GFCI won't trip by tester

GFCI trips at outlet but will not trip by my tester. Been so long since I had this issue I cant remember how to describe it. I use a basic 3-light tester (9$). Faster getting the answer here than looking it up. What is the correct explanation for the issue.
Thanks in advance,

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Could it have an open ground? That would do it.

Ungrounded outlets will trip by pushing the actual “TEST” button, but will not trip with the GFCI tester.

You have an ungrounded outlet that should be labeled “GFCI protected / NO Equipment ground”.

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That’s the one:cool:

I would be very surprised if home inspectors ever see those stickers for GFCI receptacles. Scraping them off is usually one of the first things the housewife does because they look tacky.

True, but I’m simply stating code.

ooops…Did I just say CODE?

Oh-oh, please don’t cyber attack…I’m innocent.

That should show on his tester when he plugged it in.
If it showed an intact, operational ground, it should trip by the tester switch.

My feeling on this situation is that:

The GFCI function is not tripping as it should when the first current leakage to ground is about 10 milliamps or so. I don’t know what the self-test trip mechanism/operation is but…if it’s not tripping at the lower amperage, replace it. They’re only $15 or so…cheap protection.

I believe the only true way to test these outlets is by the test button on the outlet. The manufactures state this in there installation papers.

In a bathroom at an apartment complex, I came across a GFCI that would not trip with my tester or with the tester button. I recommended that it be replaced.

While I was still on the property, an electrician was sent over to the apartment to affect the repair. I went back to the apartment and it was working perfectly. I asked if he replaced it and he said “no”, and that all he did was flip the breaker off and back on.

How can this be? BTW, it was not a GFCI breaker.

Was the GFCI energized when you tested it? If the breaker was tripped the GFCI would not “test”.

Brian. What kind of tester are you using? If it is something like a Suretest that puts a load on the ground you can trust the grounding connection but a neon tester might show a good ground with a connection that would not pass 6ma.

It was energized and, according to my tester, properly grounded.

Sounds like a bad GFCI to me

23 year old “dinosaur” Suretest. It won’t fail so I can justify buying a new one!!! Do carry 2 cheaper backups with me but when I think I may have a problem with the Suretest…it’s always correct!

Since many standard recpetacles are wired “downstream” from a GFCI, the trip button on the tester must be used to identify the existance of GFCI circuits in required areas. A few days ago, I tripped a GFCI located on the opposite side of the kitched from my test location and the GFCI test button actually broke loose and flew a few feet. You never know!!!

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It would be possible for Randy’s 3 light tester to show a properly grounded gfci, yet still not trip it with the button if it was a bootleg ground.

Had the samething today also. So it should be written up?

Product Safety Tips:

UL Recommends Regular Testing of GFCIs

December 20, 2003: Underwriters Laboratories periodically revises requirements in its Standards for Safety to harmonize with international requirements, address code and safety issues, and accommodate new product developments as applicable. UL has adopted new and revised requirements for Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupters (GFCIs) that become effective January 1, 2003. Among others, these requirements include enhanced requirements for immunity to voltage surges, resistance to moisture and corrosion, reverse line-load miswiring, and resistance to environmental noise. Though products meeting these revised requirements will soon enter the marketplace, they are not required to have any special markings to distinguish them from models made prior to January 1, 2003. Models of GFCIs Listed by UL that were manufactured and labeled prior to January 1, 2003 still may appear in the marketplace after January 1, 2003, and until such time as old stocks of GFCIs become exhausted.

Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) can help prevent electrocution inside and outside the home. GFCIs are an effective means of protecting against electrical shock, however, they must be tested regularly – UL recommends once a month – to verify they are working properly.
“Ground faults” are often the result of damaged appliance cords or consumers who use electrical products in wet environments, such as bathrooms or swimming pool decks. By installing GFCIs in every home in the United States, the U.S. Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than two-thirds of the approximately 300 electrocutions occurring each year could be prevented. The advantage of using GFCIs is that they detect even those amounts of electricity too small for your fuse or circuit breaker to activate and shut off the circuit.
Like all products, GFCIs can be damaged. GFCIs damaged by lightning or electrical surges may fail to provide adequate protection. A simple test once a month and after any violent thunderstorm should be conducted.
To properly test GFCI receptacles in your home:

  • Push the “Reset” button located on the GFCI receptacle, first to assure normal GFCI operation.
  • Plug a nightlight (with an “ON/OFF” switch) or other product (such as a lamp) into the GFCI receptacle and turn the product “ON.”
  • Push the “Test” button located on the GFCI receptacle. The nightlight or other product should go “OFF.”
  • Push the “Reset” button, again. The light or other product should go “ON” again.
    If the light or other product remains “ON” when the “Test” button is pushed, the GFCI is not working properly or has been incorrectly installed (miswired). If your GFCI is not working properly, call a qualified, certified electrician who can assess the situation, rewire the GFCI if necessary or replace the device.
    “GFCIs are proven lifesavers, however, consumers need to take a few minutes each month to do this simple test. By taking action, you can help protect your family from the risk of electric shock,” says John Drengenberg, UL Consumer Affairs Manager.
    Several types of GFCIs may be installed in/around your home. Look for the UL Mark on GFCIs when purchasing them or when specifying the product to your electrician.
    Wall Receptacle GFCI – This type of GFCI – the most widely used – fits into a standard outlet and protects against ground faults whenever an electrical product is plugged into the outlet. Wall receptacle GFCIs are most often installed in kitchens, bath and laundry rooms, and out-of-doors where water and electricity are most likely to be in close proximity.
    Circuit Breaker GFCI – In homes equipped with circuit breakers, this type of GFCI may be installed in a panel box to give protection to selected circuits. Circuit breaker GFCIs should also be checked monthly. Keep in mind that the test will disconnect power to all lights and appliances on the circuit.
    Portable GFCI – A portable GFCI requires no special knowledge or equipment to install. One type contains the GFCI circuitry in a self-contained enclosure with plug blades in the back and receptacle slots in the front. It can then be plugged into a receptacle, and the electrical products are plugged into the GFCI. Another type of portable GFCI is an extension cord combined with a GFCI. It adds flexibility in using receptacles that are not protected by GFCIs. Portable GFCIs should only be used on a temporary basis and should be tested prior to every use.
    Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product safety certification organization that has been testing products for more than a century. More than 16 billion products bearing the UL Mark enter the marketplace every year. I bet the a large % never get tested .

I have seen " monthly test charts" left by the electrician with only the first installed month checked off and this is years after installation.

About 7 years ago, I added this to my Electrical Appendix section on GFCI’s:

"In our lengthy inspection experience, we have seen many cases (especially with outdoor GFCI’s) where the receptacle was supplying power but the safety breaker mechanism was seized in place due to corrosion. We now recommend that when using an exterior GFCI protected receptacle: Trip and reset the breaker twice to ensure that the safety feature is functional"

I agree with Mark on this as this is the way I test GFCIs. I use the tester when down field from the GFCI.