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Thread: Proper way to test circuit safety

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Scubamam's Avatar
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    Default Proper way to test circuit safety

    We had OSHA inspectors enter our office and gave citation for unsafe outlet near a sink. They used a pen like device that lit up at the outlet. There was a gfci outlet on the same circuit that they were unaware of. Did they properly test this circuit? Should they have used different testing devices? Our electrician said that all was done to code and circuit was fine. I need proof of incompetence on their part to win my case. Any help greatly appreciated!

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scubamam View Post
    There was a gfci outlet on the same circuit that they were unaware of.
    Why were they not aware of the GFCI? Was the outlet not marked as being GFCI protected?

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    DIY Junior Member Scubamam's Avatar
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    No, it was on another outlet on the same circuit near the refridg.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    AFAIK there is no code requirement to label a protected outlet but doing so can reduce such nuisance citations. The proper way to test a GFI circuit is with a GFI tester.


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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scubamam View Post
    We had OSHA inspectors enter our office and gave citation for unsafe outlet near a sink. They used a pen like device that lit up at the outlet. There was a gfci outlet on the same circuit that they were unaware of. Did they properly test this circuit? Should they have used different testing devices? Our electrician said that all was done to code and circuit was fine. I need proof of incompetence on their part to win my case. Any help greatly appreciated!
    If you think you will prove incompetence on the part if an OSHA inspector, you have been smoking lefty luckies. The pen device was probably a simple voltage tester. Perhaps he found hot/neutral reversed, but most likely is just hitting up on GFI protection. Just find out exactly what was unsafe, and have your electrician fix it.

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    DIY Junior Member Scubamam's Avatar
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    The electrician already came and said all was to code. We made him change all outlets anyway because we were forced to make immediate change.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Out of curiosity, is this sink in a bathroom, or say a lunch area? If in a bathroom, and the refrigerator was in another room, that would be against code. If in the same room (say a lunch room), it should be okay, but it's generally a poor practice to run the frig and potentially a high current device (say someone plugged in a coffee maker) on the same circuit - it might overload the circuit, and if it tripped the GFCI behind the frig, it could be a big pain to reset, not counting the potential to lose anything that might be in there if nobody noticed quickly.

    But, as long as it is GFCI protected, it should be fine (assumig the GFCI is working).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member Scubamam's Avatar
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    Yes it is a lunchroom and the gfci outlet is in clear sight just to the left of the refrigerator also very near the sink in question. Thanks for all of your help! I also pushed the button on this and had no power near the sink.

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scubamam View Post
    I need proof of incompetence on their part to win my case. Any help greatly appreciated!
    And you think you will find this proof on the internet???

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    DIY Junior Member Scubamam's Avatar
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    No, I want a basic understanding so that I can at least have an intelligent dialogue when I contest this.

  11. #11
    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    Instructions for testing GFCI devices come in the box they are wrapped in. There may be a copy on one of the manufactures web site. I'm sure if you contacted Cooper of Leviton they would be able to help you.

    The inspector did not test the receptacle properly. The only true test is the test button on the device.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    action dave..... of course you are correct, but what do you think about OP's plan to "contest" the dig he got from OSHA???

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    qutoe;of course you are correct, but what do you think about OP's plan to "contest" the dig he got from OSHA

    Well, he can appeal it and probably win, but he had better hope that same inspector does not do the next inspection, because it will be done with a "fine tooth comb".
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    action dave..... of course you are correct, but what do you think about OP's plan to "contest" the dig he got from OSHA???
    The inspector is wrong. I would not start a conversation with him saying so, but I would contest the fine- calmly and politely. If he would not remove the fine I would move up the food chain to his boss.

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    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    There has been no clear description of what the OSHA inspector did, what he tested and how, what the alleged
    infraction was, what the actual situation was at the time, or much else. Surely the OSHA inspector left some sort
    of written notice? To say a GFCI device was "on the same circuit" is pretty much meaningless. Even if there was
    a GFCI present and wired correctly to protect the receptacle in question, it may have failed, as we all know electrical
    devices sometimes do. With no facts, there can be no answers!

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