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I have an ungrounded circuit in my house with three-wire grounded receptacles. If I install a GFCI, will the downstream receptacles be protected even if the GFCI is ungrounded?

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Absolutely, as long as you place the load wires going to the downstream receptacles onto the LOAD terminals of the GFCI receptacle.

A GFI does NOT need an equipment grounding conductor to function properly. In fact, using a GFI at the beginning of the circuit is what will allow you to legally and safely use 3-prong receptacles downstream. Thing is, this does not create an equipment ground for equipment protection for things such as surge suppressors.

By code you are supposed to label any non-grounding downstream receptacles "No equipment ground present".

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  • Is there a limit to the number of receptacles protected by a single GFI? – glenviewjeff Sep 6 '15 at 13:09
  • From checking various seemingly reputable online sources, as well as checking my Leviton GFCI, it seems there is no limit on the number of outlets you can protect. Bonus advice: the cheap GFCI testers won't trip the GFCI if they're not grounded. I thought I got a bad GFCI until I realized this. – glenviewjeff Sep 7 '15 at 1:43
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    There is no limit technically. We typically limit load side devices to 5-6. Every device will have a tiny amount of leakage, so with too many on the load side there is an increased chance of nuisance tripping. – Speedy Petey Sep 7 '15 at 18:05

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