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.
Apparently the outlet is already GFI protected from the Master Circuit
Nevertheless you can purchase a small extension with GFI protection from
HarborFreight.Com if you still feel you need added protection for your
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 &
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 .
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.
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.
Remove the two fish in address to respond
jee what are you doing? verbatim from your notes we'l nickname you
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.
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
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.
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
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
Have a Safe & Happy New 05
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 ?
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
i don't want to miss any ovit
Why The Prof. ? you may ask, Only He Can Deal with., no, you' hold the
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 "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."
Look for what ever reason you are hitting on my reponses, Stop It !
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.,