To correct receptacles testing as open ground, I could put a GFCI as first receptacle, my understanding, if I install everything right, the load after the GFCI, should correct (or protect) the open ground on the following receptacles in that circuit, depending on the GFCI specs.

My question is: How do the receptacles test after the GFCI is installed. Will they still test as an open ground? That's why you put the stickers on. Or should it test Good. And if still testing as an open ground and it should not be after installing the GFCI, what could be the problem?

Thanks for any help.


1 Answer 1


The stickers are mandatory. If you don't like the aesthetic of the ones that come in the GFCI box, feel free to "brew your own". They only need to say the words. And while you're at it, have them state where the reset is located.

If you properly install 3-prong receptacles without ground after a GFCI device, you should expect that a 3-light tester will read up 1 yellow light only (no second yellow). If you read the sticker that interprets "1 yellow", that will suggest "open ground'... but all those interpretations are useless, misleading and a waste of your time. Ignore them.

If you push the "GFCI test" button, it will be normal for it to fail to trip the GFCI.

Keep in mind that novices are poorly equipped to recognize two exceptional situations:

  • No ground wires, but there is metal conduit or metal jacketed cable which is an approved grounding path. It is normal not to see ground wires in this case.
  • There is flex metal conduit or metal jacketed cable which is not an approved grounding path, but does connect ground well enough to operate the 2nd yellow light, to trip the GFCI, and provide transient ESD protection to equipment.

An example of unapproved grounding paths is BX cable, which has a spiral shield with poor electrical conductivity across the spirals. So it isn't like a wire of its width, more like a much longer spiral ribbon resistor. Good enough for ESD and GFCI... but if a dead hot-ground short occurs, a common condition, it will not flow the 100-200A needed to get an instant trip from the breaker. Instead it will "glow cherry red", potentially starting a fire.

  • BX cable was approved in the past and was a legal grounding method. This goes back to what was approved when the structure was wired. The difference back when it was legal & where BX can be dangerous is where it was not connected box to box on many older homes I find short runs of isolated BX this was legal back then so knowing how it was wired and when makes a difference but since code recently started allowing a separate ground to be pulled you can meet the latest code by pulling a new ground and then you don’t need stickers.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Feb 12, 2021 at 23:35

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