Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: What the heck?

  1. #1
    Richard Thacker's Avatar
    Richard Thacker Guest

    Default What the heck?

    I recently tested a kitchen GFCI outlet with a standard plug tester. To my bewilderment all three test lights lit up. It took me a few minutes to figure out how this could happen while still allowing plug in devices to function (tester was fine).

    Can you come up with same conclusion?

    Mr. Jerry Peck, allow a few others to try before you let loose.

    Home Rite Home Inspector, York, Pa - Real Estate Inspection in PA and Maryland

    Similar Threads:
    NHIE Practice Exam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: What the heck?

    My reaction would be - "Something is very wrong here, but my tester may not be giving the true picture. Have a qualified electrician repair the faulty GFCI receptacle wiring".

    That seems to indicate an open neutral along with hot/neutral revered. See this website:
    Home Electrical Testing and Testers
    This guy may be a hack, so don't do some of the stuff he suggests, like testing for a spark. But the charts are helpful.

    I have come across GFCI's that seem to flip from reversed to correct. Obviously something's not right, but the problem could be hidden in a junction somewhere else.

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI
    Posts
    4,086

    Default Re: What the heck?

    See this post:

    http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...tml#post123061

    You did not indicate if you tested the gfci combination device properly first using its integral test and reset feature, before you inserted your three-light "tester"? or was it a circuit analyizer?(you didn't identify);

    You did not indicate the vintage of the home/kitchen either. You made no mention if the receptacle/outlet cover was non-conductive, nor the wiring method used in the kitchen appliance circuits (example 2-wire -i.e. no ground) ; nor if there were devices (and what type) plugged in face or load side besides your "tester", nor the apparent vintage of the gfci combination device.

    You also didn't indicate if there was a switch in the circuit.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 07-21-2011 at 07:46 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    NY Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: What the heck?

    AND-you didn't say what color the walls were!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Memphis TN.
    Posts
    4,311

    Default Re: What the heck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Thacker View Post
    I recently tested a kitchen GFCI outlet with a standard plug tester. To my bewilderment all three test lights lit up. It took me a few minutes to figure out how this could happen while still allowing plug in devices to function (tester was fine).

    Can you come up with same conclusion?

    Mr. Jerry Peck, allow a few others to try before you let loose.

    Home Rite Home Inspector, York, Pa - Real Estate Inspection in PA and Maryland
    .
    Trip and rest the GFCI.

    Pull out the old Wiggy if it reads 120 your Tester needs to be tossed, it will likely read 240 so get Sparky out to correctly wire to 120.
    .
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,339

    Default Re: What the heck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Thacker View Post
    I recently tested a kitchen GFCI outlet with a standard plug tester.

    Stop doing that.

    Push the built-in Test Button and note the results.

    The 3 light testers are all but useless with anything but the simplest receptacle outlet.

    Dom.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: What the heck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dom D'Agostino View Post
    Stop doing that.

    Push the built-in Test Button and note the results.

    The 3 light testers are all but useless with anything but the simplest receptacle outlet.

    Dom.
    I do not agree. "Push the built-in Test Button and note the results." What, it goes "snap"?

    1)You need to test after the GFCI trips to see if there is still power getting to the receptacle. So you need to plug something in.
    The 3-light tester gives you that info.
    2) Second scenario. The GFCI trips for the test button, but does not trip for the 3-light tester. Something is wrong. Maybe a faulty ground, or a marginal component in the circuit board.
    3) Third scenario. Daisy-chained outlets. How do you test the downstream receptacle?


    (In these cases, you've tested your tester, tested other GFCI's and they snap off correctly for the 3-light tester.)( If the 3-light tester is faulty, chuck it away and buy two new ones.)

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,339

    Default Re: What the heck?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    I do not agree...
    That's fine.

    When you push the 3-light button, and nothing happens, what do you do?

    Or when you press the button and it explodes in your hand, what do you do?

    When you press the button and it shows that every wiring defect listed on the label is present, what do you do?

