Feeling Lucky?

Home Inspector with Complete Home Inspections, Inc. TN Lic#050

Feeling Lucky?

Is your GFI device working properly?     As consumers, we trust that items placed in our homes will function properly. We trust that trades men are competent and will install items according to accepted trade practices. Don't push your luck! This is not always the case. 
     One of the most common items we have in our homes are GFI outlets. While the newer ones are pretty much idiot proof, the older styles were not. Apprentices, handymen, weekend warriors and even experienced journeymen were prone to reverse the wiring connections if they were not paying attention. The result? A potential for disaster. Your luck just ran out...
     The only sure way to verify that these items are working properly is to test them.Inexpensive GFI tester Hand-held testers can be purchased at any home improvement stores for around $10. Test the outlet at the master outlet and all down stream outlets on the circuit. If the outlet fails to trip on either test, call an electrician to resolve the issue. The outlet could be defective or wired incorrectly. 
     ALL manufacturers of GFI devices recommend monthly testing. Failure to do so is like betting your life on a roll of the dice. You may get lucky or you just may crap out... 

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Comments (22)

Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Goodness, Michael, another thing I have a few of.  Thank you for the information, I'm off to get a tester....I don't want to "feel lucky."

Mar 22, 2010 11:37 PM
Jackie Connelly-Fornuff
Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY - Babylon, NY
"Moving at The Speed of YOU!"

Hi Michael, I started laughing when I saw the title and the picutres of the GFI outlets, lol. But you are right. I have a tester and check, I would say, every few months or so.

Great advice Michael as always! I feel a reblog coming on!

Have an awesome day! :)

Mar 22, 2010 11:53 PM
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Michael, thanks for the info.  I never realized that monthly testing was recommended.  I doubt that most knew this.

Mar 23, 2010 12:04 AM
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional


Those little testers and handy-dandy and inexpensive. I use them after every electrical storm to make certain that all is well at the Weisser house!

Mar 23, 2010 12:14 AM
Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc
Benchmark Realty LLc - Nashville, TN

Michael - I know these are designed to make it a little safer around water, but I personally really don't ever plan to trip one.

Mar 23, 2010 12:21 AM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Michael, I used one of these testers for walk-thru's. Easy to use and can prevent a potential disaster. Thanks for the reminder.

Mar 23, 2010 01:12 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I had no idea you need to do monthly testing on these...i figured if our inspector told us years ago it was OK, it was ok..hmm..oopps!

Mar 23, 2010 01:31 AM
Craig Rutman
Helping people in transition - Cary, NC
Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor

I have one of those testers and I use it regularly. But, before those wonderful testers I used to have to check my outlets like this......

Mar 23, 2010 01:33 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Michael:  I have a reverse polarity tester in my bag of tricks for walkthrough inspections.  Best to make sure that repairs to outlets are done, and this is the only tool I know of for the job.

Mar 23, 2010 05:03 AM
Diane Osowiecki
Diane O and Friends - Benchmark Realty - Franklin, TN
Greater Nashville Real Estate

Micheal - Great post.  For those of us who are not as smart how do we knw what is the master and what circuits are included?

Mar 23, 2010 05:03 AM
June Tassillo
Owner/Broker RE/MAX Elite Realty - Franklin, NC
Let me help you with the next phase of your life!

Oh my I was laughing so hard at Craig above...That is funny as well you know what!

Michael ~  Believe it or not this is one of my jobs along with shaking toilets when I help my husband do a home inspections.  Most of the time something is wrong in a room or two.

Mar 23, 2010 06:42 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

God bless my little tester, I find so many uses that I don't have to assume any more...

Mar 23, 2010 08:05 AM
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Good post Michael. Plus, if they were to ever actually test these, we home inspectors would less often be accused of having "busted" them.

Mar 23, 2010 10:34 AM
Lee Barroll
SWBC Mortgage - Brentwood, TN

Thanks for the info.  I think I will tweet this.   

Mar 23, 2010 12:14 PM
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate


Thanks for the tip. I didn't know that GFI manufacturers recommend monthly testing.


Mar 23, 2010 12:57 PM
Doug Anderson
Tucker Associates Real Estate Services - Danville, CA
Bay Area Real Estate Views

Thanks for the heads up.  I do check them but not that often.  I must say that I have used Craig's method as a kid and do not recommend it. ~ Doug

Mar 24, 2010 08:24 AM
Al & Peggy Cunningham, Brokers
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage - Brampton, ON
Our Family Wants To Help Your Family!

Really Michael? Did not know older ones may not be fool proof.  How old is 'older'?  Also never thought they needed to be tested monthly either. Thank you for the life saving tip!

Mar 25, 2010 12:13 PM
Suzanne McLaughlin
Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael) - Saint Michael, MN
Sabinske & Associates, Realtor

Okay, what happens?  The things starts an electrical fire?  Just curious.  I have NEVER tested any of my GFIs.  God, I have been so lucky to have survived driving a LandRover which should have been recalled seven years ago.  Is my luck running out or what?  Please tell me I won't burn down next time I run the hair dryer.....or worse. 

Apr 15, 2010 04:02 PM
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

I didn't know those testers were so cheap.  I know what I'm buying the next time I'm at the home improvement store to get a new supply of smoke detectors.

Apr 16, 2010 04:28 AM
Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, Broker/Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

Michael, since I've installed a few of these I did know to check them monthly although I'm not as good about as I should be.  I have found GFCI's that were not working when tested, so it's definitely a good idea. 

Apr 16, 2010 02:59 PM