Testing for a Grounded outlet

I know absolutely nothing about electrical wiring and I'm not even sure this is the correct place to post this. I didn't know where else
to post but I figure someone here should be able to help. So, sorry for any inconvenience.
Is there a way I can safely test whether an outside electrical outlet in the shed is grounded? I'm sure at one point it was grounded but some wires were accidentally cut/dug up and now it's all hooked up a bit differently. From what I was told is that the underground wires were cut and now the two "live" wires have been inserted into a heavy duty outside extension cord which plugs into an outlet in the garage. The third or grounding prong on the extension cord has been broken off or was never there to begin with. When the plug on the extension cord got wet once it apparently kicked the breaker because the outlet in the shed wouldn't work. Another time something happened where the outlet wouldn't work and the GFI outlet in the master bathroom in the house had to be reset.
Basically, I need to use the outlet in question to plug in a heated pet pad for the stray animals since it's been really cold around here lately. Before I do that I want to make sure the outlet is grounded in case the pet pad shorts out or something, I don't want the animals to get electrocuted. I know the pad says it's best to plug it into a GFI outlet but is there something I could use in place of that, like a surge protector perhaps? That is, assuming the outlet is grounded.
Thanks, Mike
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Apparently the outlet is already GFI protected from the Master Circuit you mentioned. Nevertheless you can purchase a small extension with GFI protection from HarborFreight.Com if you still feel you need added protection for your bewildered friends.
They won't be shocked with GFCI protection, they trip with a minimal 005 volts reaction to ground on it's circuit...
If it trips for no reason you need to isolate the circuit wiring to your shed from ground, what the heck have it replaced with a new circuit on a GFCI breaker the little critters and your family will be Grateful & Safer.
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http://images.google.com/images?&q=outlet-tester
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yeah that OTI gif gadget should tell you if everything is in t's place and there is one that tests GFCI Receptacles too.
I've got one, but seems to me if the circuit is working and isolated from earth it's good.
The GFCI Receptacle inside the home would trip if it was Earth Grounded or shorted somehow., so would any GFCI Breaker you used to replaced the regular breaker. that's what they do .
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GFCI protection operates on a Ground Fault condition by detecting an imbalance in current flow between two or more current carrying conductors. If a path for current flow develops where a portion of the current is diverted from its normal path, and the current imbalance in the conductors is greater than the set point of the GFCI device, it SHOULD trip (I'll let someone else try it out, thank you). The ground fault path could be via the grounding conductor, or through a pet, stock animal, and/or person to ground (not necessarily through the grounding conductor). There needn't be a grounding conductor present for the GFCI device to operate.
Some potential flaws in the thought process so far might include the common misconception that one can't receive a shock, lethal or otherwise, from a GFCI protected circuit, and that a circuit tester like the one in the link in a previous post is proof of a grounding conductor in a circuit being in good operating condition.
If one were to accidentally connect opposing limbs between two current carrying conductors (i.e.. a hot & neutral) of a GFCI protected circuit, and be effectively isolated from ground (dry conditions in tennis shoes) they could receive a lethal shock without the GFCI device activating (no resulting imbalance in the current carrying conductors). There are other conditions where a GFCI device may not function as you perceive it should, and leave you with a somewhat "frazzled hair, deer in the headlights" look. :o)
A three lamp circuit tester can indicate there is continuity in a ground circuit, but not to what degree it will support current flow (the lamp in the tester operates at a very small current level). While it's a good go no-go test, a ground circuit with one or more resistive connections (which could limit current flow), or a conductor with one small strand of the conductor being the only portion touching and conducting (which would instantly melt if subjected to high current), could render a ground circuit incapable of offering a good enough current path during a ground fault to trip the over-current device. This could result in sustained ground current at a level insufficient to trip the over-current device, or leaving the frame of a device hot. The only secure method of testing a grounding circuit would be to cause a significant, but limited current to flow in it while measuring voltage drop.
In most instances the above issues aren't part of the equation, but sometimes all it takes is once.
Louis-- ********************************************* Remove the two fish in address to respond
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jee what are you doing? verbatim from your notes we'l nickname you "Prof"
all he wants is to keep his critters warm:-) not pass Module 6 of Class 2 };-)
great info, i hope you know what you'e doing.There I said it first :-)
Happy New Years in 2.594 hrs.
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The shock will only last milliseconds, it doesn't take much time to trip a GFCI. any living thing will survive, this is not just Theoretical Speculation as suggested, otherwise you better get back to drawing board and No I Don't want to test it with my body, that;s why it was Designed, beCause we dislike getting shocks as much as the may be dangerous. it uses a very little change it voltage to cutoff., I won't volunteer any more Math on te subject.
Be Careful & Have a Happy New Year in 1.549 hrs
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This is absolutely false. It is quite possible, admittedly under unusual conditions, to get a fatal shock from a GFCI protected fixture.

