I just finished a home wiring project which has a set of outlets protected by a GFCI outlet. I was testing them with an outlet tester and noticed something odd:

Immediately after a GFCI test, my outlet tester reported that the GFCI protected outlets had an open ground. If I did a second test, the error went away.

I was able to repeat this consistently - every other test I'd see an "open ground" indicator.

Is my GFCI outlet defective?

Update: I'm using a simple outlet tester, like this one.

  • 2
    Are you saying they test open ground after the GFCI is tripped and AFTER you reset it, or BEFORE you reset it? Also, are you sure you have a grounded system and the downstream protected (load) outlets are grounded?
    – ArchonOSX
    Dec 28, 2015 at 15:38
  • There are specialized outlet testers for GFCI circuits. (If you scroll down on your link you will see one; it has a center red button.) You might try one of these before you assume there is a problem.
    – bib
    Dec 28, 2015 at 16:37
  • The tester shows open ground after triggering the test. My steps are: 1. Check outlet- shows closed ground. 2. Test gcfi. 3. Reset gfci. 4. Test outlet- shows open fround. 5. Test gcfi. 6. Reset gfci. 7 Check outlet- shows closed ground.
    – T.D. Smith
    Dec 28, 2015 at 16:59
  • I'd check the ground wires in the GFCI outlet box (and any upstream junction boxes) -- it may just be an intermittent ground that coincidentally appears to happen with every other GFCI reset - maybe the vibration from the GFCI tripping is making the wires make/break contact. When you installed the outlet, you may have inadvertently knocked a ground wire loose from a poorly installed wire nut. The ground wire should be pigtailed to the GFCI so nothing within the GFCI itself should cause any changes in ground.
    – Johnny
    Dec 28, 2015 at 21:20
  • I will check the ground. Does it matter that there is another GFCI outlet upstream from the one I'm testing?
    – T.D. Smith
    Dec 28, 2015 at 22:32

1 Answer 1


sounds more like something is wired wrong. The test button should drop the hot, not the ground. with the hot out, your tester would be dead all 3 lights. The black wire should go to the brass colored screw. The white wire should go to the silver screw. The bare copper should go to the green screw. these are on the feeder side, the wires to any other outlets follow the same color code but they should be fed from the bottom looking at the back of the GFCI outlet.

  • 3
    Not all GFCI receptacles are the same, and "top" and "bottom" also depend on which way you install the receptacle. When talking about GFCI devices, it's best to refer to the terminals as "LINE" and "LOAD".
    – Tester101
    Dec 28, 2015 at 15:15
  • This was the issue. I didn't find a specific flaw, but after rewiring some upstream boxes, the problem ceased.
    – T.D. Smith
    Jan 4, 2016 at 15:21

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