New Standards for GFCI's


New Standards Set for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

An extensive evaluation ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), one of the major innovations in electrical safety, recently yielded new safety requirements from the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL), and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

Since the early 1970s, GFCIs have reduced household electrocutions by protecting residents from lethal currents. A GFCI is a wiring device that de-energizes a circuit when a current to ground could result in electric shock. The GFCI “interrupts” power before it reaches a level that would cause injury. The National Electrical Code® requires GFCIs to be used in bathrooms, kitchens, garages, basements, crawlspaces, and outdoors. Similarly, the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) requires GFCI´s to be used in many locations such as bathrooms, outdoors, basic care areas of hospitals, pools, spas, and hot tubs.

Before the introduction of GFCIs, more than 700 people died from household electrocutions each year. As of 2001, that number had been reduced to 400 cases annually. However, a 2001 field study from UL and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association determined that a small but significant percent of GFCIs, particularly older ones, did not work after several years. These findings created a demand for more stringent safety features that can alert users when a GFCI malfunctions.

The new requirements are being set by the CSA and UL and apply to the harmonized standard, UL 943, Safety Standard for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) and CSA C22.2 No. 144.1 (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters). New UL and CSA requirements include:

  • End of Life Provision: when a GFCI receptacle is incapable of passing its internal test function (it can no longer provide ground fault protection) it will either a) render itself incapable of delivering power, or b) indicate by visual or audible means that the device must be replaced.
  • Reverse Line-Load Miswire: a GFCI will deny power to the receptacle face if it is miswired.

In the U.S., manufacturers must stop producing old versions of GFCIs on July 28, 2006, and must introduce new, redesigned GFCIs after that date. Distributors can sell and contractors can install old GFCIs until their supplies run out. The UL revisions will not affect the NEC, which regulates installations, not products.

In Canada, the selection of the effective date involves a process that has not yet been completed. Once this occurs, the effective date will be included in the Certification Notice announcing the 2006 edition of CSA Standard C22.2 No. 144.1. The CSA revisions will not affect the CEC, which regulates installations, not products.

For more information about GFCIs or the new UL and CSA requirements, contact the Electrical Safety Foundation International at (703)841-3229 or visit


Thanks for the Great News. Don’t want to have thread drift, but I use a Sperry GFCI tester and whenever I have a GFCI with two white buttons (Cheap Contractor Bulk) receptacles, more than half of the time the test button will work on the device but not when I test it with my device. The traditional red/black buttons I have no problems with at all.

Any thoughts?

Hi! John;
I just copied your post on the GFCI’s and I am going to show it to all of my students in my module five class today.
It’s so much better to help one another instead of nitpicking correct !!!

Regards Len Ungar [L I Nachi chapter Pres.]

Nitpicking?? or speaking the truth??

I have never seen cheap GFCI’s, we pay $10.00 each for Pass & Seymour. They have two white buttons which look a lot nicer than the black/white ones (Leviton) that Home depot sells in the 3 pack for $27.00.
If they won’t trip with your tester perhaps there is no equipment ground, or perhaps there is a problem with your tester. Next time try going from the hot to a nearby grounded water pipe with a Wiggy, that will trip an ungrounded GFCI.

Incidentally, the UL approved test for a GFCI IS the test button, not a piece of test equipment.

Hi! Jay;
There you go trying to create havoc, nobody mentioned anything about truth or nontruth. That’s one of the biggest problems with this board two many stick there noses in where they don’t belong. Have a nice day !!!

Regards Len


Thanks John,

It is great to see members share. Like Len, I too will copy your entire post to hand out to our students.

More of this needs to be done!

Thanks again,


You’re welcome.