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Suretest test


StevenT
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I finally got a Surtest to replace my 3 light tester.

When I used it to test GFIs it did not trip the GFIs (2 were tested), but when I manually hit the test button on the GFI, the outlet tripped, shutting off the outlet.

I will probably test a few more to see if this persists, but before I go through the trouble, I'm wondering if I have a bad tester, I tested wrong, or bad GFIs.

The tester did give me some readings that made no sense to me. Am I wrong in expecting the tester to trip the outlet or is this what it is supposed to do?

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Hold the button in and wait. It isn't like a conventional 3-light tester and instantly trips it. You have to wait for it. All of that is explained in the little manual that comes with the device.

Press the button and wait. After a few seconds it will introduce a ground fault and start to count off time until it trips. If the GFCI doesn't trip within the alloted time - 6 seconds, I think - it will display bad.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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I did wait while it was testing and the tester seemed to go through a testing mode. It gave some numerical reading at the end but didn't say good, bad or anything else. I was expecting the outlet to trip and as I said it didn't.

I guess there is a chance, slim as it may be, that both outlets were bad and did not trip when tested, although they tripped when manually tested.

I also have to suspect the possibility of a bad tester.

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The home had newer wiring. I did press the button twice. I think I got the 6500ms reading, but don't really recall.

So, If I'm understanding you correctly, the meter is probably working correctly and for some reason, probably a grounding reason, the outlet did not trip and should be flagged.

Since it was my first time using the meter, I didn't have confidence in it. If I didn't have it, all I could have done was test using the test button, so I didn't flag it.

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Well, like Mike said, you have to wait for a second or two before the outlet will trip with a Suretest. If the outlet isn't grounded the Suretest will state that after powering up - "error no ground". If you got the "wiring OK" message AND waited while holding in the GFCI button and it didn't trip there might be a problem with the meter.

Did you try and trip it with the 3-light tester?

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Hi,

Something else you have to remember is that the SureTest will not diagnose multiple problems. So, you could have a GFCI receptacle that was ungrounded and wired incorrectly at the same time and it might only indicate that it was ungrounded. It's a tool, it won't be able to think for you, so you have to become intimately familiar with it's limitations. Once you do, you'll find that it's infinitely better than the $6 three-light tester but that it's not completely infallible and you'll still have to apply a certain amount of your training and reasoning skills into understanding what's going on.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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If the outlet isn't grounded the Suretest will state that after powering up - "error no ground".

Assuming Steven has one of the newer units (61-164 or 61-165) that isn't true. The new ones don't "talk" to you like the older ones but instead display an LED version of the the 3-light tester, albeit with some differences...flashing lights in some cases and a false-ground indicator. It's not as obvious, especially if your attention was on using the new gizmo to test the GFCI. I like the better contrast, but miss the words.

I've heard of, and personally had, other problems with Suretests, but I've not heard of the GFCI test being bad before. At the risk of repeating myself...Steven should try it out on some good or new GFCIs before assuming it's the tester.

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Originally posted by homnspector

I think it is also true that if the GFCI receptacle is miswired, i.e., load and line reversed, the test button will trip it but the suretest won't.

Good point, Fritz...and correct. The Suretest would be applying the ground fault on the line, or wrong side of the circuitry and it wouldn't trip.

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OK, so I always read any SureTest threads with interest because I don't use one and might like to, but. . .

I still don't see any solid evidence that it will actually improve my service to the client, especially after reading this topic. It seems like it creates confusion and not answers.

Can anyone list a few solid reasons why using one would improve my service to the typical homebuyer?

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I have one and drag it out occasionally. Sometimes the 3-light will give me wierd readings, lights half lit, etc. This happens especially on switched receptacles. The suretest usually shows these to be ungrounded.

The voltage drop test is worthless to me, about 2 of 3 receptacles in every house show excessive voltage drop. The electrician will tell everyone you are nuts if you report this. The bootleg ground test is more often wrong than right. Other than that, it is a great tool.[;)]

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Originally posted by randynavarro

It seems like it creates confusion and not answers.