    While the 3-light device has a limited number of "safe" functions, testing (or "tripping") GFCI's receptacle outlets isn't one of them. And yes, I know there's a "test" button on most of them.

    Dom.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,244

    Default Re: What the heck?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    I do not agree. "Push the built-in Test Button and note the results." What, it goes "snap"?

    1)You need to test after the GFCI trips to see if there is still power getting to the receptacle. So you need to plug something in.
    The 3-light tester gives you that info.
    2) Second scenario. The GFCI trips for the test button, but does not trip for the 3-light tester. Something is wrong. Maybe a faulty ground, or a marginal component in the circuit board.
    3) Third scenario. Daisy-chained outlets. How do you test the downstream receptacle?


    (In these cases, you've tested your tester, tested other GFCI's and they snap off correctly for the 3-light tester.)( If the 3-light tester is faulty, chuck it away and buy two new ones.)
    Those 3-light testers are useful for nothing other than being used as night lights (and most are too dim to be even be useful for use as a night light).

    If you use the 3-light testers for anything other 'Hey, some of the lights light up, must be power.' then you are subjecting yourself to potentially faulty readings. You would be better to just carry a night light in your tool bag to save from getting faulty readings.

    There is no reason for a PROFESSIONAL home inspector to carry, much less rely on, a 3-light tester.

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

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: What the heck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Those 3-light testers are useful for nothing other than being used as night lights (and most are too dim to be even be useful for use as a night light).

    If you use the 3-light testers for anything other 'Hey, some of the lights light up, must be power.' then you are subjecting yourself to potentially faulty readings. You would be better to just carry a night light in your tool bag to save from getting faulty readings.

    There is no reason for a PROFESSIONAL home inspector to carry, much less rely on, a 3-light tester.
    I know. You've said this before. That is why I repeat myself, too.

    First of all, I rarely (never?) see conduit used for grounding in residential branch circuits, so the famous problem of a false ground reading doesn't apply in my area.

    The little 3 light tester is handy and disposable. Use a Suretest or similar professional tool when there is a doubtful situation, such as all 3 lights coming on.

    The 3 light tester is handy for finding ungrounded outlets in old houses. Sometimes, you need to reach behind couches and dressers to get to the only outlet on the wall. It will not detect a bootlegged ground, so for that you need a Suretest or DMM. But it will always indicate an absence of ground.

    The GFCI test button on the 3 light tester places a resistor between hot and ground, causing the breaker to trip. If that test does not trip the GFCI, something is wrong.
    I suppose an exploding resistor is possible, but the resistor is quite a bit smaller than a ladyfinger firecracker.
    Ditto explosion possibility with an expensive unit, although the explosion will be in a heavier case, safer, and it will also cost you more.

    I recently inspected a mobile home that had been inspected and certified safe by an electrician. I pushed the test button on the GFCI bathroom receptacle, and it tripped as expected. I plugged in my 3 light and found it was still energized after tripping. Wired backwards, most likely.
    How did the electrician, with a bag full of testers, miss that? Maybe he left his tool bag in the kitchen and didn't have a handy circuit tester in his pocket.

    JP and Dom are right, don't rely on the nightlight testers for professional results. But, I like to use them for general checking of receptacles.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 07-22-2011 at 10:00 PM. Reason: More commentary added
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI
    Posts
    4,086

    Default Re: What the heck?

    Using bonded emt or similiar for equipment grounding is NOT a false ground, John K, it has been and continues to be a proper wiring method.

    You seem to be confused as to just what is and is not a "bootleg ground", or for that matter a sufficient equipment grounding (bonding) path.

    MWBCs and split receptacles was a common and in fact required wiring method for residential kitchens for decades in Canada.

    Failure to separate the neutral load side and fully split the receptacle is a common DIY mistake, even in your jurisdiction; however, I think it prudent for you to consider that the electrical codes and Standards are NOT fully harmonized, even today.

    This includes the requirements (Standards) for receptacles and for GFCI devices, including combination GFCI/receptactles and the listed instructions for same, and (no surprise) the equipment sold to test same.

