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Will A GFCI Breaker Protect Ungrounded Outlets

GFCI outlet with reset and test buttons

Understanding your home’s electrical system is a very important step. You need to determine if your home is safe from electrical issues, damage, or death from electrocution. One of the many ways we do that is by having a GFCI breaker in the home as this will protect the ungrounded outlets. Will a GFCI breaker protect ungrounded outlets? Yes, a GFCI without a ground wire will protect ungrounded outlets so now you don’t need to worry.

Let’s take a look below to examine how to wire a GFCI outlet without the ground wire and make sure it trips for safety if the outlet shorts out, even without ground.

Why Is Grounding Important

Grounding your electricity and using a GFCI outlet for your electrical protections are not the same thing. GFCI monitors the electric currents sent out by the circuit breaker. All currents that are hot or neutral are kept in check by the GFCI so that electrocution will not occur. Adding a GFCI to an ungrounded outlet or circuit breaker will only protect against ground faults.

Grounding your circuit breaker will ensure that any outlet on your system will not send electric shock or cause electrocution.

GFCI Circuit Breaker and Protecting Ungrounded Outlets

GFCI circuit protected outlet with reset button.

When a ground fault occurs, the GFCI quickly shuts off the power. The acronym GFCI stands for ground-fault circuit interrupters or GFIs. These are safety devices built into outlets that protect against electrical shock. Making sure that every outlet is grounded by the ground wire is important as well. In addition, GFCI outlets protect all other outlets that are on the same circuit. This includes any tools or appliances that are plugged into the GFCI outlets. However, protection only includes down the circuit so if there is an outlet before the GFCI on the circuit, that outlet is not protected.

Ground fault causes include the following:

    • Using damaged cords or wiring
    • Using equipment in wet areas 
    • Plugging in faulty or leaking tools and appliances                                                           

Will A GFCI Breaker Protect Ungrounded Outlets

A GFCI protected outlet or breaker can detect when more current is coming in on the hot wire than is exiting on the neutral wire. This shuts off the circuit quickly before the current can stray and cause shock or electrocution.

The GFCI protected outlet or breaker does not create a path to the ground. Only a connected ground wire and re-route the electrical current to the ground and save you from electrocution. GFCI protected outlets simply make the un-grounded outlet safer.

Is It Cost-Effective To Replace My Non- GFCI Outlets

Looking to ground your electrical circuit breaker? You are likely going to pay between $200 and $1,000. The cost range is due to local codes and the accessibility of the breaker box. Also, the electrical design behind the wall where the breaker box is located.

Let’s take a look at the video below and see how we can save some money by installing GFCI outlets to fix those that are ungrounded.

You might be thinking that you want to save more money, but let’s take a look at bootleg grounds and why you DON’T want to go this route.

Bootleg grounds are dangerous and illegal.

Bootleg Ground – What Not to Do

Even though it may be tempting, and someone who is not a professional may tell you it is okay, you want to stay away from a bootleg ground. This is where a jumper wire is installed on a receptacle, in between the neutral wire to the ground screw. The purpose is for the receptacle to be grounded but it doesn’t actually work and is illegal.

Other Recommended Maintenance

The GFCI outlets that are installed are tied to the circuit breaker box and will be grounded by a ground wire. Double-check that you don’t have a Challenger GFCI circuit breaker box installed while this version of the circuit breaker has been recalled.

The need for GFCI outlets that are grounded is vital to your home’s electrical safety needs. Consider using tamper-resistant outlets. This saves some of the tools that you plug into the GFCI from being damaged and also prevents electric shock as they too will be grounded outlets.

When Do I Call A Professional

Electrical fires are dangerous and can destroy homes so make your home safe by checking the GFCI outlets and the non GFCI outlets. Making sure that the outlets are both GFCI and grounded is the most important part of electrical safety. Lastly, remember that you will only want to keep two GFCI outlets on the same breaker to avoid regular circuit breaker tripping.


Many people fail to inspect the outlets in their homes. Outlets could become exposed to harsh temperatures or dampness not otherwise seen in other states. In addition, adding appliances onto ungrounded circuits can be dangerous for everyone in the home. Safety should be the priority here. Getting a home inspection done once a year is a great idea.

Often we don’t know if the heavy rain or winds have damaged our GFCI outlets until the inspection is completed. Call Waypoint Property Inspection to inspect your home in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Orlando, Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and surrounding areas.