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  1. #1
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    Default Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Hi everyone. If an outlet is old and perhaps a little worn out and a receptacle tester first indicates an 'open ground' or 'open neutral', but then after moving it or jiggling it (the tester) a little, it then indicates 'correct', is it unsafe and necessary to write it up as a concern?

    This happens quite a bit on inspections. I'm guessing this would be caused by either loose prong contacts in the outlet/receptacle, or a loose wire connection.

    Thanks!
    Ryan

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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Make sure it's not just your tester that has loose contacts. Best to have several testers and try another one.

    Yes, I would mention it, old worn receptacles. It's a simple repair that a homeowner can handle usually.
    Be careful to say that it could be something else, like a bad connection in some hidden j-box.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Morning, Ryan. Could you indicate what type of tester you are using. You may get more replies from members and shy views.

    Ryan, I am not a fan of, 3 bulb Sperry, 3 bulb receptacle testers, but do carry (4) in my main tool case, along with 3 non contact voltage sensor/testers and a circuit analyser.

    IMO; 3 bulb receptacle testers are not always accurate
    Many times the
    ground blade becomes loose over time, after multiple penetrations in new tight socket opening.

    To myself, a novice, new Childproof Electrical Receptacles that have not been used, or rarely used, test the prongs of my electrical contact equipment to the max.... Replaced many a cable for my EXTECH CT80.

    Ryan, try this. Lightly pull/tug on the ground blade of you 3 bulb tester to see if it lengthens.

    The ground blade should be longer that the blades for the neutral/power conductors. As well, may I recommend updating your equipment or at the very least use a non contact tester to insure you verify your findings.

    Jerry is a great electrical resource. Follow his threads.



    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Make sure it's not just your tester that has loose contacts. Best to have several testers and try another one.

    Yes, I would mention it, old worn receptacles. It's a simple repair that a homeowner can handle usually.
    Be careful to say that it could be something else, like a bad connection in some hidden j-box.
    Morning John. Hope you are well.
    I concur. Carry several receptacle testers.

    IMO; non contact voltage testers are a great continuity resource, as well as for the above mentioned, and for verifying bootleg ground and voltage return on metal receptacle junction boxes. It's my go to tool for verifying 3 bulb Sperry's are functioning correctly.

    As for worn socket blades in receptacles.
    I report worn receptacle sockets, a. when the plug will not remain in place due to cable weight.
    A plug should hold, all three prongs, due to the weight of the cable.

    Hopefully Jerry will chime in with a codified narrative for plug/socket retention.

    Best.
    Robert

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    First thing is to carry and use a quality tester.

    The second thing is to NOT use a non-contact tester for testing receptacle outlets ... all a non-contact tester indicates is the potential presence of voltage - not necessarily where it is or what it is / is not connected to. Non-contact testers do have some good uses, but "testing" receptacle outlets is not one of them.

    Also carry a short cord, 6" or so long, plug your tester into the cord, then plug the cord into the receptacle - this eliminates a lot of the wear and tear on the tester by placing that wear and tear on the cord (like a Suretest does).

    If you are using the short cord and get erratic readings, hold the plug still and wiggle the cord to see if the issue is 'in the cord' - if it isn't (and it probably won't be) hold the plug and the cord and wiggle the plug in the receptacle ... the issues are likely in the receptacle.

    If you get erratic readings holding the plug and cord ... it's the receptacle - would you want to use something plugged into a receptacle with bad connections which might: a) spark/catch on fire; b) not work by losing a 'hot' or 'neutral' connection; or worse ... lose its ground connection?

    Absolutely write it up.

    Yes, there are tension requirements for new receptacles - but they don't apply to 'old' really receptacles.

    The issues may also not be the connection between the plug and the receptacle ... the issues may be between the receptacle and the wiring into the receptacle ... why commit yourself to 'a defective receptacle' when it could be 'poor installation' with loose wiring terminals?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    First thing is to carry and use a quality tester.

    The second thing is to NOT use a non-contact tester for testing receptacle outlets ... all a non-contact tester indicates is the potential presence of voltage - not necessarily where it is or what it is / is not connected to. Non-contact testers do have some good uses, but "testing" receptacle outlets is not one of them.
    I think we all concur on quality testers. No one is saying use a non contact volt meter to test receptacle sockets.
    Non contact volt meter can be used to verify defects, no voltage and stray voltage.
    I am sure we all had equipment failure at one time or another.I learned to use my non contact volt meter to help look for defects.

