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  1. #1
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    Default 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Here is a photo of a TWO prong outlet indicating 'correct' / not indicating an 'open ground'. (Using a 2-3 prong adapter.) How can this be possible?
    DSCN0227_20%.jpg

    Thanks

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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Did you test it with a wiggy? The box could be grounded, and the adapter is contacting the box.
    Your tester could also be faulty.
    I'm curious why you would even test two prong outlet with an adapter in the first place. Not exactly the right tool for the job.


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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Jack, did not test with a wiggy. I question whether wiggy testing is a little far beyond the standards of practice. The adapter wasn't touch the box.
    Why do it in the first place? Because it could still provide the information of hot/neutral wires being reversed or an open neutral, wouldn't you agree?
    Thanks for your post.


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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Ryan, SOP is a minimum.
    I have used wiggy tester for years.

    Where did the term "wiggy" originate?

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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    The box could be grounded, and the adapter is contacting the box.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Murphy View Post
    The adapter wasn't touch the box.
    My thought was the same as Jack's, and are you sure that the tab on the adapter was not touching the metal screw, which is into the metal strap, which is attached to the metal box?

    Those adapters have a tab which stick out and meet where the plat screw is, touching the metal screw could show a ground if the box was grounded, as Jack pondered.

    I question whether wiggy testing is a little far beyond the standards of practice.


    A Wiggy is no more beyond the standards of practice than using a flashing is, or a moisture meter is, or any other tool a home inspector decides to use to enhance their inspection abilities.

    To clarify ... "nothing" ... is "beyond" the standards of practice because the standards of practice are "minimum requirements" for completing a home inspection to the standards of practice.


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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Where did the term "wiggy" originate?
    "Wiggy is the registered trademark for a common solenoid voltmeter used in North America derived from a device patented in 1918 by George P. Wigginton."

    Here is good information on it: DAVID HERRES: All about Wiggy - Electrical connection

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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    I could swear it was not touching the screw, but if that's about the only way that this result could occur, then perhaps I am mistaken..

    Ok, perhaps I should invest in a wiggy.

    I moved this over to the electrical section, as I inadvertently posted it under 'building envelope'.

    Thanks Gents


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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Jack, Jerry, all,
    After some researching Wiggys, it sounds like solenoid based and electronic voltage testers each have advantages and disadvantages..
    See:
    Solenoid-based testers versus electronic voltage testers, the difference can be shocking

    Which would you recommend?


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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Murphy View Post
    Jack, Jerry, all,
    After some researching Wiggys, it sounds like solenoid based and electronic voltage testers each have advantages and disadvantages..
    See:
    Solenoid-based testers versus electronic voltage testers, the difference can be shocking

    Which would you recommend?
    Both.

    Depending on what you will be using the voltage tester(s) for.

    A Wiggy (solenoid, old-style) is useful for 120 and 240 volt circuits to 'test the circuit of a service system' - you will not be 'testing the equipment' on the circuit, i.e., you will not be testing printed circuit boards, calibrating oscilloscopes, microwave ovens, etc.

    A Wiggy (electronic, new-style) is useful for the same purposes as the above.

    A DMM (digital multimeter) is useful for actually measuring voltages, but in some cases they put so little load on the circuit that phantom voltages appear - I have a three-DMM tester I put together from small/cheap DMM to read the voltages between each of the three slots of a receptacle outlet ... turn it on and it reads voltage ... look a the auto-ranging scale and it shows mV ... millivolts ... plug it in and it auto-ranges to read volts ... need to make sure you look to see the voltage scale it is reading out as 184 mV is meaningless, but scary if you think it is reading 184 V.


    For all of the above - here is a discussion on Mike Holt's forum about them: Digital vs. Solenoid Voltage Testers

    You notice the mention of the old Simpson meter? I used to have one, and used to calibrate them when I worked in Standard Lab at a defense plant I worked at right out of high school ... wish I still had one of those Simpson meters. I almost bought one at a garage sale, as I walked over to the table it was on, another old guy picked it up and bought it. Oh well, he probably had been looking for one for a long time too.

    They are still available ... for $300-400 ... I just wanted one because I used to use them.

    Added with edit:
    Just found an old Simpson 260 on ebay for $40, bought it, looking forward to receiving it (the garage sale one was probably less 5-10 bucks ... oh well).

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 07-24-2017 at 07:14 PM.
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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    "Wiggy is the registered trademark for a common solenoid voltmeter used in North America derived from a device patented in 1918 by George P. Wigginton."

