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Thank you SureTest


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Hi All,

Yesterday I inspected a very clean little condo involved in an estate sale in a 1978 building and my SureTest caught a good one for me.

The electrical system checked out great until I got to the last bedroom where the first outlet displayed FG for false ground. At first, I thought it was an anomaly caused by the quirky way that my old SureTest sometimes needs to be 'reset' by clicking the GFCI button a couple of times between outlets. However, after I clicked the GFCI button several times it still read FG.

I decided to take a look behind the plate to see if a bootleg ground jumper had been added. I took the receptacle cover off and shined my light inside. Nope, no jumper. Backstabbed outlets and everything appeared normal. I put the cover back on and moved around the rest of the room, testing the remainder of the outlets. I found that the next outlet over had an open ground and then nearly every other outlet in the room, except one, also showed a false ground.

This gave me pause to consider the fact that the home had been occupied by an elderly woman since it was brand new and nothing about it suggested tampering by a do-it-yourselfer. Whatever this was, it must be original, and the ungrounded outlet also seemed out of place.

On a hunch, I pulled the cover off the outlet with the open ground and looked inside. There was the problem. Someone had punched a hole through the side of the plastic box and pulled a piece of NM into it. It was connected to the back of the receptacle and the equipment grounding conductor on that cable had been snipped off. Better yet, the equipment grounding conductor at the receptacle had also been cut and one of the neutral wires was connected to the other equipment grounding conductors joined together in the back of the box under a wire nut. So, apparently,the EGC's I was seeing in the back of that box were connected to those of the other FG outlets in that room, and the ST had picked up on this as a false ground, even though it didn't occur in any of the outlets reading FG.

A look into the laundry alcove on the other side of the wall from the outlet found the cause. A wall lamp that had been installed inside the laundry closet. It looked original and probably was, but I'm betting it was installed by someone other than an electrician. Probably someone working for the builder, after the C.O. was issued. I'll bet the elderly new owner had complained about the lack of a light and he'd thrown one in for her. Since she's passed on, guess we'll never know, but chalk another one up for my old, yet trustworthy ST-1D.



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