    During a court case I was asked, how did you know your tester was malfunction by the plaintiffs lawyers and experts. I replied, I verify defect by overlapping the tests results using multiple devices and taking photos of the results.

    IE: IR does not detect water. You follow the suspect thermogram with moisture meters.
    Just saying. We all have our techniques.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 07-23-2017 at 03:08 PM. Reason: typo
    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    I disagree. It verifies defects, no voltage and stray voltage.
    It does not "verify" anything. Non-contact voltage indicators indicate the potential presence of voltage.

    If the non-contact 'tester' does not go off, before you touch anything ... you VERIFY what it indicated with a volt meter.

    If the non-contact 'tester' does go off, before you stated anything about voltage or how much voltage ... you VERIFY what it indicated with a volt meter.

    If you based your testimony on an indication that a non-contact voltage indicator "verified" anything .... just be glad that the opposing attorney did not have a real expert witness ready to go ... your testimony would have been proven to be false or at the very least to be unreliable, and your complete testimony may well have been discredited and struck from the record.

    Think of it this way - would you "bet your life" on a non-contact voltage indicator ... that is precisely what you may be doing if you do rely on a non-contact indicator (most commonly called 'voltage detectors' or 'voltage sniffers').

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    IE: IR does not detect water. You follow the suspect thermogram with moisture meters.
    I wanted to separate this post from the other post - if you are following the infrared camera with a moisture meter, you have already made the presumption that it is "moisture", when, in fact, if very well could just be cold or hot air leakage.

    Yes, a moisture meter can determine the presence of moisture in that area, but that does not negate the possibility that there is cold or hot air in that area as well.

    Way too many inspectors "presume" that an infrared camera is showing them moisture and water leakage ... and they do not show that.

    To me, infrared cameras are a very useful tool, and, to me, many (most?) home inspectors do not make proper use of an infrared camera - even when they are trained in its use ... they make too many automatic presumptions (shall I use the term "assume" too much) that they are 'tracing moisture'.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    It does not "verify" anything. Non-contact voltage indicators indicate the potential presence of voltage.

    If the non-contact 'tester' does not go off, before you touch anything ... you VERIFY what it indicated with a volt meter.

    If the non-contact 'tester' does go off, before you stated anything about voltage or how much voltage ... you VERIFY what it indicated with a volt meter.

    If you based your testimony on an indication that a non-contact voltage indicator "verified" anything .... just be glad that the opposing attorney did not have a real expert witness ready to go ... your testimony would have been proven to be false or at the very least to be unreliable, and your complete testimony may well have been discredited and struck from the record.

    Think of it this way - would you "bet your life" on a non-contact voltage indicator ... that is precisely what you may be doing if you do rely on a non-contact indicator (most commonly called 'voltage detectors' or 'voltage sniffers').
    Evening Jerry.
    Hope you are well.

    1: It indicates the presence of voltage, not how much.
    2: So if stray voltage is where it should not be, there is a defect. IE; a metal (receptacle) or switch box.

    Measuring voltage and analyzing, IE; a circuit, is another matter altogether.

    I respect your authority. Do not get me wrong.
    I have learned to think outside the box.
    FLUKE: A million and one uses for voltage detectors

    non contact volt test.JPG

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    1: It indicates the presence of voltage, not how much.
    2: So if stray voltage is where it should not be, there is a defect. IE; a metal (receptacle) or switch box.
    Robert,

    Have you ever noticed that, occasionally, when you walk around with one and swing it back and forth with your arm when you walk ... and it goes off slightly ... ? That is picking up voltage?

    Or you walk out into a yard and it goes off? You look up and there is a power line running along the back of the yard? That is picking up voltage?

    Is it picking up voltage? Yes, but no ... or no, but yes.

    Understanding Capacitive Voltage Sensors

    I have learned to think outside the box.
    FLUKE: A million and one uses for voltage detectors
    Then you should have continued to read the Fluke information, such as the one I linked to above.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Robert,

    Have you ever noticed that, occasionally, when you walk around with one and swing it back and forth with your arm when you walk ... and it goes off slightly ... ? That is picking up voltage

    I do understand the relationship, although not not enough to go into detail as yourself, but I carry my instruments in a tool bag.
    I hear and see meters alarms, lights and beeps as I carry my tool bag.

    Is it picking up voltage? Yes, but no ... or no, but yes.
    I concur. Phantom Voltages.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Then you should have continued to read the Fluke information, such as the one I linked to above.
    I will read the link I proved by Fluke in full.
    The idea was to show non contact volt meters play a unique role in home inspection.
    As well, First, pick out a tester that fits the parameters of the work.

