Jump to content



Recommended Posts

I am preparing to purchase an electrical outlet tester. The 3-light tester I have is functionally limited.

I understand that SURETEST is the way to go, except I have been warned that a SURETEST will incorrectly read false ground when testing outlets in the close proximity of the main breaker panel (where neutral and ground are connected).

Is there a better way to go? I don't want to assume that because of it's location, I am getting a "false, false reading" Or, do I have to physically open and examine each outlet that reads "false ground"?

I have also been told that the SURETEST tester that checks AFCI is slightly more prone to this phenomenon.

Are there any other shortcomings related to the SURETEST? Is there another tester that is more reliable?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Steven,

I've had one for going on 7 years. Once you have one and understand it's limitations you won't have a problem with worrying about erroneous false grounds readings. It's waaaay better than one of those dinky 3-light nightlights. By the way, if you just do a search on this site for Suretest you'll find that this has been discussed many times. There's lots of good stuff in this database, you just have to be willing to take the time to look for it.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Suretest is a neat tool, if you have the extra $$$ to spend on it. I have had one (a couple actually) for about eight years. For the most it stays in my tool bag. On most inspections I use a voltage sniffer(Wiggy), a $4 neon light type tester and the common 3-light tester. I can do just about everything with these tools that cost less than $50 that a SureTest can do. I also have a $30 Multi-meter that I use at times.

I have found that false grounds are not all that common, in fact in over 5,000 homes I might have found 10 FG outlets. But you need to realize that the majority of the housing market in my area is new to 30 years of age. I'm sure that some areas have a higher percent of homes with FG's than I do.

A dead giveaway for a home with FG is when you look at the panel and you don't see any grounds yet you find grounded outlets!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To follow on with what Scott said, another sure way to guess that there are going to be boot-leg grounds are homes that have mostly two prong receptcals and then you see a few with three prongs. If you only have the three light tester, I recommend pulling the plug cover to verify.

One other thing to keep in mind about the Suretest, is that they a known to break and keep reading false ground, even when there isn't one. I need to send mine in. They are fully warranteed, but it is still a hassle.

Kevin Teitel

House-Pro Inspections

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the input, Since nobody has yet to say that there is a better way to go than SURETEST, I guess I'll end up getting one. Probibly, when using it, I'll accept good readings, but if it reads FG (or anything other than good), I end up looking inside to see what is going on.

Yes, it makes sense that if there are no grounds in the panel, or two prong outlets and 3 prong outlets, that something is up. I'm just thinking about a system where the BX or EMT is the grounding conductor. I think in that situation, there would be no possibility of false grounds, unless someone did some improper add ons using Romex or something else without hooking up a ground. Perhaps another scenerio could be EMT or BX pulled out of a coupling or connector, I seen that.

Once again, thanks for the input, if anyone has anything to add, of course I'm interested.

Steve Turetsky


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

I have to say that finding an actual bootleg or false ground is rare, and not to be expected at all on newer homes, but, on those very few occasions, like this one last week, it makes the Suretest worthwhile.

This was a 1925 home and all VISIBLE wiring had been "upgraded" (if you like floating J-boxes in the attic). No 2-prong outlets and every other receptacle tested OK. I found this one in the middle of the house. I guess they couldn't figure a way to snake the new wiring to it.

I have had problems in the past with false "false" readings and so I pull the cover plates, and receptacle if need be, anytime I find one unless it's right next to the panel.

Image Insert:


101.25 KB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...