some models of ideal suretest may require upgrade
I’ve never seen that model, I use SureTest.
There’s no AFCI function on that unit.
My understanding is the ACFI testers do not always work. If you are too close to the breaker it will not trip. Has this been your experience?
Distance has never had an affect on whether or not the breaker trips, but I have found that some brands are less likely to trip than others.
Siemens AFCI breakers (for instance) will not always trip using the SureTest. Some will, some won’t - and in multiple tests on the same breaker, it will trip sometimes but not others. I don’t have an explanation for this.
Thank you for the insight
Remember that the only recognized test method is the built-in test button on either a GFI device, breaker or AFCI breaker.
If a GFCI breaker-receptacle tests that it is properly wired including ground and the self-test button trips the breaker but 3 of your electrical test devices will not trip the GFCI breaker, what would you call?
( I have seen this many times and call for GFCI replacement)
If the three light plugged into a downstream GFI is tested properly using the built-in test button they are protected. The receptacle might be ungrouded.
In the situations I’m talking about, the receptacles showed an intact working ground. In bathrooms where 1 self-breakered GFCI receptacle may protect all vanity receptacles in other bathrooms (2-3-4), testing of these showed intact grounds but the GFCI would not trip when tested from the remote locations.
My thinking is that the GFCI receptacle test button is providing a fairly high internal bypass current . This causes a large imbalance at the sensing coil which will cause it to trip immediately. One of my testers causes a current differential in milliamp steps up to 10 milliamps, at which the GFCI should trip. The two others, a $12 three light and a $300 Suretest, also do not trip the GFCI. In my opinion, the GFCI is not as sensitive as it should be to current leakage and I call to have it replaced.
Had another odd GFCI situation today:
-15 year old, 2 storey house
main floor washroom vanity GFCI receptacle also protected the regular vanity receptacles in the 2 upper bathrooms. All showed proper wiring and grounding
the GFCI receptacle “tripped” when its test button was pushed . It would not trip when tried with my tester.
-when tested with my tester from the 2 upstairs receptacles, the washroom GFCI tripped
-went downstairs to check/reset the GFCI; found the GFCI receptacle was still energized even though the unit had been tripped from upper level receptacles! I didn’t check that the trip of the GFCI by its own test button left the unit energized. (I should have checked just for interests sake but had already called it in my notes and had to move on due to time constraints)
I still believe that testing a GFCI receptacle by pushing its "test’ button is not the best way to ensure that it is wired correctly or working as intended.
It is the only recognized method of testing the 5 milliamp level of trip. If you are having trouble getting you plug-in tester to trip the GFCI device then two things comes to mind.
One the equipment grounding conductor is not intact
Two the receptacle is wired in reverse or in other words the line load is reversed.
It is the only “recognized” procedure, but it is not a definitive test, and should not be used as your only basis for determining proper operation of the GFCI protection.
Jeff, could you expand on this? If UL and the device manufacturers tell you to use the test button, why would this not be sufficient?
GFCI testers. If you’re from Missouri and simply don’t believe the internal test circuit, then you need to exercise care in selecting the GFCI tester and in interpreting the results. It wasn’t until the 1993 Edition of UL 1436, Safety Standard for Outlet Testers and Similar Devices, that the requirements for GFCI testers were coordinated with the requirements for GFCIs themselves. Testers that are not UL listed and UL-listed testers produced prior to 1993 may contain test circuits that do not properly test the GFCI. Indeed, they may indicate an unsatisfactory test when the GFCI is functioning fully in accordance with the UL GFCI standard.
Some testers not meeting UL 1436-1993 have timing circuits that limit the test current to a duration of 200 ms. If the GFCI takes more than 200 ms to trip (as permitted by UL), these testers may never trip some GFCIs that are in full compliance with UL requirements. Therefore, if you choose to use a GFCI tester, make sure it’s listed to the 1993 Edition of UL 1436.
Some GFCI testers are relatively simple circuit testers with an additional test button. Others have milliammeters or dials that can be used to select various test currents. When using any of these more sophisticated testers, do not assume that it’s accurately checking the calibration of the GFCI. There is very likely some capacitive leakage and possibly some harmless ground fault leakage “preloading” the GFCI. Consequently, a GFCI that is tripping within the UL time/current requirements may, according to the tester, be tripping at 3mA. In this case, the tester is simply giving a misleading reading.
Reverse polarity. Since testers establish a test circuit between hot and equipment ground, if the receptacle into which the tester is plugged is wired with reverse polarity, there will not be a voltage across the tester and test current will not flow. The GFCI will not trip and thus the GFCI might erroneously be considered defective.
Testing GFCIs on nongrounding circuits. Testers should not be used to test GFCIs installed as replacements for two-wire receptacles on nongrounding circuits. By design, GFCI testers will not test a GFCI protecting a 2-wire circuit and can expose the user to a potential shock.
The test button integral to the GFCI applies the test current between hot and neutral. This is not the case with GFCI testers; the test current in these devices is applied between hot and the equipment ground. Therefore, if there is no equipment ground, no test current will flow. If there are any exposed metal parts connected to the receptacle grounding contact (such as a metal face plate or a weatherproof cover), they will be energized by the test device. Since some of the test devices apply up to a 30mA test current; using such a tester on a 2-wire circuit while touching a metal cover plate could result in an uncomfortable shock.
Keys to testing GFCIs.
Use the GFCI integral test button.
Check for line-load reversal using the GFCI integral test button supplemented with a lamp or appliance.
Be sure that any GFCI tester used is listed to the current UL standard.
Do not use GFCI testers on two-wire nongrounding circuits.
The use of GFCIs, both required and otherwise, has mushroomed over the years, from just underwater swimming pool lights in 1968 to 33 references in the 1993 NEC, with even more to come. Now that GFCI installations number in the millions per year, repetitiveness can result in complacency. Not all GFCIs are alike. The installation layout needs to be evaluated and the most appropriate GFCI selected for the job, and you must adhere to all wiring instructions and markings.
The newest GFIs will not reset if the line and load are reversed. They are also supposed to have an end-of-life component so that if they have failed the power is cut unlike the older ones that stayed on and made you think you had protection.
I have often found (when using the built-in test button) that the mechanism will “trip,” but will not open the circuit. So the simple push-button test is not definitive.
My protocol is to trip the circuit - either internally or by introducing a simulated ground fault - and then verifying with one of my instruments that the circuit has opened.
If the GFCI device is defective, an externally introduced ground-fault will not trip the internal circuit-tester, nor will it open the circuit, so I consider the external method to be more reliable.
A home owner relying on the internal test button without additional verification, may be lulled into a false sense of security believing the GFCI is operational when, in fact, it is not.
Additionally, many older GFCI devices will trip and open the circuit only when a large fault is introduced. My SureTest provides only a 7.4 ma load for a maximum of 6.5 seconds to determine proper operation.
I tested one this morning that would not trip at 7.4 ma, but tripped at 2.8 amps of impedance. The internal test button worked every time I tried it, but the load required to actually open the circuit was too great. Again, this gives a false impression that the device is functioning “properly.”