    Here is good information on it: DAVID HERRES: All about Wiggy - Electrical connection
    Thank you

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 07-25-2017 at 11:13 PM.
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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Murphy View Post
    Jack, did not test with a wiggy. I question whether wiggy testing is a little far beyond the standards of practice. The adapter wasn't touch the box.
    Why do it in the first place? Because it could still provide the information of hot/neutral wires being reversed or an open neutral, wouldn't you agree?
    Thanks for your post.
    On a two prong outlet, an open neutral would mean the outlet wouldn't work (only two wires usually / boxes not grounded). The older two prong outlets I have seen were not polarized (one slot larger than the other for neutral).

    On another subject (somewhat related)....when you test refrigerator or washing machine outlets in older homes (where there are two prong outlets), always unplug the appliance when you test the outlet. You could get a false positive otherwise.

    To me, a wiggy is a very basic tool that should be in every inspectors tool box. I use mine on every inspection.


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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    To me, a wiggy is a very basic tool that should be in every inspectors tool box. I use mine on every inspection.
    Jack/All-
    I'm not trying to argue at all, in fact I have 5 of them in my Amazon Wish list right now ready for purchase.. but I am having a hard time understanding the different applications of the wiggy or electronic voltage tester and why one is so necessary. A receptacle tester will tell tell me if there is voltage (by lighting up), and of course all of the potential miss-wiring combinations. The only thing more the voltage tester can tell me is what the voltage is, is this correct?

    What are the senarios/situations that cause you to pull out the more cumbersome wiggy instead of the much quicker and easier to use receptacle tester?

    Believe me, I love finding a reason to buy tools!! All i need is some justification. Thanks in advance.


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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Ryan,

    Those cheap 3-light testers are known as, in the inspection profession, "night lights" ... as that is what they are good for.

    They are not reliable.

    The best receptacle outlet testers are the SureTest Circuit Analyzer, you don't have to use all of its functions, and it is slightly slower than those cheap 3-light testers as it cycles through, first measuring and indicating the voltage, then checking the circuit, showing the results on the display.

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    Default Re: voltage tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ... is useful for 120 and 240 volt circuits to 'test the circuit of a service system' ...
    Jerry, please be patient with me on this one.. aside from the voltage amount, I'm still unclear on how a voltage tester provides more info than a receptacle tester ('night light')... Doesn't the 'night light' still show a working circuit just as well? Again, not trying to argue, but am having a hard time seeing situations that would require pulling out a wiggy in a home inspection, and would love clarity.
    Thanks


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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    The SureTest provides a lot ... a lot ... of information about the circuit - if the user elects to cycle through the various tests and readings.

    As for simple receptacle outlet testing ... isn't the purpose of that to 'check the circuit'?

    Such 'checking that the receptacle itself is grounded, proper polarity, etc' - those indications are not simply and strictly indicating 'the receptacle' ... those indications are indicating what is 'from the receptacle back'.

    If your three-light tester (night light) indicates that the receptacle is reverse polarity ... is the "receptacle" reverse polarity wired, or could it be the circuit conductors are reversed 'somewhere upstream of the receptacle'?

    While 'it is most likely' that it is the receptacle, it is also not uncommon to find that the circuit was mis-wired upstream someplace else, and that mis-wiring is carried throughout the circuit from that mis-wired point on.

    Instead of thinking in terms of "receptacle outlet" testing, think of it as "circuit" testing - that is what you are doing ... you just don't know how much of the circuit is involved or is creating the test results being shown.

    A Wiggy puts a load on the circuit and shows that there is voltage between the two checked points. A multimeter puts very little load on the circuit and shows the voltage between the two checked points (in the case of the SureTest, it actually checks the voltage between three points, as I recall hot-neutral, hot-ground, neutral-ground, and it reads out the resistance between neutral to ground within its readouts).

    I have two SureTests, I suspect that it's been a few years since I've used one of them, and the other one may have never been used, or used only once or twice.

    I retired from home inspections 11 years ago, so any use since then has been minimal and for my own purposes - I did put together a true voltage drop test setup which plugs in, and with two two heat guns, I can draw 15 amps or 20 amps, or whatever I want to adjust it to, in which one of the SureTests is plugged into a receptacle where I read the voltage first, turn the amps up, and read the voltage again ... true "voltage drop" testing ... no ifs, no ands, no buts ... it it right there in plain sight to see and watch the voltage drop and change as I increase the amps or decrease the amps, it also heats up (loads) the circuit conductors and connections/terminals so any poor connections affect the voltage drop too.

    One photo shows the various settings on one of the heat guns which allows the various amps I can adjust too, the other heat gun has a high and a low setting (750 w and 1500 watt), between the two, I can adjust to many different amperage levels.

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    You notice the mention of the old Simpson meter? I used to have one, and used to calibrate them when I worked in Standard Lab at a defense plant I worked at right out of high school ... wish I still had one of those Simpson meters. I almost bought one at a garage sale, as I walked over to the table it was on, another old guy picked it up and bought it. Oh well, he probably had been looking for one for a long time too.

    They are still available ... for $300-400 ... I just wanted one because I used to use them.

    Added with edit:
    Just found an old Simpson 260 on ebay for $40, bought it, looking forward to receiving it (the garage sale one was probably less 5-10 bucks ... oh well).
    My Simpson 260 just arrived, and there was an additional surprise with it ... the meter is in its original box with the original packaging (all old and used, for sure, but I did not anticipate it would be in its original box, much less have the original packaging in the box ... way cool!

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: voltage tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Murphy View Post
    Jerry, please be patient with me on this one.. aside from the voltage amount, I'm still unclear on how a voltage tester provides more info than a receptacle tester ('night light')... Doesn't the 'night light' still show a working circuit just as well? Again, not trying to argue, but am having a hard time seeing situations that would require pulling out a wiggy in a home inspection, and would love clarity.
    Thanks
    Ryan,

    Circuit analyzers and Wiggys are a bit of a mixed bag.

    The Wiggy really does not do that much more than the "night light". Yes, it puts a bit of a load, but not as much as Jerry would with his hair dryer rig. The Wiggy takes longer because it's necessary to insert into each slot separately. That said, it doesn't really check retention (ability to hold a plug). The one real advantage is that I can check dryer outlets as well as power at the buss bars and terminals in the circuit breaker panels (looking for improperly wired multi-wire circuits, for example).

    The "circuit analyzers" (Ideal Sure-Test, Amprobe Insp-3, Extech CT-80) check a bunch of stuff, but do add some time to the inspection because it's not just a matter of plugging it in quickly and looking for the lights. Probably takes 3-6 seconds to plug it in, get a reading and unplug it. This can extend the time for a home inspection by a few minutes. (Not necessarily a huge amount, but every time I get some new knowledge or a tool, it ends up adding time to my inspections. Better inspections, but more time. After a while, a few minutes for each accumulates to thirty) While these testers can't be fooled by "pirated/bootlegged" grounding at receptacle outlets, they can give an improper reading if the receptacle outlet is too close to the circuit breaker panel. Not foolproof by any stretch of the imagination. It's still necessary to use the grey thing between my ears.

    That said, regarding "pirated/bootlegged" grounding (connecting the neutral and equipment ground on an outlet), I generally don't need the circuit analyzer to find them. When I drive up to a home, I begin my inspection before even getting out of the vehicle. I know my area and have a general idea as to when the homes were built. If it's a home that was built in the '50s, I expect to find the older cloth-wrapped NM cable without an equipment grounding conductor and ungrounded receptacle outlets. If, when I open the circuit breaker/fuse panel and don't find equipment grounding conductors, this reinforces my expectation. If I see grounding-type receptacle outlets inside the home, I expect that they will test as "open ground" (if using a "night light"). If they test as properly grounded with a "night light", then I suspect "pirated/bootlegged" ground. That can be verified by pulling off the cover and looking at the equipment grounding terminal on the outlet. In that case, using the "circuit analyzer" is certainly quicker.

    I have the Amprobe Insp-3 and am not particularly happy with it. It will trip a GFCI or AFCI breaker without pushing the button. I returned it and the second one does the same thing. But, it's the one I have and I'm not prepared to plunk down another $250 to get a Sure-Test (Anybody want to buy an Amprobe?).

    The one caveat with Jerry's advice is that he did much more than a standard home inspection. His inspections could take two or more days (not including writing the report) and he went far beyond what most people think of as a home inspection (his hair dryer rig would be an example). However, he typically was inspecting vast and costly houses and his client could afford the service he offered. I don't want to minimize Jerry, by any means. He has a great deal of knowledge and is a wonderful resource.

    Not advising you to do anything in particular, just trying to add to the conversation in an unbiased way.

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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Morning everyone.
    Although some may agree while others not, I think Ryan started a great thread and is off to a great start

    Ryan. Try not to critique or granulate everything.
    Enjoy the information and use what suites you. Sit back and enjoy the show.

    If you look at the avatars in the right column you will learn how to add feeling to your posts.

    Your doing great. Keep up the good work. Remember, we're all in this together and pulling for you.

