Ungrounded GFCI

Is an ungrounded GFCI outlet safe?

Yes it does not need grounding

So if I test with the 3 prong tester and it does not trip when the button is pushed and indicates an open ground, this is not a problem? Even w/in 6 feet of water?

This is a problem and is not connected to grounding.

How is this reported?

GFCI did not trip under test. Recommend that it be replaced by a qualified electrical contractor.

Steve did it trip with the test button?
If so then it is ok.
The test button I am refering to is the one on the recepticle itself.
Long as the wiring is not reversed it’s ok.
This subject has been discussed many times so look at the nrew simular threads feature if itr is working and at the bottom of your screen.

Robert, thanks for the info. My eyes are blurry from reading all the info on GFCI’s.

I have one other Q. Is ther an issue if a light is conected to a GFCI outlet? IE: the light goes out when the GFCI is tested?

Steve as far as I know it may just be a common sense issue as far as you will be in the dark everytime the damn thing trips.
Not good practice

Robert’s point is that a GFI will trip if tested with it’s built-in test button, even if it is ungrounded.
It will not trip using a plug-in tester if it is ungrounded since those testers need a real ground for the test button to function.

An ungrounded GFI does not provide a ground. It provides a safer legal ungrounded receptacle.

So, is an ungrounded GFCI outlet near the bathroom sink a safety hazard?

Steve it is perfectly fine as long as it tripped using the test button on the recepticle .
Speedy was reasserting what I said.
Check some of the old threads on this board.
GFCI will trip when it senses electricity not continuing it’s normal path.
If electricity flows through your body it will kill the recepticle .
Regular grounding provides an alternate path for stray electricity.
GFCI with no ground is safer than ground with no GFCI.
Get it now.
Ok to anticipate your next question they do not have GFCI on everything because of cost.
Now do you get it. Good.

An ungrounded GFCI (properly installed and working and trips from the built in test button) is providing GFCI protection. It is not providing grounding, which is an entirely different type of protection.

I would say, to your question, that any ungrounded receptacle in a house is a safety hazard (given current national electrical safety standards). I know that it may be OK, according to some local codes, but that was not your question.

Remember, local codes are only as good as those who write them and are a bare minimum requirement for the local municipality. It is perfectly possible for a house to meet the current local building codes, yet be unsafe.

Happens all the time around here. Ask the guy who got his neck broke when the pull down stairway (which was only secured with drywall screws, not nails) came loose. He will never walk again. This was new construction and the house had passed all code inspections. When asked, the local building dept said that the stairway was not required to be installed with nails and drywall screws were OK.

But it was not safe.

I always rely on current, national codes and manufacurer’s installation instructions, rather than mere local codes.

Given than MOST items in a home only have a two-prong plug, can you elaborate as to why you think this?

Great point Speedy. Will?

If we are speaking of a older home you certainly could recommend updating but as far as the original question go’s GFCI recepticles have absolutly no need for ground .Nor will they be safer as a result.
There may be no cost to much for saftey but we live in reality.
If they do any remodeling it should be updated at that time.

An ungrounded GFCI should be labeled “No Equipment Ground” however.

A GFCI receptacle, new or old, cannot trip with a plug in tester unless there is an EGC connected to the GFCI. There is no path for the test current to flow on without an EGC. When testing GFCIs with the internal test button, you must test for voltage on the GFCI receptacle after you push the test button. A GFCI receptacle that has the power connected to the load terminals will still have power( on older models) on the receptacle even when the button shows that the device has tripped.


The GFCI works because it detects the difference between the grounded and ungrounded conductor.



GFCI is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. The Ground Fault Interrupter is a receptacle that has the ability to open or disconnect the power from the output of the receptacle. The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter is a breaker that has the ability to disconnect the power from a circuit. The ground fault senses a difference in the flow of current from the hot wire through the neutral, if that difference is about 5 milliamps or more the ground fault will trip the circuit out. It actually assumes that if the current is not flowing in the neutral it is flowing through something else. Some motor windings have sufficient losses to cause one to trip out so don’t use a GFCI circuit for a refrigerator or washer outlet. You should use (and the NEC requires) the use of GFCI protected outlets within 6 feet of a sink, anywhere in a bathroom, in a garage or outside; anywhere an outlet can be reached from a water source, a wet area, or earth ground, you should use GFCI protection. A GFCI receptacle has a line side (incoming power) and a load side (outgoing power). The receptacle will not work if the incoming power is connected to the load side of the receptacle. Connect the incoming power to the line marked terminals and the continuation of the circuit (the next outlet) to the load terminals. The one GFCI will protect all the following plugs or receptacles connected in this way. Even if you don’t have a continuation of the circuit, connect the power to the line side of the receptacle. GFCI receptacles and GFCI breakers have a test button that should cause the circuit to trip, operate the test button after installing and regularly there after to be sure it works properly.

Does a grounded, three prong receptacle, provide more safety (consider that most newer electrical devices have three prong plugs… for a reason!) that older two prong plugs.

They are three prong for a reason.

If you have only the older two prongs, the owner will, most likely, just use an adaptor (incorrectly) or break off the “ground bonding conductor” prong.

Is this safe?

Will, FYI

Products such as a computer are limited to a 3.5 mA external case leakage by UL60950. This is not considered a hazardous current when applied to normal skin.