    They (Standards and Codes) continue to be and remain, DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT for Canada and the U.S.

    There is nothing such a device can "tell you" that a standard polarized night-light (for a dollar) cannot, and the night-light is reliable - and if in proper functioning condition - not subject to kill you, or provide a nasty shock. The night-light will not give you false readings, etc.

    A GFCI does NOT require an equipment ground to "do its job".

    I do not know why you introduce a "breaker" to the equasion, John Kogel.

    To the OP, just what "conclusion" are you looking for agreement?

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 07-22-2011 at 10:31 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: What the heck?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Using bonded emt or similar for equipment grounding is NOT a false ground, John K, it has been and continues to be a proper wiring method.
    One reason for not using a 3 light tester to verify grounding is that when conduit is used for the grounding conductor, the cheap tester will indicate a grounded receptacle, even if the jumper to the receptacle is missing. This we are told, but I don't encounter that wiring method, so cannot confirm.
    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    You seem to be confused as to just what is and is not a "bootleg ground", or for that matter a sufficient equipment grounding (bonding) path.
    Nope. Maybe the wording of my post is confusing. Enlighten us, if you will.
    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    MWBCs and split receptacles was a common and in fact required wiring method for residential kitchens for decades in Canada.

    Failure to separate the neutral load side and fully split the receptacle is a common DIY mistake, even in your jurisdiction; however, I think it prudent for you to consider that the electrical codes and Standards are NOT fully harmonized, even today.

    This includes the requirements (Standards) for receptacles and for GFCI devices, including combination GFCI/receptactles and the listed instructions for same, and (no surprise) the equipment sold to test same.

    They (Standards and Codes) continue to be and remain, DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT for Canada and the U.S.
    Why are you telling me this?
    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    There is nothing such a device can "tell you" that a standard polarized night-light (for a dollar) cannot, and the night-light is reliable - and if in proper functioning condition - not subject to kill you, or provide a nasty shock. The night-light will not give you false readings, etc.
    The 3 light tester can tell me and thousands of others, BTW, if a ground connection appears to be lacking. It also can tell us if hot and neutral appear to be reversed. It gives us a heads-up -there is a possibility of amateur or faulty wiring. That is all the info we need to justify further investigation by a qualified electrician. If someone wishes to pull out more sophisticated test equipment and do that investigating, fly at 'er. In the end, an electrician will likely ignore your findings anyway.
    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    A GFCI does NOT require an equipment ground to "do its job".
    I do not know why you introduce a "breaker" to the equation
    Sorry, wrong terminology for circuit interrupter..

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

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Charlotte NC
    Posts
    2,303

    Default Re: What the heck?

    I agree with John K. We are not tasked with the discovery of "boot-leg grounds" as far as I know. The three light tester is a quick way of determining the general condition of an outlet. Does a good job of testing for loose receptacles, power present on the correct pins and some connection to the equipment ground terminal.

    For those of us who use the 3-light tester, be aware that some models have a design problem that gives a reversed polarity indication when 240v is present between the hot and neutral. This is a much more dangerous condition than reversed polarity. The 3-light testers all look the same so the only way I know of to tell the difference is to make a test jig with 240v across the hot and neutral of a receptacle (this might be illegal, so don't say I said to do it!). A good design 3-light will light all 3 lights with 240v. A bad design will give reversed polarity indication.

    (Ok Jerry and H.G., you can come in on the "Good design" comment )

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  14. #14
    Mark S. Connely's Avatar
    Mark S. Connely Guest

    Default Re: What the heck?

    test send


  15. #15
    Mark S. Connely's Avatar
    Mark S. Connely Guest

    Default Re: What the heck?

    Sorry for the test send it didnt allow me to send last reply

    The above answers appeared to have a lot of rhetoric but not a lot of answer.

    My educated guess to this is a case of handyman foolishness.

    Reversed hot and nuetral, and a jumper from nuetral to ground

    This is how it shows up on a 3 light tester

    This is a very dangerous condition that will make the grounds live on anything plugged in to them


Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •