A GFCI mystery (for me at least)

I just accompanied a client on their final walk through of there home and the realtor handed me a list of the things the home owners supposedly fixed. I wrote in my report that the bathrooms needed GFCI outlets. Her report claimed that all the outlets in the house were GFCI protected, yet no GFCI outlets were present. So I looked in the panel and could not find anything that looked like GFCI protected breakers. Could I have overlooked something?

Did you test them with a GFCI tester? Were they ‘daisy-chained’ from another GFCI protected outlet?

Did you test the outlets with a tripper? What made you determine they weren’t GFI protected before? They could be protected by an GFI located elsewhere, outside, garage, ect. Sometimes it’s a pain to locate it once tripped:(

if there are no gfci outlets or breakers anywhere in or outside the home, then nothing is gfci protected…period.

was this an older 2-wire system?
if so, most testers won’t trip a gfci or protected outlet.

if this was an older 2-wire system, is it possible that you could not locate all outlets throughout the home?

storage items still present in the home, or totally empty?

It was probably a miscommunication. She probably thought you meant the outlets were grounded. Test the outlets anyway just to be sure. Good luck

I agree with Charles…based on that statement I think their is some communication problems here…she is confused at what you are telling her.

What am I “chopped liver”; no lol’s?

Thanks for all your responses, you guys are excellent. I think the last couple of posts may have solved the mystery.

I’m curious though, is it possible that there is GFCI protection provided strictly through a breaker? I know AFCI’s are protected this way, but can GFCI’s be protected like this without using a GFCI outlet with tester buttons?

No, it wasn’t a 2-wire system. You mentioned GFCI breakers, are these used exclusive of the GFCI outlets? I didn’t know GFCI’s could be provided strictly through breakers.

Simply because there were no GFCI outlets. That’s why I’m wondering if I missed it in the panel somehow.

Yes, GFI breakers protect the whole circuit. They are very similar in design to AFCI breakers.
This is something I would assume one would know before going at this type of inspection.

You should check out the electrical course Nachi provides free to all members, it will help you out with GFCI’s and AFCI’s. Ken

no…I take to much HEAT for my LOL’s…I am a different guys these days…I simply don’t care anymore…:slight_smile:

You really need to take the online Electrical Course as it will help you alot in these types of questions. If the GFCI was in the panel it would have had a RESET button on it ( colors vary ) and it should stand out like…well screw it I have no analogy today…but should have stuck out…


Here you see…a GFCI Receptacle on the left…and a GFCI Breaker on the right…hope it’s helpful

Rule 1, do not use your little outlet tester to check for GFCIs unless you know where the GFCI is. If it’s in the garage behind the spare refrigerator and you can’t get to it, you may be responsible for the food in the spare refrigerator (or freezer), etc.

Also, if the answering machine or other electrical appliance (e.g. phone transformer) is connected to the GFCI outlet, I definitely do not test the outlet to prevent the answering machine from resetting and possibly losing messages, etc.

Think 1st before you starting tripping circuits. Always ask if there is any medical equipment is in the house before you start inspecting.

Well they better " Get them off the phone system " before I come…if their is a GFCI in the house…I am testing them…:slight_smile: Can’t figure a judge who is ruling on a kids life that may have been lost saying to me…

Mr.Abernathy…it says you must test all GFCI’s and you did not because WHY…hmmm…ok sir…tell that to the family of the 6 year old that was just killed because that GFCI was defective…

Nah…When they know I am coming for an inspection I let them know I will be tripping things on GFCI’s and AFCI’s…so if they have anything in them of importance they better take care of it before I come…:slight_smile:

I prefer to pay for a CHANCE at spoiling some meat versus paying for a life…but thats just me…:slight_smile:

Why won’t a 3-light GFCI tester work in a 2-wire electrcial system?
Thanks for the help


Looks like quite a few people need that electrical course.


A “3-light” tester uses the ground wire to make the current imbalance for testing. A 2-wire system has no ground wire.

;)…thats why I am here.( and others )…:slight_smile: even if upper nachi does not understand that Electrical issues are of the " MAJOR" importance…:slight_smile: