Adequate service size....oh, and a GFCI question

I am hoping you can all give me some input,

  1. There was a GFCI in the bathroom, when I tried to test it with my pocket tester and with the test button on the GFCI, I got a beep out of the smoke detector in the hall but the outlet did not lose power…should I just write this up as “GFCI did not test correct” and mention that it is on the same circuit as the smoke detector.
  2. The home was going to be set up to have an apartment…this never happened. The home has electric baseboards throughout. The service was 125amp to the (what is now the main distribution) panel and in that panel there was a 60 amp breaker that went to the other (now the auxiliary) panel (100 amp)…so, this 1,400 sq ft bungalow had 125 amp service supplying the entire home. It seems a bit small to me but I cannot see it being a defect…am I right?
    Any assistance would be appreciated.
    Thank you


You have not mentioned any proof that anything was wrong with the smoke detector. Like it was feed from the GFCI, so might be a conincidence.

Your comment about the GFCI seems correct, and good thing you didn’t rely on your hand tester. Manufactures like when you use their test buttons. :wink: Did the lights on your hand tester seem correct?


Thank you for your reply. I tried it a few times to make sure it was not a coincidence (actually, because I thought it was sort of cool). The hand tester worked correctly with the three other GFCIs that I tested (1 before and 2 after this one).
Do you often find outlets that will not trip using the hand tester but will trip using the test buttons? I have seen this a couple times and have always played on the safe side and wrote it up, would that be the right thing to do, or is the more accurate test the one on the outlet itself?

GFCI - Failed under test - needs replacement.

Dont know the whole scenario - but 125 amps is plenty for a 1400 square foot home, unless mayber there are a large number of added items requiring power.

It just seems that with electric baseboard heaters only, the homes are usually on 200amp panels…here in Newfoundland anyways.

My understanding, hand testers create an actual 5 ma ground fault. The test button actually tests the trip circuitry. That doesn’t mean much but this an analogy:

Putting smoke under a smoke detector actually tests the detector by simulating a fire(like the hand tester). Pushing the test button, tosses an unbalance into the circuitry that activates the alarm (like pushing a gfci’s test button). One might be considered better at actually testing, while another might be more Kosher with the manufacturer.

As for the hand tester not working, hand testers create a ground fault by using the equipment grounding prong. If no equipment grounding, no ground, not ground fault, no trip. :wink:

Just a guess…


Read my reply to your PM…it is in your PM Mailbox…

Oh no he didn’t. You guys passing notes in class!


Keith posted in the forum, what was in the PM’s because I recommended it. Not that he’s flailing.


lol…no because when I logged in today I got that freakin PM message pop up and answered it BEFORE I even saw this thread…I dont like typing myself twice…

I think he PMed me before he posted…Keith you may POST what I sent you…no worries…lol

My apologies for the confusion…I have sent you both a message.

Here is what Mr. Abernathy wrote in reply
"In regards to the GFCI, it depends on the time of construction and if the GFCI was added later. Did you test the GFCI with the test feature built into the GFCI versus the GFCI tester?

The GFCI tester uses a ground to be able to test but if the GFCI is being placed in the system because it is offering protection and no Equipment Ground Conductor is present the GFCI will still work but the GFCI tester will not trip it…so it really depends on what you see in the panel…if the system is grounded and so on. I would not rely on the testers if the GFCI tripped from the TEST button on the GFCI itself…as that is the ONLY true way to know if it is working correctly…the GFCI tester is only good for confirmation…but you need to know the limitations of the testers. As for being on the same as the smoke…would not worry as much about that as it depends on the time of construction…like Pre-1996 or even 1999 it was often down…now the GFCI in the bathroom has to be dedicated…but again it depends on a time frame…but not really a hazard for the most part.

On the 125 Amp Panel, it also depends on the other applicances in the house…if baseboard heat…and then no other major applicances then it is probably fine…BUT if you find other electrical issues in the house i would suggest an Electrical Contractor evaluate the panel for capacity and future expansion and possibly look at upgrading the service to your client if they have an intent for possible future needs but remember 100A panel is the allowed minimum today…so basically it will boil down to capacity and if you find a FULL panel and double taps always recommend evaluation for capacity issues and let the electrical contractor take the burden."

Keith…you are fine my friend…no worries on my end…lol…keep askin the question…

I never said I was always right, but I try real hard…:)…I let others assume that of me…:slight_smile:

I agree with Paul. If the gfci were installed as a replacement for a non-grounding receptacle (this is common and allowable) then your tester will not cause a trip. However, the gfci test buttons should work.

On the smoke head issue- I’m really kind of surprised that its chirping. The tester requires a very small amount of current- milliamps. I wouldn’t think that tiny, momentary drain would be interpreted as a power loss by the smoke head. Perhaps there is a bit of RF noise… otherwise, I’m puzzled.

You did determine that the smoke head is NOT on the load side of the GFCI… didn’t you??

Could simple also be a battery thing…timing is everything…CHIRP…maybe they need a new battery…:slight_smile:

I didn’t see it mentioned, did the lights show properly when the tester was inserted before trying to trip it with the tester’s button?