Hot ground wire?

Help! I have a problem with a circuit in my home. A home inspector
just finished and one of his serious concerns was a circuit that he
said had a ground problem. He was very concerned and said I should
address it immediately. He used a tester that had 3 prongs and a set
of lights for each. All 3 lights were on.
I checked it with 3 different tester I have and they also indicated
that the neutral and ground were hot.??? I called a local service
group and they sent an electrician. He had a similar tester to the
inspector's, it showed there was no problem. After he left I rechecked
and got mixed results. I ended up using an alligator clip and ran it
between the ground wire and the probe tip on a PAMA circuit tester.
The light would come on in varying intensitity and stay for varying
periods, then go out and return later.
I also noticed that a surge protector's ground light on another outlet
on the same circuit flickers. The evidenece tells my I have a problem,
but with conflicting opinions, I thought I'd check it out here. The
house is 18 years old and we haven't had any prior noticeable problems.
Reply to
Tom
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| Help! I have a problem with a circuit in my home. A home inspector | just finished and one of his serious concerns was a circuit that he | said had a ground problem. He was very concerned and said I should | address it immediately. He used a tester that had 3 prongs and a set | of lights for each. All 3 lights were on.
What kind of lights were these? Neon? Incandescent? Were the lights at the same brightness?
| I checked it with 3 different tester I have and they also indicated | that the neutral and ground were hot.??? I called a local service | group and they sent an electrician. He had a similar tester to the | inspector's, it showed there was no problem. After he left I rechecked | and got mixed results. I ended up using an alligator clip and ran it | between the ground wire and the probe tip on a PAMA circuit tester. | The light would come on in varying intensitity and stay for varying | periods, then go out and return later.
If both neutral and ground are hot, then you could not get the light that connects between them to light, insless they are hot at different phases.
| I also noticed that a surge protector's ground light on another outlet | on the same circuit flickers. The evidenece tells my I have a problem, | but with conflicting opinions, I thought I'd check it out here. The | house is 18 years old and we haven't had any prior noticeable problems.
I suspect this outlet is on a "shared neutral" circuit another outlet that has something plugged in and turned on, with the neutral connection broken somewhere upstream towards, or at, the source (the breaker panel). That can make the neutral hot. But that is all that would be needed to light up all three lights. The light between hot and neutral would see some big fraction of the 240 volts. The other 2 lights go to ground and would light up of ground is NOT hot.
Is there a "double" (or 2-pole) breaker feeding this circuit? What else is on the circuit? I suggest you shut that circuit off at the breaker, and then verify that the power is off with the tester. Then hire an electrician to deal with the problem.
Reply to
phil-news-nospam
That sounds like a bad neutral connection. Are the receptacles "backstabbed"?
Reply to
gfretwell
"Backstabbed", I like that term to describe this "wiring practice" (I use wiring practice very loosely in this case). When an electrician wires a receptical in this fashion, they are stabbing the premise owner in the back.
Charles Perry P.E.
Reply to
Charles Perry
I challenge your premise.
Just exactly was the procedure to find that the neutral and ground were hot?
Neutrals do carry current/ voltage depending on where they are in the circuit. Hence the title "grounded conductor".
A I have an plug strip that has been flickering for more than 5 years. Not a problem, I am to cheap to get a new one, because the neon bulb is flickering.
I suggest you find some one that knows how to use a multimeter.
Anyone who relies on a $39 "tool" to troubleshoot electrical work is not an electrician, in my book. I would be run off from my customers if I showed up with one of those.
Reply to
SQLit
I agree, however unless the job specification specifically does not allow the back stabbing connectors, contractors will go with the minimum requirements and UL lists the back stabbing devices. I recall writing up a school job because the receptacles were back stabbed. The contactor immediately protested and said he was following the UL listing instructions and he won. It is UL's fault that the back stabbing connectors are used in the first place- they list them.
Reply to
electrician
On 4/15/06 8:12 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com, "Tom" wrote:
Having just had a loose neutral problem taken care of, I am sensitive to this kind of a problem. My tester indicated that both the ground and the neutral were correctly connected. However, it is not capable of telling the quality of those connections.
Pay serious attention to what the inspector said. You do not want to have this problem show up even occasionally. The electrician sent to you obviously does not have sufficient knowledge and/or experience.
Although I am a licensed PE in EE, my expertise is not in house wiring. I deferred to an experienced hands-on electrician. I had already pinned down the problem as a bad neutral connection. I think that I could have found the specific failure but it would have taken me at least ten times as long. Even then, just making the repair would have been much more difficult for me than it was for him, because he knew what to do while I would have had to improvise.
Bill -- Ferme le Bush
Reply to
Salmon Egg
I've seen this, and it was due to the design of the three lite tester. Damn thing was designed to blink all three lights when things were good, while experience with different testers insisted that three lights on was bad. A different 3 lite tester showed that the circuit was correctly wired (at least as far as the tester is capable). Physical inspection bore that out. Reading glasses and a close look at the new three lite tester showed that all three lights are supposed to blink rapidly when things are good.
Use a real test lamp - a 60 or 100 watt bulb. It should light when connected hot to neutral or hot to ground, and should not light when connected ground to neutral.
Ed
Reply to
ehsjr
With one caveat... No 100 watt lamp is going to light up with a difference of 20 volts or so between ground and neutral. If you have a difference of this much voltage, you still have serious troubles. Best to (also) measure the voltage between the three conductors with a meter of known accuracy.
Beachcomber
Reply to
Beachcomber
Nice!
Everybody deplores backstabing. I've never seen anyone that defends it. Does anyone have a clue why the UL standard includes backstabs?
bud--
Reply to
Bud--

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