    Best, Robert

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    Default Re: voltage tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Ryan, Circuit analyzers and Wiggys are a bit of a mixed bag.
    Yes, but good equipment allow a better understanding the circuit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    The "circuit analyzers" (Ideal Sure-Test, Amprobe Insp-3, Extech CT-80) check a bunch of stuff, but do add some time to the inspection because it's not just a matter of plugging it in quickly and looking for the lights. Probably takes 3-6 seconds to plug it in, get a reading and unplug it. This can extend the time for a home inspection by a few minutes. (Not necessarily a huge amount, but every time I get some new knowledge or a tool, it ends up adding time to my inspections. Better inspections, but more time. After a while, a few minutes for each accumulates to thirty) While these testers can't be fooled by "pirated/bootlegged" grounding at receptacle outlets, they can give an improper reading if the receptacle outlet is too close to the circuit breaker panel. Not foolproof by any stretch of the imagination. It's still necessary to use the grey thing between my ears.
    Opening panel fronts should be done with safety in mind. Best to review and practice the process safely beforehand. Try it at home.

    As for, Added Time. More time spent, either at the home or writing reports, equates to better inspection/reporting effort in most cases, and will help your business.

    In my case I like to check every available outlet/receptacle and adds roughly 10 minutes to my inspection assessment. As well, adding a limited amount of images of the average, peak and neutral voltage and deficiencies/defects to the report adds about another ><10 minutes on average.
    Vd.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    That said, regarding "pirated/bootlegged" grounding (connecting the neutral and equipment ground on an outlet), I generally don't need the circuit analyzer to find them. When I drive up to a home, I begin my inspection before even getting out of the vehicle. I know my area and have a general idea as to when the homes were built. If it's a home that was built in the '50s, I expect to find the older cloth-wrapped NM cable without an equipment grounding conductor and ungrounded receptacle outlets. If, when I open the circuit breaker/fuse panel and don't find equipment grounding conductors, this reinforces my expectation. If I see grounding-type receptacle outlets inside the home, I expect that they will test as "open ground" (if using a "night light"). If they test as properly grounded with a "night light", then I suspect "pirated/bootlegged" ground. That can be verified by pulling off the cover and looking at the equipment grounding terminal on the outlet. In that case, using the "circuit analyzer" is certainly quicker.
    Good post Gunner! The reasoning behind opening panel fronts , circuits terminate at the service equipment as well as OCPD's.

    Cuciuts. I enjoy doing many, most outlet/receptacle. Reversed, Open ground, Drop voltage, and where on the circuit, can display unwanted symptoms and reaffirm an over analysis of the installations. ie: Professional/amature...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    I have the Amprobe Insp-3 and am not particularly happy with it. It will trip a GFCI or AFCI breaker without pushing the button. I returned it and the second one does the same thing. But, it's the one I have and I'm not prepared to plunk down another $250 to get a Sure-Test (Anybody want to buy an Amprobe?).
    Not at the moment. My Extech CT-80 is functioning.
    Maybe Ryan. Be a great tool.
    Call gunner. I know he will be more than willing to discuss this rationally.


    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Not advising you to do anything in particular, just trying to add to the conversation in an unbiased way.
    Great outlook as/per usual, Gunner. Much thanks.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 07-28-2017 at 06:50 AM.
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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Murphy View Post
    Jack/All-
    I'm not trying to argue at all, in fact I have 5 of them in my Amazon Wish list right now ready for purchase.. but I am having a hard time understanding the different applications of the wiggy or electronic voltage tester and why one is so necessary. A receptacle tester will tell tell me if there is voltage (by lighting up), and of course all of the potential miss-wiring combinations. The only thing more the voltage tester can tell me is what the voltage is, is this correct?

    What are the senarios/situations that cause you to pull out the more cumbersome wiggy instead of the much quicker and easier to use receptacle tester?

    Believe me, I love finding a reason to buy tools!! All i need is some justification. Thanks in advance.
    Ryan,
    I use my wiggy to check dryer and range outlets. I'm amazed at how many I find that are miswired. I've probably had mine for 30 years, so I have no idea what they cost now. I also use them in homes with 2 prong outlets. While my Suretest has a retractable ground pin, I find it cumbersome to use on those outlets. Its also easy to determine if a fuse is blown at an a/c unit (when its not responding to thermostat).


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    Default Re: voltage tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Yes, it puts a bit of a load, but not as much as Jerry would with his hair dryer rig. The Wiggy takes longer because it's necessary to insert into each slot separately. That said, it doesn't really check retention (ability to hold a plug). The one real advantage is that I can check dryer outlets as well as power at the buss bars and terminals in the circuit breaker panels (looking for improperly wired multi-wire circuits, for example).
    Gunnar, thanks for your posts. Why do we want to put a load on circuits, to see if the voltage falls/drops down? How do I check power and the buss bars and terminals, just by sticking one lead on the breaker and the other on the neutral bus? And how do I spot an improperly wired multi-wire circuit?

    Robert, thanks for your positivity and encouragement!

    Jack, how can a wiggy be used to find out if dryer and range outlets (or any outlet) are miswired? Instead of putting one lead in the line/load and one in the neutral, do you move both of them, one at a time, to the ground? And then how do you interpret / make sense of the wiggy results? Thanks

    Last edited by Ryan Murphy; 07-29-2017 at 09:43 AM.

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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Murphy View Post
    Here is a photo of a TWO prong outlet indicating 'correct' / not indicating an 'open ground'. (Using a 2-3 prong adapter.) How can this be possible?
    DSCN0227_20%.jpg

    Thanks
    You started a good thread. Although all the information is good stuff, please do not miss the point that you are trying to use a tool for a purpose it is not suited for. That tool was not intended for testing ungrounded circuits and should not ever be used for that purpose. It does no more than if you carried an actual nightlight. When checking grounded circuits, if you are going to use these types carry no less than three in your bag. carry two in your pocket and verify each receptacle you test. And for all the reasons stated, a wiggy is superior to what you are using. The results of bad electrical testing can result in injury or death.

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    Default Re: voltage tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Murphy View Post
    Gunnar, thanks for your posts. Why do we want to put a load on circuits, to see if the voltage falls/drops down? How do I check power and the buss bars and terminals, just by sticking one lead on the breaker and the other on the neutral bus? And how do I spot an improperly wired multi-wire circuit?
    Hi Ryan,

    I don't put a load on a branch circuit and I don't know of anyone who does as a part of a home inspection. This goes well beyond any SOP that I am familiar with. I was pointing out that Jerry did as a part of his (extremely thorough and expensive) type of inspection. But, the reason would be to check connections under test. A poor connection increased resistance and heat. Possibly arcing as well.
    Here are two articles on multiwire branch circuits. The best information that I have found is in Douglas Hansen's book "Electrical Inspections of Existing Dwellings" published by Taunton Press and I recommend anyone interested in learning more about electrical systems purchase one.

    http://inspectapedia.com/electric/Mu...l-Circuits.php
    https://www.mikeholt.com/mojonewsarc...s~20020218.htm

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    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    In my area, HI's are not permitted to do work inside a breaker panel. If you have min experience with these things and are not a licensed electrician, do a visual check and take clear bright pictures with a flash.
    If you see discoloration or suspect miss-wired breakers, call for an electrician to check that.
    Check for a handle tie on a multi wire circuit.

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

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    Default Re: voltage tester

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Murphy View Post
    Why do we want to put a load on circuits, to see if the voltage falls/drops down?
    That is a two part question as I read it, albeit not intentionally a two part question.

    The discussion has been 'why use a Wiggy', with part of that answer being that 'it puts a load on the circuit' versus a DMM (digital multimeter).

    That part of the question is: That is what a solenoid type Wiggy does, how it works, so to speak. A digital/electronic Wiggy doesn't really put much of a load at all on during testing.

    Voltage drop testing was brought up as it is one of the things that a SureTest does, just like a solenoid Wiggy puts a load on the circuit ... it just does that test.

    Many home inspectors just cycle past those voltage drop readings, many home inspector stop to check the reading and then report high voltage drop reading. All depends on the inspector.

    To measure voltage drop, a load must be put on the circuit, simple as that.

    A SureTest puts a 15 amp load on the circuit for, maybe, 8 half cycles (or whatever the current design does), the SureTest reads the voltage before the voltage drop test and at the end of the voltage drop test, then does the calculation and displays the voltage drop. The SureTest used to calculate that voltage up to 20 amp, I am not sure, but the SureTest may now actually put a 20 amp load on the circuit for a very short time (maybe 8 half cycles) - I haven't read the SureTest manual in a number of years to see exactly what it does now.

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

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
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    2,432

    Default Re: 2 prong outlet, tester indicating grounded

    Jack, how can a wiggy be used to find out if dryer and range outlets (or any outlet) are miswired? Instead of putting one lead in the line/load and one in the neutral, do you move both of them, one at a time, to the ground? And then how do you interpret / make sense of the wiggy results? Thanks
    Ryan,
    I first check the two hots and make sure I'm getting 240V. Then I check the others to make sure there is 120V. I have found outlets where there isn't 240V. I have found the hots not on the correct lug, and some 4 wire outlets that only have 3 wires.
    Nothing really to interpret, just reading the voltage that's there.


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