Randy, I've been using mine since 1999 and I don't experience any confusion. It's a tool. When you learn how to use your tools properly, they work fine.

Word search SureTest and my name in the electrical forum and you'll find a post from me explaining about an experience I had with a stubborn client who is a professional electrician and who trusted a 3-light tester more than he did my SureTest.

Nuff Said.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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The Sure Test is an accurate tool, I did not mean to imply a 3-light tester was as accurate. The only function that is not accurate is the false grounding (at least in my model). For me, impedance and percent load on line are not useful functions except in very rare cases. It will not detect common conditions such as neutral and ground reversal. Why spend $350 on a tool with these limitations? If you want to inspect to this level, I think you are much better off investing in a $1500 circuit analyser.

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Randy, I've been using mine since 1999 and I don't experience any confusion. It's a tool. When you learn how to use your tools properly, they work fine.

I'm with Mike on that. Any strange readings just mean you have to dig a little deeper or test a little further.

"The Suretest would be applying the ground fault on the line, or wrong side of the circuitry and it wouldn't trip."

And one would assume it wouldn't trip properly in the event of an electric shock. Makes it important to test these with a tester, not just the "approved" test button, right?

Simply put...A line/load reversed GFCI provides NO protection whatever at the actual GFCI receptacle as the contacts are still hot even when the unit is tripped, but would still protect downstream receptacles. Newer GFCIs won't reset if reversed but the old one's will. If you only use the test button you should always check for current after tripping.

I always test both ways. In my experience, it is fairly rare for a GFCI to trip with the test button but not with the Suretest...but it happens. I also had one once that would consistantly take 4500ms (4½ secs) to trip. Honestly...I won't pretend to know exactly what "failing" the Suretest GFCI test indicates other than a GFCI that is not reacting normally. That's enough for me to recommend replacement for safety. We are only talking about a $15-$20 part. I'll eat that if I get it wrong.

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This morning I inspected a new house, 2007. I tested all the receptacles. Out of 49, only 9 showed a voltage drop 5% or less, 40 ranged from 5.3% to 13%, over the NEC limit of 5% drop. How would you Sure Test users report this?

This seems pretty typical of what I run into. Maybe the electricians here just suck.

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Originally posted by homnspector

This morning I inspected a new house, 2007. I tested all the receptacles. Out of 49, only 9 showed a voltage drop 5% or less, 40 ranged from 5.3% to 13%, over the NEC limit of 5% drop. How would you Sure Test users report this?

This seems pretty typical of what I run into. Maybe the electricians here just suck.

I just did a 6,000 Sq ft home and the further away you were from the panel the larger the voltage drop.

I reported what I found, explain what was voltage drop and I recommended that the electrician correct it.

Captain

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Originally posted by homnspector

This morning I inspected a new house, 2007. I tested all the receptacles. Out of 49, only 9 showed a voltage drop 5% or less, 40 ranged from 5.3% to 13%, over the NEC limit of 5% drop. How would you Sure Test users report this?

This seems pretty typical of what I run into. Maybe the electricians here just suck.

Just so that everyone's clear on this point, there's no such thing as an NEC limit on voltage drop in branch circuit conductors. The fine print note at 210.19(A)(1) (FPN 4) is simply a point of information. It's not enforcable. It simply says that voltage drop under 5% is more efficient than voltage drop over 5%.

If you're going to report voltage drop as a defect, you should come up with another reference.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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And my experience is similar to Fritz's. The electrician who traipses in behind you likely won't have a Suretest or any other device that measures voltage drop. He'll check the outlets with an amp probe and declare them to be absolutely fine.

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Ok, so next time , if I get the same results, I'll dig deeper and figure it out. .. maybe. In this situation, when I manually tripped the outlets, they did lose power.

I'm wondering if I bought more than I needed to put on a "horse and pony show"? Well, lets see how it goes.

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