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  • GFCI Testers

    Do you test jobsite GFCIs?

    If so are you using an external tester such as the Greenlee, Dale, or Tenma tester?

    If you are testing does your company have it written into their safety manual or are you doing so because of OSHA 1926.404(b)(1)(ii) ?

    Are you aware that OSHA DOES NOT recommend using external testers?

    Take a look at this interpretation from 1994.

    http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owad...ONS&p_id=21410

    Why am I bringing this up? Because two journeyman electricians stated in a recent safety training class I attended that:

    1) The built-in tester can not properly test the GFCI.
    2) Repeated use of the internal tester will damage the
    GFCI and render it useless.
    3) That ALL GFCIs produced prior to 1991 were recalled and
    should be replaced.


    So, i did the following;

    Searched the CPSC and other websites for information on GFCI recalls. I found that a few different makes had been recalled years ago but no blanket recall as they had stated.

    I searched the internet for information on testing GFCIs. I did not find even one instance where it was recommended to not test them. In fact, as you might expect, just about every website said to test monthly plus an additional test following thunderstorms. I found no mention of testing ruining the device, and nothing which stated that external testers do a better job than the built-in tester. The reference URL above to OSHA's site says that external testers can actually be less accurate then the built-in tester.

    I also found that the price of GFCI testers is all over the map, from $19 to over $750, so whats the story?


    UPDATE: as usually happens when looking at GOV websites, there is more to the story than first appears. When I did my initial search the following interpretation from 2003 was not listed, and the 1994 interpretation was not updated to state that it had been rescinded in 2003;

    http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owad...ONS&p_id=24545

    The more recent interpretation recognizes that Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) devices are now available to test GFCIs.

    The 2003 interpretation states in part:

    "In light of these new testers, the policy, as stated in the February 16, 1994 memo - "Testing Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters", forbidding the use of external GFCI testers a s a means of determining compliance is revised. The new policy which shall be followed is that if a compliance officer is using an external GFCI tester as a means of determining compliance, the tester must be listed by a NRTL to meet UL 1436 requirements. . . . "
    Last edited by Bob D.; 03-11-2006, 04:50 PM.
    "When we build let us think we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone upon stone, that a time is to come when these stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, "See! This our fathers did for us."
    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

  • #2
    Originally posted by Bob D.
    Do you test jobsite GFCIs?
    Not very often. On the sites I work at, the friendly quasi-OSHA inspector guy the GC hired does regular safety inspections, including testing GFI's at the temps.

    Why am I bringing this up? Because two journeyman electricians stated in a recent safety training class I attended that:

    1) The built-in tester can not properly test the GFCI.
    2) Repeated use of the internal tester will damage the GFCI and render it useless.
    3) That ALL GFCIs produced prior to 1991 were recalled and should be replaced.
    1.) First, then why does the factory bother producing them that way? Second, then how would you test GFI's in older dwellings with no ground?
    2.) Well, I guess there are wear items, but it's a fairly humorous statement. How do you test a GFI without tripping it and wearing it out?
    3.) Chances are, any GFI installed prior to 1991 is nearing the end of it's useful life, and should probably fail a test shortly. Swapping it out would be a prudent move. GFI's for temp use generally only last six months in the field, with the violent treatment they recieve.

    I share your skepticism.

    I also found that the price of GFCI testers is all over the map, from $19 to over $750, so whats the story?
    I generally buy $10 ones from Home Depot, because I can't hang on to one to save my life. Where did you find one for $750? Got a link?

    "In light of these new testers, the policy, as stated in the February 16, 1994 memo - "Testing Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters", forbidding the use of external GFCI testers a s a means of determining compliance is revised. The new policy which shall be followed is that if a compliance officer is using an external GFCI tester as a means of determining compliance, the tester must be listed by a NRTL to meet UL 1436 requirements. . . . "
    Notice, it doesn't forbid using the built-in test button. They are just officially recognizing the plug in tester as a "tester" and not an "indicator". They are allowing a second method, not forbidding the primary method.

    For example, there are no AFCI "testers" on the market (that I've heard of). There are AFCI "indicators", that generally cause most AFCI's to trip, but if the external tester fails to do so, it can't be considered conclusive. The only accurate manufacturer-recognized testing method is the test button on the breaker itself.

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's some links to sites I found today. I even turned up one for an Arc Fault Tester;

      http://www.arcfaulttester.com/


      http://www.tenma.com/ Search for Model No. 72-6791 in Continuity / Voltage Testers

      http://www.greenlee.textron.com/arch...%20MA-4294.pdf


      5708 - Greenlee 5708-GFCI and Circuit Tester - $99.97
      http://www.toolup.com/ProductInfo.as...8&Man=Greenlee


      http://www.protoolsdirect.com/product.asp?sku=2312
      Greenlee 57081 GFCI Inspector and Circuit Tester - Price: $229.58
      Manufacturer: Greenlee Textron
      Manufacturer Part Number: 34524


      Dale Technology 2000 LIM/GFCI Tester - $795.00
      OK, its a Line Isolation and a Ground Fault tester, but $795.00 ??
      http://www.stanleysupplyservices.com....aspx?id=10104
      "When we build let us think we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone upon stone, that a time is to come when these stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, "See! This our fathers did for us."
      John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bob D.
        Here's some links to sites I found today. I even turned up one for an Arc Fault Tester;
        Notice the date on the top: 2/20/03. It's probably not a tester, it's likely an indicator. There has been a little controversy over this, as the devices that came out when the AFCI requirement kicked in full swing were truly "indicators" being called "testers", even by the UL.

