Testing Grounded Outlets

Testing grounded outlets is quite simple with ordinary electrical testers, such as those in the picture to the left, which are available at most hardware stores. They will show common faults in the wiring, such as an open ground, open hot, open neutral or reversed polarity, which are explained on the testers. The round button on the tester to the left (right image) allows the user to see if the outlet is ground fault protected. Even though it may not appear to be, it could be protected by a breaker in a panel or from a ground fault protected outlet in another location, such as in a garage or a bathroom. Common but potentially dangerous faults with the wiring are indicated on the testers as follows:

Open ground means that the ground wire is not attached or not present and cannot provide a pathway to ground, which poses a safety-hazard.

Open neutral means that the neutral wire is not attached, and the outlet will not work.

Open hot means that the hot wire is not attached, and the outlet will not work.

Hot/ground reverse means exactly as stated, and is a dangerous defect.

Hot/neutral reverse means that the hot and neutral wires have been installed in reverse, a dangerous defect commonly referred to a “reverse polarity”.

Safety Concerns:

Electricity can kill, and should only be serviced by qualified personnel. Homeowners should never service any component unless you are qualified to do so.

All plate glass sliding doors should be replaced with doors that have tempered glass or, at the very least, should be retrofitted with safety-film. Also, they should have decals at eye level to alert persons to what can be an almost invisible barrier.

Store fuels and flammable objects away from ignition sources. If children or domestic animals occupy the residence, make sure that the garage door opener has an infra-red reversing mechanism or is pressure-sensitive. All electrical outlets should be ground fault protected.

Ducts (where visible) should be inspected annually to ensure that there is no open seams where energy is being lost and where rodents could enter. In addition, wherever there is moisture, and this includes condensation, there is the possibility of mold.