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A GFCI outlet recently stopped working so I replaced it myself. This GFCI outlet is connected to another standard outlet and a third outlet which is more like a strip.

  • A GFCI tester on the GFCI outlet and the first standard outlet shows that the wiring is correct, and trips when the test button is pressed.
  • On the third outlet, I get power flowing, but I get the lights for "Open Ground" on the GFCI tester and the test button on the GFCI tester does not trip at all.
  • However, when I press the test button on the GFCI tester, I get the lights indicator for "Hot/Neutral Reversed."

I believe I wired the GFCI outlet correctly, but what should I be looking for? I only changed the GFCI outlet, but did not touch the other two outlets.

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  • Please post photos of each (opened) wall box and outlet to show the various wires and how they are connected.
    – Armand
    Feb 20, 2023 at 5:07

2 Answers 2

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A GFCI tester depends on a working ground to test the gfci functionality. If does this by connecting a resistor across live and ground to induce a ground fault, which if ground is not connected looks like live and ground are at the same potential instead of neutral and ground as it should be.

If you cannot figure out the ground connection, then this setup is an allowed configuration assuming you mark every protected outlet without working ground with "no equipment ground" in addition to the "GFCI protected" I'm sure was already there from when the original GFCI was installed.

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There should be a green or bare ground wire which connects to every receptacle, unless you have individual wires in metal conduit. That ground wire is either not connected or connected improperly somewhere. That could either be at the last "good" receptacle or at the "bad" receptacle.

With cables (as opposed to individual wires in conduit), most of the time the ground is connected using the bare wire in each cable to the receptacle ground screw (whether GFCI or not). However, if you have metal boxes instead of plastic and good quality receptacles (should be any GFCI/receptacle, and better quality plain receptacles) and ground wire connected to the metal box then the receptacle ground will be connected automatically via the metal yoke of the receptacle touching the metal box. In addition, sometimes (in my old house at least) the bare ground wire is connected on the outside of a metal box but still provides a good ground to the box and to the receptacles via the yoke - but you don't see any ground wire inside the box.

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  • There is a ground (bare copper) wire connected to the GFCI receptacle. Should there be more than one wire connected there? I did not see any other wires there. I still have to figure out how to open the downstream outlet strip. But is the current situation worrisome on this circuit? Feb 20, 2023 at 0:07
  • Unless you have metal conduit, you should have two bare grounds on the GFCI - one "in" (from the same cable as the "line" hot/neutral) and one "out" (from the same cable as the "load" hot/neutral). Feb 20, 2023 at 0:13
  • I have only one bare ground on the GFCI (also the old one that I removed had this). But I wanted to mention that the first downstream standard outlet does give a correct reading and also trips. I do have two white wires (one line, and the other load) and two gray wires (one line, and the other load, for hot) on the other side. Feb 20, 2023 at 0:18
  • Hopefully the gray wires are really "dirty black". Are the receptacles in metal boxes? Feb 20, 2023 at 0:40
  • The gray wires could be dirty black: they had been painted over white, ha! I guess the cubicle housing the receptacle could be called a box. The GFCI outlet is with a switch to the left, however the switch is on a different circuit. Feb 20, 2023 at 0:49

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