GFI not grounded

Older house with all two prong receptacles with the kitchen and baths being changed to GFI, but not ground. Any issues with GFI not grounded?

No special issues. If there is any code that would apply to such installations, it would be the International Existing Building Code. It is mute on that matter.

That said, there is nothing in the “law” that would require a person to ground existing ungrounded circuits. Adding a GFCI to ungrounded bath and kitchen receptacles is an excellent idea. The GFCI will function perfectly fine, and offer an enhancement to safety in these locations. Your plug-in type “traffic light” tester will not trip these GFCI’s that are ungrounded, so you’ll have to use the test button on the device itself.

They are required to be labeled “non-grounded”.

The Instructions with a typical GFCI explains the necessary labeling, and usually include a sticker.


Regarding the stickers, there are a couple of realistic conclusions…

  1. The stickers are of such poor quality, they can be expected to last only a short period of time. -and-
  2. The presence of or lack of the sticker will not change the way the consumer uses the receptacle, in all likelihood.

I’m not so sure I’d get too torn up about this little sticker.

Marc, Marc, Marc.

I’m guessing you are one of my local inspectors. I have one that doesn’t allow for anything other than 2-prong receptacles unless you can verify a ground present. Gfci’s on ungrounded circuits is a failure. :frowning:


No. I’m saying that GFCI’s on existing ungrounded circuits are fine. Not sure how you took it otherwise. Would you like the code citation?

ha ha ha, just kidding. I don’t like bright red stickers. :frowning:


Tom, so are you saying gfci’s on ungrounded circits is wrong?


I’m saying that per the NEC it’s ok, just that you have to check with your AHJ.

Where I live, I fall under the ICC and NEC, but I drive a few mins north, next city over, I am under the ICC, NEC and the will of the local enforcement inspectors.


This is the part that is complete B-S! How can you “interpret” this section of the code any differently???
If you are under the NEC then a 3-prong GFI is absolutely legal on an ungrounded circuit. And as Marc said, it DOES work and does provide an elevated level of protection.
If an inspector tried to pull that crap on me I’d find another inspector who knows the code.

Few things:

  1. This is the only inspector. He is employed by the city.
  2. It is code. NEC 90.4


  1. That sucks. He is on a power trip and should be reported.
    I guess I am lucky, I have choices.

  2. *“The authority having jurisdiction for enforcement of the Code has the responsibility for making interpretations of the rules, for deciding on the approval of equipment and materials, and for granting the special permission contemplated in a number of the rules.”

*Interpretation of the rules! NOT making up his own rules.
If he is telling you that he does not “want” GFI replacements on ungrounded circuits that is misinterpretation and abuse of power.

I hear all the time about what some inspectors “want”, without any reference to a code section. They just want it.
Sorry, that don’t fly!

The fact remains there is always a lot of varience in interpretation, no matter what the code says. Florida has a statewide unified code, no local exceptions but they still don’t build the same house from county to county, AHJ to AHJ. I have even seen cases where different inspectors in the same building department disagreed what the code says.
Wrong but still true.


The GFCI operates by sensing the difference between the currents in the Hot and Neutral conductors. Under normal conditions, these should be equal. However, if someone touches the Hot and a Ground such as a plumbing fixture or they are standing in water, these currents will not be equal as the path is to Ground - a ground fault - and not to the Neutral. This might occur if a short circuit developed inside an ungrounded appliance or if someone was working on a live circuit and accidentally touched a live wire.