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SureTest's False Ground Indication


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During the past 2 years, I've been using my trusty SureTest and identifying false (bootleg) grounds. I typically include with the report, the page of the manual from the SureTest that explains what a false ground is (NEC 250-23(a)).

Lately, I've been getting complaints from realtors (Tell me something I don't know) who have had the outlets checked and the electricians have said I was full of it and there was nothing wrong with the outlet.

How do you guys defend your findings when it comes to FG's ?

Do you even mention FG's in your report or plainly ignore them?

Thanks for your time,

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Hi Steve,

A bootleg ground is the easiest thing in the world to confirm. It requires taking five seconds to remove the cover screw, another five to peer into the box with a flashlight to see if there is a jumper or the EGC is rubbing up against the neutral terminal, and then another five to put the cover back on.

No, you're not required to do that and it's considered invasive, but it takes only seconds and it keeps you from getting embarrassed or having your credibility impuned by the fact that you might have leaned a little too much on your toys.

I do it and always have since I first got my ST-1D in 1999. I've found that the gadget is right about 50% of the time when it comes to false grounds, so I won't trust it completely until I've confirmed the reading.

Works for me!



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I've read in the manual that it can detect a False Ground up to 15-20' upstream of the outlet being tested. So if I open up the outlet I'm testing and I don't see any neutral to ground contact, it could have detected it elsewhere. Making the supposedly false readings true false grounds.

And why is it that electrical contractors are not seeing the same False Grounds I see?


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I always thought I would get a Sure Test as things went along, but since so many of the HI's I listen to have posted that they don't use them anymore I've pretty much abandoned the idea. I've seen this on every board and among at least 20 or so different guys who've been down that road. They aren't trustworthy. The voltage drop readings are a huge can of worms that wears most people down after a while. Even Douglas got upset with something about the latest model and said he wanted his money back (they ain't cheap either).

Would anyone care to give me an arguement as to why I (or any HI) should spend the money for a Sure Test?

Brian G.

Fire Away [:-blindfo

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Anywhere close to the panel I usually get an FG reading - even when I'm on a floor above or below it. Doesn't matter to me what's causing it. I just pop the cover and report it if it's substantiated. If I don't see anything in that panel to indicate that the FG was substantiated, I don't worry about it and don't even write it up.

Works for me. Your mileage may vary.

OT - OF!!!


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I've got three Suretests (1 61-154 and 2 61-155s). The 154 is currently sitting on the shelf waiting to get shipped back to Ideal. Same problem I've had before...reports false grounds on everything. I've tried all my leads...same response. I've also had other problems. Each time, I have got new unit either from Ideal or from my local electrical supplier (depending where I got the original from). Reliability is not great and a pain in the rear, but I'd feel "naked" without it. The back-ups keep me going when I have a problem unit and I'm not about to give up on my investment (only paid for two of the three...compliments of Ideal).

As Mike said, when in doubt, pop the cover. It's normally simple enough to see a jumper.

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I have to agree with Mike, it only takes a few seconds to confirm whether or not there is a FG. If I get the FG reading and the SP is on the other side of the wall, I chalk it up to that. Almost every time I get a FG reading, it's the tail of the ground next to the neutral.

However, I've had a similar experience with my ST that Chris had. I wore the pig tail out on my ST-1D and kept getting 'No Ground' reading before I figured out what the deal was. So I just use the unit without the pigtail and use my nightlite for outdoor receptacles I can't get my ST in.

I don't care for the new model at all. 1 of my inspectors has one and has problems with the pigtail and a few other minor problems. He hasn't told me, but I think he's back to using his night lite also.

As for the voltage drops, when I find them it's almost always outlets at the far side of the home from the panel box or back stabbed receptacles. I rarely ever get a high voltage drop reading from older homes where the wires have been bent around the side screw.

I can't imagine doing an inspection without the ST, even though I have done them a time or two (took tool bag out of truck and forgot to put it back in the next morning). I always felt I might be missing something.

Now if I only knew what the 4, 5 and 6 settings were for and how to use them, that would be Kewl!

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