        The UL issued a statement to get all us housemonkey's out of the fire when the inspectors' fancy gizmos didn't trip breakers that were too smart for the "tester". Some of us would keep swapping out breakers, until we got lucky and one would finally trip, so we could pass inspection.

        OK, its a Line Isolation and a Ground Fault tester, but $795.00 ??
        All a plain old GFCI tester is comprised of is a resistor between the hot and ground pins, through the button on the tester. It's late enough my math is gone for the night, so I can't reliably tell you the size of the resistor (30000 ohms?!?) - but it should trip the GFCI when 4ma passes through to ground.

        When they start straying from that, you're really buying whatever the additional functions are. It's like calling something a bike. Is it a Schwinn, or a Harley?

        Comment


        • #5
          http://www.toolup.com/productinfo.as...-ECA0CA2E46E6}
          this is the only gfci tester i carry and we also run around the house and check all the plugs before we put the cover plates on. The company provides the other testing equipment.
          "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
          "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?

          Comment


          • #6
            ...we also run around the house and check all the plugs before we put the cover plates on.
            Really? Kinda eats up some labor, doesn't it?

            Comment


            • #7
              Ya but atleast when we leave we know that every thing is working right.
              "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
              "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?

              Comment


              • #8
                Way to go Polar Sparky

                " Ya but at least when we leave we know that every thing is working right. "

                I like it when people work and think this way. Makes it easier to sleep at night not having to wonder if the place you worked last week is gonna burn to the ground on account of something you did (or didn't) do. And for those that live or work there it should make them feel safer too. It's easy enough to make a mistake, but to not check your work (especially energized equipment) when you had the chance seems crazy to me.

                How many innocent people are killed or injured every year because someone else took a shortcut or make an assumption?

                Way to go Polar Sparky, keep up the good work.
                "When we build let us think we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone upon stone, that a time is to come when these stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, "See! This our fathers did for us."
                John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bob D.
                  It's easy enough to make a mistake, but to not check your work (especially energized equipment) when you had the chance seems crazy to me.
                  Bob, to be clear, we do hot check.

                  Disclaimer: Now follows my opinion on the "plates after" idea. It's just my opinion, I'm not saying Polar and his folks are crazy, or lesser, or whatever. I do feel rather strongly on the issue, but folks can do as they please in their own work, and I respect that. If he feels the practice is more efficient, then it probably is for him, because conviction in a practice is probably more important than the efficiency of the practice itself.

                  But we put the covers on as we trim the house, because if you don't, it's one more trip to every single box in the house, to put the cover on. Besides, if you're short any plates, it's better to notice it before you're walking out the door.

                  To take the analogy out a bit further, we had a group of guys who thought it was a great idea to have one guy go around and strip the conductors, and hook them up to the switches/outlets. Then the next guy would walk along behind, and screw the devices into the wall. If there was a third guy, he'd put the coverplates on. They called it "the assembly line." "It's faster, cause it's like an assembly line, you just do one thing over and over again..."

                  As though switching and plugging isn't monotonous enough.

                  How much walking between boxes was going on? Is that more efficient than one guy with a pair of strippers, a drill, and a twisty screwdriver doing all the work at one time? In my opinion, not by a long shot.

                  But again, just my opinion.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We put the cover plates on later then we wouldn't be taking the cover plate back of once we tested it and found problems. It did save us time and it was easy for the journeymen to see where the problems were. I'm all for speed but having 3 people go around the house is a bit odd. I would start from one corner and fallow the walls around and put in every outlet ans switch along the way. This also gave me time off of my knees when we had four gange switch's. The other guy would do switches and then outlets but i usually had most of the outlets done by that time. We had to go through kitchen and put the "gfci protected" stickers on all the counter top outlets. It only takes a few minutes to buzz through the whole house again and check things.
                    "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
                    "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We put the cover plates on later then we wouldn't be taking the cover plate back of once we tested it and found problems.
                      Oh, ye of little faith!

                      Do you rough and trim your own stuff, or do other people wind up trimming your stuff, and vice versa? What kind of houses do you do?

                      We had to go through kitchen and put the "gfci protected" stickers on all the counter top outlets.
                      Why? Is this a local requirement?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I don't argue with the boss on how he does things and The inspectors do have us label GFCI protected outlets.
                        "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
                        "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          We test each receptacle

                          All gfci's are tested and tripped, all afci's are tested and tripped, all receptacles are tested. We also test then install the coverplate.

                          By the way, the inspector also tests and trips all gfci's and all afci's, and checks all receptacles.

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