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Mike, Here is a Home Depot link, I used the American site, not knowing what country you live in. It will show you exactly what you are looking for, Take care, Mod
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One of the home repair newsgroups is probably a better place for this sort of question.
Find your telephone directory, look in the classified section, get an electrician. This arrangement doesn't sound safe or practical and if you don't know about wiring, get the advice of someone who does (and who's seen the wiring in question). Extension cords must never be used as a substitute for fixed wiring! This is a sure sign of amateur butchery and may indicate other problems that present a fire hazard.
Bill
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You're right, But, nobody has suggested he use a plan ole hazrd prone extension cord., I did mention a GFCI Adapter Cord which he can use between his Up to Code Receptacle and the Warmer during such cold spells.
Problems with Damaged Circuitry or Wiring should be handled by an Skilled or Licensed Electrician.
Engineers have already done there part to resolve these issues for you friend.
Have a Safe & Happy New 05
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Roy Q.T. wrote:

No - but in the original post, he indicated that the wiring to the shed was damaged and a jury-rigged repair was done: "From what I was told is that the underground wires were cut and now the two "live" wires have been inserted into a heavy duty outside extension cord which plugs into an outlet in the garage."
This sounds like a serious mess. If it turns out that what he was told is true, then it IS a serious mess. All the crap about GFCI's not only misses that point, it hides it. It can lead the OP, who states "I know absolutely nothing about electrical wiring" to think that all he needs to do is use a GFCI. Bill has it right - get an electrician in there and get the shed wired correctly.
Ed

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what are you guyz talking about ???
I suggested an approach (As Is) and ultimately advised him to have a New Protected Circuit Drawn out for Absolute Safety on my first response.
WATT ! GFI Trips Fatal ?
Only if you Grab onto the Line Side with it Dangling Off the Wall like a good Moronics Technician. I tape them up anyway despite the inset and low clearance.too many little tekitos around.
Believe Me: No One is Dying from a GFI TRIP on my watch., not even Granny.
anyone wants to get together form a chain and try it ? };-)
I'm Down Prof.
Zee, I'm loaded & probably have the least impedance of the attendants present.
First; We'll use the little LED gadget trip tester and multiple meters in all configurations to record the Actual Cut Off Current & resulting Voltage, okay ? };-) Better Yet: we can Carefully harness a dirty city subway or sewer rat with a Lead from the 110AC Load Side of a GFCI reset the GFI receptacle/breaker and toss it in a puddle for Oh Maggoo !
I wouldn't try the reset while it's sill ~>
Just How did they Test Them ?
WARNING ! Don't do any of this without me or a Qualified Professor I have other techniques Like putting the common lead from the GFCI in & out of the puddle.
i don't want to miss any ovit
Why The Prof. ? you may ask, Only He Can Deal with., no, you' hold the rat };-)
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Roy Q.T. wrote:

We are talking about the proper fix for the problem described. 1) The cut wires must be disconnected from the premises wiring. 2) The extension cord wiring to the shed must be replaced with a proper circuit.
A GFCI will not do either 1) or 2).
You put the correct fix- getting an electrician in there to wire it properly - in the "what the heck" category, giving it very little importance, and predicated the need for that fix on the GFI tripping. You said: "If it trips for no reason you need to isolate the circuit wiring to your shed from ground, what the heck have it replaced with a new circuit on a GFCI breaker the little critters and your family will be Grateful &Safer."
You should be advised that your posting stating "They won't be shocked with GFCI protection, they trip with a minimal 005 volts reaction to ground on it's circuit..." is incorrect, as is your proposed method of determining the "Actual Cut Off Current & resultingVoltage". No, it is not okay to use the "little LED gadget trip tester."
Ed

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Look for what ever reason you are hitting on my reponses, Stop It ! Okay....
from my side, you are not helping much either.
An Inspector would tell Him, do it or I'll have you disconnect it,You're like, do it or you'll Die !, I'm just saying if you have too many doubts, replace it Life will appreciate it. Now, Doesn't that sound less Stressful ? and Alarming.
If he just wants to Test the Ground on the Receptacle for a Shunt to earth: YES the little LED tested will tell him if it is shunted, So Flux Off Already ! you don't even know what you writing .
Who gives a shit if the circuits wiring are spliced @ some point, or looks beat, as long as it's safe & working.
You don't have to do or spend anything else, unless you've got plenty of money & a fantastic budget after expenses,to make it look Pretty as well, other than the Extra Watt Hours., helping those animals ia a Noble Gesture so I was being nice about it.
Blast You ! for Creeping the Whole Thing Out !
End this thread I'm starting to feel annoyed here.,
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If you're correct about how this outlet is wired--the hot and neutral (black and white) wires plugged into an extension cord, which is missing its ground plug--then it is not grounded. This is an unsafe method of wiring and is a violation of the National Electrical Code. You really should have a competent electrician fix this circuit properly.
A surge protector is not a substitute for a GFI. A GFI outlet is fairly cheap (I've seen them for $5) and is easy to install in place of a regular outlet. There are also portable GFI outlets that simply plug in to the existing outlet. These run around $40 or so. However, it sounds like the outlet in the shed is already protected by the GFI outlet in the master bath.
--
-- Steve

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This sounds like a fairly hazardous situation. I'd suggest getting a new extension cord. You can buy one that has a built in GFCI.

Surge protectors provide no protection at all from electric shock, and in fact may cause GFCIs to trip due to leakage current they sometimes exhibit. I don't know that a grounded outlet will provide the protection for the critters that you seek, but a GFCI will provide good protection. remember to test it regularly. GFCIs fail with astonishing regularity, and tend to fail leaving the power on.

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