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Question DetailsAsked on 11/21/2015

Elect.finished work, work didn't pass inspection. Elec. wants to charge to return and fix his work. I say no.

One of the jobs done by the electrician was to install a wall outlet by a bathroom sink, the kind of outlet that has a ground fault circuit interuptor (GFCI) The bldg. inspector checked all the work done in the project, the only problem was the GFCI in the outlet wouldn't trip off when it was tested.
The electrician that did the work came to check it out, but he couldn't figure out the problem. He said that he will ask around and find out what the problem could be. He wants to charge to come back and hopefully fix the problem,
I think that it is part of his original work, and I should not have to pay for him to finish the job so it passes inspection.

Which is the correct way to proceed? Or do I find another electrician?
The electrician was found through this service.

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1 Answer


Certainly he should come back for free and fix it - might or might not be that AL would contact him and get his side of the story if you ask them, but the work he does HAS to meet code, and this is clearly not a case where your plans prevented him from doing that because he followed them.

Slightly different operating methods between different brands and ways of wiring a GFCI circuit, so some of the below may not apply to your case:

Sounds like he either did not test the GFCI when he installed it (which he should have done), and also does not understand how to wire them or failed to read the wiring diagram for that particular one and it is different from ones he is used to.

If a GFCI Breaker - a GFCI functioning breaker located in the breaker box itself - if it fails to trip out when tested then almost certainly the neutral wire coming in from the circuit and/or the white jumper wire from the breaker to neutral bus was not connected, because they very rarely fail to trip. Pretty commonly fail to reset, but not common to fail to trip when tested. It is quite common for an electrician adding a GFCI breaker in place of a regular one to wire the white jumper to the neutral bus because it is hanging out there in plain sight, but forget to reroute the white circuit wire to the right terminal on the breaker.

If a GFCI outlet - with the push buttons on the outlet itself - then the failure could be wiring at the GFCI not done correctly, or possibly if protecting several outlets (maybe in two adjacent bathrooms) maybe he did not put it "first" in line (closest in circuit to circuit breaker), so it protects all "downstream" outlets in same circuit, and the inspector used a circuit tester with GFCI tester on an outleat that was not "downstream" of the GFCI outlet. To protect the entire circuit, it has to be the "first" outlet in line on the circuit. Of course, remotely possible the test button or GFCI is bad - that would be easy to check in 5 minutes by swapping it out for a new one.

Another possibility, depending - he might have done 3-wire wiring on a two-wire system if old house without ground wires, or vice versa: I have seen at least one type of GFCI where that made a difference in how it operated. I had one with a broken ground wire connected to it that failed to act as a GFCI when tested, because it tested by shunting a bit of juice to the ground (so it would detect an imbalance between live and neutral amperage and trip out because of that) - lacking a good ground connection pushing the test button did not divert any power so did not trip out.

Couple of other wiring things that can cause this -

1) reversed polarity with some brands - circuit will work but GFCI will not trip when it should

2) if GFCI breaker, rather than outlet, connected white wire that comes on breaker to neutral, but failed to wire the white circuit wire through the breaker, so it does not "see" the neutral current to compare the amperage flowing in the live feed against. Technically you would think this would cause the breaker to trip immediately, but because there is no neutral current at all too see, with some brands there is no current in the test circuit in the breaker for the breaker to test with so it passes live feed power OK and just acts as a normal circuit breaker, with no GFCI function.

3) GFCI was already tripped or no power to circuit (missing wire connection or breaker or another GFCI on circuit is off) so because it is already tripped or unpowered, cannot trip when tested.

4) GFCI was tested originally but not RESET, so the TEST button was not "rearmed" after the initial test.

5) This sort of thing also happens on 2-wire systems - because there is no ground wire to shunt a bit of power to for testing, even if the GFCI will trip out correctly if there is a fault (neutral and live not carrying identical amperage), the test function will not operate without a connected ground. So it is possible, IF leaving an existing circuit 2-wire during the modification was legal, that the GFCI test button will not work because there is no ground.

As far as asking around - a bit of research on how to wire a GFCI, looking at the instructions that came with it, replacing it with one he knows works elsewhere, or calling the manufacturer should enable him to remedy the problem.

I would say ask him to return and finish the work so it works correctly and passes inspection, and do not pay any more till all his work on the job is done AND inspection is passed. You could drop a hint about asking about this problem on AL (so he knows you will likely be doing a Review on AL), and if he gets nasty you could mention that under the building code and licensing laws work that does not pass building inspection is considered deficient and incomplete - that might put the fear of the regulators in him, because they can cause him a lot more grief than you can.

Sometimes local building departments will, if you talk to the building inspection supaervisor, also give a "friendly hint" call to negligent contractors suggesting they correct or complete the work to pass the inspection or they might find themselves having trouble getting permits issued to them or getting their business license renewed next time around.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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