Does a home inspector check the GFCI receptacles and breakers?
Thursday, July 11, 2019
The standards of practice for both major national home inspector associations and State of Florida’s own standards all specify that the GFCIs should be checked. “Ground fault circuit interrupters” are listed as necessary to be checked on both the American Socity of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and State of Florida standards. The International Association of Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) states that the inspector should inspect “all ground-fault circuit interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers observed and deemed to be GFCIs using a GFCI tester, where possible.”
But how they should be checked and how many of them need to be checked depends on how an inspector interprets the guidelines. It is possible to interpret these standards two ways:
1) Only the receptacles that have a GFCI-device with two buttons in the center are necessary to be tested with the test button, along with GFCI-breakers in a panel with a test button.
2) In wet areas where GFCI-protection is required, all receptacles should be tested to verify GFCI-protection either in the panel or at a nearby receptacle, since a GFCI can protect multiple nearby receptacles downstream on the circuit. A simple plug-in testing device that shunts a little current to ground, like the one shown below, simulates a ground fault and can be used to test all receptacles where GFCI-protection is expected.
One problem with this second method is that the inspector sometimes spends an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out where the GFCI is that was just tripped. And it can be frustrating. See our blog post A receptacle outlet is dead and I think I tripped a GFCI, but can't locate it. Where do I find the GFCI reset? for more on this. But it can uncover receptacles that should have GFCI shock-protection and don’t.
So there are inspectors that test all receptacles that should be GFCI-protected to verify it, and other inspectors that only test wherever there is a test button to push. Also, see our blog post Does a home inspector check every electrical receptacle outlet in a house?
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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about AFCI and GFCI RECEPTACLES AND CIRCUIT BREAKERS:
How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes
for Links to Collections
of Blog Posts