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    Itasca, IL
    Mainly because I don't know what that means. Keep in mind I only recently figure out that a GFCI has a line and load side and that there are things like self-grounding outlets.

    Paul
  8. ActionDave

    ActionDave Electrician

    Messages:
    346
    Location:
    Colorado
    How many wires are in the box? Total number of blacks and total number of whites.
  9. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    Don't put any wires on the load side. Put all the wires on the line side. If your GFCI won't allow you to put two wires on the line side do the following:Take the two blacks and get an additional small piece of 12 gauge black and tightly wire nut them together. Do the same for the whites. Then the other ends of the small black and white wires to the GFCI line side. Now you have a GFCI outlet that doesn't also protect the fridge.

    -rick
  10. paulsiu

    paulsiu New Member

    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    Itasca, IL
    One more thing, I am thinking that I will need to run a ground wire to the metal receptacle box. I don't see any screws or wire I can attach the ground to. I do see something that looks vaguely like a screw hole, so can I actually buy a ground wire of some kind that screws into the receptable box.

    The receptacle box is properly grounded, or the current set of self-grounding receptacles would have never worked.

    Paul
  11. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    You need a green ground screw that can be inserted into the hole you see. You should be able to find them in the electrical section of any hardware store. Then install a piece of 12 gauge wire from the screw in the back of the box to the GFCI.

    This is not entirely correct. It is not unusual to find a house built in the 50s that is wired with metallic cable (BX). If you use a tester it will show the boxes as being grounded. However because there is no grounding strip within the metallic cable it is in fact illegal to use the metal casing as a grounding conductor.

    If your house was wired in 1997 with metallic cable I think it is safe to assume there is a grounding strip. Just don't assume that this will always be the case.

    -rick
  12. jar546

    jar546 In the Trades

    Messages:
    432
    Location:
    USA
    The new generation of GFCI receptacles are not prone to the same nuisance tripping as they once were. Self grounding is only as good as the grounded box it is attached to. First of all the receptacle must be labeled as self grounding and secondly the box it attaches to must be metal and properly grounded. If you lost a ground then you did something wrong.
  13. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    My sump pump is on a GFCI. That is how much I trust the new ones not to trip.

    Even my HVAC condensate pump is.

    I use a strict interpretation of 6 feet from a water source.

    And they all need to be GFCI in an unfinished basement now anyways.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2009
  14. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    [/quotejar546]The new generation of GFCI receptacles are not prone to the same nuisance tripping as they once were.[/quote]


    Its not the GFCI's that have changed, but the appliances. :) GFCI's were never the problem, is was poorly designed appliances.
  15. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT

    Its not the GFCI's that have changed, but the appliances. :) GFCI's were never the problem, is was poorly designed appliances.
  16. jar546

    jar546 In the Trades

    Messages:
    432
    Location:
    USA
    Syracuse, NY, September 4, 2002 — Pass & Seymour/Legrand, a leading manufacturer of electrical and network wiring devices and original developer of the first GFCI Receptacle 30 years ago, today introduced the latest generation of its GFCI products. The new GFCI offers SafeLock™ protection and compliance with the new revisions to Underwriter’s Lab 943 Standard for Safety for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters that take effect on January 1, 2003.
    If critical components are damaged and ground fault protection is lost, power to the receptacle is disconnected with Pass and Seymour’s new SafeLock protection. The Pass and Seymour/Legrand GFCI includes improved surge protection and better corrosion resistance. The new GFCI meets more stringent requirements for resistance to false tripping caused by electrical power line noise. Also, if the new GFCIs are miswired, they can’t be reset, preventing line-load reversal miswire. The new GFCI receptacles provide a trip indicator light for added convenience. All of the new features make this generation of GFCIs even safer and, more reliable.
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