    I am about to study more. IR. 1: To complete Infraspection course. 2: Advanced Electrical Inspection Training Course (InterNACHI) 3: Advanced Structural Inspection Training Course (InterNACHI).

    Best.
    Robert

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    The idea was to show non contact volt meters play a unique role in home inspection.
    Just don't use a non-contact voltage indicator to "verify" anything, the non-contact voltage indicator is what needs to be "verified".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Just don't use a non-contact voltage indicator to "verify" anything, the non-contact voltage indicator is what needs to be "verified".
    Lets look at the meaning of the word (verify.)
    make sure, or demonstrate that something is true, accurate, or justified.)

    A non-contact voltage tester is the safest way to make sure, (verify), the power is off without touching any wires. They do not measure voltage. They indicate the presence of voltage.

    Yes there is a probability of Phantom Voltage / Induced Voltage in/from older wiring mixed with newer wiring, metal conduit, etc... But any indication of this voltage symptom allows me to ask more questions and deepen
    the electrical assessment if I choose to.

    When it comes to low voltage 115-120, they are a go to tool to verify voltage as a first defence for safety, as I posted in the first sentence above.

    But of course, every tool has it limitations.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 07-24-2017 at 01:45 AM.
    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Lost cause here ... no more responses necessary ... other than ...

    a non-contract voltage indicator does not "verify" anything

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Sorry for the delayed response.. I'm new to Inspection News and expected to get an email or some kind of notification that my post had received response/s, but didn't get anything.

    Boy the thing about forums is it's so easy to stray off into other things isn't it. But thanks guys.
    The tester has solid prongs and the ground does protrude further. The tester is consistent. And I do have a second one of a different brand as well. As I suspected, it sounds like some of you agree it could be the outlet/receptacle or the wiring. Based upon your replies, I guess I will be sure to always write it up from now on.
    I don't see it in every house, but given how often I see this, I am surprised more folks didn't say that they see this a lot too..

    I appreciate the advice/suggestions.


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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Lost cause here ... no more responses necessary ... other than ...

    a non-contract voltage indicator does not "verify" anything
    Jerry, with all due respect, assigning a claim, Lost Cause, to a college does not do the thread, poster, or OP justice.

    Rephrase or the term verify. Maybe/hopefully, that way, I will, as well as the viewers, understand what you are trying to point out or refer to.

    You are a licensed electrician and an AHJ from what I recall.
    It is not dignified, in my opinion, to discredit someone willing to approach a discussion on an open MB.

    Here is marketing material from, Sperry Instruments, for their VD6504 Non-Contact Voltage Detector. "A non-contact voltage tester serves as a key component in any electrical toolkit, allowing the user to verify the presence of AC voltage prior to working on an electrical installation or during troubleshooting without requiring physical contact with live electrical conductors."
    Similar to mine but I have several non contact volt meters in my bags. I prefer my Fluke.

    They refer to the the detector as, "allowing the user to verify the presence of AC voltage."

    I do not give up trying to understand and become more astute. I make mistakes, as do all sound intellectuals. We learn the open honest communications.

    Best.
    Robert

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Murphy View Post
    Sorry for the delayed response.. I'm new to Inspection News and expected to get an email or some kind of notification that my post had received response/s, but didn't get anything.
    To my knowledge, you can subscribe to any forums you want, or all forums, and you will get an email notification of posts.

    You might be able to set it up to subscribe to topics you have posted to, that would allow you to do what you are describing.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Murphy View Post
    Boy the thing about forums is it's so easy to stray off into other things isn't it.
    Frequently, the thread drift results in discussions which provide more gems than the original question was seeking.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    Hi Ryan.
    Welcome aboard.
    Many great members. Do not be shy to post.

    As to your response. "I'm new to Inspection News and expected to get an email or some kind of notification that my post had received response/s, but didn't get anything.

    In the main menu, go to your profile. Open your account. Scroll down to settings. General settings will allow you to receive or deny email as well as other notifications.
    1: My profile.
    2: My Account.
    3: Settings.
    4: General settings.
    5: Messaging & Notification
    6: Thread Display Options

    Hope that help.

    I agree, threads dift.
    Sorry if I drifted the thread.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Blinking 'correct', 'open ground' or 'open neutral' on receptacle tester

    The thread update notifications were in the spam folder..
    Thanks Robert and everyone.


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