I have a sub panel in my basement that has multiple GFCI circuit breakers. All the 'TEST' buttons work. However, when using a plug tester, they don't cause the breaker to 'Trip'. The tester was tried in another plug that is hooked up 'downstream' from a GFCI plug and it successfully caused the GFCI plug to trip.

UPDATE: In response to questions below:

  1. I can 100% confirm the outlet is connected to the breaker
  2. All grounds are wired correctly both at the panel and the plugs.
  3. I will get a picture here shortly.
  4. The tester used belonged to the inspector. I'm on my way shortly to get my own to confirm.

Just a note here, the breakers in question are ALL GFCI/AFCI combination breakers. Could this be why they don't trip with the tester?

UPDATE: I was able to fix one of the breakers. It turns out the White / Blank wires were reversed (According to the tester I got). Once I fixed this and then ran the GFCI tester, it worked great. I still have one more that I'm looking at will consider the 'Ground' solution proposed.

  • 2
    Lets get the dumb question out of the way - you're sure the outlet in question is connected to the breaker? Turn the breaker off and the outlet is off?
    – JPhi1618
    Aug 2, 2019 at 17:55
  • 1
    Are the grounds wired? Or are the sockets ungrounded? Aug 2, 2019 at 18:02
  • Can you post a picture of the panel (full panel) and the specific breakers (so we can read the part #s)? What model plug tester? Aug 2, 2019 at 18:16

1 Answer 1


It sounds like the GFCI is not grounded. This is the proper method to change from a 2 wire / prong system to a 3 prong and be code compliant. Being close to the service panel you can now legally add a ground wire and the tester will trip the GFCI this recently became legal according to the national electric code. You are not required to add the ground but if close why not. The GFCI will still do its job without a ground. I know you said everything was connected but it sounds like an open ground to me.

In an actual life-safety situation that the GFCI protects, the extra current would be flowing through a person to ground (including just about any path from the person to the rest of the world). But with a tester, the extra current is going directly to the ground pin. If that pin is not connected to anything at all then the current doesn't actually flow (not a complete circuit) - and the GFCI doesn't trip.

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